Do you know where I could get information about the Wincot tribe that supposedly lived in the Grand Rapids, MI area 1,000 years or so ago? I was told by an archeologist they existed.
–Submitted by Faye W.
I haven’t heard of a Wincot tribe, and could find no specific references to a Wincot Indian tribe on the Internet. However, that does not mean they did not once exist. As a result of Christopher Columbus and his European counterparts’ conquests, only 1/2 of 1% of all Indigenous people who once lived in North and South America are in existence today.
Here are some facts I do know about Indian peoples who lived in the state of Michigan:
Approximately 120 different groups of Native Peoples have occupied the Great Lakes basin over the course of history. Other tribes who lived in this geographical area with names that sound vaguely similar to Wincot include: Wawenoks (Abenakies), Winnebago (on S. side of Lake Michigan until 1832), and Wyandots, (also known as Wyandotte or Hurons). Today, there are eleven Indian reservations in Michigan and twelve tribes with federal or state recognition.
When the Wisconsin Ice Age ended, it formed the Great Lakes basin and various lake stages. This area is roughly halfway between the equator and the North Pole. The Great Lakes basin contains Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Ontario, and Lake Erie. This area also includes much of Ontario in Canada, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York in the United States.
The City of Grand Rapids is the second largest city in the state of Michigan, and encompasses an area of approximately 45 square miles. It is located in west central Michigan, roughly 30 miles east of Lake Michigan. According to Conway, the northernmost regions of this area did not become habitable until about 10,600 years ago. However, archaeologists now have datings that Native peoples lived in various sites around the Great Lakes basin as long as 40 to 50 thousand years ago.
The Middle Woodland Period
The Middle Woodland Period (300 B.C. to A.D. 500) for the Upper Great Lakes had the Mound Builder or Hopewell Peoples. The Hopewell people are gone, but 17 of their burial mounds still lie in a forest outside Grand Rapids. This group of mounds is called the Norton Mounds. Until the mid-nineteenth century, another group called the Converse Mounds sat where downtown Grand Rapids is today. But in the mid-1850s, farmers, construction workers, and curious people dug into the Converse Mounds. The mounds soon disappeared and the city was built where they had stood.
The Public Museum of Grand Rapids operates the Norton Indian Mounds National Historic Landmark, a 55-acre Hopewell Indian site. Artifacts from the mounds are on display at the Van Andel Museum Center. For information, telephone (616) 456-3977.
The Late Woodland Period
During the Late Woodland period (A.D. 500 to 1620), the Anishinabeg (Ojibwe) oral traditions say that a migration to the Great Lakes region occured around A.D. 1400 from the Eastern coast. Woodland Indian groups of Upper Michigan include the Chippewa, the Ottawa and the Potawatomi.
Long, long ago an alliance known as the “Three Fires” was started by three brothers who shared similar lands and backgrounds. All were of the Anishinabe and lived in the eastern part of North America. After numerous wars and migrations, these tribes moved to the Great Lakes area. The oldest brother, Chippewa (Ojibwa), was given the responsibility of Keeper of the Faith. The middle brother, Ottawa (Odawa), was the Keeper of the Trade, and the youngest brother, Potawatomi (Bode Wad Mi), was responsible for keeping the Sacred Fire; hence the name, “Keeper of the Fire.”
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