4 Must-See Native American Cultural Sites
Hear elders tell stories and teach quillwork and black ash basket weaving. Try traditional Native American foods like fry bread and wild rice soup. Step into a native teaching lodge and view sacred spirit writings. Learn of the rare discs bear symbols of the Ojibwa people. See Native American culture through the life of an Ottawa chief’s son and learn about Michigan’s first female tribal leader. You’ll experience all of this and more when you tour these Native American heritage centers.
Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture and Lifeways, Mount Pleasant
Step into a native teaching lodge and view sacred spirit writings during an enlightening journey through the history of Michigan’s first residents. The Diba Jimooyung: Telling Our Story permanent exhibit highlights a visit to the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture and Lifeways in Mount Pleasant. The center immerses visitors in the culture of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan and other Great Lakes Anishinabek.
The Diba Jimooyung exhibit’s 15 areas illustrate the ongoing struggle of the Great Lakes Anishinabek to hold onto their land, language and culture. In addition to the award-winning permanent exhibit, a changing exhibit displays objects from the center’s collection of centuries-old tribal artifacts. Baskets, pottery, tools and beadwork help weave together history, culture and contemporary lifeways.
While at the Ziibiwing Center, browse its large collection of books and media and shop for handmade sculptures, artwork, and jewelry. A research center maintains historical records and documents to help individuals trace native family histories.
Besser Museum for Northwest Michigan, Alpena
A copper collection, Naub-Cow-Zo-Win (shale discs) and spear points provide clues to the lives of the area’s earliest residents. In the Peoples of Lakes and Forests Gallery, see items from the 10,000-piece Haltiner Archaeology collection. The rare Naub-Cow-Zo-Win discs bear symbols of the Ojibwa people.
Andrew J. Blackbird Museum, Harbor Springs
See Native American culture through the life of Andrew Blackbird, an Ottawa chief’s son who became a tribal leader. Blackbird, a trained blacksmith, went to college and counseled the Ottawa and Ojibwa as they negotiated with the U.S. government in the 1850s. The home is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Potawatomi Heritage Center, Wilson
Learn about Genevieve Sagatow, Michigan’s first female tribal chairperson, and other figures. The center houses photos, artifacts, and regalia of the Hannahville Indian Community, a Potawatomi reservation founded in 1884 by a Methodist missionary.
Drumbeats and jingling bells set the pace for singers and dancers, as fringe, feathers, and ribbons flutter with each step of the ritual Native American POW WOW at cultural centers around the state.