The Ojibwe Native Americans

Ojibwe Art

Ojibwe art is largely made up of oral art forms.   Two major art areas are dance and song which have already been discussed...

Norval Morrisseau~Copper Thunderbird

    Norval Morrisseau, was born on March 14, 1932, in Canada.  Ojibwe and raised by his Ojibwe grandparents, Norval learned the stories and legends of his people and learned about Catholicism through his grandmother.  At the age of 19 Norval Morrisseau caught a bad illness and nearly died.  However, his grandmother was a medicine woman; she performed a naming ceremony and renamed him to Copper Thunderbird.  Surprisingly, Copper Thunderbird regained his health (Norval Morrisseau).
    Norval Morrisseau became interested in art and taught himself how to paint.  He was very skilled and soon gained recognition.   His art portrayed the legends and stories of his people, cultural and political tensions, his struggles, and  deep themes of spirituality and mysticism.  Norval Morrisseau founded the Woodlands School of Canadian Art (Norval Morrisseau).

    To see examples of some of his work go to:


    Dreamcatchers are used teach about natural wisdom.   Dreamcatchers were made to imitate the web of a spider to catch all dreams.  Today, many different tribes make dreamcatchers, however they didn't start making dreamcatchers until 1970.  Until that time, Ojibwe were the only people who made dreamcatchers, but the popularity of dreamcatcher earrings in the 70's is what caused the other tribes to pick up this art (History of Dream Catchers). 

Henry Whipple

Henry Whipple, although not an Ojibwe artist, played an important role in Ojibwe art.  Henry Whipple was the first Episcopal Bishop of Minnesota.  His role was to get the Ojibwe people to convert to Christianity.  During his time with the Ojibwe people he gathered photographs of the people and different pieces of art.  His collection has recently been displayed in the Science Museum of Minnesota.  The collection included quill work, beaded garments, bandolier bags, and lace.

Metis Sash

    The metis sash is another piece of art made by the Ojibwe people.  A metis sash is a finger woven belt around 9 feet in length.  The metis scarf  can be used as a scarf, rope, but originally it was used to hold a coat closed.  the metis sash had great significance to the Ojibwe people.  Here is a prayer often associated with the metis sash:
    "Metis people, God, have been wearing the sash proudly for many years. When I look at it, I notice that it is composed of many interconnected threads, many strands, many patterns, many colors contribute to the overall design of the sash. Our Metis culture God is like the sash. The lives of the Metis have been woven together from a variety of cultures, traditions and beliefs ... For example, God, we are the descendants of the English, of the French, of the Indian-Cree and Ojibway and Scots to name a few. We speak a variety of languages: English, Canadian French, Michif French, Michif Cree and Mashkegon. Look at the sash: it is a composite. It is a mixture. It is Metis. It is made of a variety of elements, like the lives of the Metis. Look at its pattern, its fabric, its colors. Nonetheless, these disparate elements form an integrated whole. Similarly, the different ethnic backgrounds and different languages to the Metis blend into one another to form a rich tapestry like the lives and culture of the Metis"  (The Metis Sash).

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