The Beginnings of Multiculturalism

Picture nightfall in Michigan's snow-covered wintertime: a golden sun setting in the west behind thousands of trees, their bare limbs outstretched; mighty pines towering into the sky's gradations of blue; the stillness of snow in below-freezing temperatures. In a tiny clearing in the virgin forest, a few cabins provide a little candlelight glow as darkness swallows the rest of the landscape. Imagine one of the tiny makeshift cabins and a mother with three restless young boys - perhaps she turns to her Bible for spiritual strength and stories to tell her children during the difficult winter. This is "Annarbour," Michigan, in1824. Thus begins our journey through Ann Arbor's many histories of religious, racial and ethnic communities. 
[Biblical Influence in Settlers' Lives]
Of course, Native Americans are the first people who walked the scenic lands we now know as Ann Arbor. It is their many systems of belief, then, that academics recognize - directly or indirectly - as the city's first religious activity. Like the rest of our Nation, though, this people group was frighteningly pushed from the land and silenced - or misrepresented - in much of the historical records we have today. 
Unfortunately, white scholars have left behind inadequate and often insensitive accounts for posterity. In her History of Earliest Ann Arbor, Nettie Schepeler-Van Der Werker recognizes Washtenaw County's tribes (Ojibwa, Ottowa, Huron and Pottawatomi: 9), but follows with a description of the "savages" who "roamed and built their wigwams" (3) She omits any mention of their rituals and family life, as well as the negative treatment they had previously endured from French missionaries who imposed their beliefs upon the tribes (Marty, 7-9.) The author then explains, with some sympathy, the white settlers' fear of Native tribes when displaced indigenous people occasionally returned (9)  
The struggle for inclusion in society often characterizes how the white, Western-European settlers from second- or third-generation New England families (Stephenson, 7-8) received each new immigrant group's strange tongue and foreign religious practices. For, as the conflicts between Native American and Native-born white settler decreased, the eventual difficulties of new immigrants were about to take place.