Izatys Village on Lake Mille Lacs


I’m sure we’ve all made typos that made us cringe once we noticed them. But most of our mistakes aren’t going to go down in history. Do me a favor if you have a piece of paper and a pen handy. Quickly write ‘Izatys’ on the paper. You’ll see why by the end of this post. 

First, let me tell you a bit about Izatys. It’s not (just) a resort on Lake Mille Lacs. It was a Mdewakanton Dakota village on the lake’s southern shore from about 500 A.D until the mid-1700s. 

In 1679, Daniel Greysolon and Sieur duLuth visited Izatys and the people they described as the “Sioux of the Lakes.” It’s believed that they were the first white men to visit the village, although many white traders had been in contact with the tribe in other parts of their territory. 

Ok, here’s why I had you write on that paper. Apparently, Sieur duLuth had such lousy handwriting that transcription of his manuscripts led to the village being called Kathio instead of Izatys. The transcriber interpreted the “Iz” as a “k” and the “ys” as “hio.” Oops! Can you see how the mistake could have happened looking at your handwriting?

Ojibwe oral history remembers Izatys as the place where the Dakota lost this part of their territory after the Battle of Kathio. They tell a story of their decisive victory after an epic three-day battle with the Dakota around 1745. After the battle, the Dakota were pushed to the plains. 

However, there isn’t anything in Dakota history that tells of such a battle. Archeologists haven’t found any evidence of a battle near Kathio/Izatys either. In fact, evidence shows that the Dakota had already begun abandoning villages in their area and moving south and west to be closer to trading posts. If you’re interested in learning more about Izatys and the people who lived here, put a visit to Kathio State Park on your bucket list.

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