A History of the Great Lakes State

Fifth Edition

Bruce A. Rubenstein and Lawrence E. Ziewacz

A History of the Great Lakes State


Fifth Edition

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The fifth edition of Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State enhances its reputation as the leading survey of Michigan history from the pre-Columbian period to the present. This new edition features expanded coverage of a wide variety of issues that continue to shape Michigan history, including the socioeconomic impact of tribal casino gaming on Michigan’s Native American population; environmental, agricultural, and educational issues; the latest developments in the Jimmy Hoffa mystery; Michigan’s return to prominence in collegiate and professional sports; Detroit’s revitalization and subsequent tailspin; the state’s deepening economic decline since 2008; and more. A new chapter, titled “Reinventing Michigan,” explores the obstacles faced by Michiganders living in Detroit and throughout the state from the Great Recession to the present, and looks at ways Michigan is renewing itself for a brighter future.

BRucE A. RuBEnstEin is Professor of History at the University of Michigan-Flint. A native of Port Huron, Michigan, he has co-authored two books with Lawrence Ziewacz: Three Bullets Sealed His Lips (1987) and Payoffs in the Cloakroom: The Greening of the Michigan Legislature, 1938-1945 (1995), both dealing with Michigan’s political history. He also authored Chicago in the World Series, 1903-2005: Cubs and White Sox in Championship Play (2006), in addition to numerous articles on baseball and Indian-White relations in Michigan.

LAwREncE E. ZiEwAcZ, late Professor of American Thought and Language at Michigan State University, was a native of Sault Ste. Marie in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He co-authored two books with Bruce Rubenstein: Three Bullets Sealed His Lips (1987) and Payoffs in the Cloakroom: The Greening of the Michigan Legislature, 1938- 1945 (1995). He also co-authored The Games They Played: Sports in American History (1983) and was co-advisory editor of The Guide to United States Popular Culture (2001).

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Michigan A History of the Great Lakes State

FiFth Edition

Bruce A. Rubenstein University of Michigan—Flint

Lawrence E. Ziewacz

this edition first published 2014 © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, inc.

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introduction vii

1 the original Michiganians 1

2 the new Acadia 16

3 Under the Union Jack 42

4 Wilderness Politics and Economics 57

5 Challenges of Statehood 70

6 decade of turmoil 85

7 defense of the nation 102

8 Radicals and Reformers 115

9 Early Ethnic Contributions 130

10 Grain, Grangers, and Conservation 142

11 development of intellectual Maturity 157

12 Wood and Rails 176

13 the World of Wheels 195

14 From Bull Moose to Bull Market 210

15 depression Life in an industrial State 231

16 inequality in the Arsenal of democracy 249


17 Fears and Frustration in the Cold War Era 261

18 the turbulent 1960s 274

19 Challenges of the 1970s 287

20 toward the twenty-First Century 299

21 Entering the new Millennium 317

22 Reinventing Michigan 334

Appendix A: Governors of the territory and State of Michigan 344

Appendix B: Counties, dates of organization, and origins of County names 346

Appendix C: Michigan’s State Song 351

Appendix d: Michigan’s State Symbols 352

index 353


Writing a state history is generally thought to be a thankless task. Geographic areas complain of being slighted; every city views itself as living in the shadow of the major metropolis; and ethnic groups are perceived as either receiving too little or too much emphasis. Yet, it is these very complaints which make the recitation of a state’s history worthwhile. in a very real sense, these voices of discontent are the state’s history. throughout Michigan’s existence as a state, the western portion of the lower peninsula and the entire upper peninsula have felt dominated by the power and influence of the eastern lower peninsula, especially detroit. it is this continuing sense of being neglected which has given rise to movements in the upper peninsula to break away and become a separate state. Moreover, for better or worse, much of Michigan’s history is the history of detroit, and it is understandable that smaller cities should  feel frustration as they pale by comparison to the Motor City. Likewise, even though ethnic groups, both white and nonwhite, have contributed mightily to the state’s growth, their contributions have been minimized because of a “melting pot” syndrome which demands that native cultures be abandoned so that everyone can become “American.”

While mindful of these past truisms, this book endeavors to present Michigan’s history in a different fashion. to be sure, there are the traditional accounts of the impact of the French and British, the rise of the automobile industry, and the tales of lumbering and mining—no story of Michigan would be complete without them. however, this volume intends to go beyond the well-known aspects of the state’s development; it intends to tell the story of the people of Michigan. Special emphasis is given to American indians and their fight to survive in a “white man’s world,” the struggle for black rights and women’s suffrage, and the contributions of white ethnics. this book is not


intended only to glorify the state, its people, and its accomplishments, for that would be a distortion of reality. thus, stories are told of Ku Klux Klan and Black Legion violence, the anti-Semitism of prominent Michiganians such as  henry Ford and Father Charles Coughlin, the disregard for civil liberties during the “Red Scares” of 1919–20 and the McCarthy period, and the riots, both racial and otherwise, which have plagued the state since 1837.

this most recent edition includes new material covering such diverse topics as the Bath School Massacre in 1927, corruption in the Michigan legislature during World War ii and the assassination of State Senator Warren hooper, Michigan politics in the twenty-first century, the fall of detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and the economic and societal travails of detroit, and the prospects for a restoration of the state to its past national prominence.

Like all states, Michigan has grown because of the boldness, wisdom, strength, and creativity of its citizens. Missionaries, explorers, warriors, s tates- men, politicians, inventors, business entrepreneurs, civil libertarians, educators, artists, and laborers in factories and fields have joined to shape Michigan’s heritage. this book is their story—the history of the Great Lakes State.

