January 26 – Michigan Celebrates Its Statehood!

Posted on January 26, 2016

Michigan was once owned (by which I mean settled and used) by the Algonquian peoples, the Odaawaa peoples, and Boodewaadamii peoples. Some of the Algonquians were in the group that called themselves the Ojibwe – and were called "Chippewa" by the French.

French explorers and woodsmen began to settle in what is now Michigan in the 1600s, eventually establishing trading posts. From 1660 until 1763, the area was part of “New France,” but when the French lost the French and Indian War to the British, Michigan and the parts of New France that were east of the Mississippi River became British lands.

Yes, even though they were being used by the original owners such as the Ojibwe!

After the American Revolutionary War, one would think that Michigan would pass to the new nation, the United States of America. But the the imprecise maps of the time and the unclear language of the 1783 Treaty of Paris resulted in the British still having control of Michigan, including the important town of Detroit. In 1791, the region was considered part of Upper Canada.

A couple of treaties later, after the War of 1812, Michigan finally became American territory.

And finally finally, on this date in 1837, Michigan had a large enough population of non-native "Americans" to qualify as a state.

What's special about Michigan?

The first thing I ever learned about Michigan was its unique shape. It is the only state to consist of two peninsulas (pieces of land that jut out into water so that they are surrounded by water on three sides). And the two peninsulas are unconnected to one another. My wooden puzzle of the U.S. had two separate pieces for Michigan—the mitten-shaped piece, and the dog-shaped piece (to my child's mind).

Obviously, Michigan is very much a “Great Lakes” state. The Great Lakes are not only the largest lakes in the U.S. (although most are ALSO partly “in” Canada), they are among the largest lakes in the world! The five interconnected lakes make the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth, and Lake Superior is the second largest lake in the world, and Lake Michigan is the largest lake in the world that is entirely within one country.

The Great Lakes were very important for shipping and travel, especially in the past, and so important settlements grew into important towns, which in turn grew into important cities. Now some call the area surrounding the lakes the Great Lakes Megalopolis, which is made up of Chicago, Toronto, Detroit, Montreal, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Cleveland-Akron, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Columbus, Milwaukee, Ottawa, Grand Rapids, Buffalo, Rochester, Toledo, and so on and on! Several of those cities are in Michigan.

Michigan is full of water, obviously, and full of forests and plants that love all that water—and of course water and forests is a pretty good recipe for gorgeous scenery. Take a gander at some of the lovely sights to be seen in Michigan:

Palms Book State Park, which features a spring,
a pool of clear water that visitors can
peer into from a CCC-built raft that
is drawn across the lake by cables
Tahquamenon Falls, the second largest
waterfall in the U.S. (by volume)

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore,
which was dubbed “The Most Beautiful 
Place in America” by Good Morning 
America, in 2011 

Mackinac Island, which has its great natural
beauties but also some fairly swank hotels

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