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The Legend of Kitch-iti-kipi

by | Jan 31, 2021 | History, Michigan | 5 comments

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 Amazon.com. 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: www.carolehare.com

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-2016-6
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. 

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