Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore will hold a public storytelling webinar on Monday, March 18, at 6 pm. The free event is offered as a partnership between the National Lakeshore and the Nurturing the Eighth Fire team of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. The guest speaker is Isaac Murdoch whose Ojibwe name is Bomgiizhik (“Revolving Sky”). His presentation will focus on the ancient traditional knowledge of Ojibwe communities regarding the night sky. He will delve into the cultural significance and meanings behind these celestial stories, highlighting the unique perspectives of star knowledge within Indigenous cultures. Additionally, he will explore how these narratives are both distinct and universally relatable on a global scale.

Emily Modrall drew an audience of 150 to Suttons Bay High School on Nov. 29 where she summarized the Kchi Wiikwedong Anishinaabe History Project and its work to give more space and visibility to the Anishinaabe past and present through signage and art on public land. A fascination with history led Modrall, who grew up in Suttons Bay, to a Ph.D. in Art & Archeology from the University of Pennsylvania and 15 years of field work in Italy. But upon returning home, this region’s own history seemed far away. Two years ago, Modrall ran across a marker at West End Beach etched “OLD INDIAN TRAIL” which she learned led south to Cadillac and was used by the Anishinaabek more than a century ago. Most of these trails are now lost to history—or paved over. Modrall describes herself in that moment unmoored, as she felt the history of her home and birthplace shifting beneath her feet. “What was this old trail?” She remembers wondering, “Who put up this marker? And what more can we do to preserve the past?”

Just outside of Glen Arbor, a well-traveled section of County Road 675 is imperiled as it crosses three sets of undersized culverts slowly crumbling into the Crystal River. That’s a multi-million-dollar problem for the Leelanau County Road Commission. The engineering plans call for the construction of a concrete and steel structure to replace the culverts under CR 675 closest to M-22. That will keep the two road surfaces closely matched in elevation. The two sets of culverts further east, including the “shoot-the-tube” culverts, are to be replaced with classic wood bridges providing a lot of headroom for paddlers, ending the need for portages across the road. Plans call for the replacement of the Tucker Lake overflow culvert with a wide and substantial concrete box culvert.

On May 5, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians observes “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day.” This is a day to remember those who have been murdered, and those who are still missing, particularly Native women and children.

The Crystal River near Glen Arbor in Leelanau County is one of the central features in a new documentary film to be screened on WCMU Public Television at Noon on Sunday, Oct. 2. Restoring Aquatic Ecosystems shines a light on Michigan’s first indigenous-led, multi-agency collaborative created to restore and protect the ecology of streams and rivers across the entire region. Led by the Grand Traverse Band (GTB) of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, the Tribal Stream and Michigan Fruitbelt Collaborative includes more than a dozen nonprofit organizations and governmental agencies working together to remove blockages to the natural flow of water in Michigan’s streams and rivers—often called “the arteries of mother earth.”

Late August is the time when Peshawbestown in Leelanau County typically hosts its annual Pow Wow, a vital part of Native culture. A social gathering, it’s a time to dance, to feast, and to share stories. Vendors sell their crafts, children dance and spectators gather and watch the dancers move to the beat of the drum. The colors swirl and the Native pride is palpable. These photos featuring past Pow Wows were taken by Minnie Wabanimkee, a Native artist and photographer.

A few days before she died of the Coronavirus on November 23, Maryan Rochel Petoskey sat up in her bed on the COVID-19 ward at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City and looked in both directions. Through a clear greyish tarp that separated her from others, Maryan told her sister Donna that she could see rows and rows of beds on either side. A member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians who lived on the Peshawbestown reservation, Maryan Rochel Petoskey was 30 years young. She was the third victim of COVID-19 in Leelanau County, and the first person under age 60 to die of the pandemic.

In a unified effort to make COVID-19 testing more accessible to our region, the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department, Honu Labs, Sleeping Bear Dune National Lakeshore and Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians are joining forces to offer no-cost, drive-thru COVID-19 testing to the public on Wednesday at the Sleeping Bear Dune Climb.

“We have a geographic implicit bias right here in our county, where the highway was built upon a village,” said Melissa Petoskey on Aug. 19 as cars zoomed by on M-22, seemingly unaware that they were driving through a tribal reservation between Suttons Bay and Northport. Petoskey is the human relations executive for the Grand Traverse Band. “There’s no reduction in speed limit here. We’re the only village in Leelanau County without a reduction in speed.

We reached out to Mari Raphael, a registered nurse at the Grand Traverse Band Family Health Clinic and a tribal member, to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting life for the tribe. The Leelanau Sands Casino is closed, and the tribe will begin furloughing workers next month. Nevertheless, the indispensable Family Health Clinic remains open.