Ojibwe is virtually identical to Ottawa, Potawatomi and Algonkin, with a more distant relationship to the Illinois and Miami. After 1680, Ojibwe became the trade language in the northern Great Lakes because they were the most numerous tribe in the North.
Ojibwa / Chippewa
Tribal Origin: Algonquian FamilyAlso known as: Ojibwa, Ojibway, Chippewa or ChippewayNative Name: Bāwa’tigōwininiwŭg, means ‘people of the Sault’Home Territories: Michigan, northern Wisconsin, Minnesota and North DakotaLanguage: Anishinaabemowin or OjibwemowinAlliances: Ottawa and Potawatomi peoplesEnemies: Iroquois Confederacy and the Sioux
The Ojibwa were the largest North American tribe, living in wigwams, and subsisting on hunting, fishing and agriculture.
Ottawa, Chippewa and Potawatomi Indians all migrated from the east coast settling throughout Canada, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio and Minnesota – all having established reservations today in only Canada, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
The Ottawa Tribe
Ottawa, or alternatively “Odawa” or “Odawu” derives either from the term “trader” or a truncated version of an Ottawa phrase meaning people of the bulrush. Historically, the members of the tribe are descendants of and politically successors to nine Ottawa Bands who were party to the Treaties of 1836 and 1855 of a total of nineteen bands listed as Grand River Band Ottawa. After the 1855 Treaty, all of the Ottawa Bands located from the Manistee River south to Grand River near or on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan were relocated to reservation lands in Mason and Ocaena Counties. The permanent villages of the Grand River Bands Ottawa including those nine Bands now considered as Little River members, were located on the Thornapple, Grand, White, Pere Marquette and Big and Little Manistee Rivers in Michigan’s western Lower Peninsula.
The Ottawa and Chippewa Treaty of Detroit was signed in 1855 and created an Ottawa/Chippewa nation.
The Chippewa Tribe
The Chippewa (also “Ojibwe”, “Ojibway”, “Chippeway”, “Anishinaabe”) are the largest Native American group north of the Rio Grande. Their population is split between Canada and the United States. The Bay Mills Indian Community is located at the land base of the Sault Ste. Marie band of Chippewas. With the passage of the Indian Reorganization Act in 1934, the Bay Mills Indian Community was created.
Today, the Potawatomi have federally recognized tribes in several states of the upper Midwest, as well as in Kansas and Oklahoma. In Canada, they have several recognized First Nations based in Ontario.
The oral tradition of the Ojibwa (Anishinabe, Ojibwa, Potawatomi, Chippewa) tells of the five original clans – Crane, Catfish, Loon, Bear, and Marten – traveling west from the Atlantic Ocean, through the Great Lakes and into what are now Minnesota, Ontario, and Manitoba. Originally, the people had been living by a great sea, traditionally called the Land of the Dawn (Waabanakiing), where they were ravaged by sickness and death. The great miigis (cowrie shell; also spelled megis) appeared out of the sea and brought warmth and light to the people by reflecting the rays of the sun. At this time, the people were given the great rite-the Midewiwin-in which life was restored and prolonged.
The oral tradition also tells that a powerful miigis went into the sea and then returned with a prophecy for the people. According to this prophecy, the people needed to move west to keep their traditional ways alive. The prophecy told of a time when there would be new settlements by the sea of a people who would be incapable of understanding the traditional ways.
The miigis then disappeared and reappeared in the west leading the people into new areas. The Midewiwin lodge was pulled down and the rite was not practiced until the people settled in the area near present-day Montreal, Canada. After a while, the miigis led them farther west to the shores of Lake Huron. Once again the Midewiwin lodge was constructed and the rite practiced. After a while, the miigis led them to a place called Bow-e-ting located at the outlet of Lake Superior. Here they remained for many winters. The miigis then led them to the Island of La Point (Medicine Island).
The story of the migrations of the five Anishinabe clans has been recorded in oral tradition and has also been incised on the birch bark scrolls of the Midewiwin lodge. John Rogers recalls his father telling him about one of the scrolls:
“This is a chart … that has been handed down to me through many generations of our peoples. It is said to be fully six hundred years old.”
Most non-Indian scholars seem firmly predisposed to the idea that no Indian nation north of Mexico had writing. Yet the designation of the Ojibwa as Ozhibii’iwe meaning “those who keep records of a vision” refers to their pictorial writing used in the Midewiwin rites.
The tribes of the Three Fires Confederacy – Ojibwa (known as Older Brother), Ottawa (known as Middle Brother), and Potawatomi (known as Younger Brother) – were once a single people living in the east according to oral tradition. According to the Midewiwin scrolls, the Confederacy was formally organized about 796 CE. At this time, the tribes were living in the area of the Straits of Mackinac. The Potawatomi would later separate and move south into present-day Michigan. It is estimated that the three tribes may have separated as late as 1550.
With the coming of the European fur trade, the Ojibwa once again migrated. As the Ojibwa moved into the present-day states of Minnesota and Wisconsin during the late 1700s, they established numerous permanent villages along rivers and lakes. This in-migration resulted in pushing the Sioux populations of the area toward the west and south. During this time, the people were fragmented into numerous villages, large and small, distributed over a very broad area. This meant that economic, ceremonial, and political cooperation and communication were not maintained among them.
Some of the people moved out into the plains of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta (Canada), often working with the fur traders, intermarrying with them, and having children who would later become known as Métis. These western groups of Ojibwa were sometimes called Nakawe, Saulteaux, or Bungee.
The migrations of the Ojibwa people continued during the twentieth century, with some settling on the Rocky Boy Reservation in Montana. In the twenty-first century, federal recognition was denied for the Little Shell Chippewa (Ojibwa).Today there are Ojibwa living throughout the United States and Canada, including, according to oral tradition, at least one living in a New Mexico pueblo.
Member Tribes Today:
Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians Chippewa-Cree Indians of the Rocky Boy’s Reservation Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Michigan Citizen Potawatomi Nation Forest County Potawatomi Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior ChippewaGrand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa IndiansHannaville Indian CommunityKeweenaw Bay Indian CommunityLa Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior ChippewaLac de Flambeau Band of Lake Superior ChippewaLac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa IndiansLittle Rive Band of Ottawa IndiansLittle Traverse Bay Band of Odawa IndiansMatch-e-be-nash-she-wish PotawatomiMinnesota Chippewa TribePokagon Band of Potawatomi IndiansRed Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa IndiansRed Lake Band of Chippewa IndiansSaginaw Chippewa IndiansSokaogon Chippewa CommunitySt. Croix Chippewa IndiansTurtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians
Eric Schweig – Inuvialuk, Chippewa, Dene, German, and Portuguese Actor
Famous Ojibwe / Chippewa