Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan is one of 22 federally recognized Chippewa tribes in the United States.
Official Tribal Name: Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan
Address: 7070 E. Broadway, Mount Pleasant MI, 48858
Official Website: http://www.sagchip.org/
Recognition Status: Federally Recognized
Traditional Name / Traditional Meaning: Anishinaabe– Original People.
Today the Anishinaabe have two tribes: Ojibway/Ojibwe/Chippewa (Algonquian Indian for “puckered,” referring to their moccasin style) and Algonquin (probably a French corruption of either the Maliseet word elehgumoqik, “our allies,” or the Mi’kmaq place name Algoomaking, “fish-spearing place).
Common Name / Meaning of Common Name:
Alternate names / Alternate spellings: Chipewa, Chipawa, Chippawa, Chippeway, Chippewyn, Ojibwa, Ojibwe, Ojibway, More names for Ojibwe
Ojibwe / Chippewa in other languages:
Aoechisaeronon or Eskiaeronnon (Huron)
Bawichtigouek or Paouichtigouin (French)
Jumper, Kutaki (Fox)
Leaper, Neayaog (Cree)
Rabbit People (Plains Cree)
Regatci or Negatce (Winnebago)
Sore Face (Hunkpapa Lakota)
State(s) Today: Michigan
Traditional Territory: The Chippewa remember a time when they lived close to a great sea, traditionally called the Land of the Dawn (Waabanakiing), where they were ravaged by sickness and death. It is theorized that they lived as far away as the Atlantic near the gulf of the St. Lawrence, but more than likely it was Hudson Bay. They have a pictograph engraved scroll written on birchbark that records their migration, which began more than 600 years ago.
Colder weather forced the Chippewas south to the East side of Lake Huron. They continued to expand west, south, and east through fur trade and wars with the Iroquois.
By the early 1700s the Chippewa controlled most of what would now be Michigan and southern Ontario. Further fur trade with the French brought them west of Lake Superior, and into a war with the Dakota Sioux in 1737. During their battles in the next century, they were able to force the Sioux out of northern Minnesota and Wisconsin.
By 1800 Chippewa people were living in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. No other tribe has ever controlled so much land. Canada recognizes more than 130 Ojibwe First Nations in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. The United States gives federal recognition to 22 Chippewa groups.
Confederacy: Council of Three Fires, Ojibwe
Treaties: The Chippewa have signed 51 treaties with the U.S. government, more than any other tribe. They’ve also signed more than 30 treaties with the French, British, and Canadians.
Reservation: Isabella Reservation
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The Ojibwe language is known as Anishinaabemowin or Ojibwemowin. 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.
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; however, Central Algonquian is an area grouping rather than a linguistic genetic one.
Language Dialects: Ojibwemowin
Chippewa (also known as Southwestern Ojibwa, Ojibwe, Ojibway, or Ojibwemowin) is an Algonquian language spoken from upper Michigan westward to North Dakota in the United States. It represents the southern component of the Ojibwe language.
Chippewa is part of the Algonquian language family and an indigenous language of North America. Chippewa is part of the dialect continuum of Ojibwe (including Chippewa, Ottawa, Algonquin, and Oji-Cree), which is closely related to Potawatomi. It is spoken on the southern shores of Lake Superior and in the areas toward the south and west of Lake Superior in Michigan and Southern Ontario.
The speakers of this language generally call it Anishinaabemowin (the Anishinaabe language) or more specifically, Ojibwemowin (the Ojibwa language). There is a large amount of variation in the language. Some of the variations are caused by ethnic or geographic heritage, while other variations occur from person to person. There is no single standardization of the language as it exists as a dialect continuum: “It exists as a chain of interconnected local varieties, conventionally called dialects.” Some varieties differ greatly and can be so diverse that speakers of two different varieties cannot understand each other.
The Chippewa Language or the Southwestern dialect of the Ojibwe language is divided into four smaller dialects:
- Upper Michigan-Wisconsin Chippewa: on Keweenaw Bay, Lac Vieux Desert, Lac du Flambeau, Red Cliff, Bad River, Lac Courte Oreilles, St. Croix and Mille Lacs (District III).
- Central Minnesota Chippewa: on Mille Lacs (Districts I and II), Fond du Lac, Leech Lake, White Earth and Turtle Mountain.
- Red Lake Chippewa: on Red Lake
- Minnesota Border Chippewa: on Grand Portage and Bois Forte
Number of fluent Speakers: Treuer estimates only around 1,000 first-language speakers of the Chippewa dialect in the United States, most of whom are elderly.The Chippewa dialect of Ojibwemowin has continued to steadily decline. Beginning in the 1970s many of the communities have aggressively put their efforts into language revitalization, but have only managed to produce some fairly educated second-language speakers. Today, the majority of the first-language speakers of this dialect of the Ojibwe language are elderly, whose numbers are quickly diminishing, while the number of second-language speakers among the younger generation are growing. However, none of the second-language speakers have yet to transition to the fluency of a first-language speaker.
Bands, Gens, and Clans
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 River Band of Ottawa Indians
Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians
Minnesota Chippewa Tribe
Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians
Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians
Sokaogon Chippewa Community
St. Croix Chippewa Indians
Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians
Ceremonies / Dances:
Modern Day Events & Tourism:
31st (in 2015) Annual Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Pow Wow – 4th weekend in July
Legends / Oral Stories:
Anishnaabek (Ojibwe) interpretation of the medicine wheel
Creation of Turtle Mountain
Father of Indian Corn How Bats Came to Be How dog came to be
How Rainbows Came to Be
Mother, we will never leave you
Nokomis and the spider: story of the dreamcatcher
Ojibway Creation Story
Ojibway Migration Story
Ojibway Oral Teaching: Wolf and man
The close your eyes dance
The Dreamcatcher Legend
The First Butterflies
Thunderbirds and Fireflies
Why birds go south in winter
Winabojo and the Birch Tree
Arts & Crafts: The Chippewa are best known for birch bark contaniners and intricate beadwork, usually with a floral pattern, and their birch bark canoes.
