Petoskey Stones or "Crown Jewels"
November 29, 2009 3:03 PM Subscribe
posted by Deathalicious (33 comments total)
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are stones of fossilized coral (Hexagonaria percarinata
) that can be found
along the shore
of Lake Michigan near the town of Petoskey
(Population 6,000). Once polished
, they can be beautiful
, and are often made into jewelry
. It is the state stone of Michigan
and is celebrated in an annual festival
. The origin of the name of the stone, however, is under contention.
According to a common story (the one in the Wikipedia article as well as the official booklet
provided by the Geological Survey Division of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality), the stones and the town are named after Petosegay
, the son of Antoine Carre
, a French trader who married an "Indian
princess" and later became an honorary chief. His son was born at sunrise, and he held the boy up and gave him the name (Petosegay is traditionally translated as meaning "morning rays"). Later, Petoskey bestowed his name on the (white settler populated) town.*
This story and other legends about the stones have been retold in two childrens' books, The Legend of the Petosky Stone
and Tears of Mother Bear
which have been strongly criticized
by Native critics (both critiques are worth a read). Among the arguments is that "chiefs" and royalty did not exist in that culture, and thus neither the "honorary chief" nor "Indian princess" labels made any sense. There is also the issue that the authors are not Indian and are appropriating or misrepresenting Indian culture. This is more than just quibbling:
Some of us find ourselves so deeply appalled by these books that we actually wash our hands after handling them, trying to perpetually cleanse ourselves.
These stones, are called "crown jewels" and considered sacred by the Anishinaabek people
* Petoskey is coincidentally also a surname given to many of the Indian people in that area by white settlers.