The Chippewa or Ojibway Indians are one of the largest groups of American Indians in North America. There are nearly 150 different bands of Chippewa in the northern part of the United States and in southern Canada (especially in Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan), living on many different reservations and reserves.
The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians are based on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota.
The Red Lake Indian Reservation (Miskwaagamiiwi-zaaga’igan) is made up of numerous holdings but the largest section is an area around Red Lake, in north central Minnesota.
The second-largest section is in the Northwest Angle of Lake of the Woods County near the Canadian border. It has no permanent residents. Between these two largest sections are hundreds of mostly small, non-contiguous reservation exclaves in the counties of Beltrami, Clearwater, Lake of the Woods, Koochiching, Roseau, Pennington, Marshall, Red Lake, and Polk.
Home to the federally recognized Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, it is unique as the only “closed reservation” in Minnesota. In a closed reservation, all land is held in common by the tribe and there is no private property. The tribe claims the land by right of conquest and aboriginal title; they were not reassigned to it by the United States government.
The Red Lake Band of Chippewa refused to join with six other bands in organizing as the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe in the mid-1930s; at the time, its people wanted to preserve their traditional system of hereditary chiefs, rather than forming an electoral government.
The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Michigan (pronounced “Soo Saint”), commonly shortened to Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians or just Sault Tribe, is located in the upper peninsula of Michigan. The Sault Tribe is the largest federally recognized tribe east of the Mississippi River, made up of more than 40,000 members. Roughly 11,000 of them live within the “service area,” which is the seven eastern counties in the Upper Peninsula.
During the migration of the Chippewa from Canada, they paused at Sault Ste. Marie, and then split into two groups, one going into Canada along the north shore of Lake Superior, and the other moving westward along the south shore into Wisconsin and Minnesota.
The Saginaw-Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan is headquartered on the Isabella Reservation, adjacent to the city of Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe is comprised mainly of the Saginaw, Black River, and Swan Creek Ojibwe bands.
The Bad River Band Of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians is located on a 125,000+ acre reservation in Northern Wisconsin on the south shore of Lake Superior (Known by the tribe as Gichi Gami) in Ashland and Iron Counties. Territory ceded by the tribe to the U.S. government includes the upper one third of what is now the State of Wisconsin.
The Bad River Band is one of six Ojibwe bands in Wisconsin that are federally recognized tribes, four set aside reservation treaty lands in the Treaty of 1854. These four are Bad River, Red Cliff, Lac Du Flambeau and Lac Courte Oreilles; the other two bands are St. Croix and Mole Lake.
The Leech Lake Tribe holds the smallest percentage of its reservation of any of the state’s tribes. County, state, and federal governments owned well over half of the original land. Of the 864,158 original acres, nearly 300,000 acres are surface area of the three big lakes. The National Chippewa Forest has the largest portion of the land. Seventy-five percent of the National Forest is within the reservation. This leaves less than 5% of land owned by the Band.
The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, comprised of the Bois Forte, Fond du Lac, Grand Portage, Leech Lake, Mille Lacs, and White Earth reservations, is a federally recognized tribal government.
Chief Moses’ band of Pembina Chippewa, now known as the Moses-Columbia (Sinkiuse-Columbia) indians, are one of the twelve tribes now on the Colville Reservation. The community of Disautel on the Collville reservation is also made up primarily of a Chippewa band.
The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians live on the Grand Traverse Indian Reservation in northern Michigan. Referring to themselves as Anishinaabeg or Three Fires Confederacy, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians includes members of the Odaawaa/Odawa (Ottawa), the Ojibwe (Ojibwa/Chippewa) and Boodewaadami/Bodéwadmi (Potawatomi) peoples.
The Bay Mills Reservation is located on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, near Sault Ste. Marie.
Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation is home to the Chippewa-Cree. It is the smallest reservaton in Montana. Rocky Boy’s unusual name came about from the English mistranslation of the name of the tribal chief, Asiniiwin (Chippewa). His name was closer in meaning to “Stone Child.”
The Grand Portage Reservation is in Minnesota. The name Grand Portage comes from the nine-mile portage necessary to bypass the cascading waters of the Pigeon River to get inland to the lakes and rivers leading to the fur-rich areas of northern Minnesota. The Grand Portage Band of Chippewa of Lake Superior are the principal tribe. The Grand Portage Indians were members of the Lake Superior Band but were not participants in the early Ojibwe treaties with the United States.