Miengun's Children: Tales from a Mixed-Race Family

By Gray, Susan E. | Frontiers - A Journal of Women's Studies, June-September 2008 | Go to article overview

Miengun's Children: Tales from a Mixed-Race Family


Gray, Susan E., Frontiers - A Journal of Women's Studies


Mrs. Jessie W. Hilton of Albuquerque, N.M., who summers at her cottage Mi-en-gun Walszh (Wolf's Den) in Northport, was hostess at 5:00 o'clock Wednesday at Schuler's of this city honoring Mrs. C. Stuker of Oak Park, III., house guest of her sister, Mrs. Basil Milliken of Oklahoma City, Okla., summer resident at Northport.

Traverse City [Michigan] Record Eagle, July 7, 1954 (1)

At the time of this gathering of summer society in a northern Michigan resort town, Jessie Hilton was eighty-nine years old. For more than fifty years, she had been a summer resident of Northport, on the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula, north and west of Traverse City, leaving her home in Oklahoma City every June and returning from Michigan in October, events noted in the society pages of newspapers in both places. The only break in this pattern occurred in 1947, when she moved from Oklahoma City to her daughter's house in Albuquerque, from which she continued to commute each summer to the Leelanau. Despite Jessie's social standing, however, her annual pilgrimages differed from most sojourns of the genteel and well-heeled to northern Michigan. Twice divorced, she was long accustomed to supporting herself, and she ran a shop in Northport during the summer tourist season, selling Indian handicrafts and pies that she made from the cherries for which the Traverse region is famous. The silverwork for sale at the "Cherry Buttery" came from New Mexico, but the sweet grass and split ash baskets were the work of local Odawa and Ojibwe people, some of whom Hilton had known far longer than she had been summering on the Leelanau. (2) Indeed, the annual arrival of Jessie Hilton, society matron and purveyor of Indian handicrafts, at the Wolf's Den signaled the complexity and fluidity of a mixed-race identity that she, like her twelve brothers and sisters, had spent a lifetime negotiating.

It was, and remains, customary in northern Michigan for people to name their summer cottages and to erect signs to this effect. The words "Mah Enggon ne wazsh" (another spelling of the Anishnaabemowin for wolf's den) appeared on the sign for the Northport cottage when it was first occupied by Jessie's mother, Mary Jane, after her divorce from Payson Wolfe, Jessie's father, in 1879. A child at the Protestant mission over which Mary Jane's father, the Reverend George N. Smith, presided in the 1840s, Payson took the English translation of his father's name, Miengun, as his surname. (3) Payson's first name was the same as that of the young son of the mission farmer. Thus, although it conformed to their custom, "Mi-en-gun Walszh" represented not the clever conceit of white summer people with some awareness of the presence of Indigenous people in the Traverse region, but literally the home of a mixed race, Odawa-and-white family named Wolf(e).

The 1851 wedding of Payson Wolfe, an Indigenous man, and Mary Jane Smith, the white daughter of missionaries, was an unusual event, but it was hardly unique. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, for example, reformer Alice Robertson attended a number of meetings of the Lake Mohonk Conference of the Friends of the Indian, where she argued repeatedly for biological absorption through interracial marriage as a solution to the problem posed to mainstream society by the final conquest of American Indian peoples. The Lake Mohonk Conference served as a major forum for the formation and articulation of assimilation policy and drew an array of reformers and federal officials. Robertson's advocacy of biological absorption derived from personal experience; the daughter of Protestant missionaries in Indian Territory, she ran a boarding school for Indian girls in eastern Oklahoma. As Robertson told the conference, "I have known a great many missionary families brought up among Indians, and I have yet to know one in which at least one member has not intermingled with Indians." In her own family, a sister and an aunt had married Indians, and Robertson promoted marriages between her Native charges at the Minerva Boarding School and white men. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Miengun's Children: Tales from a Mixed-Race Family
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.