• Since the 1770s the United States has been using treaties to establish federal funding for “Indian schools.” The first appropriation for Native American education in Michigan Territory however, is approved by President Thomas Jefferson.
  • The fur trade is still the dominant industry in the Upper Peninsula, especially amongst the Anishinaabe peoples. The United States therefore decides to establish a trading post on Mackinac Island. This is to compete with and disrupt the British fur trade which still dominates the area at this time.
  • The Ontonagon Trading Post opens in Silver City. It is owned and operated by the American Fur Company and is located at the mouth of the Iron River.
Thomas Jefferson
Painting of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale, 1801. Courtesy of the White House.


Members of the Ojibwe, Potawatomi, Wyandot, and Miami tribes in Michigan send a letter to President James Madison. In the letter they request the President to listen to them and tell President Madison that they wish to have honest deals with the governments. They also request that their annuities promised by the treaties should be paid and that they should also not be taken back for any reason.


Due to many remaining conflicts, including continued British influence in the Northwest territories, the United States and Great Britain start the War of 1812. During this war, the Anishinaabe fight on the side of the British.  During the War of 1812 the British, with help from Native American allies, recapture Fort Mackinac, which is the first land engagement of the war.  After the British take possession of Fort Michilimackinac, Newagon, an Odawa chief, hoisted the American flag over the camp that he and the Odawa were using on their hunting grounds. A county in Michigan was named in his honor, however the county’s name was eventually changed.

Old letter on paper
Last page of letter written by Ojibwe, Potawatomi, Wyandot, and Miami tribes to President James Madison. Image courtesy of the William M. Clements Library, University of Michigan.


The War of 1812 ends with the Treaty of Ghent. Much like the two treaties of Paris, the Indigenous people who fought in the war are not consulted in the process. The British agree to leave Mackinac Island and also cede the Upper Peninsula and St. Clair River Islands to the United States.


The Mackinac Indian Agency is established and William Henry Puffman becomes the Indian Agent. This agency was in charge of most of the state of Michigan as well as parts of Wisconsin and Minnesota and was centrally located at Mackinac Island. Indian agents are often used as middle men between the United States government and local Indigenous peoples.


The former North West Company trading post in L’Anse is reopened as an American Fur Company post.


The North West Company begins to sell alcohol to the Anishinaabe illegally in Sault Ste. Marie.


Congress passes the Indian Civilization Fund Act. This act encourages education for Native Americans as well as authorizes an annuity to help stimulate the process of “civilization”. The act leads to the creation of many of the boarding schools and industrial schools throughout the rest of the 19th century.

1870s Mackinac Island
Mackinac Island, ca. 1870s. The three story building in the middle of the image is the Indian Agency Headquarters and dormitory. Image courtesy of the Mackainac State Historic Parks.


The Treaty of Sault Ste. Marie is negotiated by Territorial Governor Cass. This treaty guarantees the fishing rights of the Anishinaabe people in the area in exchange for a cession of 16 square miles of land on the St. Mary’s River.   Michigan Territory Governor Cass leads a federal expedition into Lake Superior country accompanied by Henry R. Schoolcraft. During the expedition, Schoolcraft writes that the Upper Peninsula is rich in copper, but in order for the United States to gain access they would need to get rid of all claims the Anishinaabe have to the UP and its resources.

River with canoes on it
Governor Lewis Cass’ expedition visits the Ontonagon Boulder, 1820. Engraving by Henry R. Schoolcraft, from the book, “Narrative Journal of Travels through the Northwestern Regions of the United States extending from Detroit through the Great Chain of American Lakes, to the Sources of the Mississippi River.”


In Sault Ste. Marie, the United States establishes Fort Brady. The fort becomes the headquarters of the new Sault Ste. Marie Indian Agency which is in charge of the Indigenous community of the UP. The fort is named for Colonel Hugh Brady who promises the Ojibwa people that despite the location of the fort, the United States will not encroach upon the nearby burial ground or encampment. At this time, Henry R. Schoolcraft is also appointed as the Indian Agent for the new Sault Ste. Marie agency.