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Fifth Edition. Bruce A. Rubenstein and Lawrence E. Ziewacz. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

the original Michiganians

For generations, most schoolchildren have been told by well-meaning teachers that their national heritage began in 1492 with Christopher Columbus’ discov- ery of America. Scandinavian scholars have objected to this interpretation, claiming that Leif Ericson arrived in north America before Columbus. in an effort to retain their national pride, italian historians countered by promoting another of their countrymen, Amerigo Vespucci, as the true discoverer of America. European arguments over who discovered the north American con- tinent are interesting, but they ignore a basic fact: non-Europeans lived on the continent for at least 14,000 years before any European arrival. thus, it is impossible for any European nation to claim “discovery.” Some scholars refute this argument by saying that Europeans can still boast discovery because they had never before seen north America. the foolishness of this contention was shown in 1975 when an iroquois college professor from new York boarded a plane, flew to Rome, and upon arrival, announced that because his people had never been to italy before he was claiming that land for the iroquois nation by right of discovery!

ironically, indians, so named by Columbus because he was certain that he had landed in india, lived in western Europe long before any Europeans estab- lished permanent colonies in north America. English fishermen, working the newfoundland coast in the early 1500s, captured several natives and took them to England as examples of the “savage inhabitants” of the new World. After a few years, the amusement of viewing indians diminished and another fishing



expedition returned the captives to their homeland. immediately these indians spread tales of their adventures and told fascinated friends and relatives of the “world across the sea.” English culture and language clearly had intrigued the captives and they taught “white man’s words” to their people. therefore, when the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620 they were astounded when a descendant of one of those early visitors to England greeted them in English and assured them that others in his village spoke the language fluently. While it would be an exaggeration to say that indians knew English “fluently,” it is fair to say that Europeans do not even have a valid claim to being the first English- speaking residents of north America.

throughout the years whites have been puzzled as to how indians arrived on the continent and from whom they were descended. Several far-fetched ideas have been put forth to answer these questions. An early popular theory was that indians came by ferry from Europe. disbelievers said that such a hypothesis was ridiculous and that the only logical answer was that indians were descend- ants of people from the lost continents of Mu and Atlantis. in the 1600s, Puritans asserted that indians were descendants of the “Lost tribe of israel,” who had wandered so long and far that they had been stripped of all godly qualities and had become savage “Children of the devil.” this theory was accepted for over two centuries, although it, like the others mentioned, has absolutely no basis in fact.

By the late twentieth century, there were two accepted theories on how indians arrived on the north American continent. Most anthropologists believe that small bands of indians crossed the Bering Straits from Siberia approxi- mately 14,000 years ago. Such a crossing was made possible because during the ice Age sea levels declined and land bridges were formed linking Asia and north America. Since the continents are separated by a mere fifty-six miles, it is assumed by many anthropologists that ancestors of the modern Eskimo were the first settlers of north America. Many indians, however, accept a second theory. they believe that the Creator placed them on the continent, and that they have always been its inhabitants. Whichever theory is valid perhaps can- not be conclusively resolved. however, one point is indisputable: indians were the original native north Americans.

The Three Fires

When Europeans first arrived on the north American continent, approximately 100,000 indians, or 10 percent of the total indian population north of Mexico, lived in the Great Lakes region. of the several tribes residing in what is now

The Original Michiganians 3

Michigan, the most numerous and influential were the ottawa, Chippewa, and Potawatomi. these tribes, which originally were united, split sometime before the sixteenth century, with the ottawa remaining near Mackinac and in the lower peninsula, the Chippewa going west and north into Wisconsin and the upper peninsula, and the Potawatomi moving down the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. All continued to live harmoniously, without defined territorial boundaries, and never failed to recognize their common Algonquian language, dialect, and culture. they thought of themselves as a family, with the Chippewa the elder brother, the ottawa the next older brother, and the Potawatomi the younger brother, and referred to their loose confederation as the “three Fires.”

the Chippewa, or ojibwa, who inhabited the northern upper Great Lakes area, were the largest Algonquian tribe, estimated at between 25,000 and 35,000 at the time of European arrival in the new World. in order to survive in their harsh environment, the Chippewa lived in small bands, usually consisting of five to twenty-five families, who could sustain themselves on the available food sources. during the summer, bands moved to good fishing sites and used hooks, spears, and nets to catch whitefish, perch, sturgeon, and other food fish.

Figure 1.1 indian tribes in the Great Lakes region from the time of European explora- tion to 1673.


Men also hunted small game, while the elders, women, and children gathered nuts, berries, and honey. A portion of the gatherings and fish catch was dried and set aside for use in the winter. in the autumn, wild rice and corn were har- vested, and hunts for large game, such as deer, moose, and caribou, were organ- ized. As the “hunger Moon” of winter set in, food grew scarce and families shared what little resources they possessed with their relatives. Sharing those items most valuable and scarce was an economic and physical necessity among band-level people in order to survive. in the spring, maple sap was collected, boiled, and made into syrup and sugar for their own use and trade. While Chippewa in the lower peninsula engaged in limited farming, most of the tribe acquired agricultural staples through trade with the ottawa and Wyandot.

Like all band-level people, the Chippewa did not possess highly organized political structures. Leadership in their classless society was based on an indi- vidual’s hunting or fishing skill, physical prowess, warring abilities, or elo- quence in speech. Leaders had no delegated power but maintained influence through acts of kindness, wisdom, generosity, and humility. Positions of leader- ship always were earned and could not be passed from generation to generation as a hereditary right.

