The roots of today’s Sault Tribe go back to the 1940s, when a group of Sugar Island residents gathered to talk about their common history. Discussions turned into action plans and meetings grew larger and more formal. These Sugar Island residents were descendants of Anishinaabeg who greeted the French from Montreal to the Sault to obtain beaver pelts for the emerging fur trade.

When French sovereignty ended in 1763, the English took over the wealthy fur trade. By 1820, the British had been replaced by Americans. In the 1820 Treaty of Sault Ste. Marie, the Anishinaabeg at Sault Ste. Marie ceded 16 square miles of land along the St. Marys River to the United States to build Fort Brady.

A second treaty, the 1836 Treaty of Washington ceded northern lower Michigan and the eastern portion of the Upper Peninsula to the United States. In return, the Anishinaabeg of the Sault received cash payments and ownership to about 250,000 acres of land. But over the next 20 years, they watched as white settlers moving into northern Michigan violated terms of the treaty. So in 1855, the chiefs signed another treaty, 1855 Treaty with the Ottawa and Chippewa with the Americans that allotted lands to Michigan Indian families.

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Photo by Ken Bosma / CC BY