The Sacred Legend of Mackinac Island


Another great article about Mackinac Island and the surrounding area.

Mackinac Island

About 15,000 years ago, Mackinac began to emerge as an Island in what is now known as Lake Huron, when the glaciers of the Ice Age receded. At least three different lake levels were known that helped to develop it as it is today. It is believed to be during the Nippissing post glacier period about 4000-6000 years ago, due to the erosive action of the ancient Great Lakes, that the cliffs and rock formations were created in the Breccia Limestone. As the Halite or rock salt washed away, caverns were left in the softer rock. Centuries ago, Lake Algonquin supposedly covered all but the center of Mackinac Island and left only what is known as Sugar Loaf protruding. It stood 75 feet above ground level and is the largest of the limestone stacks. The measurements are two miles wide, three miles long and eight miles around.

As the years passed, birds dropped seeds and wild animals began to visit the Island, causing different fauna to begin to appear on the landscape. Clumps of trilliums, lady slippers, species of asters, forget-me-nots, violets, buttercups, a variety of orchids, jack-in-the-pulpits to mention a few, grew in the soil. Over 600 species of plants eventually appeared to grow on the surface. Trees of pine, cedar, spruce, maple, oak, elm, and more took root in the dirt and rocks. Birds began to come to roost in the branches of the trees and look for food along the shores. Herrings, ring billed gulls, blue herons, Canadian geese and loons, winter snow owls and the great grey owl from the Artic came to nest in the warmer climates surrounding the Island. Later on many species made their home on the Island such as the tundra swan, ospreys, purple martin, blue jays, orioles, warblers and many others.

The first visitors were aboriginal Indians around 11,000 years ago in prehistoric times. After the last glacier – 4000-6000 years ago, Indians looked out over the Straits between the newly formed lakes and gazed at the high bluffs. Legend has it that it resembled a large reptile and called it Mich-la-mack-in-aw derived from the Chippewa and Ottawa language, Mi-she-mi-ki-nock, meaning big mud turtle. Their totem was the turtle. They looked at the Island in awe especially at the arch rock, which they believed was the gateway to the Island in which Gitchee Manitou (A Great Spirit) entered, to go to his home in Sugar Loaf Rock. They saw the Island as mystical and believed it to be sacred land. They buried their dead chiefs in the caves.

Long before any white man set foot on Mackinac Island, the Anishinabe lived near the St. Lawrence Seaway. About 500 years ago, they received a vision that guided them to move to a new land. The vision ended where the two lakes met. The Anishinabe divided into three groups. The second group called the Ottawa, settled on Manitoulin Island. An independent small group of Indians lived on Mackinac Island. They roamed the woods and fished the lake that surrounded it. They set up their wigwams and made their encampments for trade or other business along its shores and rested there after long winter hunts. They held Jubilees and war dance. Their children played upon its sandy shores. The Ottawas thought them an interesting people and made a confederation with the tribe. However this small tribe had powerful enemies, the Iroquois of New York. One day in the dead of winter, when the tribe was celebrating a victory with a Jubilee over the conquest of the We-Ne-Be-Goes of Wisconsin, the Iroquois struck and almost annihilated them. Two of the small tribe escaped and fled and hid in the caves. This was thought to be the end of them. The tribal name was Mi-Shi-Ne-Macki-Naw-Go so the Ottowa and Chippewa named the island Mi-Shi-Ne-Nacki-Nong in honor of their former confederates and this is supposed to be the true origination of the Island’s name, Michimackinac, according to Chief Mack-e-te-be-nesay or Andrew Blackbird (Black Hawk) in a traditional story told in 1887.

Oh, the stories that could be told over the centuries. Some are true but some may be just legends. Legends are told over the years but somewhere many have been based on actual facts. Take for the example, this story. It is the tragic story of a young Indian couple. I will call them Running Bear and Little Bird for lack of their real names. Running Bear was leaving on a raid on another tribe. Little Bird received news that he had been killed and wouldn’t be returning to her. In her grief for her lover, she threw herself off one of the high cliffs to join him in death. The tragic story is that she was wrongly informed and that he returned safely so that her death was in vain. Later people named this site as Lover’s Leap.

