“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Mackinaw City in Emmet County, Michigan — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

Warrior, brother & leader

The Life of Nissowaquet


— 1715-1797 —

Warrior, brother & leader Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, July 31, 2017
1. Warrior, brother & leader Marker
Inscription.  Nissowaquet, a legendary Odawa
Nissowaquet (Nosawaguet, Sosawaket, La Fourche), Odawa chief; the name evidently comes from Nassauaketon, meaning “forked river,” the designation of one of the four Odawa bands; b. 1715; d. 1797.

Nissowaquet was born into the Nassauaketon band, whose village was located beside Fort Michilimackinac, Mackinaw City. In 1741, having exhausted the soil there, these Ottawas moved to Cross Village, 20 miles away. Their new settlement stretched for several miles along the Lake Michigan shore. Nissowaquet belonged to a long line of Odawa warriors from the upper Great Lakes. Hundreds of years before him, Odawa warriors by the name of Sagima and Kawbenaw went to great lengths to protect their lands and way of life, traveling to fight old enemies as well as staving off invading war parties. The Odawa of Nissowaquet's generation had inherited what their ancestors had fought hard to retain and the pattern of defending their homelands continued, with Nissowaquet leading war parties. He was the most powerful Odawa chief during his time.

Expeditions from Northern Michigan
Marker detail: Michigan in 1776 image. Click for full size.
2. Marker detail: Michigan in 1776
This 1776 map shows the perception of Michigan during Nissowaquet's time. It demonstrates the lack of understanding of geography before cartography became more advanced. It’s also interesting to note the delineation of the three main named territories of the time: The Ottoways Land, Chippeways Land and Ojibway Territories. But that was about to change with the arrival of the French, and then the British.

Note: the white X on the map denotes the approximate location of the Michilimackinac area.
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ancient trails and waterways, Nissowaquet set out on the war path against the Chickasaw in 1739. Accompanying him was his sister's son, Akiaakwaadizi ("He who is fierce for the Earth"), Charles Langlade. Only 10 at the time, Nissowaquet sensed a strong warrior spirit in the boy. He was right, as the Odawa war party, which had been unsuccessful on two previous trips, was finally victorious. Nissowaquet would be the mentor to Charles, perhaps the most influential warrior during the French and Indian war. You'll meet him along this trail as well.

The French and Indian war saw hundreds of Odawa and Ojibway side with the French against the British. Nissowaquet was one of the primary war chiefs, traveling far distances again to fight the British at Fort William Henry in 1757 in New York. While victorious in the battle of Fort William Henry, many Odawa and Ojibway contracted the devastating smallpox disease. Upon coming home to Northern Michigan, the disease claimed hundreds of lives, destroying entire villages. Indeed, the deadliest enemy for the Odawa and other Great Lakes tribes was disease.

Nissowaquet's entire life was dedicated to his people, whether it was on the war path or in making the good decisions needed to navigate changing powers at Mackinac. In 1761, the Odawa sided with the British as they occupied Fort Michilimackinac and when the American Revolution
Marker detail: Nissowaquet's Battles image. Click for full size.
3. Marker detail: Nissowaquet's Battles
This map shows the various places Nissowaquet traveled to fight in battles, from home base in Michilimackinac, today’s Emmet County.
broke out, Nissowaquet and his warriors supported the British and took part in several expeditions. By the 1780s, he was considered "akiwaz," which translates to "one long on the earth," and his military career was over. He died in 1791.

From 9,000 years ago to Nissowaquet's time…
Nissowaquet's life was quite different from his ancestors depicted at the display along this trail at the water's edge. He lived in a larger community, sharing native Odawa lands with the French, thus making Nissowaquet's view more international. The arrival of the Europeans in the 1600s brought new technology and also far-reaching wars that impacted the chief’s lands and people.

Nissowaquet's time was one of great change for the Odawa, one of the most powerful tribes in the Great Lakes. Their men and women were active farmers supplying not only tribal needs but also Fort Michilimackinac’s needs. Indian farm products were vital to the forts survival and both trade partners knew it, which gave the Odawa power. In return for food, the fort provided clothing and metal tools that the tribe needed and wanted. The Odawa were also instrumental in the fur trade, setting prices and controlling the trade routes. When it came to battles, the Odawa warriors of this time, like Nissowaquet, incorporated European rifles into their traditional means of war across the Great Lakes.

Warrior, brother & leader Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, July 31, 2017
4. Warrior, brother & leader Marker
(Lake Michigan/Straits of Mackinac in the background)
was a well-versed chief, interacting with Europeans and other tribes, and undoubtedly spoke many languages. As a more worldly man, he represented the changing life and times of the Native Odawa and the pressures they faced to remain in their ancestral homelands of Northern Michigan.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial EraNative AmericansWar, French and IndianWar, US Revolutionary. A significant historical year for this entry is 1715.
Location. 45° 47.322′ N, 84° 46.362′ W. Marker is in Mackinaw City, Michigan, in Emmet County. Marker can be reached from Headlands Road north of McGulpin Point Road, on the right when traveling north. Marker is located along the Discovery Trail at McGulpin Point Lighthouse & Historic Site. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 500 Headlands Road, Mackinaw City MI 49701, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. At The Water's Edge (within shouting distance of this marker); At the Water's Edge (within shouting distance of this marker); Charles de Langlade (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Settling the Straits (about 400 feet away); McGulpin Family Life (about 500 feet away); Minneapolis (about 600 feet away); William H. Barnum (about 600 feet away); James W. Bennett (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Mackinaw City.
Related markers.
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Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Discovery Trail to the Straits of Mackinac
Also see . . .  Discovery Trail to the Straits of Mackinac. Odawa Nissowaquet was among the most influential and powerful Native Americans in the region and state. (Submitted on August 16, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 17, 2020. It was originally submitted on August 14, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 124 times since then and 27 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on August 15, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   2, 3, 4. submitted on August 16, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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May. 26, 2022