Wawatam

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Wawatam (little goose[1]) (fl. 1762 – 1764) was an Odawa chief in the northern region of present day Michigan's Lower Peninsula, then known as Waganawkezee (it is bent) near Fort Michilimackinac. He is known through his rescue of and friendship with British fur trader Alexander Henry the elder from the Ojibwas following the capture of Fort Michilimackinac in June 1763 during the Pontiac War. Wawatam, the leader and patriarch of an extended family of Odawa, rescued Henry after he had initially become an Ojibwe possession as a spoil of war, and soon there after, again came to Henry's rescue by hiding him in a Cave on nearby Mackinac Island. Henry became a member of Wawatam's family. In this role Henry wintered with the Wawatam family in 1763-1764 in a hunting ground located near the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. Henry's observations of the hunting and living practices of his friendly captors became a significant contribution to Algonquian anthropology.

Henry later returned to "civilization." Successful as a fur trader in later life, he always credited Wawatam with saving his life. The 18th century fort, scene of Wawatam's rescue of Henry, has been reconstructed and is now an active living history museum. The site is located just west of downtown Mackinaw City at the Lower Peninsula's headland.

Legacy[edit]

The Emmet County township in which Fort Michilimackinac is located is named after Wawatam.

External links[edit]

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References[edit]

  1. ^ Cleland, Charles E., Rites of Conquest: The History and Culture of Michigan's Native Americans (The University of Michigan Press, 1992) p.138