2017-07-27 / News

Mackinac Island Native American Cultural History Trail Honored


The Native American Cultural History Trail exhibit stationed at intervals along the road encircling the Island has received the Alice Smith Prize in Public History from the Midwestern History Association. The exhibit, produced by Mackinac State Historic Parks in collaboration with tribal historians, was dedicated last summer. The Native American Cultural History Trail exhibit stationed at intervals along the road encircling the Island has received the Alice Smith Prize in Public History from the Midwestern History Association. The exhibit, produced by Mackinac State Historic Parks in collaboration with tribal historians, was dedicated last summer. The new Native American Cultural History Trail erected last year on Lake Shore Boulevard on Mackinac Island received the Alice Smith Prize in Public History at the Midwestern History Association’s annual meeting Wednesday, June 7, at Grand Valley State University.

Six interpretive signs along the shore road comprise the exhibit, which highlights periods of Native American history in the upper Great Lakes. It is a project of Mackinac State Historic Parks, which collaborated with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians for historical and cultural context.

“We found the Mackinac Parks project exceptional in terms of its collaboration with tribal partners after so many years of neglect and the overall public impact and importance of the project on the island,” the association stated in its award… We decided to award the prize to the Mackinac Island project, believing the project has already accomplished a great deal toward building a productive long-term relationship with indigenous partners. We also acknowledge its ability to reach a large audience over time, including the hundreds of thousands of tourists that visit Mackinac Island each season.”

Phil Porter, director of Mackinac State Historic Parks, took the opportunity at the awards presentation to acknowledge Odawa historian Eric Hemenway, who helped plan the exhibit.

“We look forward to working with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians on future projects to interpret the Native American history of Mackinac Island,” he said.

The Alice Smith Prize in Public History is named after the director of research at the Wisconsin Historical Society from 1947 to 1965, who authored six books and numerous articles on the state’s history. The prize honors a public history project completed in the previous calendar year that contributes to broader public reflection and appreciation of the region’s past.

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