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NATIVE AMERICAN FLAGS

The Bay Mills Ojibwe

One of the two easternmost homes of the Ojibwe or Chippewa people in the United States is the Bay Mills Indian Community on the northeastern tip of the upper peninsula of Michigan (The other is the Sault Ste. Marie Ojibwe located nearby).

Flying over this eastern outpost of the third largest native nation in the United States (after the Cherokee and Navajo) is a striking flag that Angie Carrick, of the Bay Mills tribal headquarters reports was designed by tribal member Richard LeBlanc.

That flag is divided diagonally. the upper portion a medium to dark blue, a central stripe, starting at the lower hoist and angling toward the upper fly end of yellow and a lower triangle of red. Centered upon this is the seal of the Bay Mill Indian Community.

The seal begins with a narrow green circle bearing the legend "Bay Mills Indian Community" across the top and the Ojibwe word "Gnoozhekaaning" or "place of the pike" (a fish) across the bottom in white. Within this green ring the center is divided diagonally into four equal sections obviously recalling the sacred number four and reinforced by the use of the four primary native colors. to the hoist the segment is black, at the fly end it is yellow. The top portion is white while the bottom is red. These colors reflect the races of man, the four primary directions, the four stages of man's life, the four seasons and many other recurring elements of native and human existence. Separating the four colored quadrants are four stylized feathers of white with brown tips and brown spines.

Although Ms. Carrick did not specify when the flag was adopted, it has to be of recent origin. When surveyed in 1994, the Bay Mills Ojibwe were just planning to adopt a flag. Their plan, obviously came to fruition with a well constructed, striking design.

Don Healy, Bisbee, Az 85603