Michigan Indians – Native Americans in Michigan History

The free online books and other resources below are about Michigan Indians, or Native Americans. See the right column for more info about this website.

Excerpts from the Michigan Pioneer & Historical Collections

Go to Website

An annotated bibliography created at Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University, for the numerous articles and primary source materials on Native Americans in the Michigan Pioneer & Historical Collections. The collections (MPHC) consists of 40 600-700 page volumes, usually covering the approximate period 1650-1850. All volumes are available online, and the bibliography contains links.

History of the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians of Michigan …

Ypsilanti, MI: 1887
Blackbird, Andrew J.Go to Book

(title continued) “A Grammar of their Language, and Personal and Family History of the Author”

Blackbird (Mack-e-te-be-nessy) was an Ottawa chief’s son who served as an official interpreter for the U.S. government and later as a postmaster while remaining active in Native American affairs as a teacher, adviser on diplomatic issues, lecturer and temperance advocate. In this work he describes how he became knowledgeable about both Native American and white cultural traditions and chronicles his struggles to achieve two years of higher education at the Ypsilanti State Normal School. He also deals with the history of many native peoples throughout the Michigan region (especially the Mackinac Straits), combining information on political, military, and diplomatic matters with legends, personal reminiscences, and a discussion of comparative beliefs and values, and offering insights into the ways that increasing contact between Indians and whites were changing native lifeways. He especially emphasizes traditional hunting, fishing, sugaring, and trapping practices and the seasonal tasks of daily living.

Ottawa Indians, Chippewa Indians, Michigan Native Americans, Andrew Blackbird, Ottawa language, Native American culture, history online

Michigan Indians

Echoes of the Forest: American Indian Legends

Boston: Badger 1918
Brown, William Edgar (Reverend)Go to Book

A book of poetry. Brown was assisted in his research of Indian legends and folklore by members of the Michigan Historical Commission, and by faculty members at the University of Michigan.

Native American folklore, Native American heritage, Indians in Michigan, free online books, Native American history

Inquiries, Respecting the History, Traditions, Languages, Manners, Customs, Religion, &c. of the Indians, Living within the United States

Detroit: Sheldon & Reed 1823
Cass, Lewis Go to Book

The first part is a 30-page pamphlet consisting of questions to which answers should be sought in studying Indian tribal life. Subjects of the questions include traditions, government, war, peace, death, birth, marriage, family government, social relations, medicine, astronomy, mathematics, music and poetry, religion, general manners and customs, food, mode of living, cooking, meals, games, dances, amusements etc. etc. The second part was originally a separate pamphlet, entitled “Additional Inquiries Respecting the Indian languages”.

Native American Indian culture, ethnology, Native American tribes of Michigan, Indian tribal life, free ebooks

Michigan Indians

Rites of Conquest: The History and Culture of Michigan’s Native Americans

Ann Arbor: University of Michigan 1992
Cleland, Charles E.Go to Book

Great Lakes region, Indians of North America-Social life and customs

Chippewa Customs

Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office 1929
Densmore, FrancesGo to Book

Bulletin from the Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology.

Ojibwa Indians-Social life and customs

Chippewa Music

Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office 1910-13
Densmore, FrancesGo to Vol 1|Go to Vol 2

Bulletins from the Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology.

Ojibwa Indians

Poems from Sioux and Chippewa Songs

Washington: 1917
Densmore, Francis Go to Book

Ojibwa Indians, Songs, Ojibwa, Dakota Indians

A Study of Some Michigan Indians

Ann Arbor: University of Michigan 1949
Densmore, Frances and De La Vergne, Earl W.Go to Book

Anthropological study.

The Saginaw Treaty of 1819 between General Lewis Cass and the Chippewa Indians …

Saginaw, MI: Saginaw Publishing 1919
Dustin, FredGo to Book

(title continued) ” …written for the Centennial Celebration of the Treaty, September 19th, 1919″

This is a description of the background story of the treaty, as well as a description of the event of the signing, in which the U.S. Government obtained a large portion of south-eastern Michigan from the Native Americans.

Native American treaties, Michigan Indians, Lewis Cass, Chippewa tribe, Native American history, Michigan history, history of the U.S.

“The Indians of Michigan and the Cession of their Lands to the United States by Treaties”

Historical Collections Vol. 26, 1896, pp 274-297

Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society
Felch, AlpheusGo to Article

A footnote states that Alpheus Felch was, “Governor of Michigan in 1846, U.S. Senator 1847-53, and 90 years of age at the writing of this article.”
The article provides a short history of each of the treaties by which the U.S. acquired Indian land in Michigan, as well as a discussion of treaty provisions, including reservations provided for the tribes. Map included.

Sketches of Indian Life

Toronto: Briggs 1904
Frost, Frederick (Rev) Go to Book

Frost was for thirty years a missionary to the Ojibway Indians of Garden River and the Manitoulin Islands and the north shore of Lake Huron and Lake Superior. He was fluent in the Ojibway language. Chapter headings are:

-By the Camp-Fire
-Among the Traps
-The Stone Axe
-Nanabooshoo’s Blanket
-The First Indian Corn
-On the Ice
-The Deserted Village
-Chief Buhgwujjenene
-Old Gakesheoongai
-The Receding Village
-The Nepigon Mission
-On the Track of the Bear
-The Mysterious Lake
-Visiting the Indians
-Fishing for Speckled Trout in the Nepigon River
-The Stormy Sunday
-A Gathering of Indians
-The Bad Indian
-Superstitions of North American Indians
-The Good-Natured Indian
-Funeral of an Indian Child
-Camping at the White Chute, Nepigon River
-On the Track of the Cariboo
-The Indian Wake
-With the Indians in the Lumber Woods
-The Indian Dance
-At the Indian Sugar Camp
-An Indian Pow-wow on Lake Nepigon
-Farewell Service on Lake Nepigon
-The Civilized Indian

Ojibway tribe, Ojibway language, Native American history, Native American culture, free ebooks

Michigan Indians

The Indians of Washtenaw County, Michigan

Ann Arbor: Wahr 1927
Hinsdale, Wilbert B. Go to Book|Go to Map

Hinsdale was the Dean of the Homeopathic Medical College at the University of Michigan and the Custodian of Michigan Archaeology in the University of Michigan Museum. This short book has just a single chapter of text that is a general discussion about Native Americans in the area of Michigan, and some broad observations about the impact of European and white American trade and settlement on Native American civilization. That chapter also includes comments about Native Americans in Southeast Michigan and Washtenaw County. The remainder of the books consists of illustrations, mostly of drawings and photos of archaeological artifacts.

The book also originally had a county map attached that showed the location of Indian trails, mounds, Indian villages and burial grounds. The map is located separately on the web. Note this comment, which was found at the website of the map: “Hinsdale carefully fudged the locations of unexcavated mounds and other valuable sites that might otherwise become a source of temptation to souvenir collectors or amateur diggers. While supposedly the maps reflected everything the Professor knew, the actual locations may have been several degrees — or perhaps miles — off to one side or the other.”

For similar maps covering all of Michigan, see Hinsdale’s Archaeological Atlas of Michigan on the Michigan Maps and Gazetteers page on this website.

Native Americans of Michigan, Washtenaw county MI, Archaeology, Native American archaeological sites, Native American history, free ebooks

When Michigan was New

Chicago: Flanagan 1906
Hollands, Hulda TheodateGo to Book

Some of the topics covered in this early history of Michigan seem to be randomly selected, but the focus of the majority of the book is on Native Americans in Michigan.

