The Ojibwe people are also known as the Ojibwa, Ojibway, Chippewa, and Chippeway, and are believed to be the third largest group of American Indians. There are also 125 bands of Ojibwe people living in Canada. They are part of the Anishinabek group, which means original men, and they formerly had their main residence at Sault Sainte Marie on Lake Superior and also near what is now Bayfield, Wisconsin. At the end of the eighteenth century the Chippewa occupied almost all of present-day Michigan, northern Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
Traditionally the group subsisted on harvesting wild rice, ice and spear fishing, tapping maple syrup, the forging of sugar from maple sap, and hunting and trapping. Ojibwe people were also fur traders and suffered when fur trading saw its decline. Shelters were mainly constructed of birch bark, which was lightweight and could be transported easily as the people moved from one area to another with the seasons.
The Ojibwe language belongs to the Algonquian linguistic group. They also developed pictorial writing that was used in religious rites and recorded on birch bark scrolls. Due to the Ojibwe people’s relative isolation and the fact that they were not forced from their lands to the extreme that many other bands of American Indians were, much of their culture and traditions have been preserved. People still actively speak the language and practice the traditions, and pow-wows and other celebrations are frequent. Classes on Ojibwe crafts, language, traditions and more are commonly found on college campuses in the region.
Today several Ojibwe bands in the United States partake in the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission, which manages treaty hunting and fishing rights in the Lake Superior-Lake Michigan areas.
To learn more about Ojibwe history and culture, visit the George W. Brown Jr. Ojibwe Museum Cultural Center and Waswagoning, a re-created Ojibwe Indian Village, both near the community of Minocqua.