The Michigan Tech Geology Department explains that Michigan’s state stone is the Hexagonaria percarinata, the Petoskey stone. It is a fossil colonial coral that lived in the warm Michigan seas during the Devonian time around 350 million years ago. They can be found from Traverse City area across the state to Alpena in gravel pits, road beds, and of course beaches, with the largest concentration found on and around Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay near the town of Petoskey. In June of 1965 the Petoskey Stone was named Michigan’s official State Stone and Miss Ella Jane Petoskey, the only living grandchild of Chief Petoskey, attended the formal signing.
Several years ago I shared the story behind the name as told by a young woman I know, Rose Petoskey:
My name is Noozeen (Rose) Nimkiins (Little Thunder) Petoskey (Rising Sun) and I am Anishinaabek.
Many people would associate the word Petoskey with the souvenir stone found on the northern Lake Michigan shorelines. However, to my family, the word Petoskey represents much more than a souvenir.
In the Odawa language, the word Petoskey (Bii-daa-si-ga) means the rising sun, the day’s first light, or the sun’s first rays moving across the water. The Petoskey stone is a fossilized coral created by impressions made in limestone during the last Michigan ice age. These stones were named “Petoskey” because the impressions resembled the rising sun coming up over the water. Just as the image of the rising sun is implanted within the Petoskey stone, the archaeology of a person’s names is implanted within. All names within our Anishinaabek culture reflect an individual’s personal history. Rocks go deep, but names go much deeper to reveal the stories of the past.