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Park History

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​The City acknowledges that colonialism brought with it the commodification of Indigenous Native American People's land, and that land is now perceived through a lens of ownership. Despite operating within modern real estate modalities, the City strives to reframe its role as a transitional steward of parkland and its resources. The City is grateful for the opportunity to steward these resources for what time we may. We hope to spend our time in relationship with these lands helping them thrive and function for the human and non-human communities they support​.

Land Acknowledgement

​Ann Arbor parks are situated within a network of historical and contemporary relationships with Indigenous Native American Peoples, and some parks are on or near connecting Native American travel routes. Our parks sit on the ancestral and traditional homelands of several Indigenous Native American Peoples. Precisely who is clouded by many factors. Those factors include colonizers and settlers not understanding well the broad and overlapping nature of traditional native territories, treaties not always accurately reflecting the homelands of the various Indigenous Native American nations and tribes, and repeated forced migrations of Indigenous Native American peoples far from their homelands. With the signing of the Treaty of Detroit of 1807​ , the Ottoway (Ottawa/Odawa), the Chippeway (Chippewa/Oj​ibwe), and the Pottawatamie (Pattawatima/Bodewadmi/Potawatomi) -- who are all Anishinaabe -- and the Wyandotte (Wyandot) formally ceded (relinquished) their lands in southeast Michigan and Northwest Ohio.  Ann Arbor, however, might not have been within the homelands of all of these Native American Nations. Pinpointing Ann Arbor in an Indigenous-led mapping of traditional native territories ( shows it to be the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe, Bodewadmi (Potawatomi), Pe​oria, and Meskwahki asa hia (Fox); this mapping, however, is a work in process and subject to change should corrections or improvements arise. Though displaced, these Native American Nations are still alive today in one form or another.   See, for example,  Anishinaabe​,  Meskawahk​i asa hia (Fox)Odawa, Ojibwe​PeoriaPottawatamie, and Wyandotte. ​

​This is a time of trying to piece together underlying truths in Indigenous history and bring them forward into the light of the present. One aspect consistent across the wide variety of Indigenous Native American Peoples is having as a central part of their worldview that they live in relation to their ancestral and traditional homelands and carry them in their hearts on through the generations. In this sense today they continue to steward their traditional homelands, though separated from them. We feel a responsibility to gather truthful knowledge about Native Peoples and make that available to the public via this platform.

Whether you live, work, study, or recreate in the City of Ann Arbor, we invite you to honor, recognize, and learn about the history, traditions, contributions, worldview, and current lives of Indigenous peoples and nations.

​City of Ann Arbor and Indigenous Peoples Day

In 2015, the Ann Arbor City Council voted unanimously to designate the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples Day. For more information on the recognition of Indigenous Peoples Day in Michigan read here. ​​

Native American and Indigenous History

It is not easy for us to properly cover Native American and Indigenous history for many reasons. This page is a beginning effort and very much a work in progress. We are actively seeking partnerships with other institutions, experts, and Indigenous Nations and Tribes to help us appropriately share and recognize this history. We have a platform and a desire to enhance the Ann Arbor's visibility of our Indigenous roots but as non-Indigenous people with little related background, we are not qualified to be the voice of this history.  We invite and welcome community contributions to help guide this effort.

City of Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation Archives

Within each individual park webpage we have added a park history section to share information and history related to property ownership and the records we have in the City along with other public records. These details provide some insight on how each property came to be treasured public park land here in Ann Arbor. Electronic park files are available to the public in our electronic archive found here.  The collection includes Park Projects, Plansets and Historic files that have been scanned and stored in searchable PDF format. Be sure to read the instructions​ on searching as using an asterisk before and after the key word is necessary. 

Updated January 2022. Email [email protected] for feedback or suggestions​.