Saturday, January 24, 2015

Upcoming Events

Chief Okemos, Man & Myth
By Jim Lalone
Thursday, February 5, 2015 - 7:00pm
Downtown Library, 401 S. Capitol Ave., Lansing

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing is hosting genealogist and amateur historian James LaLone for a program on “Chief Okemos: the Man and the Myth”, 7 p.m., Thursday, February 5 at the Capital Area District Library, 401 S. Capitol Ave, in downtown Lansing.

LaLone who has been researching Chief Okemos for several years will explore the many myths that surround the life of Chief Okemos including where he was born; was he a descendant of Chief Pontiac; his wartime experiences, how old Chief Okemos was when he died and where he is buried.

“No other Lansing figure has inspired such a mythology as Chief Okemos,” Historical Society President Valerie Marvin said.  “Lansing residents are proud to call him one of our own, yet most of us really don’t know too much about him.”

LaLone who has been doing genealogy for more than 40 years became interested in Okemos when he began doing Michigan and Canadian Indian genealogy. He now has more than 42,000 Michigan Indians in a data base.

“I was an anthropology major in college and naturally gravitated toward Indian genealogy,” Lalone said.

He said he reviewed “everything and anything” he could find that has been written about Chief Okemos and able to more carefully construct a history of the Indian Chief. The village of Okemos is named after him.

“I think people will be surprised about what they think they know about this warrior chief,” he said.
Also local historian and collector Craig Whitford of Holt will display and discuss his tin type photograph of Chief Okemos which he bought on E-bay several years ago. Only two other photographs of Chief Okemos are known to exist and one, an ambrotype, is in the State Archives; the other is in private hands. It is likely the photographs, with slight differences, were shot at the same time in about 1857.

There several works of art which have been executed of Okemos including a  painting in the State Archives; a painting in the Nokomis Museum in Okemos, a painting in the Ingham County Courthouse and a painting in the Clark Archives at Central Michigan University. Several other lesser art pieces including a Lansing City Pulse cover have also been done.

LaLone also will explore Okemos’ war time experience and discuss Chief Okemos’ descendants. It is known that Okemos, likely a mixed Ottawa and Chippewa, fought under the British flag at Fort Meigs near Sandusky during the War of 1812 and was seriously wounded in the battle with Mad Dog Anthony’s troops. Upon his death the Chief was written about in the London Illustrated News.

Also coming soon:

Michigan & the War of 1812
By Adam Franti
Thursday, February 19, 2015 - 7:00 pm
Downtown Library, 401 S. Capitol Ave., Lansing

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