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(măk`ĭnô'), historic region of the Old Northwest (see Northwest TerritoryNorthwest Territory,
first possession of the United States, comprising the region known as the Old Northwest, S and W of the Great Lakes, NW of the Ohio River, and E of the Mississippi River, including the present states of Ohio, Ind., Ill., Mich., Wis., and part of Minn.
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), a shortening of Michilimackinac. The name, in the past, was variously applied to different areas: to Mackinac Island; to Michigan; to the whole fur-trading region supplied from the island; to the northern mainland shore (St. Ignace, Mich., has been sometimes called Ancient Michilimackinac); and to the southern mainland shore, where Mackinaw City, Mich. is located and where a fort called Old Mackinac once stood.

The Straits of Mackinac, a passage between the Upper and Lower peninsulas of Mich., connecting Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, served for many years as an important Native American gathering place. In 1634 the French explorer Jean NicoletNicolet, Jean
, 1598?–1642, French explorer in the Old Northwest. He came to New France with Samuel de Champlain in 1618. In 1634, under the direction of Champlain, he took a notable voyage west in search of the Northwest Passage, exploring Lake Michigan, Green Bay, and
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 was the first European to pass through the straits. The French Jesuit Claude AllouezAllouez, Claude Jean
, 1622–89, French Jesuit missionary in Canada and the American Midwest. After arriving (1658) in Canada he served at posts in the St. Lawrence region until 1665, when he went to Lake Superior and founded the Chequamegon Bay mission (near present-day
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, in 1665, was the first missionary to go there; he was followed by Father Jacques MarquetteMarquette, Jacques
, 1637–75, French missionary and explorer in North America, a Jesuit priest. He was sent to New France in 1666 and studied Native American languages under a missionary at Trois Rivières.
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, who established a mission at St. Ignace in 1671. A fort was later built there, and it became the headquarters of French trade operations in New France and an important military post in the Old Northwest; its importance declined when Detroit was founded in 1701.

The region passed into British hands in 1761 during the last conflict of the French and Indian WarsFrench and Indian Wars,
1689–1763, the name given by American historians to the North American colonial wars between Great Britain and France in the late 17th and the 18th cent.
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. In 1763 members of the British garrison at Old Mackinac were attacked and killed by the Ottawa during Pontiac's RebellionPontiac's Rebellion,
 Pontiac's Conspiracy,
or Pontiac's War,
1763–66, Native American uprising against the British just after the close of the French and Indian Wars, so called after one of its leaders, Pontiac.
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. During the American RevolutionAmerican Revolution,
1775–83, struggle by which the Thirteen Colonies on the Atlantic seaboard of North America won independence from Great Britain and became the United States. It is also called the American War of Independence.
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, the fort and town at Old Mackinac, threatened by the exploits of the American general George Rogers ClarkClark, George Rogers,
1752–1818, American Revolutionary general, conqueror of the Old Northwest, b. near Charlottesville, Va.; brother of William Clark. A surveyor, he was interested in Western lands, served (1774) in Lord Dunmore's War (see Dunmore, John Murray, 4th earl
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, were moved to Mackinac Island.

The island and the straits were awarded to the United States in 1783 by the Treaty of Paris, but they remained in British hands until 1794. One of the first events of the War of 1812 was the British capture of Mackinac; it was returned to U.S. control by the Treaty of GhentGhent, Treaty of,
1814, agreement ending the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain. It was signed at Ghent, Belgium, on Dec. 24, 1814, and ratified by the U.S. Senate in Feb., 1815. The American commissioners were John Q. Adams, James A.
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 in 1814. After the war, Mackinac Island became the center of operations of John Jacob AstorAstor, John Jacob
, 1763–1848, American merchant, b. Walldorf, near Heidelberg, Germany. At the age of 16 he went to England, and five years later, in 1784, he arrived in Baltimore, penniless.
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's American Fur CompanyAmerican Fur Company,
chartered by John Jacob Astor (1763–1848) in 1808 to compete with the great fur-trading companies in Canada—the North West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company. Astor's most ambitious venture, establishment of a post at Astoria, Oreg.
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, which thrived until the 1830s, when fur trading declined.

After the 1840s the straits area changed from an important crossroads to an out-of-the-way shipping point. Mackinac National Park, the second U.S. national park, was established on Mackinac Island in 1875, but it was turned over to the state along with the U.S. army post in 1895. Mackinac Island became a Michigan state park and, along with Bois Blanc Island, a popular summer resort.

Iron-ore mining revitalized the area in the early 20th cent., but the mineral was soon depleted. The Mackinac Straits Bridge (3,800 ft/1,158 m long; opened 1957) spans the straits and links St. Ignace with Mackinaw City. The connection has stimulated the economy of the Upper Peninsula as a result of the added transportation route for tourists, vacationers, and sports enthusiasts. The straits are an important link in the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence waterway.

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a wooded island in N Michigan, in the Straits of Mackinac (a channel between the lower and upper peninsulas of Michigan): an ancient Indian burial ground; state park. Length: 5 km (3 miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Father Joseph Marest, S.J., reopened the Jesuit mission at the Straits of Mackinac in 1707, this time on the southern shore at the future site of Fort Michilimackinac.
In "The Soldiers of Fort Mackinac: An Illustrated History " by Mackinac State Historic Parks' director Phil Porter (who worked as a historic interpreter at Fort Mackinac while pursuing academic studies and joined the permanent staff of Mackinac State Historic Parks in 1976, serving as curator of collections, curator of interpretation, chief curator, and director since 2003) tells the story of Fort Mackinac through the lives and activities of its soldiers.
The credit union told state regulators that it intends to keep open Mackinac's three branches in Boynton, West Palm Beach and Delray.
Disturbingly, under almost any of the 840 spill scenarios, Michigan's Mackinac and Bois Blanc Islands, and the Mackinaw City shoreline, are under the gun.
My wife and I are on Mackinac Island to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.
Since he started in March, Sanely has stressed the importance of building a more collaborative regional economic development strategy, and since the Mackinac Policy Conference, he and Trevor Lauer, vice president of marketing, DTE Energy and chair of the Detroit Regional Economic Partnership, have been meeting with public and private partners to get the region working together to coordinate economic development activities.
The Pure Michigan Bayview Mackinac Race and the regatta will commence on July 17, 2010 and around 220 sailboats and 2,500 sailors will take part in the annual regatta in Port Huron.
This year Mackinac County learned that the scope and content of the state jail standards were inadequate.
Bagley has assembled photographs of the ferries across the Straits of Mackinac, which divides the Michigan peninsulas.
A Picturesque Situation: Mackinac Before Photography 1615-1860
With a new fiber-optic path that spans Michigan's Upper Peninsula and the Mackinac Bridge, and the addition of new connections in St.
The Native Americans called it Michilimackinac (the "c" at the end is silent), meaning "place of the great turtle." Nestled between the state's upper and lower peninsulas and situated between the Straits of Mackinac, which connect lakes Huron and Michigan, and in view of the mighty Mackinac Bridge, the splendor of Mackinac Island calls to you with auras of the post-Civil War era, with quaint villages and historic landmarks, pleasant townsfolk, and the magnificent Grand Hotel.