Michigan Indian Day is observed on the fourth Friday in September in an attempt to honor the significant contributions that various Native American tribes have made in American history — particularly in the state of Michigan. This year, it takes place on September 22. The designation of the day dates back to 1974 but only caught on in 2007. The day entails a celebration of the very first peoples of Michigan and how they’ve played an irreplaceable role in the history of the state. Michigan is home to several Native American tribes — the largest of which are the Ojibwe, the Odawa, and the Potawatomi.
History of Michigan Indian Day
Michigan was home to several Native American tribes before European powers landed there to settle colonies. The largest were the Ojibwe, the Odawa, and the Potawatomi, who formed an alliance referred to as ‘Anishinaabe.’ The first European settlement in Michigan was in 1668 and was called Sault Ste. Marie by French missionaries. The following years saw immense exploitation of the state’s Native peoples after France’s defeat in the Seven Years’ War, leading to Michigan being handed over to the British. Native tribes were enraged at the way the British treated them which eventually led to Pontiac’s War in 1763.
The American Revolution saw Native American tribes, in aid of the British, attacking American settlements — which culminated in the British securing Michigan. Later on, with French aid, American revolutionaries took back the area. After the 1783 Treaty of Paris, Michigan was handed over to the newly formed United States of America.
In 1974, Michigan Indian Day was enacted for the first time but it did not catch on until 2007. Today, the Native American peoples of Michigan form an indispensable part of the way the state of Michigan functions. Unfortunately, popular notions about Native Americans today put them in a space of relative invisibility. Michigan Indian Day, thus, plays an imperative role in bringing attention to the cultural significance of Native American peoples and their contributions to the history of Michigan.
Michigan Indian Day timeline
The first colony in Michigan is set up at Sault Ste. Marie by the French.
Native American peoples take control over portions of Michigan.
Michigan becomes a part of the United States of America.
Michigan Indian Day is enacted for the first time.
Michigan Indian Day FAQs
What is the Native American meaning of ‘Michigan?’
‘Michigan’ comes from the word ‘mishigami,’ which means ‘great lake.’
What percentage of Michigan is Native American?
0.05% of the population of Michigan is Native American.
What is the oldest city in Michigan?
The oldest city in Michigan is the City of Sault Sainte Marie, a settlement that was established in 1668 by the French.
How to Observe Michigan Indian Day
Read up on the history
Michigan Indian Day is meant to celebrate the native peoples of Michigan. So, spend some time reading up on their history.
Join the celebrations
The day is celebrated all over Michigan. So why not take part in the festivities?
If it’s within your means, donate to an organization working for the welfare of native peoples. Every cent counts.
5 Interesting Facts About Michigan
The state motto
Michigan’s motto is “Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice.”
The state capital is Lansing.
The state is also referred to as ‘the Great Lake State.’
The state flower
Michigan’s state flower is apple blossom.
The 10th-biggest state
Michigan is the country’s 10th-biggest state.
Why Michigan Indian Day is Important
It highlights overlooked communities
Native American peoples are, sadly, overlooked in mainstream American culture. This day highlights these communities.
It’s an opportunity to educate yourself
This day is a perfect opportunity to learn about the culture of the Native peoples of Michigan. It’s never too late to learn more.
It’s an opportunity to raise funds
Funding goes a long way to help marginalized communities. The day is an opportunity to raise funds for the welfare of Native American communities in Michigan.
Michigan Indian Day dates