Local author receives award, grant for history book

Alex Doty • Oct 26, 2017 at 3:00 PM

Local author and historian Wally Ewing was recently honored with a grant and award for his local history book, “Footprints.”

Ewing has received a grant to fund distribution of his book to middle school and high school libraries throughout the area. Funding comes from the Drake-Middlemist Heritage Fund, which provides grants to people who propose specific historic projects in the area of local research, oral history or education promoting the historic background surrounding the people, places and events associated with the Tri-Cities area. Grants are administered through the Tri-Cities Historical Museum.

“Too often, students know little or nothing about the lives of the Indians who inhabited this area and added an important dimension to our history,” Ewing said. “I applied for the Drake-Middlemist grant believing that it was important to share ‘Footprints’ with school-age children as well as the general reader. I was delighted when I learned that my grant application had been approved and that 50 copies of ‘Footprints’ could be donated to the schools.”

Ewing’s book is about the Native Americans whose presence shaped the history of West-Central Michigan and tells the stories of individual natives who once walked the Grand River Valley, Lake Michigan’s wooded dunes and the land between.

Included are the chiefs, their tribal members, those who claimed both Native American and European descent, and a few of the whites who played critical roles as they interacted with Indians in the early years of settlement. The story begins when the French dominated the area, and continues through the decades of British and American governance in the 18th and 19th centuries and into the 20th century.

The book is in its fourth printing since its release in the fall of 2016. It includes eight water-color illustrations by local artist Linda Foley.

The Historical Society of Michigan named “Footprints” the 2017 best book in the privately printed category.

“This award is an important affirmation of the book’s value as an historical and genealogical tool,” Ewing said. “Being recognized by my peers makes it even more special.”

The society presents the State History Awards every year to individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the appreciation, collection, preservation and/or promotion of state and local history. The awards are the highest recognition presented by the society.

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