Tracking the Sleeping Bear

Tracking the Sleeping Bear is a lengthy essay that includes: 1) documented versions of the so-called “Legend of Sleeping Bear” from the 1890s until its heavy commercial popularization; 2) alternative legends relating to Sleeping Bear Dune and the Manitou Islands; 3) authentic Anishinaabe landscape origin stories from the vicinity of the upper Great Lakes; 4) historical accounts touching upon Sleeping Bear and the Manitous; 5) discussion of where the tracks lead. This is a difficult topic, because the popularity of the “Legend of Sleeping Bear” stems from its close resemblance to romantic “fakelore” (see also my essay on Fakelore and the Ethics of Children’s Literature) but the earliest documented versions, although not until the late nineteenth century, did come from within the Little Traverse Odawa community. (Updated 5/30/20)

Oral and Written Histories of Odawa and Chippewa Settlement of Northwest Michigan is a spinoff from Tracking the Sleeping Bear. The topic had become too long and cumbersome for something that was only tangentially relevant to the “Legend of Sleeping Bear,” and in pursuing the research, it became clear that historians of the Grand Traverse region had relied on secondary sources they treated as primary, had largely ignored the written documents from French and British periods (many in Michigan Pioneer an Historical Collections), and had been insufficiently critical of the oral histories. Updated 1/21.

Musings on Leelanau County’s Name (revised 7/4/20)

L’Arbre Croche Place Name

Seddie Powers Smith (a.k.a. Faustine). Complete packet of documents, also on file at Leelanau Historical Society. As a young woman, Seddie-Faustine spent a summer teaching school at Onumunese Village, wrote a letter and intriguing poems. Many holes in her biography. A novel waiting for someone to write.

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