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The Bemidji Pioneer, The Daily Pioneer and The Bemidji Daily Pioneer
The Bemidji Pioneer began publication in 1896 in Beltrami County, one of the last “frontier” areas in Minnesota. Because of Bemidji’s location in the northern part of the state, settlement did not begin until late in the 19th century. Chief Bemidji and his band of Ojibwe Indians lived in the area, as did hunters, loggers, and some scattered settlers. The township and city were named for the Ojibwe leader. In 1888 two brothers, George Earl and Merian Ellsworth Carson, built a trading house to serve those living in the area. Merian would later marry Bahgahmaushequay (a.k.a. Mary), Chief Bemidji’s daughter.
In March of 1896, the Bemidji Pioneer, a weekly, was established by Edward Kaiser. As with most papers of the time, it was a booster of the community; it was also Republican in political stance. On April 20, 1903, the Daily Pioneer was launched. It changed its name to the Bemidji Daily Pioneer in 1904 and was designated “the official county and city paper.”
The Bemidji Daily Pioneer began as a six-column, four-page afternoon daily paper (except for Sundays and some holidays). Published by the Pioneer Publishing Company, the Pioneer included city ordinances, license applications, articles of incorporation, as well as local news, business advertisements, editorials, and church news. It also published the proceedings of the Beltrami County Board of Commissioners, county financial statements, and the proceedings of the district court. The paper covered several murder trials in great detail.
National and international news was not ignored (one could follow the Russian-Japanese War of 1905 easily in the paper), but news and politics pertaining to northwestern Minnesota was its main focus. Land sales were of particular interest. News from the lumber camps, including reports of hunting and logging and news of railroad accidents, fires, and drownings appeared in practically every issue. The paper also included announcements and reviews of concerts, librarian reports, and coverage of local and high school baseball, basketball, and football teams. Occasionally, detailed accounts of University of Minnesota football games were also published. Of particular interest is the Pioneer’s coverage of the interaction between the Ojibwe nation (particularly the Red Lake, White Earth, and Cass Lake Bands) and white residents. Ojibwe newspapers from this region including the White Earth Tomahawk, the White Earth Progress, and the Red Lake News covered similar issues from an Indian perspective.
Over the years, the Bemidji Pioneer survived a number of changes in name and management. It exists today as the Pioneer, serving the counties of Beltrami, Clearwater, Hubbard and Cass in north-central Minnesota.
Provided by: Minnesota Historical Society; Saint Paul, MN