About This Place
Onekama ( /oʊnɛkəmə/ oh-nek-ə-mə) is a village in Manistee County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 647 at the 2000 census. The village is located on the shores of Portage Lake and is surrounded by Onekama Township. The town's name is derived from "oneka-ma-engh", a native[clarification needed] phrase for "portage". Some local business people have produced sweatshirts, t-shirts, and bumper stickers with the symbols "1," (pronounced 'ONE comma'), a common mispronunciation.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 0.6 square miles (1.6 km²), all land.
The predecessor of the village of Onekama was the settlement of Portage at Portage Point, first established in 1845, at the western end of Portage, at the outlet of Portage Creek. In 1871, when landowners around the land-locked lake became exasperated with the practices of the Portage Sawmill, they took the solution into their own hands and dug a channel through the narrow isthmus, opening a waterway that lowered the lake by 12 to 14 feet and brought it to the same level as Lake Michigan. When this action dried out Portage Creek on 14 May 1871, the settlement, which had only the week before been designated as Onekama with a Post Office under that name, moved to the previously submerged land at the northwestern shore of the lake near an earlier settlement called "Brookfield".