Native American Materials

An annotated Bibliography of Material in the Clarke Historical Library

Compiled by Evelyn Leasher, Robert Hendershot, Michael Phillips, and Jennifer Wood

Compiler's Notes

The Clarke Historical Library holdings are particularly rich in materials on the Native Americans of Michigan. Included in this bibliography are books, periodicals, manuscripts, maps and graphics on the subject. Because traditional tribal boundaries are not codeterminus with contemporary state borders, some of the material listed in this bibliography has a wider geographic focus than Michigan, but the emphasis is on Michigan.

Annotations have been made as far as possible from the author, editor or publisher's own words. Where that was not possible a brief content description was made. Annotations were selected which are content oriented. Little attempt has been made to evaluate the material. Even though a publication may contain more than one subject they have been entered into this bibliography only once, where the compiler thought most appropriate.

The Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collection was indexed and annotated by Robert Hendershot and Michael Phillips three years ago and has been available on the Clarke Historical Library website. Because the volumes contain so much valuable information their index has been integrated into this bibliography. They have used slightly different subject headings and methods but the difference is not enough to justify reworking their index.

Periodicals in the Clarke Historical Library have been examined, indexed and annotated. In many cases these periodicals are not indexed in the major indexes and thus the information they contain is hard to locate. Periodicals have been indexed up to December 2003.

The Clarke Historical Library is a research library at Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan. The public is welcome to use the Clarke Historical Library materials at our beautiful facility. To obtain further information about the library and its holdings you may consult our website at or telephone 989-774-3352.


Archaeologists have discovered evidence of cultures twelve thousand years old in the area we now call Michigan. Many groups have inhabited the area in that time span but the Native Americans who were in the area at the time the first Europeans traveled to the Great Lakes all spoke the Algonquian language, shared many cultural characteristics, and were allied in the Three Fires Confederacy. The largest group called themselves Anishinabe and were also known as Chippewa or Ojibwa. Within Michigan their primary territory was the northern half of the state but groups of them lived far beyond Michigan's borders. The Ottawa or Odawa lived in the middle of the state and were known as traders. The Potawatomi e mostly lived in the Southwest part of the state but had settled around the edges of Lake Michigan into what is now Illinois. All relied on combinations of hunting, fishing and agriculture to support their families and communities.

French traders, soldiers, and missionaries first came into the Great Lakes area in 1644. The traders came in search of furs, the soldiers to claim the territory in the name of the king of France, and the missionaries, Catholic priests, to save souls. When the French were defeated by the British in 1759 a new group of Europeans tried to impose their way of government and life on the people of the area. When the British were in turn defeated by the American colonials in 1796 and retreated into Canada yet a third government claimed ownership of the area.

Unlike its precursors, the United States government stayed and in time wanted not just the products of the land but the land itself. As the people of the United States pushed westward the Native Americans already on the land were pushed out. Treaties, when necessary backed by military force, were the usual way for the United States government to acquire the land occupied by the Native Americans.

Each tribe was treated as a sovereign nation with treaty making abilities. Land was usually exchanged for goods, services and annual cash payments to tribal members. Hunting and fishing rights on their traditional land were often retained by the Native Americans. Of the tribes residing in Michigan, the Potawatomi es were the most radically effected by these treaties. By treaty the Potawatomi es, except for the Pokagon band, were forced to leave Michigan and were 'relocated' to Kansas in 1840.]

For those Native Americans who remained in the state, fraud, greed, and double dealing by many local entrepreneurs caused much suffering. Government inadequacies and policies also caused much hardship. For example, in spite of having to deal with the largest territory and the most clients of any Indian agency in the United States, the Mackinac Agency had little staff and the head was usually a political appointee with little background in the affairs he was trying to manage. As new theories to "solve the Indian problem" surfaced government policies changed, usually leading to further hardships for the native Americans.

Despite difficult conditions Michigan's Native Americans have survived as physical and cultural communities transmitting traditional values to their children. These communities, however, have evolved. Individuals have achieved success in various endeavors and the traditional ways have been modified to meet contemporary conditions. Today, Native Americans are again major players in the economy of Michigan.

The Clarke Historical Library holdings are particularly rich in materials on the Native Americans in Michigan. Included in this bibliography are books, manuscripts, and graphics on the subject in the collection. Because traditional tribal boundaries are not codeterminus with contemporary state borders, some of the material listed in this bibliography has a wider geographic focus than Michigan, but the emphasis is on Michigan.

Items appear in only one category although often they could appear in several, so readers are encouraged to check other headings if they do not find what they are looking for in the first one they click on. When the Clarke Historical Library owns more than one edition of a book generally only the first edition has been listed.

This is by no means all the Native American material in the Clarke Historical Library's collections. For example, the Library has material which focuses on the Old Northwest Territory, General George Armstrong Custer and the Battle of the Little Big Horn, and the Civil War, all of which include significant information pertaining to Native Americans. Many county and local histories have also been included which contain references to Native American residents of a particular area; however researchers may want to seek out additional ones not listed in the bibliography as well. The Clarke Historical Library adds material on a regular basis and the cutoff date for the current edition of this bibliography was 2004.