Chippewa social structure centered around approximately twenty “super- families” called clans. Each child belonged to his or her father’s clan, and thus clans traced the line of an individual’s descent. Furthermore, because marriage had to occur between different clans, a strong intratribal unity was fostered.

the second of the three Fires, the ottawa, was estimated to number nearly four thousand at the time of white arrival. Living in bark-covered lodges in the northwestern two-thirds of the lower peninsula, the ottawa followed a subsist- ence pattern similar to that of the Chippewa, except that during the summer months they engaged in extensive farming. the ottawa became known as great traders and their name, Adawe, means “to trade.”

ottawa social and political structures were similar to those of the Chippewa, as was the ottawa religion. the religion of the ottawa and Chippewa was extremely sophisticated. Because indians had always lived in nature, they thought of themselves as merely one of many elements constituting the envi- ronment. the white concept of man being a special creation apart from nature was foreign to every indian belief of man’s role in the universe. they believed that a Great Spirit, Kitchi Manitou, created the heavens and earth, and then summoned lesser spirits to control the winds and waters. the sun was the father of mankind, the earth its mother. thunder, lightning, the four winds, and certain wildlife were endowed with godlike powers. in the indians’ animis- tic belief structure any object, especially crooked trees and odd shaped rocks, could possess religious significance.

The Original Michiganians 5

to indians, religion was primarily an individual matter. At puberty each child journeyed to an isolated sacred place where a vision was sought through fasting. in most instances, a spirit would appear and grant the supplicant a per- sonal spirit song and instructions for assembling a strong protective medicine bag. this spirit became the person’s lifelong guardian, and it was a source of great comfort for the individual to know that a spirit was taking personal inter- est in his life.

not all spirits were benevolent. Mischievous spirits, or “tricksters,” were ever present. these demigods were believed responsible for the annoyances of daily life, and all frightening sounds and accidents were caused by these playful, yet malevolent, sprites. Snakes and owls were thought to be earthly forms assumed by evil gods. Man-eating monsters were believed to dwell in certain sectors of the Great Lakes, and no journey was begun without first making offerings to appease them.

the most common offering was tobacco. Manitous, or gods, were said to be fond of this dried leaf, and it became the link between mortals and spiritual powers. Before each harvest it was placed on the ground as a gesture of thanks, accompanied with a request for Mother Earth to accept their offer. tobacco was put on streams to assure plentiful harvests of wild rice and bountiful catches of fish, on graves to placate the dead, and at all holy sites. the ottawa and Chippewa considered tobacco so sacred that they insisted on smoking it with whites at treaty councils to signify that the accord was sanctioned “in the eyes of the Great Spirit.” Later missionaries, however, refused to honor what they considered “savage superstitions” and collected the tobacco offerings for distri- bution among their half-blood interpreters.

Chippewa and ottawa religion was a refined system of cultural beliefs, based more on feelings than a formalized creed, which was perpetuated by oral tradi- tion and adapted to fulfill the spiritual needs of its followers. it was no more primitive than the ancient Greek and Roman religion which also used polythe- ism, legendary cultural heroes, and symbolic rituals to explain the “unexplain- able.” indians personified the elements because they were in awe of them and wished to demonstrate to the gods their desire to live in harmony, not competi- tion, with nature. Unfortunately for later indian‒white relations, only the Catholic Jesuit missionaries made any attempt to understand the indians’ feel- ings toward their environment.

Missionary work among the indians of Michigan was doomed to ultimate failure because it demanded that indians undergo a total social and cultural revolution. Missionaries did not separate the concepts of Christianity and civi- lization. they thereby committed themselves to destroying the indians’ culture in order to save their souls and prepare them for life in white society. When the


mass of indians refused to comply with the wishes of the preachers, churchmen angrily said that their task was hopeless because “when a tribe or nation has reached a certain point in degradation, it is impossible to restore it.” in truth, their failure was because of an inability to comprehend the intricate sensibilities of the indian religion. Consequently, among all aspects of indian culture, reli- gion best withstood the onslaught of assimilation.

Like other Great Lakes indians, the ottawa believed that the most important social custom was reciprocity. this was basically the idea of doing something for someone, or giving them something, with the expectation that they would do something in return. there were three types of reciprocity practiced among the indians. First was general reciprocity. this was usually done between close relatives and assumed a balanced exchange. the distinguishing feature of this type of reciprocity is that part of the transaction could be based on future con- siderations; that is, one person would do something immediately and trust the other party to do something of equal worth for him in the future. the second type was balanced reciprocity. this was the most common form and consisted of a straight trade of goods and services assumed to be of equal value. Such a trade was made between distant relatives, or nonrelatives, who were not as well known to each party. the final type was negative reciprocity. this was extremely rare and occurred when one party knowingly attempted to cheat the other. When word spread of such behavior, the guilty party was ostracized from future trading functions.

Europeans never fully understood reciprocity because in its broadest sense it implied sharing as a way of life. the root difference between the races in this respect is that Europeans, who believed in private property, hoarded in expec- tation of gaining increased profits. indians, by contrast, did not believe in pri- vate property, but rather had only communal and personal property. Communal property belonged to the band as a whole. Personal property belonged to an individual and was understood to belong to that person, but could be borrowed by anyone. in other words, everyone in a community had access to everyone else’s materials. Likewise, it was unthinkable in indian society, before white contact, for one person to have two of an item while another person had none. it was understood that everyone would share. Reciprocity and sharing was the heart of indian economic and social organization.

the third major tribe was the Potawatomi, who received their name from the Chippewa term “Potawatamink,” which means “people of the place of the fire.” Because they were primarily an agricultural people, this name probably derived from their practice of burning grass and brush to clear fields for cultivation.

Potawatomi life, like that of their kinsmen, followed the rhythm of the sea- sons. during the summer, they formed large villages, usually near fertile lands

The Original Michiganians 7

along rivers and streams. Women planted corn, squash, beans, melons, and tobacco, while the men took to the forests and waterways to hunt and fish. in the fall, final harvesting was made, and the villages were moved into the heart of the forests where winter hunting would be best and protection from winter winds was afforded by the trees. in the spring, maple sap was collected for use as sugar.

the most noteworthy aspect of Potawatomi social structure was the practice of polygamy. if a man married women from different clans, the union joined not only the individuals but also their entire clans. Marriage thus brought together large numbers of people as a family unit. Since it was considered essential to have as many relatives as possible to survive and care for each other in times of need, this practice was extremely beneficial.

Potawatomi culture, like that of the ottawa and Chippewa, had well-defined roles for every member of society. Men were expected to hunt, fish, trap, trade, and defend the tribe. Women farmed, cooked, sewed, made camp, and raised children. Youngsters were taught to respect their elders and gain wisdom from them. having been raised amid an atmosphere of love and respect, indians perpetuated a society based on strong family ties.

Effects of White Contact

European arrival in the Great Lakes area during the seventeenth century led to gradually increasing disruptions in the comparatively stable indian culture. initial changes were not great, but as contact became more prolonged and intense, its effect on indians was pronounced. Material culture was the first aspect of indian life to undergo alteration. European trade goods quickly brought the substitution of iron knives and axes for those of stone. iron farm implements replaced ones made of wood. iron and brass arrowheads took the place of those from chipped stone. Brass kettles displaced native pottery vessels, and ultimately guns replaced bows, arrows, and lances.

By the mid-1700s, Michigan’s indians were almost completely dependent upon European trade goods. Many indians no longer made their own tools, utensils, or weapons, and, as a result, native skills in handicraft gradually diminished. Economic dependency altered the indians’ relationship to the environment by disrupting the traditional subsistence hunting-and-gathering pattern. Because indians could not obtain European merchandise without sup- plying furs, which had become the established medium of exchange, they placed an ever-increasing emphasis on hunting and trapping. Even agricultural bands turned to the forests to provide them with currency to purchase white


trade goods. no longer was the food quest the dominant reason to hunt, and no longer was the balance of nature an important consideration. the overriding goal then had to be successful commercial hunting—the increasing slaughter of animals for their pelts. As the fur supply dwindled in their home area, many indians ventured beyond their own territory into that of their enemies. often these dangerous treks took them so far from their camps that they could bring

Figure 1.2 indians ceded their lands to the United States government by a series of treaties. this map shows how the federal government obtained title to Michigan from the state’s original owners. Base map data source from RS&GiS, Michigan State University (www.rsgis.msu.edu).

The Original Michiganians 9

back only the furs, while leaving the once invaluable meat behind to rot. indians took many risks in order to assure continued favor of the white traders.

Eventually, white contact caused changes in the indian political structure. the traditional classless society with leaders who led by example was transformed into one with powerful chiefs holding well-defined positions of authority. Whites expected indians to have leaders with power to speak for an entire band. to satisfy this expectation, and to expedite trade and treaty making, chiefs were voluntarily granted by their followers previously unknown amounts of respon- sibility. White contact even resulted in the creation of the position of “trading chief,” whose sole function was to negotiate trade agreements for his band.

introduction of whiskey among the indians by European traders also had a marked impact upon their culture. henry Rowe Schoolcraft, a lifelong observer of Michigan’s indians, wrote that “whiskey is the great means of drawing from him [the indian] his furs and skins.” the sad result was that indians often would even sell their personal and family possessions to buy alcohol. Schoolcraft further believed that the introduction and use of alcohol, along with white- induced diseases, idleness, and a lack of food, accounted for the indians’ grad- ual population decline. his observation was accurate, as these forces reduced the number of indians in Michigan to an estimated 8,000 by 1900. Clearly, indian involvement in the fur trade started a dramatic, and disastrous, change in native culture.

Effects of Assimilation

in the decade following the Civil War, Michigan’s indians experienced a rebirth of cultural pride. during the first seventy years of the nineteenth century Michigan’s indians had ceded their land to the federal government by treaties, accepted missionaries, and welcomed settlers. they had dealt with whites in good faith and sought to live harmoniously with them. By 1870, however, indians began to reassess their relationship with whites. they noted that in return for their friendship, government officials had refused to protect them from timber thieves and speculators. indian agents often used their position to defraud, rather than protect, their wards. Missionaries, who had promised to educate indians and prepare them for life in white society, often had proved to be false friends, involved in graft and land frauds. Settlers, forgetting the aid given them by indians in the past, began to depict indians as obstacles to civi- lization and progress. Bitter memories of this type of white injustice and ingrat- itude made indians resentful of all attempts to assimilate them into a society they had grown to consider corrupt and treacherous. indian hatred of whites


grew in proportion to the increased numbers of frauds and swindles perpe- trated upon them. Although they were too poor and ignorant of their rights to protest actively against white treachery, Michigan’s indians were determined to do more than suffer in stoic silence. Most resolved that they would never totally abandon their native heritage and become “red white men.” White culture would be adopted only as it became necessary for survival.

