The Ojibwe, Ojibwa, Chippewa, or Saulteaux are an Anishinaabe people of Canada and the United States. They are one of the most numerous indigenous peoples north of the Rio Grande. In Canada, they are the second-largest First Nations population, surpassed only by the Cree. In the United States, they have the fifth-largest population among Native American peoples, surpassed in number only by the Navajo, Cherokee, Choctaw and Sioux.
The Ojibwe people traditionally speak the Ojibwe language, a branch of the Algonquian language family. They are part of the Council of Three Fires and the Anishinaabeg, which include the Algonquin, Nipissing, Oji-Cree, Odawa and the Potawatomi. Historically, through the Saulteaux branch, they were a part of the Iron Confederacy, joining the Cree, Assiniboine, and Metis. 
The majority of the Ojibwe people live in Canada. There are 77,940 mainline Ojibwe; 76,760 Saulteaux; and 8,770 Mississauga, organized in 125 bands. They live from western Quebec to eastern British Columbia. As of 2010, Ojibwe in the US census population is 170,742.
The Ojibwe are known for their birch bark canoes, birch bark scrolls, mining and trade in copper, as well as their cultivation of wild rice and Maple syrup. Their Midewiwin Society is well respected as the keeper of detailed and complex scrolls of events, oral history, songs, maps, memories, stories, geometry, and mathematics.
The Ojibwe people underwent colonization by Settler-Canadians. They signed treaties with settler leaders, and many European settlers soon inhabited the Ojibwe ancestral lands.
Pre-contact distribution of Ojibwe-speaking people
|170,742 in United States (2010)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Canada (Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta)|
United States (Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota)
|English, Ojibwe, French|
|Midewiwin, Catholicism, Methodism|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Odawa, Potawatomi, Saulteaux, Oji-Cree, and other Algonquian peoples|
The exonym for this Anishinaabe group is Ojibwe (plural: Ojibweg). This name is commonly anglicized as "Ojibwa" or "Ojibway". The name "Chippewa" is an alternative anglicization. Although many variations exist in literature, "Chippewa" is more common in the United States, and "Ojibway" predominates in Canada, but both terms are used in each country. In many Ojibwe communities throughout Canada and the U.S. since the late 20th century, more members have been using the generalized name Anishinaabe(-g).
The exact meaning of the name Ojibwe is not known; the most common explanations for the name derivations are:
Because many Ojibwe were formerly located around the outlet of Lake Superior, which the French colonists called Sault Ste. Marie for its rapids, the early Canadian settlers referred to the Ojibwe as Saulteurs. Ojibwe who subsequently moved to the prairie provinces of Canada have retained the name Saulteaux. This is disputed since some scholars believe that only the name migrated west. Ojibwe who were originally located along the Mississagi River and made their way to southern Ontario are known as the Mississaugas.
The Ojibwe language is known as Anishinaabemowin or Ojibwemowin, and is still widely spoken, although the number of fluent speakers has declined sharply. Today, most of the language's fluent speakers are elders. Since the early 21st century, there is a growing movement to revitalize the language, and restore its strength as a central part of Ojibwe culture. The language belongs to the Algonquian linguistic group, and is descended from Proto-Algonquian. Its sister languages include Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Cree, Fox, Menominee, Potawatomi, and Shawnee among the northern Plains tribes. Anishinaabemowin is frequently referred to as a "Central Algonquian" language; Central Algonquian is an area grouping, however, rather than a linguistic genetic one.
Ojibwemowin is the fourth-most spoken Native language in North America (US and Canada) after Navajo, Cree, and Inuktitut. Many decades of fur trading with the French established the language as one of the key trade languages of the Great Lakes and the northern Great Plains.
According to Ojibwe oral history and from recordings in birch bark scrolls, the Ojibwe originated from the mouth of the St. Lawrence River on the Atlantic coast of what is now Quebec. They traded widely across the continent for thousands of years as they migrated, and knew of the canoe routes to move north, west to east, and then south in the Americas. The identification of the Ojibwe as a culture or people may have occurred in response to contact with Europeans. The Europeans preferred to deal with bounded groups and tried to identify those they encountered.
According to Ojibwe oral history, seven great miigis (radiant/iridescent) beings appeared to them in the Waabanakiing (Land of the Dawn, i.e., Eastern Land) to teach them the mide way of life. One of the seven great miigis beings was too spiritually powerful and killed the people in the Waabanakiing when they were in its presence. The six great miigis beings remained to teach, while the one returned into the ocean. The six great miigis beings established doodem (clans) for people in the east, symbolized by animal, fish or bird species. The five original Anishinaabe doodem were the Wawaazisii (Bullhead), Baswenaazhi (Echo-maker, i.e., Crane), Aan'aawenh (Pintail Duck), Nooke (Tender, i.e., Bear) and Moozoonsii (Little Moose), then these six miigis beings returned into the ocean as well. If the seventh miigis being had stayed, it would have established the Thunderbird doodem.
