Anishinaabek Connection

Although 50 years may seem like a long time, the area in and around Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has been part of the Anishinaabek peoples’ way of life since time immemorial. In case you aren’t familiar with the Anishinaabek, they are the peoples indigenous to Michigan. The Anishinaabek are made up of the Odawa/Ottawa, Ojibwe/Chippewa and Potawatami/Bode’wadmi, and their rich history is intertwined with our own. The very name “Sleeping Bear” is derived from an oral tradition of the Ojibwe, passed down through the generations. Versions of the story differ slightly depending on the teller.

Unfortunately, the history of American Indians and their relationship with the United States is all too often told as seen through rose tinted glasses. Challenging these dominant narratives can be difficult and at times painful, but it is necessary in order to reach deeper truths, heal the wounds of injustice and hopefully learn from the past. We at the Lakeshore intend to do just that by continuing to work alongside our Anishinaabek partners to incorporate more of their knowledge into our interpretive programs and to further broaden the historical perspectives of educational materials throughout the park.

Some examples of this ongoing collaboration include all-employee training sessions with Eric Hemenway of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Anishinaabek student hires in the park, tribal consultation for interpretive wayside exhibits, and incorporation of Anishinaabek knowledge in our social media and website content. We are grateful for all the time and effort our partners have spent on these endeavors thus far, and are excited to expand these opportunities with the Anishinaabek community in the future.

Eric Heminway speaking in front of a room of NPS employees
Eric Hemenway, Director of Repatriation, Archives and Records at the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, presenting to Sleeping Bear Dunes Staff at Headquarters.
Ranger giving presentation outside in amphitheater
Ranger Grey Shea presenting a program to visitors at Sleeping Bear Dunes.
A group of hikers listening to Eric Heminway at the Treat Farm
Eric giving a talk while on a guided hike with visitors at Treat Farm.

Last updated: October 9, 2020

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