Minnesota's African American history begins with pioneers who trapped, traded and developed lasting relationships with the Indian nations. In the 1790s, Pierre Bongo (Bonga or Bungo), a free black fur trader, came to the territory and married an Ojibwe woman. Their son, George Bonga, born in 1802, was Minnesota's first recorded African American birth. George became a fur trader, too, as well as an important interpreter who helped negotiate agreements between the Ojibwe and the U.S.
From these beginnings shaped by economic opportunity and relative freedom, Minnesota's African American history was forged. This tour highlights Saint Paul's history as a point of entry for African Americans who came seeking new beginnings and new paradigms from which to create new lives. Here are just some of the stories of individuals and institutions that helped to shape Minnesota's capital city.