The Ojibwe Native Americans

History of the Ojibwe

The Ojibwe people have a long history within the Midwest, and were here long before whites started pouring in looking for furs in the 1600s. Their histories date far back to days before anything was recorded, so the long past events come only in the traditional passing down of stories from generation to generation.

One of these longstanding ideas is that the Ojibwe nation was birthed around the Atlantic
Ocean, either in St. Lawrence or the Hudson Bay area. Due to climate change, they began a slow move west. They started to occupy areas around the Great Lakes in Michigan, Ontario and Wisconsin. They were a large group of people, and were able to take territories from other tribes as needed. During the Beaver Wars, the Ojibwe fought with the Fox, Mundua, Huron, Winnebago and Iroquois, exerting their large force wherever it seemed needed. The Ottawa people were one of the few tribes that the Ojibwe were in close alliance with. They traded furs back and forth, and with the introduction of the French fur traders into the area, were able to acquire European goods through the Ottawa without much contact with whites. The advantage of having superior weapons was one of the reasons why the Ojibwe turned to more habitual wars with other natives.


In 1737, a war with the Dakota people won the Ojibwe a large portion of Northern Minnesota, climaxing a long rivalry between the two tribes. The French were strong advocates for the Ojibwe, using them and other Indian allies to gain the most control of the land that they could, hoping to get better trade areas than the British. French diplomats convinced Ojibwe to attack certain tribes that might be in their way, and provided guns and other weapons to insure their dominance. They also got some Ojibwe to come to their own home forts in Quebec and Montreal to defend against the British, establishing a firm alliance between the two.

In the mid 1700s, the Ojibwe's westward expansion was finally halted in North Dakota when they ran into a better armed enemy – the Lakota. They had large numbers of horses and were able to hold their own territory against intruders. By the 1800s they were spread out across the Midwest and Southern parts of Canada. Today they are still one of the largest Native American tribes in North America (Ojibwe).

After the birth of the United States, treaties began to be made selling off land between the Native Americans and new settlers. The Ojibwe had little conflict with the United States during their reign, even after Fort Snelling was built in Minnesota to try to section off the Dakota from the Ojibwe. This may have been because they knew they had little chance of victory over the numerous, technologically advanced settlers. Although they presented little direct problem to the whites, they still went on attacking the Dakota as the hostilities between the two tribes continued on.

Treaties began in the 1800s between Whites and the Ojibwe, making land trades. The Ojibwe had gotten into some debt with the fur traders, being cheated out on the books by whites who wanted to make more money, so they needed some way to repay them. Selling land was one of their most immediate sources for cash, and the Americans were all too eager to take it up from them. Copper and lumber were in great demand, and the Ojibwe were on land that had a lot of it. In exchange for their territories, the tribes were moved on to Reservations, almost all of which were too small to fully support the entire groups of people sent there, but arrangements continued on with little decisive power being in the hands of the natives. Between 1854 and 1856, all of the Ojibwe reservation plans were organized, sending many people either out of their homes, or into much smaller plots of the expansive lands they once owned. The reservations were often too dense to fully keep up all of their traditions like hunting.

Today in Minnesota, the United States recognizes six different bands of the Ojibwe nation, including: Boise Forte, Fond du Lac, Grand Portage, Leech Lake, Mille Lacs, and the White Earth (Ojibwe). Although the tribe underwent great recession with the involvement of whites settling America, they are still one of the largest groups of Native Americans around, with the total estimated number of people comprising the tribe as 190,000.

Work Cited

“Ojibwe History”. Tolatsga. 21 June, 2000. 22 April, 2008. <http://www.tolatsga.org/ojib.html>.