Historic Birch Lodge

Historic Birch Lodge
Historic Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, MI

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Old Indian Burial Ground, Bay Mills, MI

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Old Indian Burial Ground, Bay Mills, MI
While staying at Birch Lodge, you may wish to take a drive along the Whitefish Bay Scenic Byway... it runs along the south shore of Whitefish Bay, from Brimley to M-123 south of Paradise, MI.

Old Indian Burial Ground, Bay Mills, MI
One of the interesting sites along the shore of Lake Superior at Bay Mill, MI (besides the casino) is a scenic old Native American cemetery.  Although the cemetery is located along the busy roadway, you can not help but feel the serenity of pines, hear the sound of the waves, and feel the peace of this place.

The cemetery is fenced, and no access is allowed.   However, from outside the fence it is possible to see the wooden spirit houses over the graves.

Spirit Houses, Old Indian Burial Ground, Bay Mills, MI
During earlier times, spirit houses were built of birch or elm bark and placed over the graves; later graves were protected by spirit houses built of lumber.

 Besides protecting the grave, they held tools and resources that the dead would need to sustain them on their trip to the land of the spirits.

White Pine and Sign in memorial of Chief John Waishkey

Also at the cemetery, at the base of a large white pine tree, is a sign that reads:

 "Among the Indians who moved from Nay Oh Me Kong to what is not the Indian mission at Bay Mills was a little girl of fifteen named Eliza Waishkey nee Eliza Labranch.  It was Eliza who selected the tree, then only a twig, and planted it at the head of her father's grave who was Chief John Waishkey of the Waishkey band of Chippewa Indians.  The tree, a white pine, was planted about the year 1841."

Some searching found little information on Chief John Waishkey, however, his loving daughter, Eliza married Xazvier Labranch and passed at age 70.  They are buried at the Bayview Cemetery.

  I hope you will take time to visit this small and serene spot, and think of this place as it was in 1841, when Eliza planted that tree.

1 comment:

  1. This is so interesting! You are giving me so many new places to visit that I never new about. I love places that are not "touristy" I like things that have to do with native american too. thanks Deb.