Man carves enduring monument to Native Americans

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(Photo: Bob Gross, Times Herald)

John Kennedy said it’s taken him about five years, but he’s close to fulfilling his dream of a monument to Native Americans who lived in the Port Huron area.

“We went through two city managers,” he said.

He’s taking his first whacks with a chisel at a large boulder, donated by Mid-Michigan Materials near Jeddo, that will join other monuments on Port Huron’s waterfront.

“It’s going by the bridge,” said Kennedy, who lives in Port Huron Township, “I think it’s granite. It’s hard.”

Kennedy is originally from the Niagara Falls, New York, area. He is a member of the Oneida Nation. He said his purpose is to “honor the Native Americans who called this our home in the past.”

A metal marker now stands on the spot where the boulder will go. Kennedy said he hopes to have it in place before Sept. 1.

The monument will depict a faceless and handless man to show the past; a middle-aged woman to represent the present; and a young child to represent the future.

“We’re going to put the child on this side facing the east,” he said. “The east is where the sun rises, so the child will be facing the future.”

He will be carving the images using hand tools — no pneumatic hammers or grinders.

“I’m an old carpenter, and I have a wood lathe back in the shed, so I made me some whacker tools,” Kennedy said.

Trish Moss helps John Kennedy as he starts to carve words into a large rock that will become a monument to Native Americans. (Photo: Bob Gross, Times Herald)
 Trish Moss, a Port Huron historian and preservationist, was helping Kennedy “because I have Mohawk blood in me.

“I believe in the project and I really want to see the project come to fruition,” she said.

“All of us should be proud of our Native American heritage.”

Debbie and Tom Cyma, of Port Huron, also were helping.

“We believe in this project,” Debbie Cyma said. “We just feel the Native Americans need to be recognized.

“They’re part of everyone’s past.”

Kennedy said members of the St. Clair County Labor Council will help install the monument north of the Blue Water Bridge.

“We got about $3,000 right now that we were able to raise.” he said.

Donations can be made to Kennedy at 232 Sycamore, Port Huron MI 48060, or call (810) 388-5143. Donations also can be made at the Port Huron Municipal Officer Center to a city fund set up for the memorial.

Contact Bob Gross at (810) 989-6263 or rgross@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobertGross477

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