The Legend of Kitch-iti-kipi

by | Jan 31, 2021 | History, Michigan

Michigan native Carole Lynn Hare shares in a recently published book “The Legend of Kitch-iti-kipi.” It is believed to be the original legend and is a must read for anyone who loves Michigan history. 

Carole Lynn Hare's Book Art
The Legend of Kitch-iti-kipi Cover

The Legend of Kitch-iti-kipi 

It is a beautifully crafted love story along with a stern warning about the big lake. Ms. Hare transports you into the world of a small tribe of Ojibwe Indians. You can smell the campfire, hear Little Fawn and Young Eagle’s laughter, and feel the tribal people’s anxiety when Young Eagle doesn’t return to the camp.

Carole’s Comment 

We visited the Kitch-iti-kipi in 2016 and wrote a short post about it. Carole found the post and left us a comment. It caught me off guard. I felt a tangle of embarrassment, honor, and gratitude after reading it.  

Hi Brenda and Chuck,

I am a member of the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians and recently moved back to my childhood home of Manistique. When I visited The Big Spring last year I was shocked at the story they call the Indian legend and I began a heart felt project to tell the legend that’s been passed down in my Ojibwe family for over 200 years.

I believe it is the original Native American legend. I have recently published a book, The Legend of Kitch-iti-kipi which I’d love to send you. It is also for sale on I am in contact with the State Park Historical Division to share it with them as well.

The story told currently is NOT one any Native American can imagine being told by our elders. I am sure it was one of the many “legends” made up by John Bellair, the local dime store owner in the early 1920s to attract tourists. 

We replied immediately and purchased her book. If you’d like to purchase a copy too, it is easy to do from her site:

How I got the legend wrong? 

Moment of truth, I did minimal research on the legend I referenced in the post about our visit to Kitch-iti-kipi in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The Manistique Tourism Council and the State of Michigan Department of Natural Resources websites were my only two resources. I mentioned in my post I didn’t care for them. They didn’t ring true. 

Kitchi-iti-kipi is Michigan’s largest freshwater spring and is located outside of Manistique, Michigan.

Marketing Gimmicks

Ms. Hare mentions, “Most legends have both a positive and a negative side, reflecting good versus evil.” The legends promoted by the State of Michigan do not. They are likely the stories promoted by John Bellaire to attract tourists — Marketing Gimmicks. 

Oral History

But here is the thing, according to Ms. Hare, “Native Americans are notorious for passing on their folklore and colorful legends orally but seldom in writing.” This is perplexing. How many other legends are wrong? I thought the State of Michigan would have gotten it right. I can see a new project on the horizon. 

What is the original legend? 

The legend Ms. Hare shares in her book was passed down through many generations in her Native American family. It rings true. On the book cover, it says, “The Legend of Kitch-iti-kipi reads like a Native version of Romeo and Juliet. In it, the deep love between a handsome brave and a young maiden drives a powerful chief to act out his jealousy. The results are tragic for all three!”  I agree but I also heard the modern-day equivalent of a public service announcement about boater safety. I am also reminded of another lesson, bullies never win. 

The Legend of Kitch-iti-kipi shouldn’t be shortened to a headline or put in a tweet or smashed into a paragraph. It isn’t a marketing gimmick. It transcends time and serves to remind another generation of the valuable lessons their ancestors learned the hard way. Ms. Hare’s telling of “The Legend of Kitch-iti-kipi” does this beautifully.

How can you help?  

Ms. Hare is working hard to share the legend she believes is the original. You can help by buying her book and sharing the original Kitch-iti-kipi Legend with your family and friends. 

Become a Supporter!

We wholeheartedly extend an invitation for you to become part of our Life In Michigan community. Your support is not just appreciated—it is vital. It is the lifeline that allows us to continue unveiling the unique and captivating narratives that paint Michigan in its true, vibrant colors. Whether you buy us a beer or choose to offer more sustained support via Substack, every contribution enriches our mission.

If our content has resonated with you, we urge you to become ambassadors of our stories. Share our work on your social media, or forward a link to someone who would appreciate it as much as you do. We are grateful for your support in every form. It is you who breathe life into our cause and keep the spirit of Life in Michigan thriving.

Stay Connected

We’d love it if you’d like our Facebook page. Better yet, subscribe to our newsletter through Substack. Life In Michigan posts and our Sunday Sip Newsletter are delivered directly to your email box. You can also find us on Instagram



  1. My wife took me there about 20 years ago and we still go there every time we go to the up one of our favorite spots

    • It is one of our favorite spots too. Every special for some many reasons.

  2. Dear Brenda,
    Thank you so much for sharing my book and the real legend of Kitch-iti-kipi. I am still waiting to hear back from the Michigan State Park historical department about changing their website and park advertisements. Hopefully with people like you spreading the legend I wrote it will be passed on for many generations. Again many thanks for helping me keep the legend of Kitch-iti-kipi alive.

  3. Hello Carole,
    I visited the spring most summers when I was a child in the late 1960s. I think I was 8 years old when I first saw it. To experience it as a child is much different. It was massive to me and much deeper than 40 feet! I was scared and excited to float across it in the raft and peer down into the water. My summer trips to the UP were very special to me because my parents were at war with each other. These summer trips were a blissful escape from the stressful reality of my childhood. I also learned so much about the Native American people and their traditions. I have always had a deep appreciation for the land, and I know in my heart that it is not ours. I have lived in California for most of my adult life, and we have many tribes here as well, of course. Thank you for writing your book. I will pick up a copy and daydream about those childhood trips.

  4. I grew up visiting Kitch-iti-kipi. I heard story after story that made me cringe inside. Until, I found Carole’s book it is as beautiful and filled with wonder as the Big Spring itself. I live close enough to visit many times a year and never is it any less magical.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recommended Reading