Wyandot Nation Chief Billy Friend of Oklahoma, several of his fellow tribal leaders, nearly 35 students from the Oklahoma tribe and more than30 Wyandot tribal members from the Downriver area recently visited the Refuge Gateway in Trenton and Humbug Marsh.
Also participating were staff from the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge and its summer Youth Conservation Corps crew, restoration technicians, and members of the International Wildlife Refuge Alliance.
Trenton resident John Hartig, the refuge manager, noted that, “It was truly an honor to be visited by the Wyandots.”
The Wyandots have a long history with Humbug Marsh, dating back to when their ancestors lived on this land and, in more recent years, to helping advocate for its preservation, helping with its restoration, helping with constructing an environmental education shelter, and annually celebrating its unique cultural and ecological significance through a World Wetlands Day event.
As part of this visit, the more than 70 people in attendance participated in a Smudging Ceremony led by Chief Billy Friend and Chief Ted Roll of the Wyandots of Downriver.
Through the Smudging Ceremony the Wyandots used sacred herbs of sage, cedar, sweetgrass, and tobacco to cleanse participants and the grounds of the Refuge Gateway that used to be a former Chrysler manufacturing facility.
Following the Smudging Ceremony, lunch was served in the environmental education shelter in Humbug Marsh and students heard a lecture about the history and uniqueness of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.
Following the lecture, students and guests were able to take tours of Humbug Marsh and the Refuge Gateway.