Ojibwa / Chippewa

The Ojibwa / Chippewa Indians are the same tribe. Chippewa is just a dilectal variation in pronunciation of Ojibwe.

The Ojibwa, Ottawa and Potawatomi tribes were originally one tribe, but later split into three separate tribes, which are known collectively as the Council of Three Fires Confederacy.

The Chippewa’s name for themselves is Bāwa’tigōwininiwŭg, which means ‘people of the Sault.’

Home Territories: Michigan, northern Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota

Language: Algonquian Family>>Central Algonquian>>Ojibwe>>Anishinaabemowin or Ojibwemowin

Alliances: Ottawa and Potawatomi peoples

Enemies: Iroquois Confederacy and the Sioux

The Chippewa Indians were known for birch bark canoes, harvesting wild rice, copper points, and their use of guns from the British to defeat the Dakota Sioux

The Ojibwa were the largest North American tribe, living in wigwams, and subsisting on hunting, fishing and some 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, also spelled “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 political 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.

The Potawatomi

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 another 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. Those Ojibwe became known as Chippewa-Cree. 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 Chippewa

Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians

Hannaville Indian Community

Keweenaw Bay Indian Community

La Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

Lac de Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians

Little Rive Band of Ottawa Indians

Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians

Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Potawatomi

Minnesota Chippewa Tribe

Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians

Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians

Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians

Saginaw Chippewa Indians

Sokaogon Chippewa Community

St. Croix Chippewa Indians

Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians


Famous Ojibwe / Chippewa
Famous Chippewa Indians

Eric Schweig – Inuvialuk, Chippewa, Dene, German, and Portuguese Actor




Article Index:

Enrollment requirements of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe

The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe consists of these bands: Bois Forte Band (Nett Lake), Fond du Lac Band, Grand Portage Band, Leech Lake Band, Mille Lacs Band, and White Earth Band. Here are the enrollment requirements for the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe.

Membership of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe shall consist of the following:

(a) Basic Membership Roll. All persons of Minnesota Chippewa Indian blood whose names appear on the annuity roll of April 14, 1941, prepared pursuant to the Treaty with said Indians as enacted by Congress in the Act of January 14, 1889 (25 Stat. 642) and Acts amendatory thereof, and as corrected by the Tribal Executive Committee and ratified by the Tribal Delegates, which roll shall be known as the basic membership roll of the Tribe.

(b) All children of Minnesota Chippewa Indian blood born between April 14, 1941, the date of the annuity roll, and July 3, 1961, the date of approval of the membership ordinance by the Area Director, to a parent or parents, either or both of whose names appear on the basic membership roll, provided an application for enrollment was filed with the Secretary of the Tribal Delegates by July 4, 1962, one year after the date of approval of the ordinance by the Area Director.

(c) All children of at least one quarter (1/4) degree Minnesota Chippewa Indian blood born after July 3, 1961, to a member, provided that an application for enrollment was or is filed with the Secretary of the Tribal Delegates or the Tribal Executive Committee within one year after the date of birth of such children.

Sec. 2. No person born after July 3, 1961, shall be eligible for enrollment if enrolled as a member of another tribe, or if not an American citizen.

Sec. 3. Any person of Minnesota Chippewa Indian blood who meets the membership requirements of the Tribe, but who because of an error has not been enrolled, may be admitted to membership in the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe by adoption, if such adoption is approved by the Tribal Executive Committee, and shall have full membership privileges from the date the adoption is approved.

Sec. 4. Any person who has been rejected for enrollment as a member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe shall have the right of appeal within sixty days from the date of written notice or rejection to the Secretary of the Interior from the decision of the Tribal Executive Committee and the decision of the Secretary of Interior shall be final.

Sec. 5. Nothing contained in this article shall be construed to deprive any descendent of a Minnesota Chippewa Indian of the right to participate in any benefits derived from claims against the U.S. Government when awards are made for and on behalf and for the benefit of descendents of members of said tribe.”

In addition, The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Tribal Executive Committee approved the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Enrollment Ordinance on July 30, 2003, which clarifies the requirements for enrollment, provides further direction on the application process, and describes how to file an enrollment appeal. The Enrollment Ordinance is a useful and easy to read resource for those who want to know more about the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe’s enrollment process.

