First Inhabitants: The Anishnabek
Artifacts found in the region indicate the indigenous population has been here for over 12 millennia, and that a village once existed on the bluff north of Charlevoix’s Pine River Channel and bridge as long as 3,500 years ago.
While the origin stories differ to some degree, it is understood that the Odawa, the Ojibwa, and the Potawatomi migrated to the region from the North Atlantic coast, aligned themselves as the Three Fires, and took the name Anishnabek, or Real People. For centuries, the tribes lived off of the bounty of the land and water following the seasons up and down the Lake Michigan shoreline.
This storied history is intertwined with that of the European explorers, missionaries, and settlers who felt destined to occupy the land, and over the next three centuries, indigenous populations struggled to maintain their traditions and ways of living. By the late 1800s in Charlevoix, when wealthy city dwellers were discovering the restorative air and water for themselves. Their history, however, was in danger of being lost.
Today, the Charlevoix Historical Society is committed to preserving and sharing the story of the area’s native populations and to recognizing and fostering awareness of their foundational role in the region’s past and future. The Society’s task is to engage local tribal members to help in developing programs and initiatives to share their culture, history, and experiences.