MACKINAC ISLAND has always been a special place. More than 300 years ago Jesuit missionary Father Claude Dablon, after listening to Native American Stories and legends, described Mackinac as “an Island famous in these regions.” Mackinac is still famous, today, even though the waves of history have washed new peoples, industries, and technology onto her shores. These changes have enhanced, not reduced Mackinac Island’s distinctive character and allure.
For centuries the Great Lakes served as a water highway connecting distant peoples and places. Mackinac Island, in the center of this water highway, became a convenient gathering place for water travelers. These same waters gave life to abundant natural resources, which provided food for subsistence and products for Mackinac’s earliest industries.
This is the story of Mackinac Island as seen though the experiences of the people who gathered here: worshipers, hunters, traders, soldiers, fisherman, and tourist. No single group of gatherers, no single chapter in Mackinac Island’s history, takes precedence. It is the sum of its many chapters that makes Mackinac such an interesting, important, and famous place.