PETOSKEY, Mich. - A group of 26 youth from the Little Traverse Bay Bands Youth Group embarked on a historic journey recently. Following in the steps of their ancestors, 26 youth paddled 49 miles from Petoskey to Cheboygan.
The youth group began their journey, the same route their ancestors traveled, June 24, leaving from Tannery Creek on Lake Michigan and landing at Cheboygan State Park, on Lake Huron, June 28. They traveled in two 34-foot, handmade wooden canoes, known in the Anishnaabe language as a jiimaan, and camped out at various campgrounds along the way.
Youth coordinator Joe Lucier said it;s been many years since any local Native has made the journey, which used to be the trade route for tribal ancestors.
The youth group began training for the journey some weeks before the actual trip. A trainer from a local physical therapy center assisted the group with strength training.
At the end of their trip, several family members and members from the community greeted the youth on shore.
Nicole Laughlin, of Harbor Springs, commented that she was glad to be back on land. Many were tired, but that spark of accomplishment was clearly visible in their eyes.
During the awards ceremony that followed the feast held in their honor, Lucier commented on their achievement. He said that many of the youth had some type of insecurity that they felt about themselves, but he urged the group to look back on this trip and to always remember that they did something great and that this was no small task. He also said this trip gave him the opportunity to learn about the youth he works with and how he got to know each of them a little bit better.
Some of the awards given were ''Person Most Times Splashed,'' which went to Amber Nowell, of Harbor Springs. ''Best Looking Bed-Head'' went to Yarrow Nowell; ''Camp Clown'' to Dustin Grundy, of Petoskey; ''Princess of Peace'' went to Cheyenne Worthington, of Harbor Springs; ''Jiimaan Goddess'' went to Aanzhenii BigJohn, of Suttons Bay; ''First Overboard'' went to Anthony Bear, of Petoskey; and ''Night Owl Knight'' went to Forrest Worthington, of Harbor Springs. Each paddler received an award that pertained to their personality, a habit, or an incident that happened during the trip.
Lucier said he hoped this will be a tradition that will be continued by future youth group participants.