At a later time, one of these miigis appeared in a vision to relate a prophecy. It said that if the Anishinaabeg did not move further west, they would not be able to keep their traditional ways alive because of the many new pale-skinned settlers who would arrive soon in the east. Their migration path would be symbolized by a series of smaller Turtle Islands, which was confirmed with miigis shells (i.e., cowry shells). After receiving assurance from their "Allied Brothers" (i.e., Mi'kmaq) and "Father" (i.e., Abenaki) of their safety to move inland, the Anishinaabeg gradually migrated west along the Saint Lawrence River to the Ottawa River to Lake Nipissing, and then to the Great Lakes.
The first of the smaller Turtle Islands was Mooniyaa, where Mooniyaang (present-day Montreal) developed. The "second stopping place" was in the vicinity of the Wayaanag-gakaabikaa (Concave Waterfalls, i.e., Niagara Falls). At their "third stopping place", near the present-day city of Detroit, Michigan, the Anishinaabeg divided into six groups, of which the Ojibwe was one.
The first significant new Ojibwe culture-center was their "fourth stopping place" on Manidoo Minising (Manitoulin Island). Their first new political-center was referred to as their "fifth stopping place", in their present country at Baawiting (Sault Ste. Marie).
Continuing their westward expansion, the Ojibwe divided into the "northern branch", following the north shore of Lake Superior, and the "southern branch", along its south shore.
As the people continued to migrate westward, the "northern branch" divided into a "westerly group" and a "southerly group". The "southern branch" and the "southerly group" of the "northern branch" came together at their "sixth stopping place" on Spirit Island (Saint Louis River estuary at the western end of Lake Superior. (This has since been developed as the present-day Duluth/Superior cities.) The people were directed in a vision by the miigis being to go to the "place where there is food (i.e., wild rice) upon the waters." Their second major settlement, referred to as their "seventh stopping place", was at Shaugawaumikong (or Zhaagawaamikong, French, Chequamegon) on the southern shore of Lake Superior, near the present La Pointe, Wisconsin.) located in the
The "westerly group" of the "northern branch" migrated along the Rainy River, Red River of the North, and across the northern Great Plains until reaching the Pacific Northwest. Along their migration to the west, they came across many miigis, or cowry shells, as told in the prophecy.
The first historical mention of the Ojibwe occurs in the French Jesuit Relation of 1640, a report by the missionary priests to their superiors in France. Through their friendship with the French traders (coureurs des bois and voyageurs), the Ojibwe gained guns, began to use European goods, and began to dominate their traditional enemies, the Lakota and Fox to their west and south. They drove the Sioux from the Upper Mississippi region to the area of the present-day Dakotas, and forced the Fox down from northern Wisconsin. The latter allied with the Sauk for protection.
By the end of the 18th century, the Ojibwe controlled nearly all of present-day Michigan, northern Wisconsin, and Minnesota, including most of the Red River area. They also controlled the entire northern shores of lakes Huron and Superior on the Canadian side and extending westward to the Turtle Mountains of North Dakota. In the latter area, the French Canadians called them Ojibwe or Saulteaux.
The Ojibwe (Chippewa) were part of a long-term alliance with the Anishinaabe Odawa and Potawatomi peoples, called the Council of Three Fires. They fought against the Iroquois Confederacy, based mainly to the southeast of the Great Lakes in present-day New York, and the Sioux to the west. The Ojibwa stopped the Iroquois advance into their territory near Lake Superior in 1662. Then they formed an alliance with other tribes such as the Huron and the Odawa who had been displaced by the Iroquois invasion. Together they launched a massive counterattack against the Iroquois and drove them out of Michigan and southern Ontario until they were forced to flee back to their original homeland in upstate New York. At the same time the Iroquois were subjected to attacks by the French. This was the beginning of the end of the Iroquois Confederacy as they were put on the defensive. The Ojibwe expanded eastward, taking over the lands along the eastern shores of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay.
In 1745, they adopted guns from the British in order to repel the Dakota people in the Lake Superior area, pushing them to the south and west. In the 1680s the Ojibwa defeated the Iroquois who dispersed their Huron allies and trading partners. This victory allowed them a "golden age" in which they ruled uncontested in southern Ontario.
Often, treaties known as "Peace and Friendship Treaties" were made to establish community bonds between the Ojibwe and the European settlers. These established the groundwork for cooperative resource-sharing between the Ojibwe and the settlers. The United States and Canada viewed later treaties offering land cessions as offering territorial advantages. The Ojibwe did not understand the land cession terms in the same way because of the cultural differences in understanding the uses of land. The governments of the US and Canada considered land a commodity of value that could be freely bought, owned and sold.
The Ojibwe believed it was a fully shared resource, along with air, water and sunlight—despite having an understanding of "territory". At the time of the treaty councils, they could not conceive of separate land sales or exclusive ownership of land. Consequently, today, in both Canada and the US, legal arguments in treaty-rights and treaty interpretations often bring to light the differences in cultural understanding of treaty terms to come to legal understanding of the treaty obligations.
In part due to its long trading alliance, the Ojibwe allied with the French against Great Britain and its colonists in the Seven Years' War (also called the French and Indian War). After losing the war in 1763, France was forced to cede its colonial claims to lands in Canada and east of the Mississippi River to Britain. After Pontiac's War and adjusting to British colonial rule, the Ojibwe allied with British forces and against the United States in the War of 1812. They had hoped that a British victory could protect them against United States settlers' encroachment on their territory.
