17th Century Locations of Michigan’s Native Americans
One of the most contentious issues related to the founding of Detroit on 24 July 1701 by Antoine de Lamothe, sieur de Cadillac, is whether any Native Americans lived in permanent villages in the Detroit River Region. Most people making these claims base their belief on romantic stories or deeply flawed books published in the 19th century. The quick answer is No. Following are the resources that you can consult which prove that none of Michigan’s Native Tribes lived in permanent villages in the Detroit River Region on 24 July 1701.
The movement of Michigan’s Native Tribes during the 17th century can be found on the History of New France Page on the FCHSM website. A detailed timeline covering the early years of Detroit’s history based on primary records such as official correspondence and meetings between New France’s officials and members of New France’s Allied Tribes can be accessed from the main Native American Page on the FCHSM website. We realize that some people prefer maps which illustrate where Michigan’s Native Tribes lived during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.
For those who prefer maps versus reading details from official meetings and correspondence, following are maps which show the historical locations of the Tribes native to present-day Michigan. All of the maps were scanned from William C. Sturtevant and Bruce Trigger, Handbook of North American Indians (Washington, D.C., The Smithsonian Institution, 1978), Vol. 15, hereafter HNAI.
Historical Locations of the Huron / Petun / Wendat / Wyandot – HNAI, p. 398
Historical Locations of the Odawa / Ottawa – HNAI, p. 773
Historical Locations of the Miami – HNAI, p. 681. Although some members of the Miami were documented in the Registers of Fort Pontchartrain during the period from 1704 to 1707, anthropologists do not note their presence in the Detroit River Region during this period on the map
Historical Locations of the Ojibwa / Chippewa – HNAI, p. 761
Historical Locations of the Potawatomi – HNAI, p. 726