LITTLE FALLS -- You can learn about life in Minnesota during the fur trade era at an event hosted by the Morrison County Historical Society this weekend.

Historical re-enactor Joel Brown will be presetting “Bonga: A Fur Trade Family Saga” at the Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Memorial Museum in Little Falls. Brown will tell the story of Pierre Bonga who is the first person of African descent on record in the Minnesota territory and the cultural exchange that happened as a result of the fur trade.

The son of parents enslaved on Mackinac Island, Bonga moved to northern Minnesota and worked his way up in the North West Company and American Fur Company. He entered into a common-law marriage with an Ojibwe woman whose name was not properly recorded and had several children who also went on to work in the fur trade.

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Sons George and Stephen spoke several Native languages, English, and French, and worked as interpreters, guides, fur traders, and trappers. Bonga’s daughter Marguerite married fur trader Jacob Fahlstrom who was the first Swedish settler in Minnesota. The event begins at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday.

Pre-registration and masks are required. To register you can call 320-632-4007 or email staff@morrisoncountyhistory.org by Friday.

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