Following the war, the United States government tried to forcibly remove all the Ojibwe to Minnesota, west of the Mississippi River. The Ojibwe resisted, and there were violent confrontations. In the Sandy Lake Tragedy, several hundred Ojibwe died because of the federal government's failure to deliver fall annuity payments. Through the efforts of Chief Buffalo and the rise of popular opinion in the US against Ojibwe removal, the bands east of the Mississippi were allowed to return to reservations on ceded territory. A few families were removed to Kansas as part of the Potawatomi removal.
In British North America, the Royal Proclamation of 1763 following the Seven Years' War governed the cession of land by treaty or purchase . Subsequently, France ceded most of the land in Upper Canada to Great Britain. Even with the Jay Treaty signed between Great Britain and the United States following the American Revolutionary War, the newly formed United States did not fully uphold the treaty. As it was still preoccupied by war with France, Great Britain ceded to the United States much of the lands in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, parts of Illinois and Wisconsin, and northern Minnesota and North Dakota to settle the boundary of their holdings in Canada.
In 1807, the Ojibwe joined three other tribes, the Odawa, Potawatomi and Wyandot people, in signing the Treaty of Detroit. The agreement, between the tribes and William Hull, representing the Michigan Territory, gave the United States a portion of today's Southeastern Michigan and a section of Ohio near the Maumee River. The tribes were able to retain small pockets of land in the territory.
In Canada, many of the land cession treaties the British made with the Ojibwe provided for their rights for continued hunting, fishing and gathering of natural resources after land sales. The government signed numbered treaties in northwestern Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. British Columbia had not signed treaties until the late 20th century, and most areas have no treaties yet. The government and First Nations are continuing to negotiate treaty land entitlements and settlements. The treaties are constantly being reinterpreted by the courts because many of them are vague and difficult to apply in modern times. The numbered treaties were some of the most detailed treaties signed for their time. The Ojibwe Nation set the agenda and negotiated the first numbered treaties before they would allow safe passage of many more British settlers to the prairies.
Ojibwe communities have a strong history of political and social activism. Long before contact, they were closely aligned with Odawa and Potawatomi people in the Council of the Three Fires. From the 1870s to 1938, the Grand General Indian Council of Ontario attempted to reconcile multiple traditional models into one cohesive voice to exercise political influence over colonial legislation. In the West, 16 Plains Cree and Ojibwe bands formed the Allied Bands of Qu'Appelle in 1910 in order to redress concerns about the failure of the government to uphold Treaty 4’s promises.
During its Indian Removal of the 1830s, the US government attempted to relocate tribes from the east to the west of the Mississippi River as the white pioneers increasingly migrated west. By the late 19th century, the government policy was to move tribes onto reservations within their territories. The government attempted to do this to the Anishinaabe in the Keweenaw Peninsula in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
The Battle of the Brule was an October 1842 battle between the La Pointe Band of Ojibwe Indians and a war party of Dakota Indians. The battle took place along the Brule River (Bois Brule) in what is today northern Wisconsin and resulted in a decisive victory for the Ojibwe.
The Ojibwe live in groups (otherwise known as "bands"). Most Ojibwe, except for the Great Plains bands, lived a sedentary lifestyle, engaging in fishing and hunting to supplement the women's cultivation of numerous varieties of maize and squash, and the harvesting of manoomin (wild rice). Their typical dwelling was the wiigiwaam (wigwam), built either as a waginogaan (domed-lodge) or as a nasawa'ogaan (pointed-lodge), made of birch bark, juniper bark and willow saplings.
They developed a form of pictorial writing, used in religious rites of the Midewiwin and recorded on birch bark scrolls and possibly on rock. The many complex pictures on the sacred scrolls communicate much historical, geometrical, and mathematical knowledge. The use of petroforms, petroglyphs, and pictographs was common throughout the Ojibwe traditional territories. Petroforms and medicine wheels were a way to teach the important concepts of four directions and astronomical observations about the seasons, and to use as a memorizing tool for certain stories and beliefs.
Ceremonies also used the miigis shell (cowry shell), which is found naturally in distant coastal areas. Their use of such shells demonstrates there was a vast trade network across the continent at some time. The use and trade of copper across the continent has also been proof of a large trading network that took place for thousands of years, as far back as the Hopewell tradition. Certain types of rock used for spear and arrow heads were also traded over large distances.
During the summer months, the people attend jiingotamog for the spiritual and niimi'idimaa for a social gathering (pow-wows or "pau waus") at various reservations in the Anishinaabe-Aki (Anishinaabe Country). Many people still follow the traditional ways of harvesting wild rice, picking berries, hunting, making medicines, and making maple sugar. Many of the Ojibwe take part in sun dance ceremonies across the continent. The sacred scrolls are kept hidden away until those who are worthy and respect them are given permission to see and interpret them properly.
