Native American
Culture in Michigan

Native American Culture

Drumbeats, Bells and Songs

Drumbeats and jingling bells set the pace for singers and dancers skip-stepping into a grassy circle. Fringe, feathers and ribbons flutter with each step of the ritual start of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal National Pow Wow.  

But pow wows like this also share the tribes’ way of life with the public. Visitors in lawn chairs watch daughters and mothers in matching bell-trimmed calico dresses dance to the music their dresses make. Or maybe they join a circle to hear elders tell stories and teach quillwork and black ash basket weaving, or try traditional Native American foods like fry bread and wild rice soup. The scenes repeat—with a key difference—about 150 miles straight north, at the tip of the Mitten, during the Rendezvous at the Straits Powwow at Father Marquette National Memorial Park in St. Ignace.

The difference being this gathering is two events in one—part voyageur reenactment, part traditional pow wow. Large crowds gather to watch how the meeting of these cultures unfolded. In one area, visitors listen as soldiers play fifes while raising a flag; in another, boys in loincloths beat hand drums while singing. At one point, voyageurs show off the steel knives traded to area tribes; later they line up to battle them. 

Ziibiwing Center

Our mission at the Ziibwing Center, located in Mt. Pleasant, is to teach you about the Anishinabe Culture and life ways through education and exhibits. Learn about the heritage of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan through exhibits and our research center.  The center also inlcudes meeting and conference facilities, cafe and gift shop. Open Monday through Saturday 10 am – 6 pm.

Museum of Ojibwa Culture

A national historic landmark, this museum interprets the rich archaeology and history of a 17th century Huron Indian village, Marquette's French Jesuit Mission, and local Ojibwa (Chippewa) Indian traditions and contemporary culture. The unique gift shop features an outstanding selection of authentic, locally-made Certified Native American art, crafts and gift items, and has the area's largest selection of native books. Located inside the Museum of Ojibwa Culture in St. Ignace. Open Memorial Day weekend to early December or by appointment.

Museum of Ojibwa Culture, St. Ignace
Eyaawing Museum and Cultural Center
Visit the Eyaawing Museum and Cultural Center in Peshawbestown to learn more about Michigan’s Native American culture.  The center was created by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians to establish, gather, interpret, and maintain a record of the history of the Grand Traverse Band of Anishinaabek.  Hours of operation are Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  
Exhibit at the Eyaawing Museum and Cultural Center
Attending A PowWow
To Native Americans, a powwow is a time to gather and honor traditions. To a non-native, a powwow may be intimidating as it is a traditional event. However, all are welcomed and encouraged to to attend powwows! Here are eight things to know in preparation for attending this traditional celebration of indigenous peoples’ heritage.
8 Things to Know Before Attending a PowWow
The growing appetite to restore food systems that were central to their health and culture for centuries has created a national movement among Native American tribes and the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi in Athens Township is part of it.
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