Native American history, Michigan history, ebooks free, history online

Michigan Indians

Chippewa Village: The Story of Katiketegon

Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science 1947
Kinietz, W. VernonGo to Book

Ojibwa Indians, United States-Lac Vieux Desert

Kitchi-Gami: Wanderings Round Lake Superior

London: Chapman & Hall 1860
Kohl, Johann GeorgGo to Book

A reviewer wrote that this is “…the best book on the Lake Superior country.” Another called it “…one of the most exhaustive and valuable treatises on Indian life ever written”. The author traveled among people of the Ojibway (Ojibwa, Chippewa) tribe along the shores of Lake Michigan, observing and collecting information. A few of the very numerous and diverse topics he addressed are: The Indian Agent, face painting, the canoe (use and construction), Indian dogs, medicine bag, a palaver, Indian generosity and hospitality, sports and pastimes, Hiawatha, death of a child, polygamy, Indian geography, the fur trade, symbolic writing, Catholic missionaries, the path of the dead, Ojibway songs, and snow shoes. He relates numerous Indian legends.

Lake Superior, Ojibwa tribe, Chippewa Indians, Lake Michigan, Native American culture, Native American history, Michigan history, free ebooks

Legends of Michigan and the old North West…

Allegan, MI: Northwestern Bible. 1875
Littlejohn, Flavius J.Go to Book

(title continued) ” …or, A cluster of unpublished waifs, gleaned along the uncertain, misty line, dividing traditional from historic times”

This 570-page volume consists of stories collected from Native American oral traditions by the author, during his 40 years of explorations in Western Michigan as a surveyor and geologist. Story titles are:

-The Shawnee and Pottowatomie War; or, The Michigan Scouts of 1800-1
-The Triple Alliance and Final Great Battle of Three Rivers
-The Sauk, Fox and Chippewa Raid; or, The Michigan Scouts of 1803
-Ou-Wan-A-Ma-Che and Mo-Kish-E-No-Qua; or, The Native Saginaw Maidens of 1804
-Alice and Effie; or, The Captive White Maidens of the Huron River
-Star Light and Red Hand; or, The Discarded Ojibway Wife and Son
-The Chippewa Raid on Green Bay; or, Red Wing the Sauk Chief
-The Campaign of Tippecanoe; or, The Michigan Scouts of 1811

Tribes frequently mentioned within were: Chippewa, Fox (Ontogamies), Huron, Miami, Mingo, Ojibway, Ottawa, Pewanigo, Pottowatomie, Sauks, Shawnee, Shiawasso, Wakisho.

Native American oral tradition, Native American culture, Michigan Native Americans, Shawnee, Pottowatomie War, Battle of Three Rivers, Sauk Indians, Fox Indians, Chippewa tribe, Battle of Tippecanoe, The Michigan Scouts, Huron, Miami, Mingo, Ottawa tribe, Shiawasso tribe, free online books, Michigan history

Michigan Indians

The Song of Hiawatha

NY: Maynard, Merrill 1855
Longfellow, Henry WadsworthGo to Book

Longfellow was one of the country’s most respected poets when he became interested in Indian lore. He read the books of Henry Schoolcraft on legends and stories of the Indians. This epic poem was set largely on the Upper Peninsula shore of Lake Superior. It was enormously popular, going through 125 editions, including translations into almost every European language.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, poetry, American poets, Hiawatha, American Indian folklore, free ebooks, Upper Peninsula

Indian Land Cessions in Northern Ohio and Southeastern Michigan (1805-1808)

Smith, Dwight La Vern Go to Book

“Chief Okemos”

Michigan History Magazine Vol 6, No. 1 1922 pp 156-159

Michigan Historical Commission and the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society
Turner, F. N. (Dr.)Go to Article

An Address to mark the resting place of Chief Okemos, who was a nephew of Pontiac. He fought with Tecumseh at the battle of Sandusky. Afterward he was a prisoner of war until General Cass pardoned him and placed him on a 140-acre reservation in Ionia. He was well known to many early settlers of Clinton, Ingham, Jackson and Washtenaw counties, because he and his band hunted and trapped a wide area.

