Locals pronounce this village just south of Alpena 2 different ways, the “correct” way depends on who you are talking to! Whether you say ‘aws-neak’ or ‘aws-in-eek”, we will know what you are referring to. The name is actually derived from the Chippewa name- Shinga-ba-wa-sin-eke-go-ba-wat. .. meaning “Place of the Image Stones”, or more literally, “Divine Chief Puts Down More Than One Image Stone”. It was later shortened to Wasineke, and eventually over time came to be what we now call Ossineke. The Image Stones that the village was named after were reportedly moved in the 1840’s by a fishing party for anchors and have since been lost forever in Lake Huron. (Haltiner, p. 82)
This park located in the heart of Ossineke is named after the Chippewa Chief, Shin-ga-ba, who was the leader of a village located on Devils River in Ossineke. It is said that Chief Shin-ga-ba was one of the most influential Chippewa chiefs of his time. He was a praised war chief who was tall with deepset eyes, and he was admired by both the Native Americans and the white settlers. In fact, Chief Shinga-ba’s granddaughter married Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, noted Michigan explorer and the man who gave Alpena its name.
No, this river is not named after the Devil himself, but rather for the conditions it left the mail carriers with. The mail carriers back in the days of the early settlements would go from north to south along the river with dog teams, carrying much-anticipated mail to ‘the settlers in each area. During the spring and fall the shores along the river were difficult to get through due to the swampy conditions, and thus the French mail carriers named this river “Reviere Au Diable”, aka Devils River. The name stuck and we still call it Devils River to this day.