Part I: Three Fires Confederacy
The "first people" of the area were the Odawa (Ottawa) , Ojibwa (Chippewa) and Bodowadomi (Pottawatomi) who were known as the people of the Three Fires Confederacy. They came to the area because their spiritual leaders told them to travel west until they found food growing on the water. When they found rice, they settled.
The people of the Confederacy were traders who traded as far east as the Atlantic, as far west as the mountains, as far north as Northern Canada, and as far south as the Gulf of Mexico. They were a wealthy, peaceful people who were respected by their neighbors. When the French and English arrived, the people of the Confederacy traded with both but wars between newcomers unfortunately followed. In the first, the English defeated the French and the French moved north. In time, the Americans arrived and a second war with the British followed.
The Americans defeated the British and soon looked to take over the land of the Confederacy. In 1836 and 1837, treaties were signed and two-thirds of what is now Michigan was ceded by the people of the Confederacy. Fishing, hunting, and gathering rights were reserved by the people of the Confederacy. More land was ceded in an 1855 treaty. The treaties were not honored by the Americans and services promised were not given from shortly after the treaty of 1855 until 1980. At this time, the people of the Confederacy became recognized as the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.