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Ottawa & Chippewa Indians of Michigan

In 1887 [Andrew J. Blackbird], a native Michigan Indian, preserved the history of his heritage, which was made into an ebook by the Guttenberg Project and is shared here as a pdf file.

The following are the Introduction and Preface to this ebook:


Andrew J. Blackbird, the author of this little book, is an educated Indian, son of the Ottawa Chief. His Indian name is Mack-aw-de-be-nessy (Black Hawk), but he generally goes by the name of "Blackbird," taken from the interpretation of the French "L'Oiseau noir." Mr. Blackbird's wife is an educated and intelligent white woman of English descent, and they have four children. He is a friend of the white people, as well as of his own people. Brought up as an Indian, with no opportunity for learning during his boyhood, when he came to think for himself, he started out blindly for an education, without any means but his brains and his hands.

He was loyal to the Government during the rebellion in the United States, for which cause he met much opposition by designing white people, who had full sway among the Indians, and who tried to mislead them and cause them to be disloyal; and he broke up one or two rebellious councils amongst his people during the progress of the rebellion.

When Hon. D. C. Leach, of Traverse City, Mich., was Indian Agent, Mr. Blackbird was appointed United States Interpreter and continued in this office with other subsequent Agents of the Department for many years. Before he was fairly out of this office, he was appointed postmaster of Little Traverse, now Harbor Springs, Mich., and faithfully discharged his duties as such for over eleven years with but very little salary.

He has also for several years looked after the soldiers' claims for widows and orphans, both for the whites as well as for his own people, in many instances without the least compensation, not even his stamps and paper paid. He is now decrepit with old age and failing health, and unable to perform hard manual labor.


I deem it not improper to present the history of the last race of Indians now existing in the State of Michigan, called the Ottawa and Chippewa Nations of Indians.

There were many other tribes of Indians in this region prior to the occupancy of the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians of this State, who have long ago gone out of existence. Not a page of their history is on record; but only an allusion to them in our traditions.

I have herewith recorded the earliest history of the Ottawa tribe of Indians in particular, according to their traditions. I have related where they formerly lived, the names of their leaders, and what tribes they contended with before and after they came to Michigan, and how they came to be the inhabitants of this State. Also the earliest history of the Island of Mackinac, and why it is called "Michilimackinac" -- which name has never been correctly translated by white historians, but which is here given according to our knowledge of this matter long before we came in contact with white races.

I have also recorded some of the most important legends, which resemble the Bible history; particularly the legends with regard to the great flood, which has been in our language for many centuries, and the legend of the great fish which swallowed the prophet Ne-naw-bo-zhoo, who came out again alive, which might be considered as corresponding to the story of Jonah in the Sacred History.

Beside my own personal and our family history, I have also, quite extensively, translated our language into English and added many other items which might be interesting to all who may wish to inquire into our history and language.

Andrew J. Blackbird (1887)

View pdf file [Require free Adobe Reader]:
{The History of the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.}
by Andrew J. Blackbird.

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Andrew J. Blackbird
Andrew Blackbird lived from 1815 until 1908. His father was Macka-de-pe-nessy, an Odawa chief. He received a formal education at Michigan Normal University (now Eastern Michigan University) in Ypsilanti. He served as a Odawa tribe councelor during negotiations leading to the Treaty of 1855. The home he purchased in 1858 is now on the National Register of Historical Places. It's located at 368 E. Main St., Harbor Springs, Emmet County. He also has museum in his honor, it is also located in Harbor Srings.
-- More informaton is available at [Answers.com]
Map showing the locations of eleven federally recognized tribes in Michigan.

1996: Tribe Locations
Bay-Journal -- Putting Local History Online.