George Bonga Photo

George Bonga

Born: Aug 20, 1802

Death: Jan 1, 1880

Birthplace: Duluth

Nationality: United States

George Bonga

Date of Birth : Aug 20, 1802
Date of Death : Jan 1, 1880
Birth Place : Duluth

George Bonga was a fur trader of African-American and Ojibwe descent, one of the first African Americans born in what is now Minnesota. He was the second son of Pierre Bonga and an Ojibwe mother. George was schooled in Montreal, Canada, becoming fluent in French as well as Ojibwe and English. He later became a fur trader and interpreter. He was noted in Minnesota for being, as his brother Stephen claimed, "One of the first two black children born in the state." Stephen also described them as "the first white children" born there, as the Ojibwe classified everyone who was non-native as "white". In 1837 George Bonga tracked down a suspected murderer, an Ojibwe named Che-Ga Wa Skung, and brought him back to Fort Snelling. The ensuing criminal trial was reputedly the first in Minnesota, and the Ojibwe man was acquitted. George Bonga was described as standing over six feet tall and weighing 200+ pounds. Reports said that he would carry 700 pounds of furs and supplies at once. He served as an interpreter, and was believed to have acted as a guide for governor Lewis Cass. Well respected in the region, Bonga and his wife opened a lodge on Leech Lake after the fur trade declined.


  • Pierre Bonga
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