Joel Brown to return to MCHS With Updated Bonga Lecture

George Bonga of 1837

In March 2022, historical reenactor Joel Brown joined us at the Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Memorial Museum to tell the story of the Bonga lineage. The event was a resounding success, and we were eager to work with Joel again. He will be joining us at the museum with an updated lecture on Saturday, May 6, 2023 at 11:00 AM.

 In the 1790s, Pierre Bonga, on record as the earliest person of African descent in Minnesota, worked for the Northwest Fur Company in Grand Portage, MN, a few miles south of the Canadian Border, and in the Red River Valley. He married an Ojibwe woman.

 Their son George Bonga was born in 1802 at present-day Duluth, MN. George worked for the American Fur Company. He, like his father, spoke several Indian languages, as well as English and French, and acted as an interpreter. Pierre’s eldest child, Marguerete Bonga, married Jacob Fahlstrom of Stockholm, Sweden in 1823. Jacob is considered one of Minnesota’s first Swedish residents.

 This event is free, but registration is required, so be sure to call the museum at (320)632-4007 or email us at to reserve your place by May 5th.

 A Cultural History Interpreter since 1996, Joel Brown’s primary focus is The U.S. Army Air Corps / U.S. Army Air Forces of World War II. In 2016 he incorporated into his repertoire two notable Fur Trade Voyageurs of the Territorial Era of Minnesota: Pierre and George Bonga.

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