Letters

Letters 05-02-2016

Facts About Trails I would like to correct some misinformation provided in Kristi Kates’ article about the Shore-to-Shore Trail in your April 18 issue. The Shore-to-Shore Trail is not the longest continuous trail in the Lower Peninsula. That honor belongs to the North Country Trail (NCT), which stretches for over 400 miles in the Lower Peninsula. In fact, 100 miles of the NCT is within a 30-minute drive of Traverse City, and is maintained by the Grand Traverse Hiking Club...

North Korea Is Bluffing I eagerly read Jack Segal’s columns and attend his lectures whenever possible. However, I think his April 24th column falls into an all too common trap. He casually refers to a nuclear-armed North Korea when there is no proof whatever that North Korea has any such weapons. Sure, they have set off some underground explosions but so what? Tonga could do that. Every nuclear-armed country on Earth has carried out at least one aboveground test, just to prove they could do it if for no other reason. All we have is North Korea’s word for their supposed capabilities, which is no proof at all...

Double Dipping? In Greg Shy’s recent letter, he indicated that his Social Security benefit was being unfairly reduced simply due to the fact that he worked for the government. Somehow I think something is missing here. As I read it this law is only for those who worked for the government and are getting a pension from us generous taxpayers. Now Greg wants his pension and he also wants a full measure of Social Security benefits even though he did not pay into Social Security...

Critical Thinking Needed Our media gives ample coverage to some presidential candidates calling each other a liar and a sleaze bag. While entertaining to some, this certainly should lower one’s respect for either candidate. This race to the bottom comes as no surprise given their lack of respect for the rigors of critical thinking. The world’s esteemed scientists take great steps to preserve the integrity of their findings. Not only are their findings peer reviewed by fellow experts in their specialty, whenever possible the findings are cross-checked by independent studies...

Home · Articles · News · Books · Visions of Mackinac
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Visions of Mackinac

Robert Downes - May 19th, 2008
If there’s one book you simply must have on your coffee table this summer, it’s “A Picturesque Situation: Mackinac Before Photography 1615-1860” by Brian Leigh Dunnigan.
The book is a treasure trove of the days when the Straits area served as North America’s ‘wild northwest,’ lifting the reader’s soul with visions of our colorful, rough-and-tumble past. Filled with 330 paintings, drawings, maps and documents, “A Picturesque Situation” tells the story of the Straits area at a time when it was the western terminus to the resources of North America.
Here are tales of fur traders, Indian tribes, explorers, settlers, soldiers and 19th century tourists who were drawn to the Mackinac Straits for its strategic importance. As the perfect rendezvous for the water highway to the West, the Straits provided a gateway to
Lake Michigan and the Mississippi Valley as well as the fur trade far up into northern Canada.
The Straits were one of the first areas settled in Michigan by several Indian tribes as well as white newcomers. Dunnigan tells how the Huron and the Ottawa tribes were driven from their homes in Canada by Iroquois war parties in 1648-49, with the refugees settling in the Straits area.
Their neighbors included French trappers and voyageurs as well as a succession of English and American troops who held (and lost) the fort on Mackinac Island.
Here too is the story of the capture of Fort Michilimackinac by Ojibwa warriors during a lacrosse game in 1763, armed with hatchets concealed under the robes of their women. The Ojibwa were angry that the fort had been surrendered by New France to the British in 1760, with whom they had been at war with for six years.
That story dovetails with the account of adventurer Alexander Henry, a British subject who came to the Straits, disguised as a French voyageur, “his face and hair smeared with dirt and grease to obscure his complexion. Henry was eager to engage in the rich fur trade of the region despite the very real possibility that the Ottawa or Ojibwa would kill him on sight.” Henry was held captive by the Indians following the massacre; his account of his journey with a tribe and life in winter quarters remains one of the most thrilling stories in the annals of Michigan history.
Dunnigan’s book is also filled with the observations of soldiers, artists and dignitaries who passed through the Straits, describing it variously as “a very lonesome place” with “40 houses all very badly built,” but also “a post of great consequence” and “The wildest and tenderest little piece of beauty that I have yet seen on God’s earth.”
Dunnigan is the head of research and publications and curator of maps at the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan. He is also the author of “Frontier Metropolis,” a widely hailed book on the founding of Detroit. His work, “A Picturesque Sitation”, combines the best of scholarship and art with the thrill of adventurous tales that are well worth repeating. Sum up his book and the beauty of the Straits with the words of Captain Dave Bates Douglass in 1820: “Nothing could be a finer subject for the pencil.”
 
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