|John Cumming, award namesake, as pictured in 2008 Morning Sun.|
At the annual Isabella County Founder’s Day celebration on February 11, William “Willie” Johnson and Marie Green were recognized for their outstanding contributions in preserving the history of Isabella County. Each was awarded the John Cumming Isabella County Historical Preservation Award. The award is presented annually by several county historical organizations, to recognize the accomplishments of individuals like Mr. Johnson and Mrs. Green.
Marie Green is a lifetime member of the Shepherd Area Historical Society. Marie has served as a Trustee and Vice President. Recently, she has been a vital part in helping with the restoration of the Little Red School House Museum. The former one room school houses many artifacts and displays what school life was like for our ancestors. Marie worked relentlessly in acquiring estimates and bids used in obtaining grants. She also prepared the necessary inventory of what was needed.
Since Marie became a member, the Museum has been repainted on the outside and the windows and roof have been replaced. Many frames have been built and installed to properly house the many former class pictures. Countless other pictures have been framed for display. Marie kept all of the volunteers on course.
Her guidance working with the many other dedicated, hard-working volunteers made The Little Red School House Museum, or as it was formerly known The Landon School, more effectively preserved for the future. Indeed, the Museum will continue to be preserved, enjoyed and be an asset for our community for many years to come.
Marie is a supporter of The John H. Goodrow Fund, which supports those in need who live in Isabella County. She is also involved with the Mt. Pleasant Community Foundation where there is an endowed Emerson W. Green Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund.
Throughout her years living in Shepherd she has worked and supported the Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival, the Shepherd Jaycees, and the Shepherd Women’s Club. This year she was instrumental in organizing The Shepherd Women’s Club 100th Anniversary party. She made sure that every member past and present was honored. She has also been honored by the Shepherd Lion’s Club as The Citizen of the Year.
William Johnson is a descendant of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan. He serves the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture and Lifeways as the Curator and Team Leader for Cultural Resource Management Team. He has worked for the Ziibiwing Center since 1998.
He has 19 years of experience dealing with Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) issues; including the coordination of ancestral reburials for the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe as a NAGPRA designee. He is also the Chairman for the Michigan Anishinabek Cultural Preservation & Repatriation Alliance (MACPRA) and helps coordinate NAGPRA efforts for all the federally recognized tribes of state historic tribes of Michigan. He serves as the interim tribal historic preservation officer.
Through his efforts, the center’s excellence in exhibits and events has earned it numerous awards, including the 2006 Museum Award from the Michigan Cultural Alliance, the 2008 Harvard University’s “Honoring Nations” Award, and a Gold Muse Award from the American Association of Museum’s Media and Technology Committee.
In 2011, Johnson became the chairman of the Michigan Anishinaabek Cultural Preservation and Repatriation Alliance. He worked as a coordinator of Flint’s Stone Street Ancestral Recovery and Reburial Project, helping oversee the proper burial of more than 108 ancestral remains and their associated funerary objects that were inadvertently discovered during a construction project. He has also worked with many Michigan museums and colleges to accrue and respectfully inter Native American remains that had been removed from their resting places.
Johnson serves on the Mt. Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School Committee. The Boarding School, which operated from 1893 until 1934, sought to educate Native American children but also had the darker purpose of “taking the Indian out of the child.” The committee is charged with preserving and transforming this site to become a place of awareness, education, and healing for our state.
In 2012, Mr. Johnson was recognized by the Historical Society of Michigan with an award for Distinguished Professional Service.
The John Cumming Isabella County Historical Preservation Award was first presented in 2009, as part of the Isabella County Sesquicentennial celebration. The award is given annually and recognizes an individual or individuals who have made an exemplary contribution to preserving, recording, or disseminating the history of Isabella County. The award was named in honor of John Cumming, who served as director of Central Michigan University’s Clarke Historical Library from 1961 until 1982. This year’s award was made jointly by the Clarke Historical Library, the Mt. Pleasant Area Historical Society, and the Shepherd Area Historical Society