Fort Brady, Sault Ste. Marie
Illustration by A. Hill, 1857. Illustration appeared in Ballou's Pictorial, (Boston, 9 May 1857)


  • The first Protestant mission is built on Mackinac Island at Mission point. It is established by the United Missionary Society under Reverend M. Ferry. The mission is primarily used to educate the local Indigenous people.
  • Smallpox continues to wreak havoc on the Anishinaabe people as several families contract the disease while on a visit to Drummond Island. Out of the 204 people who made the trip to the island, only two people survive and return to Sault Ste. Marie.


The United States establishes the Bureau of Indian Affairs under the jurisdiction of the War department.


The Mission House is built on Mackinac Island by Martin Heydenburk, a teacher and carpenter. The House operates as a boarding house and mission school for the Anishinaabe, Métis, and people of European ancestry on Mackinac Island. The house is built by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in an effort to spread Christianity.

The Old Mission House, Mackinac Island, Michigan


Indian Agent Henry R. Schoolcraft sends a letter to Lieutenant Col. William Lawrence, the commander at Fort Brady in Sault Ste. Marie. In the letter, Schoolcraft tells Lieutenant Col. Lawrence that he is aware of a grave robbing at Sault Ste. Marie and urges the Lieutenant Col. to reintern the bones. Schoolcraft also sends a letter telling this to Territorial Governor Lewis Cass, reporting that the two graves of indigenous women were desecrated by who he believed to be Army soldier Robert McKain.

Henry R. Schoolcraft
Henry R. Schoolcraft, ca. 1850 Courtesy of the Library of Congress


The Holy Childhood of Jesus mission is founded at Little Traverse Bay, modern day Harbor Springs. Construction also begins on the mission school which would eventually become the Holy Childhood of Jesus Indian Boarding school.


Reverend Abel Bingham establishes a Baptist mission at Sault Ste. Marie. The mission also includes a boarding schoolhouse.


New L’Arbre Croche Mission opens in Harbor Springs. This mission would later operate under the name of Holy Childhood of Jesus.

Holy Childhood Church and School, Harbor Springs, Michigan


  • Louis A. Roberts establishes a trading post at Flat Rock near present day Escanaba.
  • The post surgeon at Fort Brady, Dr. Edwin James, begins to translate the Bible into Ojibwe.
  • St. Anne's Mission School is started on Mackinac island by Father Samuel Mazzuchilli. The first teachers are Martha Ann Tanner and Josephine Marly.


  • With smallpox still a fairly common and deadly disease, Dr. Douglas Houghton begins to vaccinate the Anishinaabe people against the virus. It is not possible for him to vaccinate everyone and many people still die from the disease.
  • Multiple missions are established through out the UP. These include a Methodist mission in L’Anse, a Presbyterian mission on Mackinac Island, and a Catholic Mission at Indian Lake, near present day Manistique.
  • The Sault Ste. Marie Indian Agency is consolidated into the Mackinac Agency. Henry R. Schoolcraft also becomes the Indian Agent for the majority of Michigan.
Methodist Mission Church
Methodist Mission Church in L’Anse, Michigan, ca. 1900. Courtesy of the Baraga County HIstorical Society.


With news of removal, some Potawatomi flee their homelands and go north. One group settles along the Cedar River here in the Upper Peninsula. This group moves to their present location at Hannahville, which is established as Hannahville Indian Mission by Methodist Missionaries Peter and Hannah Marksman. By the end of removal, the only remaining significant Indigenous populations east of the Mississippi are in Michigan and Wisconsin. Peter Marksman is not only a missionary, but also a member of the L’Anse Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and a signatory to the 1847 Treaty of Fond du Lac and the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe. His non-Christian name is Madwegwanyaash.

Image courtesy of Abe Books.


In a story described by George W. Featherstonhaugh, Henry R. Schoolcraft and Featherstonhaugh arrive on Round Island to explore an ancient Chippewa settlement. While exploring, Featherstonhaugh collects skulls from a burial mound located at the settlement.

The American Fur Company sends 100 barrels of wine and 150,000 barrels of whiskey to Mackinac Island as trade goods for the fur trade.