oblivious to rising indian hatred, indian department officials noted only the superficial change occurring in the indians’ way of life. they claimed that indian willingness to accept private property, wear white-style dress, attend Christian churches, learn English and arithmetic, and work at “white man’s labor” was proof that indians were eager to abandon their old ways and become civilized. Michigan’s indians were touted by department officials in the 1870s as being contented, prosperous “models of assimilation.”

department officials were incorrect, however, as the state’s indians were not “models.” they attended Christian churches not because they believed that Christianity was a superior religion, but rather to placate their Methodist indian agents, receive food, shelter, and clothing, and partake in social gather- ings and festivals. they went to “white schools” to learn basic skills in order to survive in communities filled with people eager to cheat them. White-style dress was accepted partly because it was received as gifts and partly because it was not perceived as a threat to native culture. Some worked at “white indus- tries” because they needed money to feed and clothe their families, but most chose labor that involved their native skills of hunting, fishing, forestry, and manufacture of artifacts. What federal officials thought was a willingness to assimilate was, in reality, an attempt to preserve indian culture while living in white society. indians accepted elements of white culture to supplement, not supplant, their native beliefs.

Michigan’s indian residents desired only equality from their white neigh- bors. they wanted fair treatment under the law, wages comparable to those paid whites, and, most of all, they wanted to share in the freedoms promised all Americans in the Bill of Rights. indians neither possessed religious freedom nor received due process of law. despite theoretical “full equality” granted by the 1850 state constitution, Michigan’s indians, by virtue of their race, religion, and economic condition, were second-class citizens. At the turn of the twenti- eth century, the state’s ottawa, Chippewa, and Potawatomi would have been satisfied with “separate but equal” status, as they believed that their lives would be improved if isolated from the evils of liquor, moral debauchery, disease, and corruption associated with white society.

Sincere friends of the indians tried to assist them but were thwarted by state politicians and judges controlled by lumber and railroad interests. to most

The Original Michiganians 11

whites, indians were not human beings, but obstacles to economic growth for the state. Accordingly, avarice took precedence over humanitarianism, and the state’s indians continued to be denied both moral and legal justice.

Indians in Modern Michigan

during the twentieth century, Michigan’s indians fared little better. Following World War i, American industry boomed and income soared, but Michigan’s indians did not share in the prosperity. Because they were not white, they were not hired to work in the automobile plants and other related industries— industries that needed workers so urgently that they recruited them from other states! in desperation, many indians decided to become “white,” to give up their cultural heritage and try to conceal their indian blood simply to obtain a job and survive. Even this failed, however, for a study made for Governor William G. Milliken in 1970 related that poverty was still the rule among indian house- holds, especially in rural areas.

in 1970, nearly 40 percent of indian households had incomes less than the national poverty level of $3,000 and 29 percent of rural families brought home less than $1,000. in rural regions much of the low income level was because of a high number of retired persons living on Social Security, but omitting these people from the survey left almost 40 percent of the rural households earning less than $3,000. this economic plight grew worse, as the 1980 census revealed 49 percent of Michigan indian households were near or below the national poverty line, compared to the state average of 11 percent.

Much of the poverty was a direct result of extremely high levels of unemploy- ment among indians. Approximately 25 percent of heads of indian households in 1970 were out of work, and among those heads of households under thirty- five years of age the figure increased to 39 percent. Most of this was because of a lack of training and education. indian children in Michigan in 1970 had a 60 percent dropout rate from high school. Some left school because they felt alienated, others left because they did not think that a “white education” would benefit them, and still others left because they had to help support their fami- lies. despite the various reasons, they did not receive a diploma, and without at least a high-school degree, the only jobs available were low paying, unskilled, manual labor.

Poverty directly creates another problem—poor health. Among unemployed heads of households nearly 30 percent reported a physical disability that restricted the types of labor they could do. Poor health affects the entire house- hold of poverty-stricken people, and the very young are especially hard hit.


infant mortality, which was 20 per 1,000 among the general population in 1970, reached 90 per 1,000 among indians, and 16 percent of all urban indian fami- lies interviewed for the governor’s survey claimed to have lost a child within one year of its birth.

Another problem indians face is how to get to a potential job. Among employed indians in 1970, nearly 40 percent had to travel more than five miles daily to get to their place of work and 75 percent of these people owned an automobile that was in good operating condition. however, 60 percent of the unemployed indians did not have access to an automobile and could not get to a job even if one were offered.

Yet another reason for high unemployment among indians is the lack of available child care. nearly 20 percent of indian heads of households in 1970 were women. however, a mother could not accept a job if she had to pay a babysitter because there was no one available to care for her children. Consequently, many women remained on Aid to dependent Children or welfare.

in the final twenty-five years of the twentieth century, however, Michigan’s indians began to make significant strides to better their economic condition,

Figure 1.3 the poverty of rural indians in modern Michigan is evident in this photo of a typical home in the upper peninsula. Courtesy of the Archives of Michigan, negative #10508.

The Original Michiganians 13

but their success elicited a new wave of anti-indian sentiment throughout the state. in May 1979 Federal Judge noel Fox issued a decision reaffirming the rights of the state’s indians, as set forth by an 1836 treaty, to fish on the Great Lakes. the department of natural Resources and the state’s sport fishermen protested the decision on the incorrect assumption that it granted indians unregulated and unlimited fishing, a practice that could quickly deplete the lakes. Many upper peninsula residents, especially near Sault Ste. Marie, threat- ened physical violence to stop indian fishermen.

Virtually all of the fears of sport fishermen were unwarranted. Judge Fox’s decision did not permit unregulated fishing, but rather instructed indians to work with the department of the interior to establish mechanisms for self-regulation, management, and enforcement. Moreover, indians were com- mercial fishermen, and it would have been contrary to their best interests to overfish the lakes. nevertheless, conservation groups kept up their relentless criticisms.

in an attempt to quell the unrest, in 1985 a fifteen-year plan for joint use and management of the Great Lakes was agreed upon by the federal government, the state of Michigan, and the indians. the treaty waters of Lakes Superior, Michigan, and huron were divided into three management zones with defined uses, fishing techniques, and allowable catch limitations. indians were granted exclusive rights to commercial fishing on the lakes, and in return they con- sented to relinquish claims to certain sectors of the lakes and not to do com- mercial fishing in designated sport fishing areas. As well, indians pledged both to use trap, rather than gill, nets in selected areas so that sport species of fish could be released safely and to avoid totally fishing in trout rehabitation areas.

to fulfill the terms of the 1985 pact, in August 2000, representatives of the federal government, the State of Michigan, and the indians signed an agree- ment aimed at rebuilding the fish population in the upper Great Lakes and improving strained relations between whites and indians living in the northern lower peninsula and upper peninsula. this pact called for indians to sharply reduce their use of large-mesh gill nets and replace them with trap nets. the State of Michigan agreed to pay $17 million to buy boats equipped with trap nets and give them to indian fishermen. For its part, the federal government consented to pay $8.3 million to the tribal governments of the five bands of ottawa and Chippewa affected by the new agreement.

Another positive economic advance for the state’s indians was casino gam- bling. Beginning with a single indian-owned casino at Sault Ste. Marie on July 4, 1984, reservation casinos expanded rapidly during the following twenty years. in 2011 Michigan’s twenty-two indian casinos represented a $1.4 billion- a-year industry that offered not only employment for 19,800 people, but also


respect from the business community and the promise of a better life for their children. in 2004, the Sault Ste. Marie Chippewa, the largest federally recog- nized indian tribe east of the Mississippi River, for example, spent $2 million in casino profits on tribal social programs such as road construction, improved police and fire protection, ambulance service, and community and school rec- reation programs, and set aside another $5 million in a tribal trust fund. By 2007, the tribe had opened ten health-care centers in the upper peninsula, making it the largest health-care provider for indians throughout the Great Lakes region. in the lower peninsula, the Little traverse Bay Band of ottawa, whose casino in Petoskey had made the tribe the second largest employer in Emmet County, has contributed more than $7.7 million to the Petoskey com- munity as its share of gaming revenues, including nearly $1.2 million in 2006. A further economic boom for the state’s indians began in 1993, when Governor John Engler signed a compact with the state’s seven tribes, clearing the way for discussion of indian-operated off-reservation casinos in detroit, Flint, and Port huron. taking advantage of this compact, as of 2007 the Sault Ste. Marie tribe had established five off-tribal land casinos, including the Greektown Casino in detroit. Also by 2012, the number of federally funded tribes in Michigan had grown to twelve and the number of indian-operated casinos on tribal land had reached twenty-two, with legislative approval pending for another twenty-two. in accordance with the agreement between Governor Engler and the indians to permit casino gambling with an exclusive right to slot machines, 8 percent of that revenue was required to be returned to the state to be used for economic development. Among the projects assisted by the indian contributions was the construction of Comerica Park, which received $55 million from the fund to purchase land and pay for the demolition of build- ings on the site of the detroit tigers’ new home. in 2010 the tribal casinos paid $61 million dollars to state and local governments. thus, for the first time since the arrival of Europeans, indians have hope for economic independence; yet, more must be done.

in the face of such obstacles as racial discrimination and stereotyping, the plight of Michigan’s indians, who, according to the 2000 census number 58,479 or .06 percent of the state’s population, will not be easy to alleviate, but it can be accomplished. throughout the state, indian community action groups are dedicating themselves to support for improved educational oppor- tunities. in the United States, in order to succeed, an education is an absolute necessity. Educated people receive better jobs, have better health, and enjoy the fruits of society. Education is the key that will unlock the chains of centu- ries of repression for Michigan’s indians. there is no other acceptable alternative.

The Original Michiganians 15

For Further Reading

Several excellent works have been published describing indian customs, religion, and way of life. Among the most readable and informative are W. Vernon Kinietz, The Indians of the Western Great Lakes, 1675–1760 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1940) and Chippewa Village: The Story of Katikitegon (Bloomfield hills: Cranbrook institute of Science, 1947); George i. Quimby, Indian Life in the Upper Great Lakes (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960); Robert E. and Pat Ritzenthaler, The Woodland Indians of the Western Great Lakes (Garden City: natural history Press, 1970); Charles E. Cleland, A Brief History of Michigan Indians (Lansing: John M. Munson Publication, Michigan history division, Michigan dept. of State, 1975); R. david Edmunds, The Potawatomis: Keepers of the Fire (norman: University of oklahoma Press, 1978); and Edmund J. danziger, Jr., The Chippewas of Lake Superior (norman: University of oklahoma Press, 1978). Archaeological background of Michigan’s earliest inhabitants may be found in John R. halsey (ed.) Retrieving Michigan’s Buried Past: The Archaeology of the Great Lakes State (Bloomfield hills: Cranbrook institute of Science, 1999).

