When I was a kid, our parents used to vacation in Upper Michigan every August. We would go camping, fishing, hunt for agates on the beach (Lake Superior) and visit places like Copper Harbor (and the copper mines), Tahquamenon Falls, Whitefish Bay (the Edmund Fitzgerald sank roughly 17 miles from here), the locks at Sault Ste Marie, Fort Michilimackinac…..and many other places. The annual trek across THE MIGHTY MAC always impressed me.
One time we visited an Ojibwa cemetary in Baraga County…..I was pretty small. Pictured (below) is a “Jiibegamig”…a spirit house. Many of these dated back to the mid-1800’s or older. The burial ground itself is said to have “always being there as long as could be remembered”.
Coincidentally, while there, it was lunch time, so Mom broke out the sandwich fixings, and we had lunch (there were picnic tables)…..well most of us did.
Legend has it that these Spirit Houses were filled with things needed for the person’s spirit journey, food items. I felt pretty bad about it and put my peanut butter sandwich in one of them, because I wanted all the spirits to know that we were being respectful. Dad laughed about it. Mom was not amused but I was glad Mom made me another PBJ, because I was hungry and felt like I could eat too, since I “paid my respects.”
I was a strange child, perhaps thoughtful, but strange.