The Ojibwe would not bury their dead in a burial mound. Many erect a jiibegamig or a "spirit-house" over each mound. A traditional burial mound would typically have a wooden marker, inscribed with the deceased's doodem (clan sign). Because of the distinct features of these burials, Ojibwe graves have been often looted by grave robbers. In the United States, many Ojibwe communities safe-guard their burial mounds through the enforcement of the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
As with various other North American peoples, the Ojibwe culture includes a third gender. Ojibwe Two-Spirit women take on men's roles, classified as either "Iron Woman" or "Half Sky". Generally, two-spirit men practiced Shamanism and it was taboo for women to take on this role, but a two-spirit following this path was called an Iron Woman. The Half Sky two-spirit would be physically good at a man's trade (like hunting). Also, there is an instance when a wife becomes a widow and takes on her husband's manly deeds; this woman is called a "Woman Covered All Over". (Landes 153, 176, 178-179, and Merriam- Webster Dictionary).
Several Ojibwe bands in the United States cooperate in the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission, which manages the treaty hunting and fishing rights in the Lake Superior-Lake Michigan areas. The commission follows the directives of U.S. agencies to run several wilderness areas. Some Minnesota Ojibwe tribal councils cooperate in the 1854 Treaty Authority, which manages their treaty hunting and fishing rights in the Arrowhead Region. In Michigan, the Chippewa-Ottawa Resource Authority manages the hunting, fishing and gathering rights about Sault Ste. Marie, and the resources of the waters of lakes Michigan and Huron. In Canada, the Grand Council of Treaty No. 3 manages the Treaty 3 hunting and fishing rights related to the area around Lake of the Woods.
Traditionally, the Ojibwe had a patrilineal system, in which children were considered born to the father's clan. For this reason, children with French or English fathers were considered outside the clan and Ojibwe society unless adopted by an Ojibwe male. They were sometimes referred to as "white" because of their fathers, regardless if their mothers were Ojibwe, as they had no official place in the Ojibwe society. The people would shelter the woman and her children, but they did not have the same place in the culture as children born to Ojibwe fathers.
Ojibwe understanding of kinship is complex, and includes not only the immediate family but also the extended family. It is considered a modified bifurcate merging kinship system. As with any bifurcate-merging kinship system, siblings generally share the same kinship term with parallel cousins because they are all part of the same clan. The modified system allows for younger siblings to share the same kinship term with younger cross-cousins. Complexity wanes further from the speaker's immediate generation, but some complexity is retained with female relatives. For example, ninooshenh is "my mother's sister" or "my father's sister-in-law"—i.e., my parallel-aunt, but also "my parent's female cross-cousin". Great-grandparents and older generations, as well as great-grandchildren and younger generations, are collectively called aanikoobijigan. This system of kinship reflects the Anishinaabe philosophy of interconnectedness and balance among all living generations, as well as of all generations of the past and of the future.
The Ojibwe people were divided into a number of odoodeman (clans; singular: doodem) named primarily for animals and birds totems (pronounced doodem). The five original totems were Wawaazisii (Bullhead), Baswenaazhi ("Echo-maker", i.e., Crane), Aan'aawenh (Pintail Duck), Nooke ("Tender", i.e., Bear) and Moozwaanowe ("Little" Moose-tail). The Crane totem was the most vocal among the Ojibwe, and the Bear was the largest – so large, that it was sub-divided into body parts such as the head, the ribs and the feet. Each clan had certain responsibilities among the people. People had to marry a spouse from a different clan.
Traditionally, each band had a self-regulating council consisting of leaders of the communities' clans, or odoodemaan. The band was often identified by the principal doodem. In meeting others, the traditional greeting among the Ojibwe people is, "What is your 'doodem'?" ("Aaniin gidoodem?" or "Awanen gidoodem?") The response allows the parties to establish social conduct by identifying as family, friends or enemies. Today, the greeting has been shortened to "Aanii". Pronounced; (Ah-nee)
The Ojibwe have a number of spiritual beliefs passed down by oral tradition under the Midewiwin teachings. These include a creation story and a recounting of the origins of ceremonies and rituals. Spiritual beliefs and rituals were very important to the Ojibwe because spirits guided them through life. Birch bark scrolls and petroforms were used to pass along knowledge and information, as well as for ceremonies. Pictographs were also used for ceremonies.
The sweatlodge is still used during important ceremonies about the four directions, when oral history is recounted. Teaching lodges are common today to teach the next generations about the language and ancient ways of the past. The traditional ways, ideas, and teachings are preserved and practiced in such living ceremonies.
The Ojibwe crafted the dreamcatcher. They believe that if one is hung above the head of a sleeper, it will catch and trap bad dreams, preventing them from reaching the dreamer. Traditional Ojibwe use dreamcatchers only for children, as they believe that adults should be able to interpret their dreams, good or bad, and use them in their lives.
