The History of West Michigan Indian Tribes

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Running head: West Michigan Indians

West Michigan Indians
Brent Vaalburg
SOSC 201
Prof. Drury

This writing will compare and contrast research and knowledge that I had about Ottawa, Chippewa, and Potawatomi Indians of West Michigan before and after I visited the Anishinabek exhibit at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Ottawa, Chippewa, and Potawatomi Indians of West Michigan

“Indian,” what exactly does that mean. If you ask a random person on the street they would probably tell you a lot of things that can be found in a Hollywood movie. Fancy outfits, bows and arrows, horseback riding, fights with cowboys, and the list goes on. While some of what the general person knows about Indians is true we have to realize that the term “Indian” was made up by the white man. This is something that I didn’t really ever think about until writing this paper. I was just like that random person on the street who just remembered what I saw on the TV. We really should be calling “Indians” Native Americans because that is what they are. They are the native people of this land we call “America.” They were here before the European settlers came here. Before visiting the Anishinabek exhibit I studied some books that specifically related to the Indian Tribes at hand. In my readings I learned about some of their history, tradition, and culture. One book that I read excerpts out of was the History of the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians of Michigan by Andrew J. Blackbird. This book was written a very long time ago in 1887. I chose this book because it was written by a Native American and I thought it would give a very good untainted perspective about the true history of the West Michigan Indian tribes. In this book there was a lot to be said about Indians being mistreated by white men. The author quotes, “From this time hence my father lost all confidence in white men, whatever the position or profession of the white man might be, whether a priest, preacher, lawyer, doctor, merchant, or common white man. He told us to be bewaring of them, as they all were after one great object, namely, to grasp the world’s wealth. And in order to obtain this, they would lie, steal, rob, or murder.” (Blackbird, 1887, p. 29). The Indians of the Western Great Lakes by William Kinietz and Antoine Raudot was the second book that I used in my preliminary research. I found this book to be very informative about the West Michigan Indian’s traditions, religious beliefs, dress, and personal characteristics. They were very reliant on the land it was their life support. Everything they needed and wanted came from the land. Furs, food, shelter, arts and crafts were all made from natural things collected and gathered from the land. Hunting and fishing was very important for food purposes. Herbs were collected from the land for medicine. All of the skills needed to live off the land were passed down from generation to generation and used to survive. One thing I found very interesting is this quote, “Punishment of no kind seems to have been used, the children growing up in complete liberty. This condition and the resulting small show of respect for their parents was shocking.” (Kinietz & Raudot, 1965, p. 92). The children were very well behaved and respected their elders, something we often don’t hear about in modern society. A third text I examined, Native North Americans from Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life, gave me a good general overview of their religion and folklore. They believe in unseen powers, sometimes called, “The Great Mystery.” ("Native North Americans," 2009, p. [Page. 389). They believe that we must respect all life and maintain balance because all things are interdependent. Medicine men and women are responsible for secret knowledge passed on from generation to generation. “Humor is a necessary part of the sacred because it keeps us in perspective and eases our journey through the...
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