Representatives from the Odawa and Ojibwe tribes sign the Treaty of Washington. This treaty cedes 13,837,207 acres in the Northwest Lower Peninsula and Eastern UP. Tribes receive money, services, hunting, fishing, and harvesting rights and are also given reservations created by the treaty.  The Treaty of Cedar Point is signed by the Menominee who occupy the Southern UP. With this treaty, they cede all of their land claims in Michigan as well as some in Wisconsin.

Map of the portions of Michigan that were part of the 1836 Treaty of Washington.


  • Michigan becomes the 26th state.
  • The Mackinac mission complex, including the Mission House, is abandoned when the Ferry family moves to Grand Haven after the decline of the fur trade. The mission is sold to a private owner in 1838.
  • The Sault Ste. Marie Indian Subagency is established. It covers the Upper Peninsula to the eastern border of Wisconsin.
  • The Saginaw Indian Subagency is established. It is the successor to the Detroit Subagency and responsible for all Native Americans living in the lower part of the Lower Peninsula and around Maumee, Ohio.
Michigan's first state capitol building, located in Detroit
Michigan’s First State Capitol, Detroit. Courtesy of the Archives of Michigan.


Peter Crebassa, a Metis, or person with both French and Indigenous heritage, becomes the agent for the American Fur Company Trading Post located in L’Anse.


Nineteen local Anishinaabe children attend the Baptist mission school in Sault Ste. Marie. During this time several white children also attend the school, bringing the total number of children at the school to 42. The students at the school learned the basics in reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar, the English language, and geometry. The boy students also learn farming, sailing, and fishing, while the girls learn sewing, housekeeping, and knitting.


  • The Fur Trade begins to decline due to a lack of supply and decreased demand. This leads to the American Fur Company declaring bankruptcy, and many Anishinaabe and other Indigenous people who previously relied on the trade to become even more impoverished.
  • Treaty of La Pointe is signed with the Ojibwe. With this treaty the Ojibwe cede their land in the Keweenaw Peninsula, Isle Royal, and other parts of central Upper Michigan into Wisconsin. This is the last Native American land cession in the state of Michigan. These bands also cede all mineral rights to the United States and were forced to leave the ceded land. In exchange, the United States promises money, a blacksmith, and a school as well as hunting and fishing rights.
  • The Temperance Society at Sault Ste. Marie begin to work with the Anishinaabe to help with alcohol addiction caused by the fur trade.
Copy of the 1842 Treaty of LaPointe.
Copy of the 1842 Treaty of LaPointe.  Courtesy of the National Archives.


Father Frederick Baraga establishes a Catholic mission in Assinins, near L’Anse. Most Holy Name of Jesus mission includes a church. While a school is not built here, Father Baraga teaches Indigenous students reading, writing, and arithmetic.

The Old Catholic Church at Assinins under the light of a full moon.
1900's color picture of the old Catholic Church at Assinins under the light of a full moon. Courtesy of the Baraga County Historical Society.


  • Maadji-Giizhik, a member of the Ojibwe tribe, shows prospector Philo Everett a large deposit of Iron Ore near Negaunee.
  • Fort Wilkins is built in Copper Harbor. This fort is supposedly built to protect the copper miners from the Ojibwe people. The fort originally closes in 1846 but briefly reopens from 1867 to 1870 due to the Fenian Crisis with Canada.


  • An agreement is made between the Jackson Mining Company and Maadji-Giizhik for services rendered. Maadji-Giizhik is given twelve undivided one-hundredths part of the stock in the mine developed in Negaunee.
  • The duties of the Saginaw Indian Subagency are assigned to the Mackinac Agency as the Saginaw Subagency is discontinued.
Jackson Pit Mine, Negaunee, 1860


  • While the fur trade declines to a near stop, mining begins to pick up as the new largest industry for the Upper Peninsula. This new industry causes an increase of white settlers in Negaunee and in the newly developing city of Houghton. In Negaunee, Jackson Mining Company processes iron, while Houghton and the Keweenaw Peninsula are known for their copper mines.
  • With new settlers also comes new diseases and three Native Americans die from Cholera in Sault Ste. Marie.


