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8 Year Anniversary party winners: Joan Hochstetler's book winner is -- Caryl Kane, Naomi Musch's ebook goes to Crissy Yoder Shamion, Roseanna White's winner is -- Connie Saunders, Pegg Thomas's "A Bouquet of Brides" goes to Deanna Stevens, Debra E. Marvin's winner is -- Becky Dempsey, Carrie Fancett Pagels' giveaway of Colonial Michilimackinac: Michigan State Parks goes to Wilani Wahl, Carla Olson Gade's winner is Leila Reynolds, Shannon McNear -- Kaitlin Covel

Friday, March 22, 2019

Point Iroquois Lighthouse and the Massacre of 1662

Isn't that a beautiful lighthouse? Point Iroquois Lighthouse is at the foot of Whitefish Bay (made famous around the country by Gordon Lightfoot's song, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald") on Lake Superior. It was built in 1870, replacing the first wooden structures that had served there since 1857. It operated as a functioning lighthouse until 1962, when it was replaced by an automated light across the shipping channel near Gros Cap, Ontario. The building was placed on the list of National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

Why is this significant? My husband and I are in the process of applying to be the volunteer lighthouse keepers for a year in 2022. The volunteer keepers live in the larger side of the lighthouse duplex - to the right in this photo - while the smaller side and the tower are open to the public from mid-May to early-October every year. Our duties would include keeping the grounds, greeting guests, working in the little bookstore (yes! it has a bookstore!), and performing the general maintenance.

If this all works out, I can only imagine sitting in this historic building, looking out over majestic Lake Superior, and writing down the stories they want me to tell.

Why talk about this on Colonial Quills? Because this area was very busy during the Colonial period. The first white men to come were the French explorers Brule and Grenoble. Point Iroquois became a familiar landmark for the French explorers, fur traders, and missionaries who followed.

The name of the place, Point Iroquois, comes from an Indian massacre that happened here in 1662. The local natives were Ojibwe who fished and hunted the area. In 1662, an Iroquois war party invaded in an attempt to control more of the fur trade. The Ojibwe defeated the Iroquois on the shores where the lighthouse stands today. The Ojibwe called this place "Nau-do-we-e-gun-ing," which means "Place of Iroquois Bones."

While our history books fixate on only the greed and expansion of the Europeans in this country, it's good to remember that people are people no matter the color of their skin. The desire for a better life - however one defines that - is not and never was limited to one sector of the human race. The Ojibwe slaughtered the Iroquois in 1662 to stop their westward expansion and protect their own interests. In the years that followed, they'd fight many more battles with other tribes as well as the Europeans who came with their metal pots, woven cloth, whiskey, and guns. But they couldn't stop progress any more than we can today. Yesterday's metal pots are today's cell phones. Can you imagine going back to a time before we had them?


Pegg Thomas writes "History with a Touch of Humor."

27 comments:

  1. What an exciting prospect for 2022! Thank you for reminding us that this country has a history before the influx of Europeans. I can barely wait to see what stories come from your stay at Point Iroquois.

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  2. I'm a bit jealous of that opportunity, but look forward to what comes out of it for you!
    Wow!
    I always wondered why a place so far from here (upstate NY) would be named Point Iroquois. Thanks for the explanation. I hope your application works out, Pegg. Thanks for sharing the story.

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  3. HOW COOL!!! I hope you get the position!

    And in my study of the Shawnee, there's mention of how bossy the Iroquois could be ... during negotiations with William Penn and his group, the Iroquois basically told all the other tribes to sit down, shut up, and let THEM speak for everyone else. LOL ... people certainly are the same, the world over!

    Not that the Iroquois didn't have their own admirable things as well, for sure ...

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    1. People are people the world over, with their strengths and weaknesses, their good and evil.

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  4. That is so cool (and old most of the year). It's nice to see a picture of it. In recent years the violence practiced between the various tribes has been mostly ignored.

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    1. Because it's been in vogue to demonize the evil white Europeans. But the truth is that evil white Europeans didn't have a corner on the market of trying to dominant other people groups. They just did it on a wider scale. The individual native tribes were at war with each other long before the evil white Europeans came to these shores. Just like the evil white Europeans were warring with each other on their native shores. It's a human thing, not a color or cultural thing.

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    2. The native tribes certainly warred with each other and some were brutal. However, the European settlers did some truly nasty things to try to wipe out the natives - smallpox blankets, etc. The whole history should be taught.

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    3. I agree, the whole history. After all, the Indians banned together under Tecumseh to try and wipe out the European settlers. We don't often hear about that because they were not successful. But they still had the same motives. Basic human nature is to fight off whatever is foreign or threatens our way of life. Trust me, I get it. I still wish whoever had the original idea for the cell phone had been hung by his toes over a vat of boiling oil. Well ... sort of.

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  5. That sounds like a very cool way to spend a year. Good luck, any idea how many people apply? Looks like you get free housing and basic utilities. I assume that basic equipment expenses are covered for groundskeeping etc?

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    1. Housing and basic utilities are part of the package. We also will work 40 hours a week (split between the two of us) during the tourist season, so it's free but not exactly. We'll learn more this summer. We've just had our first phone conversation with the government representative who does these things a couple of weeks ago. I know this past year they had to scramble to fill the position at all.

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    2. Sounds like you have a very good chance at this opportunity. I hope it works out for you. Sounds like a lot of fun.

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    3. Not everyone wants to spend the winter on Lake Superior and deal with the snow and cold. I don't know why ... but I'm told that's true. ;)

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    4. LOL. Gee, I've no idea! Good warm house, lots of wood for the fireplace, a well stocked larder, plenty of books (and in my case, stitching supplies), and sounds good to me!

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  6. Great post, Pegg. Am praying you guys get the post! Not far from my old stomping grounds, so hopefully we'll get to come visit you. Thanks for this info.

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    1. Yes! You'll have to come visit if we get the position. No doubt!

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  7. Interesting history of the lighthouse and surrounding area. Hope it works out that you and Michael can be lighthouse keepers in 2022. What a GREAT place to visit.....for a week or two??? :)

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  8. What history books? The kids in my area are not being taught any history. Some don't even know the first president.
    It sounds exciting to be keeper of a lighthouse! I had no no idea there was such a thing that you apply for. That would be so much so much fun!

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    1. I've got my fingers and my toes crossed that it all works out. Of course, that makes typing a challenge. ;)

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  9. I want to come stay with you. What an adventure.

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  10. What a unique and special opportunity that would be. You're a trooper for writing about the true meaning of oppression, and how it isn't all on the shoulders of our white ancestors. Huzzah to you, fellow writer!

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    1. We should always treat history truthfully. Every race of man has housed its share of evil, its share of beauty, and its share of grace. Best to take it as a whole. Is it fair, for instance, to condemn the antebellum South as the owners of the evil of slavery and turn a blind eye to the fact that other people groups also practiced slavery including the native American tribes? Or condemn the Mormons for their views on polygamy and ignore that other cultures practice it still today? The uncomfortable truth is, the moral high ground is a very shaky place. We should learn from history - warts and all - instead of trying rewrite or whitewash it.

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  11. What rich history, huh? I hope you get to do the keeping. I can so see you being the perfect tour guide.

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    1. And it's just a drive the length Lake Superior for you to come and see it. :)

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