For more information on the enrollment process, proof required, or to obtain an application for enrollment, please call Tribal Operations at (218) 335-8581, or mail correspondence to: Tribal Operations, The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, PO Box 217, Cass Lake, MN 56633.

Ojibwe names, bands, and sub-nations

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.

Ojibwe Names

Ojibwe and Chippewa are not only the same tribe, but the same word pronounced a little differently due to accent. If an “O” is placed in front of Chippewa (O’chippewa), the relationship becomes apparent. Ojibwe is used in Canada, although Ojibwe west of Lake Winnipeg are sometime referred to as the Saulteaux. In United States, Chippewa was used in all treaties and is the official name. The Ojibwe call themselves Anishinabe (Anishinaubeg, Neshnabek) meaning “original men” (sometimes shortened to Shinob and used as a nickname among themselves).

Ottawa and Potawatomi also call themselves Anishinabe, and at some time in the past, the three tribes were a single tribe. Legends in all three tribes tell about how they became known as the Council of Three Fires or Three Fires Confederacy.

Ojibwe, or Chippewa, comes from the Algonquin word “otchipwa” (to pucker) and refers to the distinctive puckered seam of Ojibwe moccasins. Various spellings include Achipoes, Chepeway, Chippeway, Ochipoy, Odjibwa, Ojibweg, Ojibwey, Ojibwa, and Otchipwe.

Some major Ojibwe had specific names according to location:
Missisauga in southern Ontario; Salteaux of upper Michigan; and Bungee for the Ojibwe of the northern Great Plains. Other names: Aoechisaeronon (Huron), Assisagigroone (Iroquois), Axshissayerunu, (Wyandot), Bawichtigouek (French), Bedzaqetcha (Tsattine), Bedzietcho (Kawchodinne), Bungee (Plains Ojibwe, Plains Chippewa) (Hudson Bay), Dewakanha (Mohawk), Dshipowehaga (Caughnawaga), Dwakanen (Onondaga), Eskiaeronnon (Huron), Hahatonwan (Dakota), Hahatonway (Hidatsa), Jumper, Kutaki (Fox), Leaper, Neayaog (Cree), Nwaka (Tuscarora), Ostiagahoroone (Iroquois), Paouichtigouin (French), Rabbit People (Plains Cree), Regatci (Negatce) (Winnebago), Saulteur (Saulteaux) (French), Sore Face (Hunkpapa Lakota), Sotoe (British), and Wahkahtowah (Assiniboine).

Ojibwe Sub-Nations and Divisions

While the Ojibwe were concentrated near the Mackinac Straits 1650-85, the French called them Saulteur, with some groups apparently being confused with the Ottawa. Ojibwe and Chippewa came into use later. By the 1800s there were five major divisions:

Southeast -The Southeast included the Mississauga of southern Ontario, the Ojibwe villages near Detroit, and the Saginaw who occupied the eastern half of lower Michigan.

Northern – Included northern Ontario between the north shore of Lakes Huron and Superior bounded on the north by the divide between the Great Lakes and Hudson Bay drainages, and on the west by Lakes Winnipeg and Manitoba.

Lake Superior – The south shore of Lake Superior from Mackinac across upper Michigan and northern Wisconsin to the headwaters of the St. Croix River.

Mississippi – The Mississippi division included the Ojibwes living in Minnesota north of the Minnesota River.

Plains – The Plains Chippewa lived in the Red River Valley and Turtle Mountains of eastern North Dakota ranging west into Montana, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.

Ojibwe Villages

In 1650, the Ojibwe bands included Achiligouan, Amicoures, Amikouet (Amikwa, Amikouai), Auwause, Bawating, Chequamegon, Keweenaw, Kitchigami, Macomile, Malanas, (Mantouek (Mantoue, Nantoüe), Marameg, Mackinac (Mikinac), Missisauga (Mississague, Missisaki, Tisagechroanu), Mundua, Nikikouek, Noquet (Nouquet, Nouket), Oumiusagai, Ouasouarini (Aouasanik, Ousouarini), Outchibou (Ouchipoe), Outchougai (Atchougue, Outchougi), Ouxeinacomigo, and Saulteaux (Saulteur). 

