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What's in a Name? - Fox Creek #216, Grosse Pointe, Michigan

Before French explorers, traders, and missionaries entered Michigan from Canada from 1634-1763, Native Americans such as the Ottawa and Potawatomie occupied the Lake Michigan shore of the Lower Peninsula and the Chippewa the Upper Peninsula and northern parts of the Lower Peninsula. From Saginaw Bay to Detroit, the Hurons, the Sacs (Sauks), and the Foxes farmed, hunted, and fished along the shores of the Great Lakes and interior rivers and lakes. During this time, Michigan became a great fur producing empire. 

 

Detroit was founded on July 24, 1701, when Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, in the service of Louis XIV, arrived with 100 men to build a fort and fur trading post at the strategic location described as the place of the de’troit, or strait. It became known as Fort Ponchartrain du De’troit. Cadillac’s relationship with the Indians was peaceful except the Fox Indians who increased their hostility against the French until the Indian Allies of the French declared war against the Foxes. The Foxes attacked the Fort with blazing arrows to the point where it was in danger of destruction. The Commandant, Dubuisson, set fire to St. Anne Church because its proximity to the other buildings put them in danger. They fought for 19 days and prevented the Fox Indians from reaching water. Eventually the Foxes offered to surrender if their women and children were saved. With no response from the French, they escaped the and fled to Presque Isle near Lake St. Clair and prepared for another attack. After five days of fighting, they surrendered. Approximately 1,000-1,200 Fox and Sauk Indians died. They were buried in shallow graves in the area known as Windmill Pointe in Grosse Pointe Park. 

 

It is said that after this battle the creek which runs to the lake was so red with blood that it became known as Coulee des Renards and is now called Fox Creek. The Fox Indian Massacre in 1712 near Windmill Pointe is memorialized in Grosse Pointe’s first registered historical marker and was dedicated in 1977 and installed at Windmill Pointe and Lakepointe Roads as the project of Girl Scout Troop 887.