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Indian Settlement

Indian Settlement

Native American Activities

Native Americans camped on the shores of Walled Lake prior to the first government surveyors. The wall from which the name Walled lake is thought to be derived, was possibly constructed by Native Americans, perhaps by members of the Ojibwa, who are thought to have established a presence in the area by 1810. The native culture at the lake is believed to have been still in place in the early 1830s, around the time of the arrival of the first non-native settlers. The numerous intersecting trails around and near the lake, along with local lore, suggest that the lakes area was an active area of settlement and trading.

Indian SettelmentIt all began in June 1825, when Walter Hewitt moved from New York and built a log cabin in the area while his family stayed in Farmington. Hewitt explored the north side of the lake and discovered the Indian trail where the Pottawattomies traveled from the north and west from Detroit.

Walled Lake was a favorite resort for the Indians, some of whom lived there permanently on the west side of the lake. A field was cleared and was used as a camping ground for as many as 500 members of a tribe at one time.

Another soldier from the War of 1812, Cornelius Austin, settled in the colony in 1829. For the next 50 years, Austin lived near the south side of the lake. It is recorded that during this time, he saw as many as 500 Indians on the ground and was a witness to their dances, orgies and the famous Green Corn Dance. The Green Corn Dance, celebrated in the fall, was done to express their gratitude for bountiful harvests, the preservation of their lives and appreciation of the blessings of the expiring year. Austin is known to have said of the Indians, "for neighbors, you could have none better."

In 1830, Jesse Tuttle settled in the heart of the village, after moving from Pennsylvania. The land he settled is still known as the Tuttle Homestead.

Tuttle built a log house on the site, which later was changed to a tavern to serve the needs of the Indians, settlers and travelers.

The village's first trading post was opened in 1830 by two men, Prentice and King, both of Maine. Indians supplied venison, berries, moccasins and fish to the settlers in return for salt, potatoes, flour, pork and bread.

West Oakland Press Gazette

Thursday, September 6, 1979