Hunts' Guide to The Upper Peninsula


Region: Keweenaw Peninsula

Assinins orphanage
This 1881 orphanage complex, now in ruins, once housed 900 orphans and other children whose parents could not support them. Only about half were Indians.

Assinins was the last mission Father Frederic Baraga, the "snowshoe priest" from Slovenia, established before becoming bishop of the Upper Peninsula. He came here in 1843 and used the mission he built as a base for missionary work elsewhere on the Keweenaw Peninsula, often reached by snowshoeing. Father Baraga came to the area at the request of Chief Assinins, who was the first to be baptized here. The little school here was built under Father Baraga's direction; the nails used seem to be the ones he arranged to get from Europe. The partly rebuilt school was one element of what The school was the first element of what became an extensive mission center. Its biggest building was an orphanage, more benign and not so destructive to Indian children's sense of themselves and their culture as some, to hear local people talk about it. Many orphanage children were non-Indians, too. If one parent died, the other might have to leave the children at an orphanage for extended periods of time while the parent worked elsewhere.

Highway 41 North
A 1910's postcard of children playing near the mission.

Today Assinins consists of some homes and the cemetery along the high road that parallels U.S. 41, the mission school, the Most Holy Name of Jesus Church, and a former convent that serves as its parish hall. A crucifix and white statues of Father Baraga and an Ojibwa man and girl can be seen from the highway.

Assinins is 2 1/2 miles north of Baraga off U.S. 41. It's the first place north of Baraga where Keweenaw Bay is in view. Turn west (up) here to find the church, school, and hall.

Return to Keweenaw Peninsula

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Michigan's Upper Peninsula - Hunts' Guide to the U.P.

Michigan's Upper Peninsula - Hunts' Guide to the U.P.
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