We're excited to introduce the City of Marquette's Cultural Trail Project!

The City of Marquette is pleased to announce the development of a Cultural Trail along seven miles of City shoreline. The Trail will honor and preserve our community’s diverse cultural heritage, history, and environment from the mouth of the Carp River to Presque Isle, through public space design, public art, and interpretive signage. It presents a unique opportunity to reexamine our relationship with our natural and built environment to create a shared and sustainable vision of the future. The Trail will connect and give voice to the multiple stories, historic sites, natural features, and landmarks along the multi-use pathway. Education will serve as the central mission, providing a catalyst for dialogue and a platform to build cultural understanding.


The Cultural Trail will strive to facilitate mutual respect and cooperation between the Marquette community, federally recognized tribes and local Anishinaabe community. Including the commissioning of Indigenous public art, dual language signage and honoring five village sites.


Led by the City’s Office of Arts and Culture in cooperation with arts, history, cultural, environmental, tribal, educational, and economic institutions. You are cordially invited to engage in cultural conversations and contribute to this community project.

Telling our Whole Story

City of Marquette Cultural Trail Project
Article by Andie Balenger, City Cultural Trail Project Intern

The collaborative journey of the Cultural Trail Committee and intentional process for an authentic telling of the past, present, and future of Marquette.

It is one thing to read about the rich history of Marquette, but it is another to experience it firsthand. From treading the historic sites of our ancestors to interacting with the natural elements, the City of Marquette’s new Cultural Trail intends to enhance both the recreational and educational experiences already taking place in and around our neighborhoods.

The City’s new Master Plan is guided by six principals, one emphasizes the importance of Honoring our Entire History. Therefore, the mission of the Cultural Trail is to illustrate Marquette’s history and culture through the stories of the people, industry, development, land, and water. The Trail provides equal access to the historical, cultural, spiritual, and ecological lessons of lake, land and community beginning with our indigenous history through present day.

How will this be done? The Trail will connect eight historically significant sites along the City’s seven-mile, multi-use pathway, using interpretive signage written in dual languages (English/Anishinaabe) and public art. Signage will give meaning to the natural spaces we enjoy every day, inviting visitors and area locals to draw connections between our past, present, and future as a community. In collaboration with local experts, the signage is set to extend beyond standard informational signage. Each site will weave stories together through public art but also natural materials, poetry, and historical imagery. The Trail will be designed to evoke strong emotions and inspire a feeling of civic responsibility and pride.

The eye-catching centerpiece of the Cultural Trail will be a sculpture, featured prominently at the entrance of the new viewing pier. The sculpture, which will honor Anishinaabek history, values, and community in Marquette, will be designed and created by an Anishinaabe artist.

The lessons and stories displayed along the Cultural Trail apply to everyone who walks its path. For instance, community members continue to benefit from the hard work of Holly Greer, the first female mayor of Marquette, to establish the City’s bike path in 1971. Therefore, the trail is an opportunity for community members to understand how and why our community appears as it does today. What other stories can you expect to see on the trail? Here is a sneak peek from some of the Cultural Trail’s core partners and local experts.

1. A Story in the Rocks
Jacquie Medina, Professor at Northern Michigan University

Long before Presque Isle became a designated lighthouse reservation in the 1840s, life on the “almost island” revolved around the Anishinaabek idea of mino-bimaadiziwin, which translates to “the way of a good life.” The oldest archaeological site discovered on Presque Isle, the Kawbawgam Site, dates back roughly 7500 years ago. The site was named after the Chief of the Chippewa Indians, Charles “Charley” Kawbawgam.

“The Cultural Trail will weave the stories of the land, water, and all peoples of the Marquette lakeshore throughout history,” Jacquie Medina, professor of outdoor recreation leadership and management at Northern Michigan University, said. “It will provoke each of us to consider our role in the future of our community and natural resources.”

In addition to the Indigenous history on Presque Isle, the interpretive signage will highlight the geological history of the land and how it was shaped by glaciation. The signage will outline the natural elements that dominate the 323+ acres of land the park covers – including hardwood forest leaves and prominent stones.

2. Nanda-Gikendan Abi
Sherri Loonsfoot-Aldred, Artist of Presque Park Isle Sign and member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community

Anishinaabe means “original man” or “spontaneous being”. We are an indigenous First Nations group of people sharing a similar cultural and linguistic base. According to our oral histories, the Anishinaabeg (plural) originated on the northeast coast of what is now Canada and the United States and migrated to the western shores of Lake Superior. This is sometimes referred to as the Great Migration. Various Anishinaabe communities now exist where people settled along this journey. Marquette itself was an ancestral summer home to a small Anishinaabe community of families who lived, gardened, hunted, fished and foraged along the shorelines of Lake Superior.

