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Wawatam (little goose[1]) (fl. 1762 – 1764) was an 18th-century Odawa chief who lived in the northern region of present-day Michigan's Lower Peninsula in an area along the Lake Michigan shoreline known by the Odawa as Waganawkezee (it is bent).[2]


Wawatam was likely born near the Odawa Middle Village, Anamiewatigoing, now Cross Village. 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 Pontiac's Rebellion. 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. For nearly a year after this second rescue (1763-1764), he lived as part of Wawatam's family, following them on their seasonal moves to hunting and fishing areas inland from Lake Michigan. Henry's observations of Odawa hunting and living practices 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.


On the dock at St. Ignace and within shadow distance from the Wawatam Lighthouse is a 6 foot (1.8 m) tall wooden statue honoring Chief Wawatam which was erected in 2012 by the City of St. Ignace, Michigan. It was designed and carved by Tom Paquin and Sally Paquin, local artists.[3]

External links[edit]

  • Hickerson, Harold (1974). "Wawatam". In Halpenny, Francess G. Dictionary of Canadian Biography. III (1741–1770) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  • Alexander Henry's story of capture at Fort Michilimackinac


  1. ^ Cleland, Charles E., Rites of Conquest: The History and Culture of Michigan's Native Americans (The University of Michigan Press, 1992) p.138
  2. ^ "A Tribal History Of The Little Traverse Bay Bands Of Odawa Indians". Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  3. ^ King, Dominique (April 15, 2014). "From Monroe to Mackinac: Lighthouse moves to Chief Wawatam Park in St. Ignace,". Michigan Midwest Guest. Retrieved April 25, 2017.