Fr. Baraga

Bishop Frederic Baraga

Beginnings of Cross Village

The early 1800s brought several changes to Cross Village. The return of Catholic priests pleased the Odawa, but Michigan's rise to statehood presented problems to the local tribe. The Odawa came under increasing pressure to leave Cross Village, their home for the past 150 years.

The Odawa, without a priest since Fr. Du Jaunay’s departure in 1765, petitioned the United States government several times to allow for a priest to minister to the village. In 1825, their request was granted when Fr. Vincent Badin arrived, and he promptly built a log chapel for the villagers, named after St. Vincent. At this time, an estimated 1,500 Odawa lived at L'Arbre Croche.

In 1831, a new priest came to Cross Village. Fr. Frederic Baraga, born on May 16th, 1792 in present-day Slovenia, came to the United States in 1830. After a year in Cincinnati, Fr. Baraga came to Cross Village, where he befriended the local Odawa. He is credited with creating an alphabet and dictionary of the Odawa language.

Around this time, the Odawa began to lose much of their land in the Cross Village area. Native Americans throughout Michigan were being forced to move from the territory, and although the Odawa at Cross Village were allowed to stay because of their Catholic religion, their land possessions continued to shrink.

In the Treaty of Washington in 1836, the Odawa and Chippewa tribes agreed, or more likely were forced to agree, to give up a large swath of land in Michigan, covering most of the Eastern Upper Peninsula and Northern Lower Peninsula. Cross Village was no longer an Odawa possession, although local tribe members soon devised a plan.

Under the leadership of Chief Joseph Nowimashkote, the local Odawa began to buy back their land in Cross Village, and by 1848, members of the Odawa tribe owned all the land in Cross Village. Seven years later, Cross Village officially became a township in Michigan, under the name, La Croix, which would be the offical name until 1875, when the township became known as Cross Village.

Treaty Map

In 1836, the yellow area on the map, which includes Cross Village, was ceded to the United States by the Odawa and Chippewa tribes in the Treaty of Washington