Saint Ignace, usually written as St. Ignace, is a city at the southern tip of the Upper Peninsula of the U.S. state of Michigan, on the northern side of the Straits of Mackinac. The population was 2,452 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Mackinac County. For travelers coming from the Lower Peninsula, St. Ignace is the gateway to the northern part of the state.
St. Ignace Township is located just to the north of the city, but is politically independent.
Mackinac Bridge connects St. Ignace, at the northern end, and Mackinaw City, at the southern end,, linking what are known as the Upper and Lower peninsulas. Prior to construction of the bridge, people had to use boats or ferries to get across the water.
As of the 2010 census, nearly one-third of the population of the city identified as Native American. Jesuit priests established a mission in the 17th century at what was then a village of the Wyandot people, also known by the French as the Huron. They are an Iroquoian-language group. It became a center of fur trading with the French for regional peoples.
In the 18th century, the Ojibwe (known as Chippewa in the United States) also entered the area and were an important group near the Great Lakes. In the 21st century, the large, federally recognized Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians owns and operates a casino on its land in St. Ignace; it also has land and casinos in four other cities in northern Michigan.
The Mackinac Bands of Chippewa and Ottawa Indians, a state recognized tribe, is headquartered at St. Ignace. It also has bands in several other counties in the region. The Ottawa people, also known as Odawa, comprised another Algonquian-speaking tribe before European encounter. Their descendants joined with the Chippewa in this area to organize for self-government.