1781 : British Purchase Mackinac Island From Chippewa Indians

May 12, 2023 all-day

On May 12, 1781, the Ojibwe tribe sold Mackinac Island to the British for five-thousand pounds…

The transaction was completed with the commander of Fort Michilimackinac, Lt. Patrick Sinclair, and the chiefs of several bands of Ojibwe.

The Ojibwe were given a dozen canoes filled with gifts worth 5,000 English pounds, which when converted to current U.S. dollars is the equivalent of more than $15 million.

John Lindstrom, “Before You Head To The Island, Mark Today For The Island’s Sale“, Gongwer Blog, May 12, 2014.

Deed to Mackinac Island; Chippewa Chief to George III [Mackinac Island], May 12, 1781, Native American History at the Clements Library, University of Michigan.

The Quarto, 1st Series, No. 37, February 1957, contains an article “Mackinac Island Deed is returned to Michigan” telling an interesting tale of how one of two copies of the original deed was purchased from a book dealer in Scotland for the Bentley Library. The other copy is available in the Dominion Archives in Ottawa, Canada.

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