Oronoko Charter Township, Michigan

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Oronoko Charter Township is a charter township of Berrien County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 9,843 at the 2000 census.

The Village of Berrien Springs is the only incorporated municipality within the township. Much of the eastern portion of the township is considered to be part of the Berrien Springs urban area. The western portion is primarily agricultural.

The township was organized on March 11, 1837 from a portion of Berrien Township. Oronoko initially included what is now Lake Township, which was organized in 1846. Originally, portions of both Oronoko and Berrien townships were on either side of the St. Joseph River and at the time, a large portion of the village of Berrien Springs was in Berrien Township, even though it was on the other side of the river from most of the township. In 1847, the river was made the dividing line between the townships.[3]

There are several accounts given for the name of the township. One is that it was named by Governor Stevens T. Mason after the Indian Chief named "Oronoko". However, apart from this story, there is no record that there ever was such a chief. Another is that it is a variant spelling of Orinoco, the name of a South American river that was adopted with various spellings in other states besides Michigan: Oronoco, Minnesota and Oronoque, Kansas. Others believe the township was named after the literary character Oroonoko, which was also derived from the South American river. A final possibility suggested by Vogel is that the name was taken from a variety of tobacco known as oronoco, orinoko, or oronooka.[4][5]

Andrews University (Seventh-day Adventist) is located in the township.


The St. Joseph River forms the eastern boundary of the township. Berrien Charter Township lies across the river directly to the east and Sodus Township to the north and northeast. Buchanan Township is to the south, Baroda Township to the west, and Royalton Township to the north,

U.S. Highway 31 passes through the eastern corner of the township.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the township has a total area of 33.4 square miles (86.4 km²), of which, 32.5 square miles (84.3 km²) of it is land and 0.8 square miles (2.2 km²) of it (2.52%) is water.


As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 9,843 people, 3,295 households, and 2,303 families residing in the township. The population density was 302.5 per square mile (116.8/km²). There were 3,545 housing units at an average density of 109.0/sq mi (42.1/km²). The racial makeup of the township was 66.54% White, 17.48% African American, 0.40% Native American, 7.03% Asian, 0.27% Pacific Islander, 4.38% from other races, and 3.89% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.53% of the population.

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