Much of the cultural heritage and language were lost to many generations after, due to assimilation practices and colonialism as the U P. grew with industrial logging, mining, and shipping of ore. The Cultural Trail Project is a step towards remembering this integral part of Marquette’s history. The Cultural Trail Project represents a new story of recognition, healing, and restoration. It is a way to honor and celebrate the deep connection the Anishinaabeg have to this beautiful place our families call home.

3. Securing our shoreline
Kathleen Henry, Special Projects Coordinator and Education Specialist for Superior Watershed Partnership

The Superior Watershed Partnership and Land Conservancy (SWP) is collaborating with the City of Marquette and other partners to restore and enhance coastal resiliency along one mile of Lake Superior shoreline (adjacent to Lakeshore Boulevard) through the creation of a living shoreline. Phase One included moving part of Lakeshore Boulevard inland, planting climate adaptive native species – recommended by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) – by the Great Lakes Climate Corps (GLCC), and creating more public access to the shoreline. Upcoming project components will further address coastal erosion and flooding through engineered green infrastructure.

“[SWP] is interpreting the historical, current use, and condition of where water and land meet while envisioning a future with access to clean and healthy water at the center,” Katleen Henry, the special projects coordinator and education specialist for SWP, said.

Signage along the lakeshore will highlight urban development and how it has affected the Lake Superior shoreline. This includes past environmental disasters, the community’s renewed respect for natural resources, and future access to the lakeshore.

4. Point of interest
Hilary Billman, Director of Marquette Maritime Museum

Because the region surrounding Lake Superior is rich in a variety of minerals, maritime traffic increased as mining projects began to multiply in the 1800s. To keep up with increased demands for mined minerals, a shipping point and lighthouse were developed at Bagidaabineyashi (Snagging Point) – a prominent Anishinaabe village site and fishing spot.

According to Hilary Billman, director of the Marquette Maritime Museum, the Anishinaabek had an established way of life in this area based on seasonal fishing. “The water provided an easy means of transportation with birch bark canoes and fish, a plentiful supply of food that was collected with nets,” Billman said.

This area is now known as Lighthouse Park and houses the Marquette Maritime Museum, the old Coast Guard Station House, Stannard Rock Boathouse, Captain’s Residence, and the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse

5. The Dawn of Downtown
Daniel Truckey, Director and Curator of Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center

Gaines’ Rock, or “Founder’s Landing,” has many stories in its past. A significant fishing and spearing point for the Anishinaabek, the stream that runs through this area was known to them as Gichi-namebini-ziibiing (Great Suckerfish Stream). In the mid-1800s, mining speculators, including a young Peter White, arrived at this location on the Lake Superior shore. It was at this point that the village, town, and City of Marquette ultimately grew.

“Rail lines were built into the interior to transfer iron ore from the mines to the new shipping docks along this shore. ‘Net Fishing Point’ and much of the surrounding land was purchased by the Ely family who had a home on the bluff,” Daniel Truckey, the director and curator of the Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center, said. “The family’s gardener was a former miner and Marquette’s first African-American settler, William Gaines. He built a home on this site where he lived with his family. He died in 1903, and ever since it has been known as Gaines’ Rock.”

6. Carp River Currents
Cris Osier, Executive Director of Marquette Regional History Center

The mouth of the Carp River, which translates to Gichi-naame-ziibing or “Suckerfish” in Anishinaabe, was a vital fishing spot for the Ojibway during the summer months. Just like Lake Superior and the surrounding waters, suckerfish were a sacred life source for the Anishinaabek.

The Marquette Regional History Center contains an abundance of information about the Marquette area, including early Indigenous settlements, colonization, and urban development. “We hope the Cultural Trail will cause users to be curious about the heritage of our community,” Cris Osier, executive director of the Marquette Regional History Center, said.

Enhancing the pre-existing signage within the Kiln Plaza, the Cultural Trail will expand on the ideas already being presented to the recreational path’s users. Signage is set to honor the largest Anishinaabe village site and breathe life back into their expansive medicinal garden, which was displaced with the establishment of the Marquette Branch Prison.

Participate in this year’s Cultural Conversations! Click the photo below to see the full schedule of topics and conversation leaders. Each event will begin at noon daily June 19-24, 2023.

