This isn’t strictly about Petoskey Stones, but is related to Petoskey. While researching for my Petoskey Stone presentation, I contacted the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and they sent me this article provided by Eric Hemenway/Director LTBB Odawa Archives.
An Odawa History of Petoskey
The city of Petoskey is one of the nine bands cited in the preamble of the constitution for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa. These nine bands are historic villages for the Waganakising. Petoskey lies within the reservation boundaries of the 1855 Treaty of Detroit for LTBB as well.
The original name for Petoskey is Bear River/Bear Creek, or Mukwa Ziibing. Bear River has been an Odawa village for centuries before the arrival of Europeans in the 1600s. One of the primary choices for the location of a village at Bear River was fishing. Fishing occurred at the Bear River itself and within Little Traverse Bay. In close proximity to the Bear River village is the settlement of Kegomic, which is today known as Tannery Creek. Kegomic is another fishing site that was utilized by the Odawa.
The name Bear River/Creek was applied up until late 1800s. Early maps, censuses and other records all listed “Beaver River or Bear Creek” as the official name. The 1855 Treaty of Detroit list lands designated as reservation for certain bands who are signatory to that treaty. The “Cross Village, Middle Village, L’Abre Croch and Bear Creek bands” are named under Article 1, Clause 4.
One of the chiefs who signed the 1855 treaty was from Bear Creek. His name was Daniel Mwakwwenah. Dan also fought in the Civil War for the Union as part of the famed Company K of Michigan, the largest all-Indian regiment in the Union Amy. Dan died in battle during the war.
The main population center for the Odawa for the 1700s and for the better half of the 1800s was Cross Village, Middle Village and Little Traverse. Odawa families did live at Bear River but it wasn’t the population center as it is today. The Odawa became a minority in Waganakising in 1871. It wasn’t much longer after this that the name of Bear River officially changed.
In 1873 Bear River officially became the city of Petoskey. Early, non-native settlers to Bear River chose the name change in honor of Ignatius Petoskey. Ignatius was a successful businessman whom owned a large amount of land where downtown Petoskey now stands. Ignatius was originally born in 1781 along the Manistee River, at this family’s wintering grounds. He lived in Harbor Springs until he relocated to Petoskey in his 40s, where lived the rest of his years. Ignatius died in 1885.
As the population of Petoskey grew, so did the number of Odawa living there. The Odawa at Petoskey, like other towns in Wagnakising, often lived in their own neighborhoods. Harbor Springs had “Indian Town” and Petoskey had “Hungry Hallow”. Hungry Hallow was one of several Odawa communities in Petoskey. To this day, many Odawa still live and work in Petoskey.
The Odawa were highly visible in Petoskey during the early 20th century due to the Hiawatha play that took place at Round Lake. This play would also occur at the Petoskey football field and under the Bear River bridge. By the 1950s, the play was phased out but pageants and pow-wows were a regular occurrence in Petoskey during the summer months.
The Northern Michigan Ottawa Association would hold it’s annual meeting at the Petoskey Fair Grounds every year, from the 1950s-80s. Hundreds of Anishnaabe would gather at these meetings, to hear about claims for money, fishing rights, etc. Often, a pow-wow would be held after the meeting was over.
Today, Petoskey is home to numerous LTBB government programs, offices, services and businesses. Many Odawa still live and work in Petoskey.
Last Updated on 5 March 2022 by Angel Doran