For more about prominent Native American leaders in the Old Northwest, see:
– Various books and articles on Tecumseh, The Prophet, Logan, Cornstalk, Bluejacket and Joseph Brant in Biographies & Memoirs in Great Lakes History
– Thwaites, Reuben Gold, “Logan, The Mingo Chief 1710-1780″ in Biographies & Memoirs in Ohio History;
Cole, Cyrenus, I am a Man: the Indian Black Hawk in Biographies & Memoirs in Illinois History;
Quaife, Milo Milton, ed., The Life of Black Hawk; Ma-Ka-Tai-Me-She-Kia-Kiak in Biographies & Memoirs in Illinois History;
Ellis, Edward S., The Life of Pontiac, the Conspirator, Chief of the Ottawas in Native Americans in the History of the Great Lakes;
Matson, Nehemiah, “Sketch of Shau-be-na, a Pottawattamie Chief” in Native Americans in Wisconsin History;

Chief Okemos, Battle of Sandusky, Michigan Native Americans, Ionia MI, Michigan history, free books

“Story of the Baw Beese Indians”

Historical Collections Vol 28, 1900, 530-533

Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society
Van Buren, A. D. P.Go to Article

These Indians were a Pottawatomie tribe under chief Baw Beese, living in Hillsdale county in the late 1820s when settlers first arrived. Relations between the tribe and settlers were friendly and cooperative, but the tribe was forcibly removed and sent west in 1840. This oral history article was based on an interview with a pioneer farmer from Jefferson township, Hillsdale county, who had lived near the tribe’s main village as a boy.

“Indian Cession of 1819, Made by the Treaty of Saginaw”

Historical Collections Vol 26, 1896, 517-534

Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society
Webber, William L.Go to Article

The author begins the article with some background history about Indian wars in the Old Northwest in the late 1700s and in the War of 1812 that led to treaties with the Indians in which they were forced to concede large parcels of land. He then relates the negotiations of the 1819 treaty, in which General Cass represented the government. The author states that in an 1860 trial in Saginaw related to the treaty, in which he was one of the lawyers, many of the original participants were called upon to testify. For his article he drew upon his notes of their testimony to describe the original negotiations. The land conceded in the 1819 treat was about 6 million acres. The northeast boundary was at Thunder Bay and Alpena, the southeast edge was in Huron county in the thumb, and it extended southwest to take in parts of Jackson, Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties. A map showing the rough borders of this and several other major acquisitions of Indian land in Michigan is on page 275 of the same volume as this article.

The Crooked Tree; Indian Legends of Northern Michigan

Harbor Springs, MI: Wright 1917
Wright, John CouchoisGo to Book

Nearly fifty legends are related here. A few of the story titles are:

-Origin of the Medicine Lodge
-Legend of the Sleeping Bear
-Na-na-bo-jo, the Ottawa Hiawatha
-Formation of Mackinac Island
-Outwitting a White Man
-Rapid Transit in the Early Day
-Legend of the Motchi Manitou
-Origin of the Name “Chicago”

Indian legends, Native American folklore, Ottawa Indians, Northern Michigan, Michigan history, free ebooks

Michigan Indians

The Ottawan : a Short History of the Villages and Resorts Surrounding Little Traverse Bay, and the Indian legends Connected Therewith

Lansing: Smith 1895
Wright, John Couchois Go to Book

This is about the Ottawa tribe of Native Americans. In addition to the locations in the title, Beaver Island and Emmett County are also covered.

Native American legends, Indian folklore, Indians of Michigan, Little Traverse Bay MI, Beaver Island MI, Ottawa tribe, free online books

You can find more works like these at our other ‘Native American’ pages:

Native Americans of North America in Century Past Free Online Library

Native Americans in Great Lakes History

Illinois Indians – Native Americans in Illinois History

Indiana Indians – Native Americans in Indiana History

Ohio Indians – Native Americans in Ohio History

Wisconsin Indians – Native Americans in Wisconsin History

See other Michigan pages on this website for works about Native Americans, especially the pages entitled “Biographies & Memoirs”, “General History”, “Religion”, “Fiction”, and “War & Military”.

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