HOME - Front Page
General History / Native Settlers: Page 3a

Sauk and Chippewa

Earliest Known Settlers

Indian territories

The earliest known dwellers of this land were the [Sauk Indians] that roamed central Michigan. Other Indian communities in Michigan at that time were the [Ottawas] who along with the [Chippewas] lived in the upper peninsula. In Lower Michigan, the Chippewas were in the northern area, the Sauks in the central area and the [Potawatonies] in the lower area. The name Saginaw given to the bay and river comes from the Chippewa word "O-Sauk-enon" meaning "The Land of the Sauks".

  • Sauk history - [Learn More at Native-Languages.org]

    However, accounts from the early fur traders indicates that not all of the Sauks departed the [Michigan Territory]. Occasionally, a Sauk would return to the valley to hunt for food or animal hides. If a Chippewa happened to sight him, it was perceive as a "Spirit" from the massacre and was to be avoided at all costs. This superstition led to area being considered the "haunted" and causing tribes to leave the area for a period of time.

    Troublesome Sauks

    Chippewa Chief

    According to Chippewa legend passed on to and repeated by the first white settlers, the Sauks were considered a troublesome lot to their neighbors. They frequently intruded into the territories of the other Indian communities causing havoc. The time came when the other communities would band together to defeat the Sauks. Battles raged on the Sauks from the north and south. A major battle took place in on a small island on the Saginaw river. Different versions have been recorded of what took place. Both accounts speak to a decisive battle there. The first white settlers had plenty of evidence of this great battle. Upon visiting the small island they found skulls everywhere on island. They would call it Skull Island which is now known as Crow Island. The legend purports that the defeated Sauk's were driven out the valley and out of Michigan. The Chippewas and several other tribes laid claim to Bay County and the surrounding area.

    Battle of Skull Island - Dennis Morrison (Nov. 8, 2013)

    View on [Youtube]

    An accounting based on the recollections of a pioneer appeared in the Bay City Journal newspaper in 1865. The pioneer recalls the story told to him by an elder Indian named Pu-tea-quas-a-min, and it had been passed onto him by his grandfather.

  • See {History of Saginaw Valley Indians}.

    Haunted Valley

    According to E.S. Williams, a Flint pioneer:

    "They would declare that the Manesous, or bad spirits in the form of Sauk warriors, were hovering around... So great was their dread that when -- as was frequently the case -- they became obsessed with the idea that the Manesous were in their immediate vicinity, they would fly as if for their lives, abandoning everything -- wigwams, fish, game, and all their camp equipage, and no amount of ridicule from the white could convince them of their folly. Some of the Indian bands whose country joined that of the Saginaws played their weak superstition and derived profit from it by lurking around their villages or camps, frightening them into flight and then appropriating the property which they had abandoned."
    (Source: "Bay County Past and Present" by G.Butterfield)

    Saginaw Indians

    The majority of the Indians would eventually overcome the superstition and return to the valley. The Chippewas were by far the dominate group. These Chippewas would be quite different from their northern Chippewa kin. Years of mingling with other tribes were cause for some changes in their language and customs. They would become known as the "Saginaw Indians".

  • View Chippewa Treaties for more information specific to the Chippewas.
  • View brief history of The Saginaw Chippewa Indians written by Robert N. Van Alstine.
  • General History Menu
    Native Settlers
    Pioneer History
    20th Century
    Photo Gallary
    1. Native Settlers
    2. Indian Life
    3. Ottawa & Chippewa
    3a. Sauk & Chippewa
    4. Saginaw Treaty
    5. Tribal Meetings
    6. Pictorials
    7. Online Resources

    Chief Shop-a-gons
    Chief Shop-a-gon, a Chippewa Indian, died in 1911 at Saginaw where he lived out his life after the white settlement period.

    Mrs. Jane Nochchickame
    Jane was the daughter of Jacob and Elizabeth Graverodd, and they live in Bangor Township. James Nochchickame was chosen as her husband by James' father who was Chief of Indiantown.
    {View} 1927 article about Jane's recollection of her early days.
    HISTORY: Crow Island was once called "Skull Island" -- site of a bloody battle between the Chippewa and Sauk Indians.