Michigan’s Native Americans in the Civil War – Now at the MI Historical Museum
Looking for someplace to go on a cold winter day? You might want to try the Michigan Historical Museum in downtown Lansing. The Jefferson's spent many afternoons there when our kids were younger. Hey - it's free on Sundays. One of the exhibits there right now (until August 30th) is called "Conceived In Liberty" and explores Michigan's involvement with the end of the Civil War.
On display right now is a beaded headband made by Native American members of Company K of the 1st Michigan Sharpshooters and given to their commanding officer. Company K was the most famous Native American unit in the Union Army and was composed mainly of members of tribes from Michigan and around the Great Lakes. Initially, Native Americans weren't welcome to join the Union Army, but after General Grant took over, they were recruited. Which may seem strange, because the U.S. "Indian Wars" continued on until almost 1920.
Actually, close to 30,000 Native Americans served - on both sides - in the Civil War. In addition to Company K, General Ely Parker, a member of the Seneca tribe and General Grant's military secretary, actually wrote the articles of surrender that Robert E. Lee signed at Appomattox to end the war. And on the Confederate side, General Stand Watie, a Cherokee chief, led a battalion of Cherokees and was the last Confederate general to surrender - two months after Lee had surrendered.
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