Later Band and Village Locations

Alberta – Cold Lake.

British Columbia – Saulteau (Beaver, Cree).

Manitoba – Berens River, Bloodvein, Brokenhead, Buffalo Point, Crane River (Ochichakkosipi), Dauphin River, Ebb and Flow, Fairford, Fisher River (Cree), Garden Hill (Cree), Hollow Water, Jackhead, Keeseekoowenin, Lake Manitoba, Lake St. Martin, Little Black River, Little Grand Rapids, Little Saskatchewan, Long Plain, Pauingassi, Peguis (Cree), Pine Creek, Poplar River, Portage du Prairie, Red Sucker Lake (Cree), Rolling River, Roseau River, Sagkeeng (Fort Alexander), Sandy Bay, St. Theresa Point (Cree), Swan Lake, Tataskwayak, Tootinaowaziibeeng, Wasagamack (Cree), Waterhen, and Waywayseecappo.

Michigan – Angwassag, Bawating, Bay du Noc, Beaver Island, Big Rock, Blackbird, Gatagetegauning, Kechegummewininewug, Ketchenaundaugenink, Kishkawbawe, Lac Vieux Desert, Little Fork, Mekadewagamitigweyawininiwak, Menitegow, Menoquet, Mackinac (Michilimackinac), Nabobish, Nagonabe, Ommunise, Ontonagon, Otusson, Pointe Au Tremble, Reaums Village, Saginaw, Shabwasing, Thunder Bay (Ottawa), Wapisiwisibiwininiwak, Wequadong, and Whitefish

Minnesota – Anibiminanisibiwininiwak, Crow Wing, Fond du Lac, Gamiskwakokawininiwak, Gawababiganikak, Grand Portage, Gull Lake, Kahmetahwungaguma, Kechesebewininewug, Knife Lake, Leaf Lake, Leech Lake, Mille Lacs, Misisagaikaoiwininiwak, Miskwagamiwisagaigan, Mishtawayawininiwak, Munominikasheenhug, Mukmeduawininewug, Onepowesepewenenewak, Oschekkamegawenenewak (2), Oueschekgagamiouilimy, Pillager, Pokegama, Rabbit Lake, Red Lake, Saint Francis Xavier, Sandy Lake, Wabasemowenenewak, Winnebegoshish, and White Earth.

Ontario – Alderville, Alnwick (Rice Lake), Bagoache, Balsam Lake, Batchewana (Rankin), Beausoleil (Christian Island), Big Grassy, Big Island, Caldwell (Point Pele), Cape Croker (Potawatomi), Caradoc (Potawatomi), Cat Lake (Cree), Chapleau, Cockburn Island (Ottawa), Cochingomink, Constance Lake (Cree), Couchiching, Credit River, Curve Lake, Deer Lake (Cree), Dokis, Eabametoong (Fort Hope), Eagle Lake, Epinette, Flying Post, Fort William, Garden River, Georgina Island, Ginoogaming (Long Lake), Grassy Narrows, Gull Bay, Henvey Inlet, Hiawatha, Iskutewisakaugun, Jackfish Island, Keewaywin (Cree), Kettle Point (Potawatomi), Kojejewininewug, Koochiching (Cree), Lac des Mille Lacs, Lac La Croix, Lac Seul, Lake Helen, Lake Nipegon, Lake of the Woods, Long Lake (2), Magnetewan, Manitoulin Island (Ottawa), Manitowaning, Marten Falls, Matachewan (Makominising), Matawachkirini, Mattagami (Cree), McDowell Lake (Cree), Michipicoten, Mishkeegogamang (Osnaburg) (Cree), Mississagi River, Mississauga, Mnjikaning (Rama), Moose Deer Point, Mud Lake, Naicatchewenim, Namakagon, Nameuilni, Nawash (Big Bay), New Slate Falls (Cree), Nicickousemenecaning, Nipissing, Northwest Angle (2), Obidgewong (Ottawa), Ochiichagwe (Dalles), Omushkego, Onegaming (Sabaskong), Ottawa Lake, Ouasouarini, Outchougai, Parry Island, Pays Plat, Pickle Lake (Cree), Pic Mobert, Pic River (Pic Heron), Pikangikum, Point Grondine, Poplar Hill, Rainy River, Red Rock, Riviere aux Sables (Potawatomi), Rocky Bay, Sagamok (Spanish River), Sandpoint, Sarnia (St. Clair Rapids), Saugeen (2), Savant, Scugog Lake, Seine River, Serpent River, Shawanaga, Sheguiandah, Sheshegwaning, Shoal Lake, Snake Island (Lake Simcoe), Stanjikoming, Stoney Point (Potawatomi), Sucker Creek, Sugwaundugahwininewug, Tahgaiwinini, Thames, Thessalon, Wabasseemoong (Islington, Whitedog), Wabauskang, Wabigoon Lake, Wahgoshig, Wahnapitai, Walpole Island (Bkejwanong, Chenail cart) (Ottawa, Potawatomi), Wanamakewajejenik, Wasauksing, Washagamis Bay, Wauzhushk (Rat Portage), West Bay (M’Chigeeng) (Ottawa), Whitefish Bay, Whitefish Lake, Whitefish River, Whitesand (Cree), and Wikwemikong (Ottawa).

