On Friday, December 18, 2020, Curtis Gagnon (Migizi) father, husband, and proud Anishinaabe relative passed away after a period of declining health, at the age of 71. He died peacefully in his home in Grand Portage. Curtis was born on April 26, 1949 to Peter and Emma Gagnon. He grew up in Grand Portage and rarely found cause to leave the place he loved.
Curtis was preceded in death by his father, Peter Jr., and his mother, Emma (Montferrand). He is survived by his wife, Sally of Grand Portage; children, Beth (Ryan), Peter, and Chris (Josie); and step-children John (Keisha), Jenny (Waylon), Jesse (Rachel), and Jeff; and grandchildren Avery, Seely, and Vivian. Curtis is also survived by his former wife, Jayne and brothers Gerald (Hattie), Melvin (Jaye), and Calvin.
Curtis will be remembered as a man who lived and laughed fully. His great sense of humor and quick, intelligent wit was known near and far. If you were his friend, he had a nickname for you, whether you liked it or not.
He cared deeply for his home of Grand Portage and was proud to have been an activist and advocate for Treaty rights. Most notably, his court battle over hunting and fishing rights in the 1854 ceded territory made tremendous strides in tribal sovereignty throughout Indian country. He loved to moose hunt, later he loved to talk about his moose hunts. He could tell you a story that you wouldn’t believe, and it would all be true. He was sought after as a hunting and fishing guide for both his skill and his ability to entertain his guests and show them a good time.
He was a proud Veteran of the United States Air Force and served honorably during the Vietnam War.
He was land administrator, state park manager, forester, and naturalist. He was a commercial fisherman, logger, wildland firefighter, dog musher, EMT, and community organizer. He helped organiz sled dog races, multiple community and county-wide events, the annual Rendezvous Days powwow, and his smoked fish parties, which are still being talked about. His smoked fish was the best in the world.
His passion though, was the Big Lake, whether he was setting his nets, taking the boat out for an evening ride, or trawling for lakers, he was at peace when he was on the water. He loved to be out there.
He never took more than he needed. He always shared what he had with anyone in need. He worked hard all of his life to provide for his family. Curtis was an exemplary Anishinaabe man and he will be forever missed and in our hearts.
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