Mishipishu and Danger in the Inland Waterway Landscape of Northern Michigan

Author(s): Meghan Howey

Year: 2018


The Inland Waterway is a series of lakes, rivers, and streams that creates an inland route between Lakes Michigan and Huron. During the 1970’s, Lovis helped lead the NSF-funded Inland Waterway Project which involved survey and test excavations. The results of this research have been vital in advancing understandings of hunter-gatherer-horticulturalist social, economic, and ideological processes in the region and beyond. In a 2001 article, Lovis argued a set of clay products found at the Johnson site, a Late Woodland site from the Inland Waterway Project, were clay effigy representations of bear and Mishipishu. In this paper, inspired by this work, I examine a set of clay products recovered from other sites in the Inland Waterway region as similar possible Mishipishu effigies. Mishipishu is a complexly powerful, seductive, and dangerous underwater panther known as the head of all water spirits. Ethnohistoric accounts indicate this manitou was a malevolent figure in dreams of hunters as well as one that received special prayers for protection when ricing or fishing. I interpret these figurines as features connected to the need for accurate socioecological information among hunter-gatherers occupying physically and socially dangerous landscapes, another important concept reiterated by Bill throughout his career.

Cite this Record

Mishipishu and Danger in the Inland Waterway Landscape of Northern Michigan. Meghan Howey. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444098)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -103.975; min lat: 36.598 ; max long: -80.42; max lat: 48.922 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20948