Manistee is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 6,226 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Manistee County. The name "Manistee" is from an Ojibwe word first applied to the principal river of the county. The derivation is not certain, but it may be from ministigweyaa, "river with islands at its mouth". Other sources claim that it was an Ojibwe term meaning "spirit of the woods".
Missionaries visited Manistee in the early 19th century, and a Jesuit mission house is known to have been located on the NW shore of Lake Manistee in 1826. In 1832, a group of traders from Massachusetts built a log house up the Manistee River. However, they were soon driven off by the Ottawa.
The village of Manistee was one of about 15 Ottawa villages along the shore of Lake Michigan in 1830. Much of the Manistee River Valley, including Manistee itself, was an Ottawa Reservation from 1836-1848.
The first permanent Euro-American settlement was made on April 16, 1841, when John Stronach and his son, Adam Stronach, arrived at the mouth of the Manistee River in a schooner loaded with fifteen men and equipment, and established a saw mill.
On October 8, 1871, the town was practically destroyed by fire; on the same day the Peshtigo Fire, the Great Chicago Fire, and fires in Port Huron and Holland occurred. Manistee was incorporated as a city in 1882.
In 2000, Manistee made national headlines after a judge and jury convicted a woman for expressing privately to her mother her wish that immigrants would learn English, deeming it "insulting conduct" consisting of "fighting words" that was punishable under local ordinance. Allegations of improper procedure and irregularities in the court records appeared. Two years later (November 1, 2002) and after the defendant spent four nights in jail, the conviction was overturned by the state Court of Appeals.