Greensky Hill

Posted on September 18, 2011


I am always astonished when people ask me Are there any Indians left in Michigan?   Well, um, yes.  Yes there are.  Look around you and you will see writers and farmers and painters and fiddlers and storekeepers and clerks and blackjack dealers and chefs and peacemakers and lawyers at the Tribal Court (and in Circuit Court too) and kids in school and teachers and conservation officers and–well.  You get the idea.

Some Ottawa/Odawa and Chippewa/Ojibwe and Métis families have been Around Here for quite a long time by anybody’s standards, tending orchards on the ridges before the Jesuits arrived, mining chert along the bay 2,000 years ago and putting food by in the storage pits on Skegemog Point 10,000 years ago.  Then there’s newcomer Peter Greensky, an interpreter and preacher who came across from the Leelanau in the 19th century.  His legacy is the Greensky Hill Indian Mission United Methodist Church up near Charlevoix.

Greensky Church by Betty Beeby - Jordan River Arts Center

The church, too, is still here, serving a diverse community of descendants and newcomers.  On Monday evening at 7:30 Judy Johnson is going to talk about the history of Greensky Hill.  It will be the last Wilkinson Homestead Historical Society lecture for the year, and I have it on good authority that the treats will be beyond excellent.

Judy, who lives in Eastport, is a liturgist at the church and a member of the women’s drumming and singing group. She helps with the annual Harvest Dinner and with the annual camp meeting that draws participants from several North Country states and Canadian provinces.  She is married to Daugherty Johnson (sculptor of wolves and mammoths and bears) and is grandmother to many, many lucky grandchildren.  She is what Grace Hooper called a useful person, which I have concluded is about the highest compliment a person can pay to a neighbor.

I have no idea if she’s going to talk about the Greensky Council Trees or not, but I thought you ought to know about them.

The trees have been on Greensky Hill for a very long time.  They were old when my Civil War veterans were young.  Some say Peter Greensky planted them; others say he planted the church where the trees already marked the spot.  Come along to the Township Hall on Monday night and maybe we’ll find out.  Or we’ll find out something else it’ll be good to know.  And there will be those treats.  I don’t see how we can go wrong.

Wilkinson Homestead Historical Society
Lecture Series

Greensky Hill Indian Mission United Methodist Church
Judy Johnson

Monday, September 19, 2011
7:30 pm
Torch Lake Township Hall

Admission free – Donations welcome