In Ojibwe tradition, the main task after a death is to bury the body as soon as possible, the very next day or even on the day of death. This was important because it allowed the spirit of the dead to journey to its place of joy and happiness. The land of happiness where the dead reside is called Gaagige Minawaanigozigiwining. This was a journey that took four days. If burial preparations could not be completed the day of the death, guests and medicine men were required to stay with the deceased and the family in order to help mourn, while also singing songs and dancing throughout the night. Once preparation were complete, the body would be placed in an inflexed position with their knees towards their chest. Over the course of the four days it take the spirit to journey to its place of joy, it is customary to have food kept alongside the grave at all times. In addition a fire is set when the sun sets and is kept going throughout the night. The food is to help feed the spirit over the course of the journey, while the smoke from the fire is a directional guide. Once the four day journey is over, a feast is held, which is led by the chief medicine man. At the feast, it is the chief medicine man’s duty to give away certain belongings of the deceased. Those who were chosen to receive items from the deceased are required to trade in a new piece of clothing, all of which would be turned into a bundle. The bundle of new cloths and a dish is then given to the closest relative. The recipient of the bundle must then find individuals that he or she believes to be worthy, and pass on one of the new pieces of clothing.
According to Lee Staples, an Ojibwe spiritual leader from the Mil Lacs Indian Reservation, present day practices follow the same spiritual beliefs and remain fairly similar. When an individual dies, a fire is lit in the home of the family, who are also expected to continuously maintain the fire for four days. Over the four days, food is also offered to the spirit. Added to food offerings, tobacco is also offered as it is considered one of four sacred medicines traditionally used by Ojibwe communities. On the last night of food offerings, a feast is also held by the relatives which ends with a final smoke of the offering tobacco or the tobacco being thrown in the fire. Although conventional caskets are mainly used in today’s communities, birch bark fire matches are buried along with the body as a tool to help light fires to guide their journey to Gaagige Minawaanigozigiwining.
Plants used by the Ojibwe include Agrimonia gryposepala, used for urinary problems, and pinus strobus, the resin of which was used to treat infections and gangrene. The roots of Symphyotrichum novae-angliae are smoked in pipes to attract game. Allium tricoccum is eaten as part of Ojibwe cuisine. They also use a decoction as a quick-acting emetic. An infusion of the alba subspecies of Silene latifolia is used as physic. The South Ojibwa use a decoction of the root Viola canadensis for pains near the bladder. The Ojibwa are documented to use the root of Uvularia grandiflora for pain in the solar plexus, which may refer to pleurisy. They take a compound decoction of the root of Ribes glandulosum for back pain and for "female weakness." The Ojibwe eat the corms of Sagittaria cuneata for indigestion, and also as a food, eaten boiled fresh, dried or candied with maple sugar. Muskrat and beavers store them in large caches, which they have learned to recognize and appropriate. They take an infusion of the Antennaria howellii ssp. neodioica after childbirth to purge afterbirth and to heal. They use the roots of Solidago rigida, using a decoction of root as an enema and take an infusion of the root for "stoppage of urine.
In his History of the Ojibway People (1855), William W. Warren recorded 10 major divisions of the Ojibwe in the United States. He mistakenly omitted the Ojibwe located in Michigan, western Minnesota and westward, and all of Canada. When identified major historical bands located in Michigan and Ontario are added, the count becomes 15:
|English Name||Ojibwe Name
(in double-vowel spelling)
|Saulteaux||Baawitigowininiwag||Sault Ste. Marie area of Ontario and Michigan|
|Border-Sitters||Biitan-akiing-enabijig||St. Croix-Namekagon River valleys in eastern Minnesota and northern Wisconsin|
|Lake Superior Band||Gichi-gamiwininiwag||south shore of Lake Superior|
|Mississippi River Band||Gichi-ziibiwininiwag||upper Mississippi River in Minnesota|
|Rainy Lake Band||Goojijiwininiwag||Rainy Lake and River, about the northern boundary of Minnesota|
|Ricing-Rails||Manoominikeshiinyag||along headwaters of St. Croix River in Wisconsin and Minnesota|
|Pillagers||Makandwewininiwag||North-central Minnesota and Mississippi River headwaters|
|Mississaugas||Misi-zaagiwininiwag||north of Lake Erie, extending north of Lake Huron about the Mississaugi River|
|Dokis Band (Dokis's and Restoule's bands)||N/A||Along French River (Wemitigoj-Sibi) region (including Little French River (Ziibiins) and Restoule River) in Ontario, near Lake Nipissing|
|Ottawa Lake (Lac Courte Oreilles) Band||Odaawaa-zaaga'iganiwininiwag||Lac Courte Oreilles, Wisconsin|
|Bois Forte Band||Zagaakwaandagowininiwag||north of Lake Superior|
|Lac du Flambeau Band||Waaswaaganiwininiwag||head of Wisconsin River|
|Muskrat Portage Band||Wazhashk-Onigamininiwag||northwest side of Lake Superior at the Canada–US border|
|Nopeming Band||Noopiming Azhe-ininiwag||northeast of Lake Superior and west of Lake Nipissing|
These 15 major divisions developed into the following Ojibwe Bands and First Nations of today. Bands are listed under their respective tribes where possible. See also the listing of Saulteaux communities.
