The Tale of Mackinac Island’s Arch Rock

Arch Rock, Mackinac Island, photo by Mark Swanson

Here’s one of my favorite Michigan origin stories, the tale of Arch Rock, adapted from Dirk Gringhus’s wonderful book, The Lore of the Great Turtle. Head over to Mackinac State Historic Parks for more Mackinac area history!

This strange rock formation was looked upon with awe by the Indians as a bridge to another world after death where departed souls could find their last resting place in the island caves. There are many stories, or legends, to how Arch Rock was formed. This one tells about a mortal woman and her love for a sky spirit.

Along the beaches on the shores of Lake Huron lived a band of Ojibwa. Their lodges, or homes, were round topped and made of saplings and elm bark. The homes lay peacefully beneath forest boughs.

In the finest lodge, with its door blanket made of moose hide, lived the chief of the band and his beautiful daughter called She-who-walks-likethe-mist.

When She-who-walks-like-themist carried water from the lake in her clay vessel or worked the bright designs of dyed moose hair and porcupine quills into soft moccasins, the young braves watched with admiring eyes.

But Mist Woman paid little attention. Her work days were long without a mother to help her. She never complained. Her father was proud of this. Some day, he knew, she would marry a fine brave from another clan and have many children.

At first, when the young men began coming to their lodge bringing gifts, Mist Woman smiled and offered them wild rice she had gathered in the canoe.

Then, one day, all was changed. Suddenly the young men would find Mist Woman sitting with downcast eyes instead of welcoming smiles. As her father saw her growing more and more sad, paddling her canoe alone at night, he became angry.

“Why, my daughter, do you who once smiled on the strong young men who brought you gifts, now treat them with a cold heart? Are you under an evil spell?”, he asked. Mist Woman only shook her head.

“A daughter cannot always live in the house of her father. You must choose a husband soon or you will become old and wrinkled like Mez-he -say, the turkey,” he said.

Slowly the girl lifted her head. She saw anger in her father’s eyes. At last she spoke.

“It is true, my father, that I am under a spell. But not the spell placed by an evil spirit,” she spoke. “What then?” her father asked fiercely.

“Let me speak that you may know my heart,” she said. “Often when I go to gather the wild rice it is late. The star of the path of the dead is in the sky when I return.

“Two moons ago, as I paddled to the eastern shore of our village, a handsome brave appeared to me. His clothing was one of the whitest deerskin I have ever seen and covered with designs my fingers could have never made.

“But even more wonderful was his robe of shining light. I tried to paddle quickly homeward, as a daughter should, but my hands were helpless and my canoe drifted into the lake.

“It was then that he spoke to me. ‘Oh, lovely one,’ he said. ‘Long have I watched you in the village wishing that you might be mine for all time. In my home, high above you, I am the son of a chief, Evening Star, and therefore, a Sky Person. And so, I felt I could not speak to you of my love.’

“’Then, as I watched the young men coming to your ledge bearing gifts, my heart felt heavy and I became one without hope. It was then that my father came to my couch of bird feathers and I told him of your beauty. He understood and gave me leave to descend to earth that I might ask you to join me in my sky home.’”

“And what did you answer, my daughter?” her father asked.

“I said I would marry no one, but him,” she answered.

“Daughter! No! It is forbidden! You should marry no one at all then!” he shouted.

Holding her by the arms, he took her out of the lodge toward the lake shore. He placed her in the bow of his canoe. With mighty strokes he drove the canoe straight to the Island of the Turtle Spirits.

There, he took her to the top of the great rock, which towered above the beach. “Now,” said he, “you shall not see your love again. Here you shall stay until you decide to be a faithful daughter once more.” And he left.

Mist Woman made no answer. She did not cry out when the sun grew hot or the rain fell. Only her tears flowed down the rock to show her longing for the man.

Little by little, the tears began to melt the stone until at last an arch appeared beneath her and she was left on a high bridge of rock. That night, through the arch, appeared the rays of an evening star and down these rays walked the one she loved.

Gathering her into his arms, he carried her up the stars into the land of the Sky People. But the arch rock was formed and stayed to remind people of this story.

View Mark’s photo bigger and see more in his Mackinac, Michigan slideshow.

The River Grand

The River Grand, photo by John Rothwell

Wikipedia’s entry on the Grand River says in part:

The Grand River is the longest river in the U.S. state of Michigan. It runs 252 miles (406 km) through the cities of Jackson, Eaton Rapids, Lansing, Grand Ledge, Portland, Ionia, Lowell, Grand Rapids, and Grand Haven. Native Americans who lived along the river before the arrival of the French and British called the river O-wash-ta-nong, meaning Far-away-water, because of its length.

