Michigan and the Great Lakes

Rites of Conquest

The History and Culture of Michigan's Native Americans
Charles E. Cleland
A comprehensive and readable history of Native Americans in the Upper Great Lakes region


For many thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans, Michigan's native peoples, the Anishnabeg, thrived in the forests and along the shores of the Great Lakes. Theirs were cultures in delicate social balance and in economic harmony with the natural order. Rites of Conquest details the struggles of Michigan Indians—the Ojibwa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi, and their neighbors—to maintain unique traditions in the wake of contact with Euro-Americans. The French quest for furs, the colonial aggression of the British, and the invasion of native homelands by American settlers is the backdrop for this fascinating saga of their resistance and accommodation to the new social order. Minavavana's victory at Fort Michilimackinac, Pontiac's attempts to expel the British, Pokagon's struggle to maintain a Michigan homeland, and Big Abe Le Blanc's fight for fishing rights are a few of the many episodes recounted in the pages of this book.

Beyond wars and warriors, Rites of Conquest is also about diplomacy and negotiation, mythology and magic, birth and death, and the joys and trials of daily life in the native villages of the Great Lakes region. Today, Michigan's Indian citizens struggle to solve problems that are a legacy of their past, while they attempt to maintain a distinctive place within modern society. In facing this challenge they often turn to the values and traditions that set them apart as the most enduring peoples of the Great Lakes region.

Maps, photographs, and biographical sketches complement the text and make this the most comprehensive yet readable book on the region's Native American population.

Praise / Awards

  • "The descent of the first Americans to the bottom run of Michigan's socioeconomic ladder is a sad and reveling tale. Cleland, curator of Great Lakes archaeology and ethnology at the Michigan State University Museum, is unabashedly sympathetic to the trials of the Great Lakes Indians." Edmund Danziger Jr., Organization of American Historians
  • "Charles Cleland wrote Rites of Conquest for the "sophisticated lay reader" to whom he offers an objective history of Great LakesIndians or Anishnabeg, designed neither to "glorify" nor "vilify" Native Americans, but dedicated to defining their "special place" in history."  Robert Doherty, Michigan Historical Review

Look Inside


1. In the Beginning     1
2. A Sense of Time, a Sense of Place     39
3. Coming of the Wemitigoji     74
4. Foreign Invasion: The Jagonash and the Chemokmon     128
5. The End of Power     164
6. Not the Feelings of Their Hearts     198
7. On White Man's Road     234
8. From Yesterday to Tomorrow     264
Bibliography     301
Index     323
Maps     following page 148

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 360pp.
  • 6 color maps insert, 13 B&W photographs.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 1992
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-06447-2

Add to Cart
  • $24.95 U.S.