Anishinaabe is the autonym for a group of culturally related indigenous peoples in what are now Canada and the United States. These include the Odawa, Saulteaux, Ojibwe (including Mississaugas), Potawatomi, Oji-Cree, and Algonquin peoples. The Anishinaabe speak Anishinaabemowin, or Anishinaabe languages that belong to the Algonquian language family. They historically lived in the Northeast Woodlands and Subarctic.
The word Anishinaabeg translates to "people from whence lowered". Another definition refers to "the good humans", meaning those who are on the right road or path given to them by the Creator Gitche Manitou, or Great Spirit. Basil Johnston, an Ojibwe historian, linguist, and author, wrote that the term's literal translation is "Beings Made Out of Nothing" or "Spontaneous Beings". Anishinaabe myths claim the people were created by divine breath.Anishinaabe is often mistakenly considered a synonym of Ojibwe; however, it refers to a much larger group of tribes.Anishinaabe traditional beliefs
Anishinaabe traditional beliefs cover the traditional belief system of the Anishinaabeg peoples, consisting of the Algonquin/Nipissing, Ojibwa/Chippewa/Saulteaux/Mississaugas, Odawa, Potawatomi and Oji-Cree, located primarily in the Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada.Bois Forte Indian Reservation
Bois Forte Indian Reservation is an Indian reservation formed for the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa (or Zagaakwaandagowininiwag (Men of the Thick Woods) in the Ojibwe language).Central Algonquian languages
The Central Algonquian languages are commonly grouped together as a subgroup of the larger Algonquian family, itself a member of the Algic family. Though the grouping is often encountered in the literature, it is an areal grouping, not a genetic grouping. In other words, the languages are grouped together because they were spoken near one another, not because they are more closely related to one another than to other Algonquian languages. Within the Algonquian family, only Eastern Algonquian is a valid genealogical group.
Within the Central Algonquian grouping, Potawatomi and Chippewa, otherwise known as Ojibwe, are closely related and are generally grouped together as an Ojibwa-Potawatomi sub-branch. David J. Costa speculated in his 2003–2004 web publications that Central Algonquian has a specific language sub-branch that he refers to as "Eastern Great Lakes". The hypothesis for the subgroup is based on lexical and phonological innovations.Dreamcatcher
In some Native American cultures, a dreamcatcher or dream catcher (Ojibwe: asabikeshiinh, the inanimate form of the word for "spider") is a handmade willow hoop, on which is woven a net or web. The dreamcatcher may also include sacred items such as certain feathers or beads. Traditionally they are often hung over cradles as protection. It originates in Ojibwe culture as the "spider web charm" (Ojibwe: asubakacin "net-like", White Earth Band; bwaajige ngwaagan "dream snare", Curve Lake Band), a hoop with woven string or sinew meant to replicate a spider's web, used as a protective charm for infants.Dreamcatchers were adopted in the Pan-Indian Movement of the 1960s and 1970s and gained popularity as a widely marketed "Native crafts items" in the 1980s.Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
The Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe are one of six federally recognized bands of Ojibwe people located in present-day Wisconsin. The band is based at the Lac Courte Oreilles Indian Reservation, at 45°52′59″N 91°19′13″W in northwestern Wisconsin, which surrounds Lac Courte Oreilles (Odaawaa-zaaga'igan in the Ojibwe language, meaning "Ottawa Lake"). The main reservation's land is in west-central Sawyer County, but two small plots of off-reservation trust land are located in Rusk, Burnett, and Washburn counties. The Reservation was established in 1854 by the second Treaty of La Pointe.
The Lac Courte Oreille ceded land under a treaty they signed with the United States in 1837, the 1842 Treaty of La Pointe, and the first 1854 Treaty of La Pointe. The tribal reservation has a land area of 107.912 sq mi (279.491 km2), including the trust lands, and a population of 3,013 persons as of the 2000 census. The most populous community is Little Round Lake, at the reservation's northwest corner. It is south of the non-reservation city of Hayward, the county seat of Sawyer County.Lake Superior
Lake Superior (French: lac Supérieur; Ojibwe: ᑭᑦᒉᐁ-ᑲᒣᐁ, romanized: Gitchi-Gami), the largest of the Great Lakes of North America, is also the world's largest freshwater lake by surface area, and the third largest freshwater lake by volume. The lake is shared by the Canadian province of Ontario to the north, the U.S. state of Minnesota to the west, and Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to the south. The farthest north and west of the Great Lakes chain, Superior has the highest elevation of all five great lakes and drains into the St. Mary's River.Leech Lake Indian Reservation
The Leech Lake Indian Reservation (Gaa-zagaskwaajimekaag in the Ojibwe language) is an Indian reservation located in the north-central Minnesota counties of Cass, Itasca, Beltrami, and Hubbard. The reservation forms the land base for the federally recognized Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, one of six bands comprising the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, organized in 1934. The Leech Lake Reservation has the highest population of any reservation in Minnesota, with a resident population of 10,660 indicated by the 2010 United States census.List of Indian reserves in Canada
Canada has numerous Indian reserves for its First Nations people, which were mostly established by the Indian Act of 1876 and have been variously expanded and reduced by royal commissions since. They are sometimes incorrectly called by the American term "reservations".Mille Lacs Indian Reservation
Mille Lacs Indian Reservation is the popular name for the land-base for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe in Central Minnesota, about 100 miles (160 km) north of Minneapolis-St. Paul. The contemporary Mille Lacs Band reservation has significant land holdings in Mille Lacs, Pine, Aitkin and Crow Wing counties, as well as other land holdings in Kanabec, Morrison, and Otter Tail Counties. Mille Lacs Indian Reservation is also the name of a formal Indian reservation established in 1855. It is one of the two formal reservations on which the contemporary Mille Lacs Band retains land holdings. The contemporary Mille Lacs band includes several aboriginal Ojibwe bands and villages, whose members reside in communities throughout central Minnesota.Mississaugas
The Mississauga are a subtribe of the Anishinaabe-speaking First Nations people located in southern Ontario, Canada. They are closely related to the Ojibwe. The name "Mississauga" comes from the Anishinaabe word Misi-zaagiing, meaning "[Those at the] Great River-mouth." It is closely related to the Ojibwe word Misswezahging, which means ‘a river with many outlets.’Nakoda (Stoney)
The Nakoda (also known as Stoney or Îyârhe Nakoda) are an indigenous people in Western Canada and, originally, the United States.