Missionary’s quest for souls brought the Jesuits to the area. In 1671, Father Marquette founded a mission here. It was the first in the region replacing one founded three years earlier on Lake Superior’s shore at Chequamegon Bay. It later was moved to St. Ignace. Abundant fishing for centuries brought large populations of Indians to fish the lakes. Ottawa, Ojibway, French Canadians, Metis, Scots and German Jews conducted business upon the shores. Trading for furs brought the first white explorers. Beaver pelts were traded for metal knives, awls, kettles, steel flints, guns, ammo, blankets, and jewelry. Liquor was prohibited but unscrupulous men still gave it to the Indians for furs. Packs of thousands of pelts were shipped to Montreal and eventually to France and England where they graced the heads of customers. Desire for fur hats in the 17th and 18th century led the Canadians to establish supply networks. Mackinac Island was chosen to be the rendezvous point for this action. The traders and Indians came in flotillas of canoes for supplies for the next season but after business was conducted it was time for revelry. Their recreation was performing contests of great skill, along with many types of games, drinking good whiskey, gamboling, and the swapping of the tallest tales. It was a wild and heterogeneous assemblage of several hundred men, both savage and civilized that gathered every year upon the shores.

The fur trade was so profitable that the English tried to win Indian suppliers away from the French. Forts were built to protect the fur trade and to make sure the government got its share. Furs were the lifeblood of the French, the main lively hood of the British and of great economic importance to the Americans. The first fort was built by the French at Mackinaw in 1715. Two battles were fought on Mackinac Island during the War of 1812. The British took over the fort at Mackinaw after a great victory in Montreal in 1760. They took control without firing a shot. They moved to Mackinac in 1761 after a victory in the French and Indian War because its high limestone bluffs and excellent harbor made for better defense. They had grown concerned that the Americans were going to attack and that was the reason to move the Garrison. The King’s 8th Regiment was garrisoned there. During the American Revolution the British burnt the fort at Mackinaw to the ground and moved their defense to Mackinac’s bluff’s. In 1783 the Americans had taken possession of the fort but the British again captured the fort in the War of 1812. The Jay Treaty gave it back to the Americans in 1815.

During the British occupation, the Indians did not trust the British. They considered the Indians a conquered people. They considered the Indians and half breeds as savages. Take for example, the tragic love affairs of Sophia Biddle. Her father, Edward and mother, Agathe Lavigne owned a fur trading center in the small village. They wanted a good education for their beautiful daughter so sent her away to her uncle where she became very sophisticated. She spent the seasons in Detroit where she met a young officer named John C. Pemberton. He despised Mackinac Island and said it was a godforsaken outpost with nothing but savages and half breeds. He was a very bigoted man. Little did he know Sophia was one of these half breeds. She fled back to her home on Mackinac Island so he wouldn’t find out the truth. When he came looking for her and found she was a half breed, he spurned her and sarcastically turned his back on her in disgust.

Having a change of heart, he returned the next spring to see her, only to hear she had died of consumption and a broken heart. She is buried in the St. Anne’s Cemetery. This kind of distrust of the British led to Pontiac’s Rebellion in 1763-1766. The Native Americans waged war against the British and attacked Detroit. They were dissatisfied with the infamous policies of the British after the French and Indian War. The British were brutal in the treatments of prisoners, targeting and exploiting civilians caught in the middle. British officers attempted to turn the tide of battle by deliberately infecting the Indians with blankets riddled with the small pox virus. The treachery and ruthlessness drove a wedge further between the Indians and the British. They also refused to give them free ammunition as the French had done and treated them arrogantly. They built forts and allowed white settlers upon the Indian land. The French had cultivated alliances with the Indians, traded with them and even intermarried with Indian women. When the British took over all that changed and everything from then on turned sour. The Indians joined together to drive the British from their land. Pontiac gathered the Ottawa, Potawatomi, Ojibway and Huron Indians into one confederation. The French had vacated the fort in 1761 but the French civilians encouraged the Indians to drive out the British. In 1763, the Mackinac fort was attacked and most of the British killed. The Indians had used the ruse of playing a game of Bagataway (Lacrosse) in front of the fort. A ball deliberately was knocked into the fort as the soldiers watched the game in interest. The Indians all raced into the fort after it and the women handed them their weapons hidden under their blankets. The unsuspecting soldiers were killed but the French were left unharmed.

Alexander Henry, a British subject had been urged by Jean Baptist Leduc to go in trade with him at Mackinac. When he landed he was met by 6 warriors with tomahawks in one hand and scalping knives in the other. He hid for a while in the attic of Charles Michel de Langlade but they were afraid they would be punished for harboring him as a blood brother sometime before and hid him for safety in Skull Cave. It was dark and Alexander laid down on leaves and brush for the night. He felt something sticking him in the back and the next morning in the light of day realized he was sleeping on human bones.

Because of Pontiac’s lack of success in capturing Detroit the British took over the fort at Mackinac again in 1764. After the French and Indian War in 1780 the British still controlled the fort. In the War of 1812 the British and Americans fought over the Island. The Americans gained control with the Jay Treaty.

