The Chippewa Indians are known by other names too, like Ojibwe, Ojibway, Chippeway, Anishinaabe, or Anishinabek. The Chippewa Indians living in USA and Canada are similar in nearly all aspects. Their former home was located primarily around Sault Ste. Marie, at the outlet of Lake Superior. The Chippewa Indians are widely known for their canoes and wild rice. They were heroes and were much praised for being the only Native American to defeat the Sioux.
History Of The Chippewa Indians
Their original traditional account and the recordings in birch bark scrolls inform us that most of the Chippewa Indians arrived from the eastern areas of North America, Turtle Island and from along the east coast. According to the myth, initially there were six great happy beings known as ‘miigis’. They made their appearance to the residents of Waabanakiing and their principal aim was to teach the commoners the mid way of life. However, the power of spiritualism enabled one of these six great entities kill innumerable souls at the Waabanakiing. The rest five great ‘miigis’ remained fully dedicated to their job while the destructive one returned to the ocean.
In the east of North America the five great ‘migiis’ established their own clans known by the names of Echoer (i.e., crane), Tender (i.e., bear), catfish, loon and marten. After this, they too returned to the ocean. Within a few years time, one of these ‘migiis’ revealed himself in a vision to predict that if the Anishinaabeg that is the members of the five clans did not move further to the west they would not be able to keep the flame of their culture burning and alive. This would happen because of the arrival of the European émigrés. They moved along the St. Lawrence River to the Ottawa River to Lake Nipissing, and then to the Great Lakes.
At this particular juncture, the Anishinaabegs were further divided into six groups among which the Chippewa Indians were one. Historical evidence of the Chippewa Indians can be traced in the Jesuit Relation of 1640. Soon after this, the Ojibwes made friends with the French traders and were supplied with guns. Once they got weapons in their hands the Chippewa Indians were successful in putting an end to their age-old struggle with the Sioux and Foxes.
Ultimately towards the end of the eighteenth century the Chippewa Indians became the uncontested proprietors of the entire present-day Michigan, northern Wisconsin, and Minnesota, including most of the Red River area, together with the entire northern shores of Lakes Huron and Superior on the Canadian side and extending westward to the Turtle Mountains of North Dakota. In North Dakota, this Native Indian American tribe came to be known as the Plains Ojibwa or Saulteaux. Till now, the Chippewa Indians are trying hard to maintain their identity through treaties and negotiations.
Culture Of The Chippewa Indians
Inactivity was the main trait of life of this Native American tribe. They spent most of their time fishing, hunting, farming of maize and squash and harvesting of Manoomin. Their habitat (wiigiwaam or wigwam) was chiefly made of birch bark, juniper bark and willow saplings. It is indeed quite astonishing that the Chippewa Indians had a trade of copper across the continent. Apart from copper, certain types of rocks utilized for spears and arrowheads were also traded by this native tribe. Making use of petroforms, petroglyphs, and pictographs was a part of their traditional culture.
Cultures never die and as an example, you will see lots of Chippewa Indians still following the tradition of harvesting wild rice, picking berries, hunting, making medicines and maple sugar. However, the Ojibwes have also been part of literatures. You may find their existence in the fiction of Thomas Pynchon and in Earnest Hemmingway’s story 'Of Father's and Sons'.
What They Spoke – The Language Of The Chippewa Indians
A great many number of Chippewa Indians still speak the Ojibwe language popularly referred to as Anishinaabemowin. The Ojibwe language most probably belongs to the Algonquian linguistic group and it has been wonderfully derived from the Proto-Algonquian.
What They Believed – The Religious Sentiments Of The Chippewa Indians
Spirits mostly guided the lives of the Chippewa Indians and they were ardent believers of native rituals and ceremonies. Birch bark scrolls and Petroforms were extensively used both for knowledge and information and for religious ceremonies. Pictographs and Medicine Wheels were no less significant. In course of time, the sun dance of the Chippewa Indians was rejuvenated in Canada though certain parts of the ceremony have been discarded. Mythology and popular belief of the Chippewa Indians are also quite significant.
Once you delve into the various facets of the lives of the Chippewa tribesmen, you can well appreciate their rich heritage and their wonderful and developed life styles.
Joseph Paige © 2006