November is National Native American Heritage Month. As the neighborhood works to better understand and celebrate the rich history of Native Americans in our city, we’ve gathered some resources for further reading and research:
The Wyandot and the River
Dr. Kay Givens-McGowan is an internationally recognized educator, activist and historian of Choctaw/Cherokee heritage. For several decades she has advocated for Detroit’s Native Americans and even helped draft a United Nations document on behalf of indigenous peoples.
Givens-McGowan says a chapter she wrote on the Wyandot for the 2003 book “Honoring Our Detroit River,” is a good resource for Indian Village residents who want to learn more about the people who once lived in this part of the city.
“The story of the Detroit River and the story of the Wyandot are one and the same, but much of the Wyandot story has been ‘written out’ of Michigan History,” she writes.
Dawn Of Detroit
This book written by historian Tiya Miles tells the mostly forgotten story of Native American and African American slavery in Detroit. Miles upends the stereotype that slavery was only a southern industry, reconstructing the role that it played in building Detroit beginning in the early 18th century.
Miles is the recipient of a 2011 MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” and is a professor at the University of Michigan in the departments of American culture, Afro-American and African studies, history, women’s studies, and in the Native American Studies Program.
Dawn Of Detroit is available on Amazon.com and at most local bookstores.
Early Days In Detroit
In a report last month to Detroit City Council, the Historic Designation Advisory Board referenced this book written by historian Friend Palmer back in 1904.
Palmer wasn’t just a noted historian, he was also alive when Abraham Cook and his family owned what is now Indian Village. His book provides a glimpse into the Cook family’s connections to local Native Americans.
“The Cooks were great friends of the Indians who often in the summer used to pitch their tents in front of their house,” Palmer wrote.
The HDAB report states, “There is evidence that suggests there was perhaps a meaningful and consequential relationship between Native Americans and the Cook family.”
Copies of “Early Days In Detroit” can be found on eBay or at John K. King Used & Rare Books at 901 W. Lafayette Blvd.