Specialized topics concerning indian life are covered in Gertrude Kurath, Michigan Indian Festivals (Ann Arbor: Ann Arbor Publishers, 1966); Frances densmore, Chippewa Customs (Washington: U.S. Government Printing office, 1929); Bruce A. Rubenstein, “to destroy a Culture: indian Education in Michigan, 1855–1900,” Michigan History, LX (Summer 1976); Bernard C. Peters, “hypocrisy on the Great Lakes Frontier: the Use of Whiskey by the department of indian Affairs,” The Michigan Historical Review (Fall 1992); Susan E. Gray, “Limits and Possibilities: indian-White Relations in Western Michigan in the Era of Removal,” The Michigan Historical Review (Fall 1994); James E. Clifton, “Michigan indians: tribe, nation, Estate, Racial, Ethnic, or Special interest Group,” The Michigan Historical Review (Fall 1994); donald L. Fixico, “the Alliance of the three Fires in trade and War, 1630–1812,” The Michigan Historical Review (Fall 1994); and Melissa F. Pflug, “Politics of Great Lakes indian Religion,” The Michigan Historical Review (Fall 1992).

Early efforts to depict indian life are always interesting, but must be read with care, as their scholarship is often faulty. the three best and most accurate accounts written in the nineteenth century are henry Rowe Schoolcraft, Personal Memoirs of a Residence of Thirty Years with the Indians on the American Frontier .  .  . 1812–1842 (Philadelphia: Lippincot, Grambo & Co., 1845); William W. Warren, A History of the Ojibway Nation (Minneapolis: Ross and haines, 1957 reprint); and Andrew J. Blackbird, History of the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians of Michigan (Ypsilanti: Ypsilanti Job Press, 1887).

Among the most recent accounts are Charles E. Cleland, Rites of Conquest (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992), which offers a detailed general history of the state’s indians, and Edmund J. danziger, Jr., Survival and Regeneration (detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1991), which sets forth the struggle of detroit’s indian residents during the twentieth century. A more archeological perspective is henriette Mertz, The Mystic Symbol: Mark of Michigan Mound Builders (Colfax, Wisconsin: hayriver Press, 2009).

Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Fifth Edition. Bruce A. Rubenstein and Lawrence E. Ziewacz. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

the new Acadia

France, Europe’s wealthiest and most populous nation, did not enter the race for new lands until 1522. Prior to that time, France’s economic and political interests remained centered in the Mediterranean area. Spurred by accounts of Magellan’s success in circling the globe, the French sought to become the first European nation to discover the shortcut to the spice-rich orient. in 1523 Giovanni de Verrazano, an italian navigator, sailed under the French flag and explored the north American coast from Virginia to newfoundland, but reported that he could not find a passage to the East.

French motivation for discovery and exploration in north America was predicated primarily on finding both a short route to the orient and great amounts of precious metals. these motives, which remained constant during much of the French presence in north America, help to explain most of the differences between the French and English colonization efforts. no English colony was founded to secure a passageway to the East, while the French con- stantly kept probing the interior regions in an effort to find such a route. French efforts were also aided by geography. While the English remained clustered along the Atlantic coast, barred from westward expansion by the seemingly impenetrable Appalachian Mountain Range, the French faced no such obstacle. Following the St. Lawrence River to the Great Lakes, French voyagers and explorers used highways of rivers to advance rapidly into the interior of north America.


The New Acadia 17

Eleven years after Verrazano’s voyage, Jacques Cartier made the first of his three ventures to the new World in search of the “northwest Passage” to China. While sailing into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, he encountered iroquois indians whom he assumed had had previous meetings with whites because upon his arrival they displayed furs to trade and hid all their young women.

Returning to France, Cartier received financial backing for another voyage. on this second trip, in 1535, Cartier revisited the iroquois village of Stadacona (Quebec) bringing with him two sons of Chief donnacona, whom he had taken with him to Europe on his previous voyage. From Stadacona Cartier was eager to make his way down the St. Lawrence to the indian village of hochelaga (Montreal). Fearing that his people would lose a portion of the French trade if such a trip was made, Chief donnacona warned Cartier that he would freeze to death amid the ice and snow of hochelaga. Undeterred, Cartier sailed north to hochelaga, which proved to be a village of approximately fifty lodges, surrounded by vast cornfields. these indians told Cartier of a great river to the West where people lived who wore European clothes and used tools of gold and silver.

Pleased with this knowledge, Cartier returned to Stadacona, but, having grown suspicious of donnacona, the French leader decided to construct a fort at the present site of Quebec City. having done so, Cartier and his men prepared to meet their first Canadian winter. Fierce, howling winds, subarctic tempera- tures, and blinding blizzards caught them unprepared, however. Starvation, exposure, and scurvy resulted in the loss of twenty-five men, and the toll might have been even higher had not indians shown the whites how to prepare a tea, from the bark and pine needles of white cedars, that was rich in Vitamin C. in the spring, Cartier sailed for France, taking with him donnacona and several other indians, none of whom would ever return to their homeland.

Although many Frenchmen were interested in Cartier’s discoveries, internal political problems and religious strife prevented him from obtaining immedi- ate support for a third voyage. Finally, in 1540, King Francis i decided to estab- lish a permanent French colony in Canada. Because Pope Alexander iV in 1493 had divided the non-Christian world into spheres belonging to either Spain or Portugal, Francis needed an acceptable rationale to receive the church’s blessing for his enterprise. Citing the need to Christianize savages in the new World, the king selected Jean François de la Rocque, Sieur de Roberval, a noted soldier and court favorite, to head the next expedition to the new World. Cartier was to accompany him as master pilot and guide. the church sanctioned the voyage, but since Roberval was Protestant, Francis’ sincerity in wishing to propagate the Catholic faith is dubious.

the king opened the treasury and lavish funds were provided to amass ten ships, several hundred soldiers and sailors, trained craftsmen, livestock, and

Figure 2.1

The New Acadia 19

supplies. Recruitment of volunteers proved difficult, however, and expedition leaders had to resort to combing prisons to fill their manpower needs. in May 1541, Cartier, with five ships, set sail for north America, but because of a short- age of supplies and weapons, Roberval did not depart for another year. Upon arriving in Canada, Cartier erected another fort near Stadacona. on this occa- sion his men discovered what Cartier believed were diamonds and gold. Quickly he dispatched two ships to France to inform the king of his great discovery.

