Saginaw (Ojibwa: sa gi na ng; "land of the Sauk") is a city and seat of Saginaw County in central lower Michigan. Founded as a fur-trading post on the eastern bank of the Saginaw River, the city grew into a lumbering center before deversifying into agriculture and auto parts manufacturing. Government mismanagement, and the loss of manufacturing jobs during the past two decades - as well as an increase in crime - led to a significant loss of Saginaw's population.
Paleo-Indian nomads were the first people to arrive in the Saginaw valley several thousand years ago, following the trails of big game; their lifestyle changed into permanent settlements about 3,000 B.C. during the Early Archaic Culture. By 500 B.C. the valley was occupied by the forebears of the Ojibwa - referred to as the Woodland Culture - and when Europeans first arrived in the area the Ojibwa was well-established as a distinct tribe.
The American Fur Company built a trading post in 1816, near the present intersection of Hamilton and Court streets; this grew into Fort Saginaw in 1822. With a small increase in population (400) by 1836, Norman Little founded Saginaw City on the west bank of the river; East Saginaw would be created on the opposite bank in 1854. Both sides of the river benefitted from the German immigrants who created farms, and investment money brought in by Jesse Hoyt, which allowed the exploitation of the forests. By 1855, 23 sawmills were churning out 100 million feet of lumber a year.