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Sunrise re-enactment honors Marquette’s founders

May 18, 2009
By CHRISTOPHER DIEM Journal Staff Writer

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MARQUETTE -Marquette's past was brought to life at a sunrise ceremony this morning at Founders Landing on the shores of Lake Superior.

In a new celebration dubbed Founders Day, Marquette area residents - portraying early explorers Robert Graveraet, Peter White and others - rowed ashore in a small wooden boat. They were met by Glen Bressette Sr., portraying Chief Charles Kawbawgam.

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A group of Marquette-area residents paddle toward Founders Landing in Marquette at dawn this morning. Founders Day was celebrated this morning with a re-enactment of the arrival of Peter White and Robert Graveraet to Marquette and their meeting with Chief Charles Kawbawgam.

Greetings and gifts were exchanged, in parallel with the events of 160 years ago.

"I think it's a good ceremony. It's a good thing to help bring the communities of Marquette together, the Native American community and the non-Native American community," Bressette said.

Ron Thorley - one of the partners of the Landing Development Group, the developers building parts of Founders Landing - portrayed one of the oarsmen who rowed ashore.

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"It was wonderful to get up and see that sunrise as you're out on the water and you know you're heading for something so spectacular," he said. "What a great event."

The boat they used wasn't entirely accurate, he said. The original boat seated seven oarsmen while the boat used this morning was built for two. However, he said in the future they may build a boat that is more historically accurate.

Shanti Reese, of Harvey, performed a water ceremony prior to the boat's arrival.

"A lot of good can come from this," Reese said about the re-enactment, adding that the two communities can learn a lot from each other.

White, Graveraet and a group of explorers arrived in what is now Marquette on May 18, 1849. They are believed to have landed in the area now known as Founders Landing. The group was met by Kawbawgam, chief of the local Ojibwa Tribe, along with his wife Charlotte, daughter of the Great Ojibwa Chief Madji Geezhik.

Rep. Steve Lindberg, D-Marquette, presented a plaque from the governor's office to Mayor John Kivela. The plaque commemorated Founders Day in Marquette.

Kivela said this morning's re-enactment would be the first in many Founders Day celebrations to come.



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