They used to inhabit large parts of what is now Alberta, Saskatchewan and Montana, but their reserves are now located in Alberta and in Saskatchewan, where they are scarcely differentiated from the Assiniboine. Through their language they are related to the Dakota and Lakota nations of the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, part of the large Sioux Nation.They refer to themselves in their own language as "Nakoda", meaning friend, ally. The name "Stoney" was given them by white explorers, because of their technique of using fire-heated rocks to boil broth in rawhide bowls. They are very closely related to the Assiniboine, who are also known as Stone Sioux (from the Ojibwe asinii-bwaan).
Alberta's Nakoda First Nation comprises three bands: Bearspaw, Chiniki and Wesley.The Stoney were "excluded" from Banff National Park between 1890 and 1920. In 2010 they were officially "welcomed back".Ojibwe language
Ojibwe , also known as Ojibwa , Ojibway or Otchipwe, is an indigenous language of North America of the Algonquian language family. The language is characterized by a series of dialects that have local names and frequently local writing systems. There is no single dialect that is considered the most prestigious or most prominent, and no standard writing system that covers all dialects.
Dialects of Ojibwemowin are spoken in Canada, from southwestern Quebec, through Ontario, Manitoba and parts of Saskatchewan, with outlying communities in Alberta; and in the United States, from Michigan to Wisconsin and Minnesota, with a number of communities in North Dakota and Montana, as well as groups that removed to Kansas and Oklahoma during the Indian Removal period. While there is some variation in the classification of its dialects, at least the following are recognized, from east to west: Algonquin, Eastern Ojibwe, Ottawa (Odawa), Western Ojibwe (Saulteaux), Oji-Cree (Severn Ojibwe), Northwestern Ojibwe, and Southwestern Ojibwe (Chippewa). Based upon contemporary field research, J. R. Valentine also recognizes several other dialects: Berens Ojibwe in northwestern Ontario, which he distinguishes from Northwestern Ojibwe; North of (Lake) Superior; and Nipissing. The latter two cover approximately the same territory as Central Ojibwa, which he does not recognize.The aggregated dialects of Ojibwemowin comprise the second most commonly spoken First Nations language in Canada (after Cree), and the fourth most widely spoken in the United States or Canada behind Navajo, the Inuit languages and Cree.Ojibwemowin is a relatively healthy indigenous language. The Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language Immersion School teaches all classes to children in Ojibwe only.Ojibwe writing systems
Ojibwe is an indigenous language of North America from the Algonquian language family. Ojibwe is one of the largest Native American languages north of Mexico in terms of number of speakers and is characterized by a series of dialects, some of which differ significantly. The dialects of Ojibwe are spoken in Canada from southwestern Quebec, through Ontario, Manitoba and parts of Saskatchewan, with outlying communities in Alberta and British Columbia, and in the United States from Michigan through Wisconsin and Minnesota, with a number of communities in North Dakota and Montana, as well as migrant groups in Kansas and Oklahoma.The absence of linguistic or political unity among Ojibwe-speaking groups is associated with the relative autonomy of the regional dialects of Ojibwe. There is no single dialect that is considered the most prestigious or most prominent, and no standard writing system used to represent all dialects. Ojibwe dialects have been written in numerous ways over a period of several centuries, with the development of different written traditions reflecting a range of influences from the orthographic practices of other languages.
Writing systems associated with particular dialects have been developed by adapting the Latin script, usually the English or French orthographies. A widely used Roman character-based writing system is the double vowel system, attributed to Charles Fiero. The double vowel system is quickly gaining popularity among language teachers in the United States and Canada because of its ease of use.
