Native Peoples Through Copper Mining
Native Americans had a presence at Knife River for thousands of years. Their name for the river was Mokoman-Subi, which translates into “Knife River.” Fishing, copper deposits for tool making, and other natural resources attracted them. A seasonal village was on Granite Point, which today forms the western entry into Knife River Harbor. It existed from at least 1769 to about 1870. The North Shore of Lake Superior remained Native American land until the Treaty of La Pointe in 1854. Once the land was ceded, prospectors and miners flooded the region in search of copper, gold and silver. Only traces were found and mining ended in 1929.
The community of Buchanan was established at Knife River in October of 1856. By 1859 it was a ghost town. What followed was a fishing community called Millie. That name lasted until 1903 when the village became Knife River.