If you want to travel into a different time, just travel to Mt. Pleasant. Stepping inside The Ziibiwing Center is like stepping back in history.
The Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways is owned and operated by the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan and features two different exhibits. The permanent exhibit is called Diba Jimooyung, which means “Telling our Story.” The Center also offers a changing exhibit, which, until August 3, 2013, features Great Lakes Native Quilting.
When you enter the permanent exhibit you are taken on a journey through the life of an Anishinabe Indian before settlers came to America. The Anishinabe included the tribes of the Ottawa, Pottawamee, and Ojibewa. The 9,000 square foot exhibit then transforms in the exact way that life transformed through the treaty, boarding, missionary, logging, and basket eras. Each area in the exhibit focuses on one of the seven prophecies that the Anishinabe follow.
The museum is interactive and fun for all ages. Visitors are able to go into exhibit pieces, including the Wigwams (a housing structure that Indians lived in pre-contact to American settlers). There is also an area for touching different furs that were actually used for clothing.
The Center offers visitors a chance to dive deeper into Michigan’s History with two theaters located inside the permanent exhibit. The Creation and Identity theaters each feature a ten minute video which runs on a loop. One video focuses on creation and how the Anishinabe view our world. In 2005, this video won the Gold Muse Award, a national award that honors the best story of creation.
The changing exhibit currently features Great Lakes Native Quilting which includes 16 different quilts. The quilts are drawn from Michigan State University and various private and public collections.
According to Ray Cadotte, Visitors Service Representative, The Ziibiwing Center is the “premiere Native American Museum in the Midwest.” Visitors from the museum have come to visit from all around the world.
The Center opened in 2004 and heavily focuses on cultural teachings. Through tours and classes the Center offers many activities for families, schools, and individuals to learn more about the Anishinabe Indians. Guided tours typically last 1 1/2 hours. Not only is the museum great for learning about Michigan history, but the Center offers a research center that is free for everyone to use. Here, visitors can research family history within the Anishinabe tribes and receive assistance for finding out more information about their heritage.
Individuals that are interested in becoming more involved with The Ziibiwing Center can become a member, adopt an artifact, or both! Memberships last for one year and offer benefits such as free admissions and gift shop discounts. The museum has over 500 artifacts and visitors may choose one to adopt for one year. There are different levels of adoption to choose from and adoption prices are 100% tax deductible.
The Ziibiwing Center is open Monday through Saturday from 10 am until 6 pm. Many events are offered throughout the calendar year, so be sure to check the schedule for upcoming events. For more information, admission pricing, and directions visit www.sagchip.org/ziibiwing.
–Kelsie King, Contributing Writer