Chippewa Timeline


Last Updated: 9 years

The Chippewa peoples were in North America over 11,000 years before Columbus “discovered” the Americas. Here is a timeline of their history beginning in 1492.



Before Europeans settled in the land, the Chippewas had migrated from the east to the eastern shores of Lake Superior. It was from that location which is called by the Chippewas Ba-wi-tig, that either a land distribution happened or another unknown event, led to the dispersal of the Chippewas in three directions. One group went south into the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. They are known by several names including Illini, Mami, Potawatomi, Sac, Saginaw, Sauk, and Swan Creek and Black River Chippewas. Sac and Sauk, are short for Saginaw. The Fox Tribe is not Algonquian according to William W. Warrens 19th century book “History of the Ojibway People.” Another group went north into northern Ontario. They are the Chipewyan and Cree. According to the 1832 Edinburgh Encyclopedia, the Athabascan People or Dene People including the Apache, Chipewyan, and Navajo, are Algonquian or speak Algonquin.

The other group is the Sault (pronounced as Sioux or Soo) Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Michigan. They colonized the entire Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Among them are the Ottawa or Odawa. However, the Ottawa People are really Chippewas who absorbed many non Chippewas. The Sault Tribe also colonized the northern part of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. They are slightly different than the more southerly Chippewas who are the Illini, Miami, Potawatomi, Sac, Saginaw, Sauk, and Swan Creek and Black River Chippewas. Many of the southerly Chippewas absorbed many non Chippewas among their populations.


This is the beginning of the Indian/White wars. Early in the 16th century, the Dutch and French invaded the region between Quebec City and Albany, New York. The Chippewas drove them out and also drove the Indian allies of the whites out.


White soldiers and their Indian allies launched a massive military campaign against the Chippewas and other Indian Tribes, from Quebec, eastern Ontario, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and even the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Large numbers of Chippewas and other Indian Tribes, were driven west of Lake Michigan. From the Montana region, 10,000s of Chippewa soldiers reinforced the Chippewa refugees in northern Wisconsin. By the 1650s, the massive military campaign of the whites and their Indian allies, was crumbling. More Chippewa reinforcements from the Montana region, increased the number of Chippewa soldiers from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico including Florida.


Around this time the Amikwa Chippewas who lived between the eastern shores of Lake Superior, northern shores of Lake Huron, to the Lake Nipissing region in Ontario, were driven west. They settled along the northern shores of Lake Superior. By the 1670s, many had returned to their original homeland but many followed their tribal prophecy and migrated west into Alberta, British Columbia, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and California. The Amikwa are also known as the Nez Perce. Amikwa means Beavers in Chippewa. The Beaver Tribe including the Sekani, of British Columbia are Amikwa Chippewas.


By 1700, the Chippewas of the Lake Superior region had halted the advance of the white settlers. They had actually halted the advance of the white settlers and their Indian allies, during the 1670s. King Phillips War may have been an attempt by the Chippewas to drive the whites out of North America. By 1700, Chippewa soldiers were preventing the whites from advancing further to the west and north.


A long war was fought during these years between Chippewa soldiers and the white settlers. Chippewa soldiers were still strong enough to halt the westward advance of the white invaders. 1774-1795:Another long war was fought between Chippewa soldiers and the white soldiers. By this time many Chippewas, especially to the south, were tired of fighting. The more southerly Chippewas had absorbed many non Chippewa Indians and they were willing to accept peace or stay neutral. Land cessions began with the 1795 Greeneville Treaty. 1805-1815:More land cessions followed and then the War of 1812. After the War of 1812, the Chippewas of Michigan began to cede land and Reservations were created for them. However, the United States refused to honor many of the treaties that were enacted in that time period.


During these two years there was a large numbers of Chippewas relocated from the Michigan and Ohio areas, to the west mainly to the Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma regions. Through treaty agreement, the United States created a large Chippewa Reservation for the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Michigan. They claim Michigan was given 3/4 quarters of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, in exchange for a narrow strip of land claimed by both Michigan and Ohio called the Toledo Strip. It covered 468 sq. mi. It was given to Ohio.

In 1893, a news story went nationwide which told readers that the entire Upper Peninsula of Michigan was Chippewa land or a Chippewa Reservation.