  • Cholera continues spreading across the Upper Peninsula and many of the Anishinaabe people die from the disease. This includes a group of several Ojibwe who are camping at the mouth of the Tahquamenon River.
  • The Anishinaabe people are alarmed by talks of removal from the UP as several other tribes continue to be pushed west by more white settlers coming from the east.  - The Bureau of Indian Affairs moves from the War Department to its current location in the Department of the Interior. Sheldon McKnight constructs a railroad on reservation land in Sault Ste. Marie.


After spring thaw in 1852, Chief Kechewaishke and Chief Oshaga from LaPointe, along with five others set out for Washington, D.C. by birchbark canoe. As they paddled across Lake Superior they gathered signatures in support of stopping the Indian Removal Act. They travelled to Sault Ste. Marie and Detroit, where the Indian agents tried to stop their progress. Eventually they sailed through Lake Erie to Buffalo, New York and then on to Albany and New York City.  In Washington, they were turned away by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and told they should never have come in the first place. Eventually they met with President Millard Fillmore. The next day, Fillmore announced that the removal order would be canceled, the payment of annuities would be returned to La Pointe, and another treaty would set up permanent reservations for the Ojibwa in Michigan and Wisconsin.

Washington Delegation, June 22, 1852


  • Following protests against Ojibwe removal, the Michigan legislature requests Congress to halt the removal plans of the Ojibwe at L’Anse.
  • The government seizes land in Sault Ste. Marie to be used in the construction of the Soo Locks. This is in violation of several previously made treaties. The Ojibwe are each payed ten to fifteen dollars for their land and are ordered to be gone in twenty-four hours. Construction begins soon after.
Anishinaabe village at Baatewing with canal behind
Anishinaabe village at Baatewing (Sault Ste. Marie) with canal behind, 1869. Courtesy of the Archives of Canada.


  • The Ojibwe Reservation at L’Anse is established by the Chippewa Treaty of 1854. This makes the reservation the oldest in the state of Michigan.
  • Treaty of LaPointe establishes the Lac Vieux Desert Indian Reservation.
  • The first Episcopal mission in the UP, Grace Church in Clifton, begins construction. It is consecrated and opened in 1856.


  • According to Bishop Fredrick Baraga, there are multiple Catholic schools at this time including two in Sault Ste. Marie and one each in Mackinac, St. Ignace, Cross Village, Little Traverse, Cheboygan, and Eagleton.
  • Construction of the Soo Ship Canal and Locks is completed in Sault Ste. Marie despite protests from the Ojibwe community.
Soo Locks- "Old State Lock 50 Years Ago"
Soo Locks, ca. 1855. Courtesy of the Library of Congress


The United States government grants the Mackinac Indian Agency authority over Indigenous education in Michigan. Prior to this, most education for Native Americans was offered via various religious groups through mission schools and church operated boarding schools. The Mackinac Agency at this time is under the control of the mission society of the Methodist Episcopal church. They set up a system of day schools throughout the state of Michigan. By 1863, thirty day schools exist in the state. The agency closes all church operated boarding schools in the state.

St. Joseph's Convent, Baraga, Michigan
Courtesy of the Baraga County Historical Society


  • The Bay Mills Indian Community is established by an Act of Congress on June 19th.
  • St Joseph’s School is built in Assinins by Bishop Baraga and Father Edward Jacker. A large building west of the school house was used as a convent and orphanage.


Nearly 140 Anishinaabe men, including men from Grand Island, L’Anse, and Sugar Island, fight for the Union during the Civil War as part of the Company K Sharpshooters. They fight in several key battles including the battles of Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and the Siege of Petersburg. Company K is the only all Native American unit in the Union.

Wounded Indian Union sharpshooters around a tree
Stereograph shows wounded Indian Union sharpshooters at Brompton, the estate of John L. Marye, after the second Battle of Fredericksburg.  Courtesy of the Library of Congress


The Treaty with the Chippewa of the Mississippi is signed. This is the last treaty between the United States and Anishinaabe people. The Treaty era would last another four years and end in 1871 when the power of executive agreement is replaced by statutory law and congressional oversight. The Anishinaabeg people are recognized as citizens of the State of Michigan, but receive little to no benefits and are not yet recognized as US citizens.


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