Art Week 2022

Informative tours and presentations exploring our past and present significant historic Trail locations. You are invited to be a part of the conversation,

Cultural Conversation: To Be Remembered
Hosted by Sherri Loonsfoot Aldred
 Presque Isle Sign
Free to participate.  Full information:

How do we represent our whole history? Sherri Loonsfoot Aldred shares her story as the first indigenous artist to design the ever-iconic entrance to Presque Isle Park.

Cultural Conversation: The Center Stone
Hosted by Dr. Martin Reinhardt
Carp River Kiln
Free to participate.  Full information:

How do we balance ourselves in the world around us? Dr. Martin Reinhardt from the NMU Center for Native American Studies presents.

Cultural Conversation: Evolve & Be Involved
Hosted by Tiina Morin
Father Marquette Park
Free to participate.  Full information:

What does public art say about our time, place, and who we are? City of Marquette Arts & Culture Manager Tiina Morin presents.

Cultural Conversation: Weaving Our Stories
Hosted by Dr. Jacquie Medina

Presque Isle Pavilion
Free to participate.  Full information:

How do we want to be remembered? Dr. Jacquie Medina from the NMU Outdoor Recreation, Leadership, and Management department presents a walking tour of Presque Isle’s hidden histories and development.

Cultural Conversation: From the Rock to the Dock
Hosted by Daniel Truckey
Gaines Rock Parking Lot (Founders Landing)
Free to participate.  Full information:

How many footprints are layered beneath yours? Daniel Truckey, Director of the Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center, will tell the history of the people who have lived and worked along the shoreline of the City of Marquette.

Cultural Conversation – Lighting our Way
Hosted by Hilary Billman
Marquette Harbor Lighthouse Park
Free to participate.  Full information:

Why do we preserve history? Hilary Billman, Manager of the Marquette Maritime Museum, will offer a tour of the lighthouse buildings and a discussion of the process and importance of preserving tangible history.

Other Cultural Connection Events during Art Week....

Art Week Sunrise Opening Ceremony

with Dr. Martin Reinhardt, reading an original poem by Martin and Biidaaban M. Reinhardt
Monday, June 20 at 5:30am;  Mouth of the Carp River

We welcome Art Week 2022 with the second annual Art Week Sunrise Opening Ceremony! Join us to watch the sunrise and enjoy the reading of this year’s Art Week opening poem by Dr. Martin Reinhardt, written by Martin and Biidaaban M. Reinhardt. 

Holly Greer Bike Ride

Led by Tiina Morin
Monday, June 20 from 10:30am-12:00pm;  Beginning at the mouth of the Carp River

City of Marquette Arts & Culture Manager Tiina Morin will lead a bike tour exploring the future sites of the City’s cultural trail and learn the history of our iconic bike path.

Honoring The Spirit
Hosted by Sherri Loonsfoot Aldred and Aiyana Aldred
Tuesday, June 21 from 1:00pm-2:00pm;  Carp River Kiln

Mother and daughter artists Sherri Loonsfoot Aldred and Aiyana Aldred reconnect to their Anishinaabe culture and relationship to the land through art and language. Experience plein air painting and Ojibwe language through a demo and pop-up language school.

Row the Spark
Hosted by the Superior Watershed Partnership
Every Day at 3:00pm;  Marquette Yacht Club

Join the Superior Watershed Partnership in collecting citizen-science data. Volunteers will use the community-built rowing skiff. All ages welcome. The Spark launches daily.

Public Art Walking Tour
Hosted by Tiina Morin
Wednesday, June 22 from 9:30am-12:00pm;  Beginning at Madgoodies Studio, 209 West Ohio St.

This walking tour will explore an assortment of downtown public art pieces and their history. The tour will begin on the corner of Third and Ohio Streets at the Natural mural, and end at Father Marquette Park, leading into Wednesday’s Cultural Conversation.

Birch Biting Workshop with Leora Tadgerson
Thursday, June 23 at 1:00pm;  Presque Isle Pavilion

Learn the traditional art of birch biting, etching, and syllabics with Leora Tadgerson.


Michigan Native American Heritage Fund, National Endowment for the Arts: Our Town Grant Program, Superior Watershed Partnership, Marquette Public Art Commission, Michigan Arts and Culture Council, and Innovate Marquette Smart Zone

Indigenous Illustrations by

Sherri Loonsfoot Aldred

The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support arts and cultural organizations throughout the nation with these grants, including the City of Marquette, providing opportunities for all of us to live artful lives

NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD.