Chiasin (The Big Rock): Mementos of Identity

Author(s): Patrick Lawton

Year: 2018


The story of Chesaning begins long before the first historic documents; the village’s name originating from a massive stone pushed from Ontario by glaciers. This memento, known as the Big Rock, or "Chiasin" in the Anishinabe language was and continues to be an unmistakable feature on the landscape. According to pioneer histories, Chiasin was a place of prehistoric corn feasts and ceremonies. However, when visited in 1837, one such source reports a haunting lack of people. Where had the people of Chesaning gone?

Today the Big Rock lies adjacent to a schoolyard- accessible to the public, though without any accompanying narrative of explanation. Many children go through Chesaning’s schools without discovering the Native American history around them. Why are some aspects of Chiasin’s history remembered and others forgotten? Is the geological anomaly in the schoolyard the true Big Rock? The author will review archaeological and historical information from between the years 1600 and 1860 regarding the Chesaning area to shed light on these mysteries and to educate the public. Educational programming, interpretive signs, and the establishment of a Chesaning Historic Preservation Commission in coordination with the Chesaning Historical Society, Chesaning Township, and the Village of Chesaning are proposed.

Cite this Record

Chiasin (The Big Rock): Mementos of Identity. Patrick Lawton. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444662)

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): 18862