Friday, May 17, 2013

The Anishinaabe -- On the Shores of Gitche Gumee

Compliments of Free Archive of Native American Pictures
I find it fascinating when researching for potential stories, the real tales hidden in the lore of families and cultures. When I began to study the Objibwa people of Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and into Canada, I uncovered a wealth of history.

While culture speaks for itself, an intriguing belief of the Anishinaabe People came to light as I studied silver mining just off the shores of Lake Superior. A land known primarily for its copper mines, silver was a boom that came and went quickly--a short-lived era approximately one decade long.

Strangely enough, years before the white man discovered the silver threads running through the rock of the Porcupine Mountain range, the Objibwa had seen it, targeted it as a treasure and guarded its secret. And here's where the story gets good ...

The treasure of silver was protected by the People in honor of the Great Manitou. Their god had bestowed a blessing of wealth on them, one to be held in sacred silence. How the People knew the craziness that would befall should man attempt to harvest it, I could never uncover in my research. Only that their fear and respect of the Manitou was enough to seal their silence. It was said that the Great Manitou would strike vengeance on the one who revealed the treasure to outsiders.

Oddly enough, though the silver was discovered by a white man in the early 1850's it would be years before it was harvested. And once the harvest began, it took less than one-eighth of a lifetime to see it become the downfall of investors throughout the East and Midwest, a city, a harbor, miners and their families. In its wake it left a ghost town of broken china plates, shadowed mine shafts, and the whispers of the spirit of a People who valued what had been given until they were forced to give it away and move to a place designated to them by the white man.

It's a small story. Just a blip on the face of mankind's history. In fact, one could discount it entirely because of its Godless heritage. But as I studied it closer, deeper, I noted the wisdom behind the Anishinaabe and the spirit, the "Creator", the one they called the Great Manitou. Greed would become the ruination of hundreds of people as the land was scarred and ripped and the silver so prevalent disappeared like a vaporous dream--as if it never was.

The People knew that for it to be a treasure, it had to be rare, and to be rare  meant that it was beauty--it was precious. 
Greed would only poison.


Jaime Wright -

Writer of Historical Romance stained with suspense. Youth leader. Professional Coffee Drinker. Works in HR and specializes in sarcasm :)

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  1. Very interesting post...short, but sweet. So, is this the same Gitchee Gumee mentioned in the Song of Hiawatha?
    Have a great weekend and God bless.

    1. YES! Song of Hiawatha is straight from the shores of Lake Superior. It's a classic read at my house and SO good! :)

  2. Greed is what rules today's society. Somehow they had the intuition it would happen if the mine was discovered. What a sobering thought!
    Great post!
    Susan P

    1. There was a lot of wisdom in the culture of the Native American. The history of that region is just fascinating!

  3. I love uncovering gems like this. Nice work.

    1. Thx Olivia. It's so fun uncovering long hidden secrets :)

  4. Wow, so interesting..I remember having to memorize the Song of Hiawatha in school - so cool to see how things connect. =)
    truckredford (at)gmail(dot)com

  5. This gave me chills! Fantastic post, Jamie. We should pray for such wisdom to befall our culture again.

  6. A lifelong resident of Michigan your blog post captured my attention immediately. My husband "Yooperman" was raised in the upper peninsula, his father an iron ore miner. Recently there was another discovery of silver in the upper peninsula. I don't know how extensive it is, but interesting that more silver is being mined once again. Incidentally, the Song of Hiawatha is one I heard frequently as a child. My father used to sing it, and would often talk about the shores of Lake Superior as "the shores of Gitche Gumee." Thanks for sharing this wonderful history lesson and bringing back fond memories!