In most books of Michigan history, the land’s first inhabitants are given little more than a cursory nod, a line or two that identifies the approximately 100,000 early Native Americans as belonging to the tribes of the “Three Fires”—the Ojibwa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi—collectively known as the Anishinabe. During the 1700s, other tribes included the Huron, also known as the Wyandotte, who came to southeastern Michigan from Ontario; the Sauk, who lived in the Saginaw River Valley; the Miami, who lived along the St. Joseph River; and the Menominee, who lived in parts of the U.P. 
The fact that Native Americans get little more than a footnote in many history books reflects a cultural ignorance throughout the nation. One of the few state museums to devote any space to the subject is the excellent Grand Rapids Public Museum , where the fine permanent exhibit, “Anishinabek: The People of This Place,” traces the story of the Native Americans of western Michigan. While many tribes were being removed from their lands to reservations in Kansas and Oklahoma during the 1880s, Michigan’s Anishinabe used skillful negotiation and hard work to remain in their homeland. Through video interviews, photographs borrowed from local families, and hundreds of artifacts, including clothing, tools, and decorative arts, the exhibition tells of the high price the tribe paid to remain citizens of the state, and of its ongoing struggle to preserve and protect this heritage in a swiftly changing modern society.
Today, Michigan is home to one of the largest Native American populations in the country, estimated at 60,000, though it’s hard to name an exact figure, since the label “Native American” can be defined in more than one way—by political, ethnic, or cultural criteria. Depending on how you count, Michigan may have the largest Indian population east of the Mississippi, and only a small percentage live on reservations. As with the state’s general population, the majority of Michigan’s Native American population resides near Detroit  and Grand Rapids .
There are a number of reservations in the state, including federally recognized tribes in Brimley, Suttons Bay, Wilson, Fulton, Baraga, Watersmeet, Manistee, Petoskey, Dowagiac, Mount Pleasant , and Sault Ste. Marie . Some are authorized to operate their own tribal courts, which exercise exclusive jurisdiction over certain laws and civil matters involving Indians and events that occur on their reservations. In addition, Native American tribal councils throughout the state provide a variety of outreach services, economic development initiatives, and cultural activities.
Many reservations have cultural centers, and many tribes host powwows and festivals. For details, check with local tourism bureaus or inquire at tribal headquarters, which are prominent buildings on most reservations.