8–3-08 Sleep­ing Bear Dunes, Empire, MI poster by Ron Donovan

8/3/08 Moonalice poster by Ron DonovanAugust 3, 2008 Sleep­ing Bear Dunes, Empire, Michi­gan
Moon­al­ice poster by Ron Dono­van

Accord­ing to Moon­al­ice leg­end, the area of north­ern Michi­gan now known as the Sleepy Bear Dunes National Park was dis­cov­ered by the tribe a long, long time ago. The place later got its name from an old Chippewa tale about a mother bear swim­ming across the lake with two cubs. It’s a sad story, but the Chippewa ver­sion leaves out the sad­dest part. For that, we must con­sult the Moon­al­ice legend.

As is so often the case, the tribe found the place by acci­dent. A few brave Moon­al­ice souls walked down the dunes to the water. They got to the water’s edge at pre­cisely 4:20 and sparked a fat one to cel­e­brate. No one knows pre­cisely what hap­pened next, but it appears the Moon­al­ice dudes got so buzzed they didn’t notice a mother bear as she swam to shore. She was not only pissed off — her cubs had both drowned en route — she was really hun­gry, par­tic­u­larly after one of the Moon­al­ice gave her a cou­ple hits off the fatty. At that point, the munchies set in and the mother bear ate one of the Moon­al­ice tribe mem­bers. Very sad. It could have been much worse, but the mother bear fell asleep. At this point in the story, the tribe hit the road, the Chippewa and the National Park Ser­vice took over, the sun came out, there was a pretty rain­bow, and those who sur­vived lived hap­pily ever after.

On this run in Ohio and Michi­gan, Steve Parish uncov­ered a major new fig­ure in the Moon­al­ice leg­end: Red Barns. Accord­ing to Moon­al­ice leg­end, the tribe faced many philo­soph­i­cal chal­lenges over the mil­len­nia. One of the most sig­nif­i­cant occurred in the mid­dle of the 19th cen­tury, when a young tribe mem­ber in the agri­cul­tural clan, Tou­chofrouge Moon­al­ice, agi­tated for rad­i­cal change. He wanted the tribe to focus on corn and moon­shine, rather than hemp and Moon­al­ice. Once they recov­ered from the ini­tial shock of the pro­posal, the tribe resisted for many years, until finally Tou­chofrouge packed up his still and his com­bine and left the reser­va­tion. He changed his name to Red Barns and cam­paigned for years on behalf of corn, moon­shine, ethanol, and related prod­ucts. Red built a huge fol­low­ing in the Mid­west. Fol­low­ers by the thou­sands planted corn and built large, brightly col­ored, wooden stor­age struc­tures to honor their leader. Given that corn farm­ing takes a lot more work than hemp farm­ing, it is no sur­prise the vast major­ity of Red’s con­verts came from out­side the tribe. Big Steve assures us that the next chap­ter in the story of Red Barns includes great peril for the Moon­al­ice tribe. So tune in next time for another install­ment of “Who the Hell is Red Barns?”

Accord­ing to Moon­al­ice leg­end, dogs make the best copi­lots. Espe­cially bas­set hounds.


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