Animals: Woodland Ojibwe rarely used horses or hunted buffalo, although there was a now extinct species of Woodland Bison in the Northeastern woods. Dogs were the only domestic animal and a favorite dish served at their feasts.
The more southerly Chippewas did adopt the horse and hunted buffalo like other Plains Cultures.
Clothing: The Chippewa wore buckskin clothing, with a buckskin shirt and fur cape in colder weather. In warmer weather men wore just breechcloths and leggings. Women also wore leggings with long dresses with removable sleeves. Later, the Chippewas adapted European costume such as cloth blouses and jackets, decorating them with fancy beadwork.
The Chippewa had distinctive moccasins with puffed seams that were colored with red, yellow, blue and green dyes. Men wore their hair in long braids in times of peace, and sometimes in a scalplock during wars. Women also wore their hair in long braids.
Many Chippewa warriors also wore a porcupine roach. In the 1800’s, Chippewa chiefs started wearing long headdresses like the Sioux. The Chippewas painted bright colors on their faces and arms for special occasions,using different patterns of paint for war and festive decoration. The Chippewas, especially men, also wore tribal tattoos.
Housing: Domed Wigwams covered with birch bark were the homes of the northern Chippewa. When a family moved, they rolled up the birch bark covering and took it with them, but left the pole frame behind. Plains Chippewa adopted the buffalo hide tipi of the Plains Culture, and took their poles with them when they moved, since trees were hard to find on the open Plains.
Subsistance: Most Ojibwe were classic Woodlands culture, but since different groups lived across such a wide area, there were significant differences in individual groups. Some Ojibwe villages in the southern part of their range were larger and permanent with the cultivation of corn, squash, beans, and tobacco; while others in the plains adopted the Buffalo culture, and developed different ceremonies, art, and clothing.
Most Chippewa lived in the northern Great Lakes area with a short growing season and poor soil. They were hunter-gatherers whose main harvests were wild rice and maple tree sap, which was boiled down into a thick syrup. The Chippewa generally mixed everything with maple syrup as seasoning.
Woodland Ojibwe had no salt to preserve food and kept their food in birch bark baskets because birch bark contains tannin, which is a natural preservative. Food in tightly sealed birch bark containers can be preserved for years. They often hid food in underground caches stashed along their seasonal routes, so when fresh foods were scarce there was always a stash of food nearby.
They were skilled hunters and trappers. Fishing, especially for sturgeon, which grow to over six feet long, provided much of the protein in their diet and became progressively more important in the northernmost bands.
Bark from birch trees was very important to the Chippewa. They used birchbark for almost everything: utensils, storage containers, wigwam covers and, most importantly, canoes. Coming in a variety of sizes depending on the purpose they were to be used for, the birchbark canoe was lighter than the dugouts used by the Sioux and other tribes.
Religion & Spiritual Beliefs: The original religious society is known as Midewiwin or Grand Medicine. In modern times, the people may belong to the Midewiwin, one or more of the Big Drum societies, or a Christian Sect, primarily Catholic and Methodist.
Tribal College: Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College
Newspapers: Saginaw Tribal Observer
Long before European settlers came onto Indian lands, the Chippewas lived in the east. Their westward migration may have happened as far back as 11,500 years ago. They followed the Saint Lawrence River and settled in several location including Mooniyaang (Montreal) and Baweting (Sault Ste. Marie). At Baweting, the Chippewas agreed to colonize new lands to the south, north, and west.
Those Chippewas who migrated south into the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana are known as the Illini, Menominee, Miami, Potawatomi, Sac or Sauk, and Shawnee. Those Chippewas who migrated south all the way to the Gulf of Mexico including Florida, are the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole. In the Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi region the Chippewas are known as the Atakapa, Natchez, Chitimacha, Tunica, and Tonkawa. In the far south, the Chippewas were largely mixed with other Indian Nations and blacks who all were under Chippewa protection.
The Chippewas who migrated to the north and northwest are the Chipewyan and Cree. The Chipewyan migrated northwest into far northern Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Alaska. The Cree migrated up to northern Ontario, central Manitoba, central Saskatchewan, and central Alberta.
From Baweting, the Chippewas and Odawa or Ottawa of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, migrated west along both the northern and southern shores of Lake Superior. They migrated into the region in northwestern Ontario, between the Ontario-Minnesota border and Fort Severn, Ontario. They eventually colonized the lands of southern Manitoba, southern Saskatchewan, southern Alberta, and southern British Columbia. They also colonized Wisconsin, Minnesota, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, California, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. In California, they are known as the Wappo, Wiyot, Yuki, and Yurok.
Once they learned that Europeans were settling westward, they followed prophecies that were part of their culture and attempted to stop the settlements of Indian lands by the whites. For nearly 400 years they were constantly at war with the white invaders and their Indian allies.
Baweting was a very important location. Baweting was the capital of the eastern Lake Superior Chippewas who are also known as the Saulteaux Indians and the Nez Perce. The Amikwa Chippewas are also known as the Nez Perce.