Ojibwe traders rest in front of Fort Michilimackinac...
Established: 1605
Established by: France
The first French in the area established a Jesuit mission at the Straits of Mackinac in 1671.  In 1701, the French moved to Fort Detroit and the mission was closed.  However, by 1715 the site’s importance became obvious to the merchants of New France.  They encouraged the construction of Fort Michilimackinac.  Michilimackinac did not serve a military purpose so much as a commercial one: the fort was a link within the French fur trading network on the Great Lakes.

In 1761, the French relenquished the fort to the British following their defeat in the French-Indian War.  Although Britain continued to operate the fort as a major trading post, French civilians were allowed to live alongside the English garrison.

The Ojibwe First Nation in the region resented the British presence and their policies.  Consequently, on June 2, 1763, as part of a larger movement known as Pontiac’s Rebellion, a group of Ojibwe staged a game of baaga'adowe (lacrosse) outside the fort as a ruse to gain entrance.  After gaining entrance to the fort, they killed most of the British inhabitants and held the fort for a year before the British retook it with the provision to offer more and better gifts to the native inhabitants of the area.

The British eventually deemed the wooden fort on the mainland too vulnerable to attack, and in 1781 they built Fort Mackinac, a limestone fort on nearby Mackinac Island.  The buildings were dismantled and moved piece by piece over water in the summer and ice in winter to the island over the course of two years. Patrick Sinclair, the lieutenant governor of Michilimackinac, ordered the remains of Fort Michilimackinac destroyed after the move.