A syllabic writing system not related to English or French writing is used by some Ojibwe speakers in northern Ontario and Manitoba. Development of the original form of Canadian Aboriginal syllabics is credited to missionary James Evans around 1840.The Great Lakes Algonquian syllabics are based on French orthography with letters organized into syllables. It was primarily used by speakers of Fox, Potawatomi, and Winnebago, but there is indirect evidence of use by speakers of Chippewa ("Southwestern Ojibwe").Ottawa dialect
Ottawa (or Odawa) is a dialect of the Ojibwe language, spoken by the Ottawa people in southern Ontario in Canada, and northern Michigan in the United States. Descendants of migrant Ottawa speakers live in Kansas and Oklahoma. The first recorded meeting of Ottawa speakers and Europeans occurred in 1615 when a party of Ottawas encountered explorer Samuel de Champlain on the north shore of Georgian Bay. Ottawa is written in an alphabetic system using Latin letters, and is known to its speakers as Nishnaabemwin "speaking the native language" or Daawaamwin "speaking Ottawa".
Ottawa is one of the Ojibwe dialects that has undergone the most language change, although it shares many features with other dialects. The most distinctive change is a pervasive pattern of vowel syncope that deletes short vowels in many words, resulting in significant changes in their pronunciation. This and other innovations in pronunciation, in addition to changes in word structure and vocabulary, differentiate Ottawa from other dialects of Ojibwe.
Like other Ojibwe dialects, Ottawa grammar includes animate and inanimate noun gender, subclasses of verbs that are dependent upon gender, combinations of prefixes and suffixes that are connected with particular verb subclasses, and complex patterns of word formation. Ottawa distinguishes two types of third person in sentences: proximate, indicating a noun phrase that is emphasized in the discourse, and obviative, indicating a noun phrase that is less prominent. Ottawa has relatively flexible word order compared with languages such as English.
Ottawa speakers are concerned that their language is endangered as the use of English increases and the number of fluent speakers declines. Language revitalization efforts include second language learning in primary and secondary schools.Red Lake Indian Reservation
The Red Lake Indian Reservation (Miskwaagamiiwi-zaaga'igan) covers 1,259 sq mi (3,260 km2; 806,000 acres) in parts of nine counties in northwestern Minnesota, United States. It is made up of numerous holdings but the largest section is an area about Red Lake, in north-central Minnesota, the largest lake entirely within that state. This section lies primarily in the counties of Beltrami and Clearwater. Land in seven other counties is also part of the reservation.
The second-largest section (49°16′N 95°03′W) is much farther north, in the Northwest Angle of Lake of the Woods County near the Canada–United States 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, 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.
As of 2011, the Ojibwe language is the official language of Red Lake.In the 2000 census, Red Lake was the most populous reservation in the state, with 5,162 residents. The only place in Minnesota with a higher Native American population at that time was the state's largest city, Minneapolis, 250 miles to the south; it recorded 8,378 Indian residents that year. By 2007, the White Earth and Leech Lake reservations (both led by parts of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe) had higher resident populations of enrolled Ojibwe.
The reservation's largest community is Red Lake, on the south shore of Red Lake. Given the large lake in the heart of the reservation, its total land area of 880.324 square miles (2,280.03 km2) covers about 70% of the reservation's surface area.Thunderbird (mythology)
The thunderbird is a legendary creature in certain North American indigenous peoples' history and culture. It is considered a supernatural being of power and strength. It is especially important, and frequently depicted, in the art, songs and oral histories of many Pacific Northwest Coast cultures, but is also found in various forms among some peoples of the American Southwest, East Coast of the United States, Great Lakes, and Great Plains.Underwater panther
An underwater panther, called Mishipeshu or Mishibijiw in Ojibwe (IPA: [mɪʃɪbɪʑɪw]), is one of the most important of several mythological water beings among many indigenous peoples of the Northeastern Woodlands and Great Lakes region, particularly among the Anishinaabe.
Mishipeshu translates into "the Great Lynx". It has the head and paws of a giant cat but is covered in scales and has dagger-like spikes running along its back and tail. Mishipeshu calls Michipicoten Island in Lake Superior his home and is a powerful creature in the mythological traditions of some Native American tribes, particularly Anishinaabe tribes, the Odawa, Ojibwe, and Potawatomi, of the Great Lakes region of Canada and the United States. In addition to the Anishinaabeg, Innu also have Mishibizhiw stories.To the Algonquins, the underwater panther was the most powerful underworld being. The Ojibwe traditionally held them to be masters of all water creatures, including snakes. Some versions of the Nanabozho creation legend refers to whole communities of water lynx.Some archaeologists believe that underwater panthers were major components of the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex of the Mississippian culture in the prehistoric American Southeast.Wendigo
In Algonquian folklore, the wendigo () or windigo (also wetiko) is a mythical man-eating creature or evil spirit native to the northern forests of the Atlantic Coast and Great Lakes Region of the United States and Canada. The wendigo may appear as a monster with some characteristics of a human or as a spirit who has possessed a human being and made them become monstrous. It is historically associated with murder, insatiable greed, and the cultural taboos against such behaviours.The legend lends its name to the controversial modern medical term Wendigo psychosis, described by psychiatrists as a culture-bound syndrome with symptoms such as an intense craving for human flesh and fear of becoming a cannibal. In some Indigenous communities, environmental destruction and insatiable greed are also seen as a manifestation of Wendigo psychosis.