As the glacial ice receded from what is the central Lower Peninsula of Michigan around 11,000 years ago, the Maple River and lower Grand River served as a drainage channel for the meltwater. The channel ran east to west, emptying into proglacial Lake Chicago, the ancestor of Lake Michigan. Today the Grand River rises in Somerset Township in Hillsdale County and Liberty Township in Jackson County, and flows through Jackson, Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Ionia, Kent, and Ottawa counties before emptying into Lake Michigan. Its watershed drains an area of 5,572 square miles (14,430 km2), including 18 counties and 158 townships. Tributaries of the river include (beginning near river source and travelling downstream): Portage River, Red Cedar River, Looking Glass River, Maple River, Bellamy Creek, Flat River, Thornapple River, Rogue River, Coldbrook Creek, Plaster Creek, Bass River, and Crockery Creek.

…Grand Rapids was built on the site of a mile long rapids on the Grand River, although these have disappeared after the installation of a run-of-river dam in 1866 and five low-rise dams during a river beautification project in 1927.

View the photo background bigtacular and see more in John’s slideshow.

More Michigan rivers on Michigan in Pictures.

Michigan’s Loon Boom

Common Loon, photo by Ron DeHaan

So I sez to this loon, I’m seeing more & more loons every year…

At least I imagine something to that effect in the conversation above. I’ve definitely been noticing more loons again this summer. While loons are far from out of the woods, this is a real success story for conservation efforts that you can read about from the Michigan Loon Preservation Association.

The Michigan Nature Guy (Donald Drife) wrote about the rebound of Michigan’s loon population, saying in part:

No other bird signifies the wilds of northern Michigan better than the Common Loon (Gavia immer). When I wake up while camping along the shore of a northern lake and feel its eerie cry, I am connected to a primitive time and the primitive land.

…Common Loons breed in Michigan north of Saginaw. Our current population is 500-775 nesting pairs. While this is up from the estimated 220 pairs in the early 1980s, there are still thousands of suitable lakes without a nesting pair. Loons are diving birds with their legs placed toward their tails. This gives them trouble walking on land. It is rare to see a loon on land except at its nest. Loons return in early spring and it is not uncommon to see them on a lake the day after its ice melts. How they know that the water is open remains a mystery. Nests are built near the waterline and often touch the water. Nests are little more than bare ground when the eggs are laid. Both parents incubate the eggs and add grass, sedges, reeds, and other vegetation to the nest.

View the photo from kayaking in Lake Dubonnet near Interlochen bigger, see more in Ron’s slideshow, and follow Ron DeHaan Photography on Facebook.

Project Tim

This space originally contained a photo by Detroit area artist Tim and the last name of “Man, do I not want to promote or support the art of Michigan’s truly insufferable artists.”

He’d rather you don’t see it here and believe me, I am more than happy to oblige.

In What is Project Tim?, Crain’s Detroit Business explains that a mystery company has amassed 850 acres in land options to build a $5 billion industrial facility that could be the largest manufacturing plant in the country:

The massive project is dubbed “Project Tim” in a document the company provided to local government and economic officials, who have vowed to keep the company’s name and industry a closely-held secret while the land is being assembled.

The document says the industrial development is being pursued by a “small group of globally leading companies and experts” who want to build a 24 million-square-foot facility that would be “the greenest facility of its kind anywhere in the world.”

“As of this time we cannot share details on the precise nature of Project Tim,” according to the document, which the city of Durand has been distributing to residents. “… It will be a high-tech industrial development unlike anything that you have probably ever seen before.”

The company’s document describes a massive manufacturing facility unlike anything in Michigan — in terms of size — that promises to create 800 full-time jobs in “Phase 1.”

The document describes a sprawling facility 6,200 feet long and 3,900 feet wide that would top 550 acres in size. (A square mile is 640 acres.) If built, the plant being proposed in Durand would be 50 percent larger than the 16 million-square-foot Ford River Rouge Complex. It also would be bigger than the tiny 499-acre nation of Monaco along France’s Mediterranean coast.

You can see the photo background bigilicious and see more in Scott’s Detroit Industrial Gallery slideshow.

Lazy Summer Day

Lazy Summer Day, photo by David Marvin

View the photo background bigilicious and see more in David’s slideshow.

More summer wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Pink sky and Wiggins Lake

Pink sky and Wiggins Lake, photo by Tom Clark

View the photo bigger, see this photo of Wiggins Lake near Gladwin and more in Tom’s slideshow, and view & purchase photos from his website.

First Kiss

Let Me Have My First Kiss, photo by Julia Thomas

View this gorgeous July sunrise bigger and see more in Julia’s slideshow.