This is the Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan:

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I've been reading about it's history during the colonial era. Apparently the Native Americans mined copper from this area because there were great copper deposits near the surface.

I'd like to know if any Native Americans spent the winter there, and if so, about how many? What tribes did so? Just Ojibwe, or others? Were there perhaps even permanent settlements where they grew corn or other stuff?

The year I'm interested in is around 1750. If it matters, the exact area I'm interested in is the southern half of the peninsula---both coastlines and the inland area.

(I have many similar questions for this time period about Native American history in many areas in North America. If anyone knows some good books about that, don't hesitate to recommend them.)

1 Answer 1


Looks like this area might not have been settled:

There is also an ancient superstition concerning Keweenaw point which prevented the Indians from settling there. It was the general belief that the Evil Manitou resided there and the point does not appear to have been inhabited by the Indians but was only visited by them at certain times for the purpose of obtaining copper Then by ceremonious rites and offerings to the Evil Spirit permission was obtained from him by the priests to dig for copper.


...It is not improbable that the scarcity of game in the wilderness on Keweenaw point may have added to the Indians aversion to settlement upon that peninsula but fish are abundant enough near its shores so that they could have lived there had they chosen to do so.

The above source has more information concerning the early explorations of this region, covering the Jesuits, French and British presences, and the Native Americans beliefs and legends concerning the copper deposits.

Another source mentions a wintering area that was used, located just south of the area shown on the OP's map:

As near as can be determined, these winter quarters of the Ottawas were in the vicinity of L'Anse at the head of Keweenaw Bay.

  • If that's true, then they almost surely did not spend the winter there. The quote is 99 years late, but if it's an ancient superstition then it's just as well. But maybe I need to ask exactly where the Huron and Ojibwe spent the winter?
    – DrZ214
    Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 13:27
  • According to this handy-dandy map of native tribal territory, that peninsula was firmly inside Ojibwa territory. So if they didn't winter there, likely nobody did.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 15:55
  • The Huron(Wyandot) seem to be farther east then this area, and mainly north of the great lakes, so not on the above map.
    – justCal
    Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 16:39
  • BTW: If anyone else is as curious as I was "Manitou" used in this way seems to mean "spirit". Alone, it appears to be equivalent to the Siouxan "Wakonda", both of which are similar concepts to The Force in Star Wars (although Christians like to equate them to their God).
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 18:48
  • @T.E.D. What year does that map represent? And I can't tell the difference between the two shades of pink. Which tribe/pink surrounds the Great Lakes?
    – DrZ214
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 5:39

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