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Chief Petoskey | Petoskey, MI | Little Traverse Bay | Lake Michigan

...from the work of Beth Eckerle

Petoskey was named for Chief Ignatius Petoskey (1787-1885) who founded the community. His father was a French Canadian fur trader and his mother was an Odawa (Ottawa) Indian. When he was born along the banks of the Kalamazoo River near Manistee, the story goes that his father held him up to the rising sun and proclaimed, “His name shall be Petosegay and he shall become an important person!”

Chief Petoskey’s family moved north of Harbor Springs, where he spent his childhood. After he married and had children, he moved his family to the shore of Little Traverse Bay where he and his elder sons acquired much of the land of what is now Petoskey. His presence still lingers on these shores and in the region, as variations of his name are found in numerous references, like Camp Pet-O-Se-Ga. The state stone of Michigan, the Petoskey stone, is also named after him.

Today, descendants of Chief Petoskey live among the same lands he tread, as members of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians whose presence numbers thousands of registered members in this county with a year round population of 32,000. A statue of Chief Petoskey overlooking Little Traverse Bay stands proudly near the historic Perry Hotel.

gretchen dorian