1849 : Chief Wakazoo’s Band Moves to Leelanau Peninsula

June 1, 2018 all-day

In 1833 an Ottawa Indian village of about 300 was located on Black Lake, now Lake Macatawa, in Ottawa County (near Holland). The village was led by Chief Waukazoo, recognized by his followers as a prophet and by local settlers as an orator. The Ottawa adopted many of the customs of their white neighbors, such as dress and the use of oxen, carts plows and axes. They built log buildings for storage, but preferred to live in their traditional wigwams. Many of these Indians were converted to Christianity. In 1839 the Protestants in the village established the “Old Wing Mission” southeast of here. The Catholics chose a site on the other side of Black Lake to build their church and consecrated a cemetery there in 1841. On June 1, 1849, the Waukazoo band moved to the Grand Traverse Bay area, founding the village of Waukazooville, which was annexed by Northport in 1852.

According to another source Chief Waukazoo’s banda of Ottawa Indians was living along the Black River in southwestern Michigan in 1848 when, fearing a smallpox epidemic, they moved north. According to a Leelanau Historical Society account, they were assisted by The Reverend George Smith who operated an Ottawa mission ministering to the band.  Smith and his family set sail on the schooner Merrill while Waukazoo and his band traveled in canoes to their new settlement, which they called Waukazooville. In 1854, Deacon Joseph Dame and his son, Eusebius, platted the land north of Waukazoo. When the United States recognized the GTB reservation on the Leelanau Peninsula in 1855, Northport was excluded from the reservation boundaries.


Michigan Historical Marker.

Eric Carlson, “Native Waukazoo family sets reunion : Part of downstate township’s anniversary“, Leelenau News, May 7, 2015.

Image may contain: 2 people, text that says 'Old Wing Mission Cultural Interchange as Chronicled by George and Arvilla Smith in their Work with Chief Wakazoo's Ottawa Band on the West Michigan Frontier EDITED BY Robert Swierenga and William Van Appledorn'

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