Pelkie: 100 years of Finnishness in North Woods; Filmmaker Loukinen returns to Pelkie for documentary

RETIRED FROM NMU–After 40 years teaching sociology at Northern Michigan University, Michael Loukinen is continuing his “second career” in documentary films. He’s made over a dozen, and is working on a project documenting past life in Pelkie.


A note to the reader: I imagined how a reporter would write this story and it morphed into this. Enjoy. –Dr. Michael Loukinen

During the 1971 deer hunting season, Michael Loukinen, a Michigan State University graduate student, was about to begin his doctoral dissertation research on what sociologists call “exchange theory.” He wanted to study how inter-household labor and non-monetary material exchange helps rural communities survive. Funded by a Ford Foundation Fellowship, his advisors: Professors Bo Anderson and Fred Waisanen, a second generation Finnish American from Point Abbaye, advised him to go to the Copper Country. Shortly after shooting a four-pointer in Jacobsville, MI, where he had spent his childhood summers on his uncle’s dairy farm, Loukinen found himself in the Baraga County MSU Extension Service office. Dick Breyer, then the MSU Extension Agent, advised, “Go to Pelkie. There is a lot of cooperation out there….” To read more, subscribe to the L’Anse Sentinel online, or buy a print copy at our local retailers.