Carved in Stone: The Story of the Face in the Rock

Off the shore of Munising in the Upper Peninsula lies Grand Island.

It’s an island full of natural beauty and deep historical ties.

It’s also a place where a Chippewa Indian was immortalized in stone almost two centuries ago. Corey Adkins explains in this special report.

“Exploring party came through here. Michigan is still a territory, it wasn’t yet the state,” said Loren Graham, author of “A Face in the Rock.”

These were the years when Lewis Cass and Henry Schoolcraft we’re exploring Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Their job was to find out where everything was. They just happened to stop at a trading post at the south end of Grand Island when they heard an amazing story from an amazing young man.

“He met this remarkable Indian and they played this remarkable song and then told the story about the Lost Warriors,” explained Graham.

In the late 1820s, a young Grand Island Chippewa Indian named “Little Duck” loved to run. Speed was honored by the rest of the tribe. Little Duck used to run laps on Trout Bay until he was the fastest on the island.  He loved Lake Superior.

Years later the Grand Island Chippewa were somewhat forced to go to war with other Chippewa tribes against the Sioux tribes to the west.

Ten men from Grand Island went to fight. 

It’s said this great battle happened somewhere in northern Minnesota.

The Sioux greatly outnumbered the Chippewa and scalped most of them, except the 10 from Grand Island who were held up in a cavern. The Sioux chief gave them a chance to leave, but they decided to fight and die with honor but they needed one person to tell their story of what happened. So Little Duck ran. He ran fast, so fast he outran the whole Sioux tribe.

Later that day all the Chippewa were slaughtered. Little Duck was hiding in the woods and saw the whole massacre. He was the only survivor.

When he got back to Grand Island there was great sorrow, but his mother said because of what he did he had grown into a man and shouldn’t be called Little Duck anymore. From then on he was known as “Powers of the Air”.

It was Powers of the Air talking to the French explorers at that trading post.

“They were very impressed with him. Schoolcraft said he was one of the most impressive young man he’s ever met,” said Graham.

The explorers left Grand Island with Powers of the Air’s story etched in their minds.

“The party that was with Cass and Schoolcraft, they had a party of about 20 people or so. They were some French explorers and guides, and even some Native Americans were helping them along. They camped and AuTrain Beach, which is only six or seven miles from Munising, and then a big storm came up and so they couldn’t go further. So their time on their hands and they were remembering this presentation that Powers of the Air had made. They were very impressed with him, as was Cass and Schoolcraft. So I’m told one of the French guides carved the face into the rock on AuTrain Beach with a hammer and chisel and that face is still there,” explained Graham.

Thanks to author Loren Graham and decades of pain-staking research, Powers of the Air’s story lives on in his book “A Face in the Rock.” In the book, you can learn more about this incredible Grand Island Chippewa.

And, for some reason, it’s comforting to take a walk down AuTrain Beach, find the carving and know that Powers of the Air is overlooking his beloved Lake Superior and knowing his legend will be around forever