Cartier and his men endured another difficult winter, suffering both from nature and constant harassment from hostile indians seeking revenge for their missing chief. Fearful of being overrun by the indians if they remained, Cartier and his men sailed for France in the spring. Reaching St. John’s in newfoundland, he encountered Roberval, who ordered him to return to Stadacona. inexplicably, Cartier disobeyed this order and continued to France, leaving Roberval to conduct all further explorations.

Roberval then founded a colony near Cape Rouge, which he said was “a con- venient place to fortify ourselves in, fitted to command the main river, and of strong situation against all our enemies.” Severe weather, scurvy, and constant indian hostility, however, forced Roberval to return to France just as Cartier had done earlier.

this entire expedition was a failure. no passage to the East was discovered and Cartier’s gold proved to be nothing more than iron pyrite and his diamonds mica. All Cartier had given France was a new saying, “as false as Canadian dia- monds!” the only thing which made the trip worthwhile was that Cartier did discover the ottawa River, which would later become the French highway into the north American interior.

internal religious struggles again dominated French politics and the govern- ment turned its attention from settling the new World. Attempts by French merchants in 1580 to organize expeditions to north America proved disastrous because of competitive rivalries, and eventually the French government, fol- lowing the precedent of the English, resorted to chartering private companies to promote settlement and trade, with emphasis on the latter. Beginning in 1588 France once again was involved in commercial and colonization efforts in Canada.

Samuel de Champlain

Samuel de Champlain was truly the “Father of new France.” Born in 1567, Champlain fought courageously under the banner of henry of navarre during the French religious wars. After the treaty of Vervins brought peace with Spain


in 1598, Champlain sailed for the Spanish and spent three years in new Spain, gathering valuable knowledge of the new World. Later he returned to France and wrote a narrative of his adventures, which established his reputation as an explorer and cartographer.

in 1603, Pierre du Guast, Sieur de Monts received from the French govern- ment a ten-year monopoly on trade and settlement in Canada, provided that he settle sixty persons there. in 1604, de Monts set sail with Champlain as his cartographer, and the following year they established France’s first perma- nent  settlement at Port Royal, which would become the capital of Acadia. Unfortunately, Port Royal was too near new England and was virtually inde- fensible. As well, French merchants had convinced the king to reinstitute free trade and in 1607 de Monts lost his monopoly.

Undaunted, de Monts commissioned Champlain to explore the St. Lawrence region for settlement possibilities. in 1608, Champlain founded a colony at the site of Cartier’s outpost near Stadacona. From this base Champlain launched a systematic program of explorations of the continent’s interior and established the framework for indian relationships that determined French and indian alliances until the end of the French presence in north America. What made Champlain truly extraordinary, however, was his vision of Canada’s future.

Figure 2.2 the Battle of ticonderoga, 1609. this 17th-century sketch depicts Champlain defeating the iroquois in 1609. the European concept of superiority is evi- dent as Champlain is almost singlehandedly defeating the foe. Library of Congress, Washington, d.C., LC-USZ62-108526.

The New Acadia 21

he sought to create not merely a fur post, but rather a strong permanent colony populated by enterprising settlers. his plan put him in direct opposition with private companies who sought only profits from the fur trade and feared that large numbers of settlers would ruin their industry.

in 1609, Champlain and two companions aided a party of huron warriors in a battle against a band of Mohawk, who belonged to the powerful iroquois Confederation. three Mohawk were slain and a dozen captured and tortured to death. Because the French had been friendly with enemies of the iroquois in earlier years, this action solidified iroquois hostility toward the French.

Champlain undertook further explorations along the St. Lawrence in hope of both finding the elusive “northwest Passage” and encouraging other Frenchmen to plunge even deeper into the interior. that he succeeded in his latter goal is demonstrated by the 1622 expedition of Étienne Brûlé. Brûlé, who had spent several years living among the huron, and a companion canoed to the present site of Sault Ste. Marie, where they viewed the rapids through which Lake Superior empties into Lake huron. twelve years later, again under the auspices of Champlain, Jean nicolet became the first white man to traverse the Straits of Mackinac, follow the shore of Lake Michigan, and arrive at Green Bay. his voyage was a personal disappointment, however, as he had been told by indians that his course would lead him to “stinking water.” nicolet interpreted this to mean the briny Pacific ocean, which, if true, would mean that he had found the inland route to the orient. Unfortunately, he discovered only the less than fresh waters of Green Bay. he did, however, deeply impress the indians who came to meet him, as he was attired in a colorful silk robe which he had donned in anticipation of landing in Cathay.

Missionaries and their Activities

Missionaries played an instrumental role in French exploratory efforts. Recollect priests under Father Joseph LeCaron performed missionary work among the huron at Quebec as early as 1615. ten years later the Recollects invited the Jesuit order to assist them in their work. All missionary activity ceased in 1629 with the English capture of Quebec, but it began anew in 1633 when Champlain arrived bringing 200 settlers and four Jesuit priests to reestab- lish the colony that he had founded twenty-five years earlier. Jesuits gradually exp

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