"Michigan Trails" Through "Chippewa County"

Held Here in Sault Ste Marie 1671

Amidst pageantry and long speeches, Michigan's first Flag Day was held at Sault Ste. Marie June 14, 1671. It was the French Flag that was honored on that occassion. The Stars and Stripes of the United States did not come into existence until 106 years later on June 14, 1777.

According to the Michigan collections at the University of Michigan the 1671 ceremony came about this way:

Simon Francis Daumont, Sleur de Saint Luson, had been commissioned to take possession of the region for his King Louis XIV in order to be ahead of teh English, who already were in the Hudson Bay area.

News of the coming ceremony was sent to the 14 Indian tribes in the region. On June 14, dressed in their savage finery, the redman gathered on a knoll near St. Mary's River falls to take part in the ceremony with the Frenchmen.

From the stockade of the Mission there, the Indians saw a little procession come towars them. The Frenchmen were dressed in blue and white uniforms and had plumes waving from their hats. They carried the French flag of golden lillies on a field of white before them. With them were priests in somber black robes and French voyaguers with bright colored sashes about their waists. After exchanging greetings, the French proclamation was read aloud and translated for the Indians. A large wooden cross was erected on the spot and the liittle band of Frenchmen sang an ancient hymn. A cedar post bearing a louden plate inscribed with teh royal arms of France was planted next to the cross.

Raising his sword in his right hand, holding a piece of sod in his left, and speaking in a loud voice, Saint Luson took possession for Louis XIV of the Great Lakes ... island and of all other countries, rivers, lakes and tributaries bounded on the one side by the Northern and Western seas and on the other side by the South Sea "including all its length and breadth."

Then the French saluted the flag and fired their muskets. The Indians apparently impressed by such a celebration whooped their approval. The ceremony ended with a great bonfire around which the French sang a Te Deum "to thank God on behalf of thee poor people, that they were now the subjects of so great and powerful a monarch."

After the French left, the Indians ripped the coat of arms from post and lead was always a scarce item, used it to make bullets. A century later, the British by force of arms took the Great Lakes and the region east of the Mississippi from France, expecting to retain them as part of their growing empire. But again the possession won by blood and money was only temporary. For 20 years later by the Treaty of Paris, the area became a part of the infant United States, although the U.S. didn't take it over until 1796.

From the Holland Evening Sentinel July 30, 1948