IntroductionThe Chippewa Indians have about 150 different bands (which includes the turtle mountain band) of Indians in the US. In fact, the Chippewa are one of the largest Native American Indian tribes in the United States. The people of this Northeast American Indian tribe are also referred to as Ojibwarich, Ojibway, and Ojibwe. Their culture has evolved over the years and now allows both men and women who seek to become leaders to be elected as chiefs. The reservations where they live now also function like independent countries with separate schools and law enforcement. Their houses, their diet, their clothing and jewelry and even how their kids are taught have all evolved through the centuries. What all of this change means to the Chippewa is that preserving the history of the tribe is more important than ever. Facts and interesting information about how these Indians lived is listed below.
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Chippewa General Facts
- The Chippewa people refer to themselves as Anishinabe, an Indian term meaning "original man" or "first man".
- The bands of the Chippewa people occupied areas in the Northern region of the United States, reaching into Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota, as well as part of Ontario, Canada.
- The Chippewa used birch-bark for many necessities but they were especially known for their well-crafted and graceful birch-bark canoes. Light and lean yet strong, these canoes were able to carry heavy loads through the water.
- The Chippewa not only caught different types of fish, but they also caught crayfish, mussels, frogs and turtles from the water.
- Some Chippewa crafts were made for beauty but many were made for more practical uses such as baskets, wampum, snowshoes, and moccasins. The art of the Chippewa include dream catchers and intricate beadwork.
- Woodland Chippewa lived in houses called wigwams which were made of birch-bark. Chippewa living in the Great Plains region lived in tipis made of animal hide in order to accommodate their nomadic lifestyle.
- Because there were so many bands of Chippewa (Ojibway), they relied on each other for trading. They were also close with the Potawatomi and Ottawa tribes and referred to the three tribes together as The Council of Three Fires. In contrast, they did not get along with the Sioux and the Iroquois and often fought with them.
- Once the French and English settlers arrived in the 1600's, the tribe became involved in fur-trading.
- Women traditionally wore long dresses and kept their hair in long braids until the introduction of European styles including blouses and jackets made of cloth. Men wore breechcloths and leggings. Both men and women wore moccasins and ponchos in colder temperatures.
Chippewa Rice-Making Facts
- Harvesting and making wild rice was a very important task for the Chippewa. Rice was a major food source and was also used in many important ceremonies.
- They used special paddles during harvesting, called knockers, while wading through the water in their canoes.
- Rice making was a multi-step process involving drying, parching, hulling and finally winnowing. Much of the process is still done by the Chippewa today.