First People
Native Americans in what later became known as Rose Township

Archaeological evidence indicates that the first people who lived in southeast Michigan, including the area that is now Rose Township, were early Paleo and then later Archaic Indigenous People. These early people fished and hunted animals such as mastodons and mammoths using spears with a flaked stone tip. Remains of mastodons and mammoths have been found in Michigan. Mastodon remains have been found in Oakland County, but have not been found in Rose Township. Once these larger animals became scarce, smaller forest mammals were increasingly hunted for food. The first people also ate other wild foods such as fruit, nuts, and greens. Later, some Indigenous Peoples cultivated crops like corn and squash.

Mastodon Hunting (source), accessed 12/12/20

The area that became Rose Township was likely a desirable location for Native American settlements or seasonal camps due to the proximity to a Native American trail and the various water features such as lakes, streams, and wetlands. These provided both a means for transportation and a source for a variety of foods including wild rice. Wetlands offer a variety of food sources and usable resources. For example, the cattail plant, parts of which are edible and have other uses. The inner stems of cattails are edible and taste like cucumber. Cattail pollen is said to have medicinal properties. The long flexible fibrous leaves can be woven together into mats or made into children’s toys (such as a basic doll). The fluff from cattails can serve as a good firestarter and it can also be used as padding for a baby’s cradleboard.

Harvesting Wild Rice

Wild rice harvesting (source), accessed 12/23/20

Wild rice was an important food source as it could be dried and stored for long periods of time. Wild rice, the seed from several wetland grass species, grows in shallow water in small lakes and slow-flowing streams. It could have been growing here in pre-settlement days just as it does today.

Wild Rice Growing at Rose Oaks County Park (Source: Natural Features Inventory and Management Recommendations for Independence Oaks, Lyon Oaks, and Rose Oaks, Oakland County Parks, 2006).

By the time early white settlers arrived in the township, they were met by the Anishinabek people. Anishinabek is the term used for the culturally related Indigenous People who lived in Michigan and surrounding areas. The Anishinabek include the Odawa, Ojibwe (also called Chippewa) and Potawatomi. There are many documented accounts of early white settlers in the township interacting with the Anishinabek. Over the years arrowheads and other artifacts left behind by the Anishinabek have been found in the township.

Not long after the arrival of early white settlers very few Native Americans were found in the township. The newcomers had brought disease from which a large population of Native Americans succumbed. Native Americans also lost claim to land due to governmental treaties or other means and were moved to reservations.

Copyright © Maura Jung and Carol Egbo-Bacak. The content on this page is released with the Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 License