News Story

State Gives $2 Million For Battlefield Center Commemorating American Massacre

The state of Michigan is giving $2 million to a nonprofit group to focus attention on an American defeat during the War of 1812.

The River Raisin National Battlefield Park, in Monroe, opened to the public in May 2011 and holds an annual commemoration each January.

According to the National Parks Service website and the River Raisin National Battlefield Foundation, only 33 of the nearly 1,000 man U.S. army escaped death or capture during the January 1813 battles at the River Raisin. The American dead could not be buried due to threats from Native Americans.

While the park is part of the National Park Service, a separate organization, the River Raisin National Battlefield Foundation, operates educational and interpretive programs there.

On its website, the foundation says its goals include the following:

  • “Inspire people to identify racism, propaganda, dehumanization, and hatred in a way that prevents abuse of power, genocide and forced assimilation.
  • “Cultivate a sense of moral responsibility in people that inspires understanding, enhances awareness of social justice issues, and results in agents of positive social and moral change.
  • “Remember the Raisin is a way that equips people to face the challenges confronting humanity in world today including unchecked power, colonization, refugees, and race-based societies.
  • “Share the dark truth about the force removal, relocation and assimilation of Native people in the Aftermath of the Battles and the ongoing social injustices through analysis of U.S. Indian Policy past and present.”
  • Honor and remember “Veterans, members of the armed forces, prisoners of war, and those who came before us who paid the ultimate sacrifice to defend their families, fellow citizens and nations.”

The River Raisin National Battlefield Foundation stated the battlefield “is dedicated to examining the War of 1812 from multiple perspectives and examining the aftermath resulting in the forced removal, relocation and assimilation of Native Nations. The ramification and consequences of the War of 1812’s ‘Untold Story’ is rarely taught in classrooms. The Battlefield Foundation is working hard to correct this issue, offering teacher workshops and curriculum development.”

The 2021-22 state budget includes $2 million for the education center at the park.

The state has previously given $4.8 million to the project through a Department of Natural Resources grant, according to The Detroit News.

The money from the current year’s funding, called an enhancement grant, was given to the River Raisin National Battlefield Foundation, a nonprofit corporation that is spearheading a $100 million-dollar redevelopment project. The group’s executive board includes a local bank president, a partner at a local law firm and a division director of the La-Z-Boy corporation.

The battlefield received approximately 290,000 visitors in 2018 and boosters hope to attract over one million annually once the project is complete.



Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.