Bay Mills Indian Community 1

Run Time: 

Establishing shot:
Named locations: Big Abe & Sons Fisheries, Sugar Island, St. Mary’s River,  Tribal Offices of Bay Mills, Graveyard and headstones of  the Parish family and the Teeple family, Haskell Institute Junior College (Now Haskell Indian Nations University). 

Bay Mills Indian Community (BMIC) in Michigan state, Chippewa County, known in Ojibwe as Gnoozhekaaning or Place of the Pike, is an Indian Reservation forming the land base of one of the many Sault Ste. Marie bands of Chippewa Indians. The BMIC was one of the four original reservations established in Michigan, established after the passing of the Indian Reservation Act in 1934. According to the 2000 Census BMIC consists of approximately 1,309 registered members. BMIC is governed by the General Tribal Council, which consists of all voting-age members of the tribe. Daily decisions are made by the Executive Council, which consists of a president, vice-president, treasurer, and secretary, councilman, all elected.

Major themes covered:  reservation scenes and culture
Native activities shown: fishing, wood carving.
Individuals Named: Big Abe La Blanc, Bill Palmer, Teeple family 
Native language spoken:
Noteworthy elements: 

Big Abe & Sons Fisheries appears at the beginning.  Big Abe La Blanc is a respected member of this community and has fought for the fishing rights of the peoples of Bay Mills throughout his life. 

There are tombstones of the Teeple family in the film, as well.  From the tombstones you understand how long the Teeple Family has been in the area. 

Bill Palmer's education and career background detailed: Haskell College, Army Corps of Engineers, State of Michigan Captain of  Fisheries research vessel, in 1970 moved to Sault St. Marie, Michigan and opened an arts and crafts shop and started doing his work in painting and carving.  Started losing his passion for art from the challenge of living with art as a commodity.  He has had to work on the side in order to keep his art shops going. Real estate investments and restaurant partnerships and investments have made his arts and crafts stores possible. Describes the art of woodcarving and the patience required to progress creatively in woodcarving.  Palmer speaks of his gifts in all art mediums. He explains his need to understand the value of the artwork in order to sell the artwork. Bill Palmer paints, he is a silver smith (jewelry), published writer, photographer, woodcarver, potter, he has his own kiln, printing press, and jewelry smith equipment.  In order for Native arts and crafts to survive today, he says, it needs to be commercialized or government subsidized. And without federal subsidies, Bill Palmer feels it is necessary for him to keep these commercial businesses of his alive. Palmer buys from Indians all over the country and sells their wares. This discussion equates commercialism with the preservation of modern-day Indian arts and crafts.

Other notes: Big Abe & Sons Fisheries owner is still in the news, Bill Palmer's Interview continues on film #324, where he expounds further on his art and art business.

Cross-references to other AIFG films: Fred MacDonald Film #324, Bay Mills Indian Community #2


Publications, websites, resource links:

--Kari Quiballo, 2012