North Dakota – Bungee (Bunbi, Bungi, Plains Chippewa, Plains Ojibwe), Little Shell, Midinakwadshiwininiwak, Pembina, and Turtle Mountain.

Saskatchewan – Cote, Cowessess (Cree), Fishing Lake, Gordons (Cree), Keeseekoose (Cree), Key, Kinistin, Muscowpetung, Muskowekwan (Cree), Nibowisibiwininiwak, Okanese, Pasqua (Cree), Sakimay, Saulteaux (Cree), White Bear (Cree), and Yellowquill.

Wisconsin – Betonukeengainubejig, Burnt Woods, Cedar Lake, Chegwamegon, Chetac Lake, Kechepukwaiwah, Lac Courte Oreilles, Mole Lake, Red Cliff, Rice Lake, Shaugawaumikong, Sukaauguning, Trout Lake, Turtle Portage, Wahsuahgunewininewug, Wauswagiming, Wiaquahhechegumeeng, and Yellow Lake.

Two new Indian Casinos proposed in Michigan

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians announced today it is seeking land in locations near downtown Lansing and near Detroit Metropolitan Airport with expectations of building gambling facilities, according to an Associated Press report.

The Tribe of Chippewa Indians filed applications with the U.S. Department of the Interior to take the land into trust, the report said.

An economic impact study will determine the scope of the gambling project targeted for 71 acres just south of the airport.

Casino project could generate money that may offer services for tribal members in the Detroit area.

Aaron Payment, a spokesman for the Sault Tribe, was quoted by the AP as saying the group is within federal law and its legal rights to pursue the opportunities afforded by the projects to create thousands of new jobs and generate millions of dollars in revenues that will benefit its members, as well as the entire state.

In response to the announcement, a press release was issued by a spokesman for the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi and Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe.

Opposing view says the off-reservation casinos in Detroit and Lansing will cause great harm the State of Michigan.

According to James Nye, a spokesman for the  Potawatomi and Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, not only does this proposal violate the tribal-state gaming compacts, but also would blow a hole in Detroit’s bankruptcy plan.

 “It is ironic that the Sault Tribe once built a casino in Detroit to help the City,” Nye said. “After losing that casino in bankruptcy it wants to build a new one that will cripple the city.”

 Nye said the gaming compacts require a written agreement between all of the tribes before this move can be made and said  the Sault Tribe has ignored agreements it signed.

Nye said the state would lose more than $30 million each year as nearby tribes’ compacts would be violated, thus ceasing state payments.

 “The public needs to know that the Sault Tribe has argued that it can open as many casinos as it wants to with no numerical or geographic limitations,” Nye said. “We believe the U.S. Department of Interior will reject the tribe’s preposterous arguments, much like it did to the Bay Mills Tribe.”