In the 19th century, tourism was given a boost. The Federal Government declared the Island as protected land. This limited the development and set building restrictions as to preserve the natural beauty of the land. Writers found the area and described its beauty and Victorians flocked to the Island in droves. It became one of the nations most favored resorts. They traveled by excursion boats from Cleveland, Detroit, Buffalo and Chicago. In 1887 The Grand Hotel was built. Summer cottages were also constructed for tourists who wished to remain for a while upon the Island. They danced to the music of Strauss’ Waltzes, listened to the great Marches of Sousa. They dined on delicious whitefish, and strolled along the decks and romantic beaches. Social activities included, tennis, bicycling, hiking, swimming and examining the Islands natural wonders. Later on a golf course was built.

During the Great Depression tourism fell off but picked up again after World War II. The Island has attracted great political figures such as presidents and governors. Two movies have been made there, “Somewhere In Time” and “This Time For Keeps” starring Ester Williams. Thousands of tourists still visit Mackinac Island each year.

I can’t recall who said this but it was said that the Island was here First for FURS,
Second for FISHING, Third for FUN and now-days for FUDGE.

 

Gary has been a writer/ photographer for over 20 years, specializing in nature,landscapes and studying native cultures.Besides visiting most of the United States, he has traveled to such places as Egypt,the Canary Islands,much of the Caribbean. He has studied  the Mayan Cultures in Central America, and the Australian Aboriginal way of life.Photography has given him the opportunity to observe life in many different parts of the world!

He has published several books about the various cultures he has observed.

For more information and a link to his hard cover and Ebooks,and contact information: please check his website.www.commonsensejourneys.com

Your comments appreciated

Enlightenment

At this period of time in the history of man, there is probably more individual searching being done into the theories behind the origin of the human race,what happens after death,the possibility of life on other planets, and what our relationship is to these life forms, if they do exist. There are millions of people who are questioning the existence of God, who he really is, and what is my relationship with him? Is he someone who mysteriously floats around on a cloud watching and judging us from above like some bigger than life Santa Claus, or is he, like many of the esoteric sciences claim, a part of our inner Self, whom we have constant contact with, someone whom we and everything in the universe are connected and are thus one? Each of us in our own way is experiencing what God is, and thus we are each a part of God, thus we are God! This book is a brief account of my search for my own truth.

Available in Hard Copy and Ebook format.

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Is there something sacred about Mackinac Island


 

I recently visited the Mackinac area and detected a certain spiritual presence about it. I realized the sacredness of the area and assumed the American Indians who inhabited the area centuries ago, must have held the area as sacred.

After returning home I discovered the following article and thought I would share it with you.

Enjoy!

Reprinted for Native American Folk Lore

Mackinac Island was home to a Native American settlement in the 17th century, before European’s began exploration of the area. The island became a valuable position for the commerce of the Great Lakes fur trade, leading to the establishment of Fort Mackinac by the British during the American Revolutionary War.

Archaeologists have excavated fishhooks, pottery, and other artifacts dating back to around AD 900. The Anishinaabe (Ojibwa) indian tribes were some of Mackinac Island’s first known inhabitants, who considered the island to be the sacred home of the Gitche Manitou, or the “Great Spirit”. According to legend, Mackinac Island was created by the Great Hare, Michabou and was the first land to appear after the recession of the Great Flood. The island was a gathering place for the local tribes where their offerings were made to Gitche Manitou and was where tribal chiefs were buried.

The Origin of Mackinac Island
adapted from an Ojibway Legend

High in the heavens there lived a woman, a spirit.  In her solitude she
asked Kitche Manitou (The Great Spirit) for some means of dispelling her
loneliness.  Kitche Manitou took compassion on the sky-woman and sent a spirit to be her consort. Sky-woman and her companion were happy together, and in time she conceived.  Her consort left and sky-woman gave birth to two children–one pure spirit and the other pure physical being.  Because oftheir opposite natures, Sky woman’s children hated each other.  In a fiery sky battle they fought and destroyed each other.

