Ojibwe Tribe


Ojibwe Locations

Also known as the Chippewa, ‘chĭpe‚wô, the Ojibwa, ō’jǐbwe, are one of the largest and most powerful tribes in North America. The Ojibwa and Chippewa are not only the same tribe, but also the same word pronounced a little differently due to an accent. If an “O” is placed in front of Chippewa, o’chippewa, the relationship becomes apparent. In the U.S., Chippewa is used in all treaties and is the official name. The Ojibwa call themselves Anishinabe (Anishinaubag, Neshnabek), meaning original men. However, Ojibwa or Chippewa may come from the Algonkian word otchipwa or to pucker and refers to the distinctive puckered seam of Ojibwa moccasins (Smith 337, 1932).

Ojibwa communities stretch from The Saint Lawrence River, in Canada, across northern Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, and Saskatchewan (Ritzenthaler 743, 1978). The Ojibwa, can attribute this expansion to a westward migration pattern mainly in historic times, to find new fur trapping resources. Across the northern section of Wisconsin are six Ojibwa reservations. Bad River in Ashland County, Lac du Flambeau mainly in Vilas County, but partly in Iron County, and Lac Court Oreilles in Sawyer County. These reservations are fair sized areas according to the boundaries shown on standard maps, encompassing 125,000 acres at Bad River and about 70,000 acres each at the other two reservations. Within the boundaries of each reservation, however, there is a mosaic of white-owned property, taxed by the state, equal to or exceeding the amount of Indian land held in tribal or individual Indian trust under the jurisdiction of the federal government. Allotted land, or individual trust land, usually is divided into ever smaller and scattered sections due to inheritance by increasing numbers of descendants of the first people to receive individual trust title. Even tiny Red Cliff has lost some land, and a third of the reservation is under individual trust title. The St. Croix and Mole Lake bands were parties to the Chippewa land cessions of 1837 and 1842, but were inadvertently left out of the treaty negations of 1854, which created reservations for four other Chippewa bands in Wisconsin. It took nearly a century for the federal government to rectify the situation granting each band about 1700 acres. At Mole Lake, an unbroken tract is under tribal trust, but the St. Croix Reservation consists of five parcels scattered over Burnett, Polk, and Barron Counties, with some 500 acres under individual trust (Lurie 9, 2002).

Huron Smith conducted ethnobotanical fieldwork among the Ojibwa during three trips, which lasted six weeks in duration. The first trip was made in June 1923 to the Lac du Flambeau Reservation in Vilas County. He visited the same region again later in the fall. During the spring of 1924, one trip was made to the Leech Lake Reservation, in Minnesota, where the Pillager Band of Ojibwa lives on Bear Island and the surrounding mainland. This was followed by trips to the Redcliff Reservation in Bayfield County, Bad River Reservation, Iron County, Lac Court Oreilles, Clark County and scattered bands in various sections of northern Wisconsin. However, his principal ethnobotanical research was conducted at Lac du Flambeau Reservation in Wisconsin and Leech Lake Reservation in Minnesota (Smith 333, 1932).

Lurie, Nancy Oestreich. 2002. Wisconsin Indians. The State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Madison, WI.

Ritzenthaler, Robert E. 1978. Southern Chippewa. In: Bruce G. Trigger, ed. Handbook of North American Indians. Vol. 15, pp.743-759. Smithsonian, Washington D.C.

Smith, Huron. 1932. Ethnobotany of The Ojibwe Indians. In: Bulletin of The Public Museum of The City of Milwaukee. Vol. 4, No. 3, pp. 327-525. Milwaukee, WI.

Ojibwe Items