Department of Natural Resources
|On Monday, December 2, 2019, Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Chief Ronald F. Ekdahl was joined by Department of Natural Resources representative Sandra Clark to sign a ground-breaking Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This MOU will establish the beginning of the tribe's co-management of the Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park, or ezhibiigadek asin (written on stone), with the State of Michigan's Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
"This partnership is a major step forward in strengthening the authentic interpretation of the Sanilac Petroglyphs site, which speaks to the connections of humankind to nature and the earth," said DNR Director Daniel Eichinger, cosigner of the MOU. ''We hope this collaboration will serve as a model, both within and beyond Michigan, of respectful, inclusive, equitable management practices that protect important historic resources while helping people understand their relationship to them."
|Donated to the State of Michigan by the Michigan Archaeological Society and managed by the DNR since 1971, the petroglyphs are the largest known group of ancient rock carvings in the state. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the park covers 240 acres along the Cass River near Cass City in Michigan's Thumb region. Stone tools and pottery found on the petroglyphs site on the Cass River floodplain show tribal groups have occupied the area periodically throughout the last 8,000 years. The petroglyphs were likely carved within the last 1,400 years, with some possibly created in more recent centuries.
“This site is special and sacred to the Anishinabe. It is a clear indication of the unique origins and history of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe. We know our Ancestors were thinking of us when they left the lessons in stone,” explained tribal elder and former Director of Ziibiwing Bonnie Ekdahl. “The MOU creates a relationship that ties us to this beautiful site and marks an important step of acknowledgement and inclusion of the tribe. I am very thankful and proud of the team at the Ziibiwing Center who preserved and carried the vision for over 15 years, and it is especially incredible to know my son is involved with the final step, miigwetch.”
|The IPinCH Report also prompted the tribe to engage in conversations about using advanced technology to record the carvings. The petroglyphs are carved in relatively soft Marshall Sandstone. After centuries of natural weathering and decades of recent human activity, some carvings have faded, disappeared or been vandalized.
Images and information from the petroglyphs preservation project were featured on the 2018 Michigan Archaeology poster. The free poster is available upon request from the State Historic Preservation Office or at the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways.
Tribal Chief Ron Ekdahl stated, “This culturally significant site will be enhanced through a partnership that this MOU creates. We are excited to be working alongside the State of Michigan in preserving this unique piece of Native American history. It will also allow for future opportunities for preservation and historical education. This is just another example of the collaboration between our tribal government and the state and we will continue to work together on important issues like these.”
Guided tours of ezhibiigadek asin (Sanilac petroglyphs) are available in the summer months. Learn more about Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park on the DNR website. To see the 2018 Michigan Archaeology poster featuring the petroglyphs and the LiDAR survey, visit Michigan.gov/Archaeology.
Please contact Erik Rodriguez, Interim Public Relations Director, at 989-775-4076 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or Sandra Clark, Director of Michigan History Center (DNR), at 517-335-2591 or at CLARKSS@michigan.gov for further information on the announcement.