After the destruction of her children, the spirit woman again lived in
solitude.  Kitche Manitou knew of her desolation and so sent her another
companion.  Again sky-woman conceived, and again her consort left. The water creatures observed what was happening in the heavens and pitied the spirit woman.  In their compassion, they persuaded a giant turtle to rise to the surface of the waters and offer his back as a haven.  Then, they invited the

Sky-woman left her home in the sky and came down to rest on the back of the great turtle.  When she had settled on the turtle, sky-woman asked the water animals to get some soil from the bottom of the lake. The animals tried to serve the sky-woman.  The beaver was one of the first to plunge into the depths.  He soon surfaced, out of breath and without the  soil.  The fisher tried, but he too failed.  The marten went down, came up empty handed, reporting that the water was too deep.  The loon tried.  Although he remained out of sight for a long time, he too emerged,gasping for air.  He said that it was too dark.  All tried to fulfill the sky-woman’s request, but all failed.  Finally, the least of the water creatures, the muskrat, volunteered to dive.  At his announcement, the other creatures laughed in scorn, because they doubted this little creature’s strength and endurance.  Nevertheless, the little muskrat was determined to dive.  Undaunted, he disappeared into the waves.  The onlookers smiled.  They waited for the muskrat to emerge as empty-handed as they had.  As time passed, smiles turned into worried frowns.  Finally, the muskrat floated to the surface, more dead than alive, but he clutched in his paws a small morsel of soil.

While the muskrat was tended and restored to health, the sky-woman painted the rim of the turtle’s back with the small amount of soil that had been brought to her.  She breathed life into the soil, and immediately, the soil grew,  covered the turtle’s back, and formed an island.  The turtle had given his service, which was no longer required and he swam away.  The island formed in this way was called Mishee Mackinakong, the place of the turtle’s back, now known as Michilimackinac.

Gary has been a writer/ photographer for over 20 years, specializing in nature,landscapes and studying native cultures.Besides visiting most of the United States, he has traveled to such places as Egypt,the Canary Islands,much of the Caribbean. He has studied  the Mayan Cultures in Central America, and the Australian Aboriginal way of life.Photography has given him the opportunity to observe life in many different parts of the world!

He has published several books about the various cultures he has observed.

For more information and a link to his hard cover and Ebooks,and contact information: please check his website.www.commonsensejourneys.com

Your comments appreciated

Enlightenment

At this period of time in the history of man, there is probably more individual searching being done into the theories behind the origin of the human race,what happens after death,the possibility of life on other planets, and what our relationship is to these life forms, if they do exist. There are millions of people who are questioning the existence of God, who he really is, and what is my relationship with him? Is he someone who mysteriously floats around on a cloud watching and judging us from above like some bigger than life Santa Claus, or is he, like many of the esoteric sciences claim, a part of our inner Self, whom we have constant contact with, someone whom we and everything in the universe are connected and are thus one? Each of us in our own way is experiencing what God is, and thus we are each a part of God, thus we are God! This book is a brief account of my search for my own truth as I know it today, everything stated actually happened, according to my own perception.

Available in both Hard Copy and Ebook formats.

The Importance of Maintaining a Spiritual life


Photography Prints

Written by:Gary Wonning

One has to look no farther to see how  important it is to maintain a spiritual connection with our creator than the story of Jamestown, our earliest colonial settlements in the New World.

The early pioneers faced many hardships after landing in the new world in 1607. As they faced the hardships of starvation, frequent Indian attacks , inclement weather, and a variety of hardships, they began to fall away from God.

The early settlement had been reduced from five hundred to a mere sixty emaciated settlers, some of which  resorted to cannibalism to avoid death.

Upon seeing the tragic state of the colony, Gates, Summers, and Bucke went to the empty and run down church and rang it’s bell.

Those who were still able crawled out of their shelters  began praying to God.  After which they prepared to leave and sail to New Newfoundland, a safe harbor. None shed a tear, the struggle had been too hard, they buried their weapons and armor and prepared to sail away, leaving behind hundreds of graves, a failed colony and a ghost town.

As they sailed out of the harbor, a ship appeared with enough provisions and comforts to carry them through. The Right Honorable De La War arrived just in the nick of time. If he had arrived a day later , they would have all been gone.

They returned to Jamestown, fell to their knees and prayed a long silent prayer, followed by a sermon by Rev. Bucke. He then gave orders for the church to be repaired  and the colony was resuscitated, and it’s Gospel mission to the Indians was remembered.

Henceforth the tiny village prospered and from those humble beginnings our nation was born.

 Gary has been a writer/ photographer for over 20 years, specializing in nature,landscapes and studying native cultures.Besides visiting most of the United States, he has traveled to such places as Egypt,the Canary Islands,much of the Caribbean. He has studied  the Mayan Cultures in Central America, and the Australian Aboriginal way of life.Photography has given him the opportunity to observe life in many different parts of the world!

He has published several books about the various cultures he has observed.

For more information and a link to his hard cover and Ebooks,and contact information: please check his website.www.commonsensejourneys.com

Your comments appreciated

 America in Decline

America has been on a long spiral of decline for many years,not only financially, but morally, militarily and spiritual as well there are many reason for this, all of which can be traced back to one group of people, who are they?

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