Ethnographic Research in the Pictured Rocks:

Tracing the  Anishnaabeg Migration Route

Students hicking Pictured Roces

NMU anthropology students explore migration route of the Ojibway

 

From July 26, 2010 through August 12, 2010, NMU anthropologist Alex Ruuska, student ethnographers Amanda Hilgers, Rebecca Ferrell, and Charlene Brissette NMU graduate, Trystan McKeel, research assistant Lindsay Kiefer, and visiting scholar Lin Da Jiang, engaged cultural representatives from the five reservations of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in ethnographic fieldwork within the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Park.

The purpose of this project is to explore Great 500 year Migration of the Ojibway through one portion of the Great Lakes at The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Park. This is being done by gathering written histories, maps, photographs alongside ethnographic interviews of contemporary communities with cultural connections to the Pictured Rocks.These included representatives from: Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Hannahville Potawatomi Indian Community, Bay Mills Chippewa Indian Community, and Sault Ste. Marie. The NMU ethnographic team also interviewed one KBIC cultural representative from Minnesota and two Anishnaabe cultural representatives from Wisconsin. Each group visited between 5- 6 cultural sites (several of which are multi-component sites) over the course of 3 days.

shell
The historic migration route of the Anishnaabeg is one of the defining elements of Ojibway Culture. Traveling from the Atlantic seaboard at the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Anishnaabeg followed the sacred Megis shell, performing Mide rites at each stopping place along the migration route.

NMU ethnographic team had the opportunity to explore the oral traditions of cultural representatives through formal and informal research strategies including: participant observation, cultural landscape survey instruments, and interview schedules, which allowed for the thematic exploration of key topics.  At present all data from this research is currently being compiled and will be given to the National Park Service to assist in heritage management, educational outreach, and cultural vitalization and revitalization practices.  A website devoted to the project is available here.