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Ojibwa (ōjĭbˈwāˌ, –wə) or Chippewa (chĭpˈəwäˌ, –wə), group of Native North Americans whose language belongs to the Algonquian branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). Their name also occurs as Ojibway and Chippeway, but they are not to be confused with the Chipewyan. In the mid-17th cent., when visited by Father Claude Jean Allouez, they occupied the shores of Lake Superior. They were constantly at war with the Sioux and the Fox over possession of the rich fields of wild rice in this region. When the Ojibwa received (c.1690) firearms from the French, they drove the Fox from N Wisconsin. They then turned against the Sioux, compelling them to cross the Mississippi River. The Ojibwa continued their expansion W across Minnesota and North Dakota until they reached the Turtle Mts. in N central North Dakota. This group became the Plains Ojibwa.
In 1736 the Ojibwa obtained their first foothold E of Lake Superior, and after a series of engagements with the Iroquois, they obtained the peninsula between Lake Huron and Lake Erie. Thus by the mid-18th cent. they controlled a large area from the eastern shore of Lake Huron in the east to the Turtle Mts. in the west. The Ojibwa, one of the largest tribes N of Mexico, then numbered some 25,000. They were allied with the French in the French and Indian Wars and with the British in the War of 1812. After the War of 1812 they made a treaty with the United States, and since that time they have lived on reservations in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana.
Traditionally the Ojibwa, except for the Plains Ojibwa, were a fairly sedentary people who depended for food on fishing, hunting (deer), farming (corn and squash), and the gathering of wild rice. They obtained and used maple sugar and smoked kinnikinnick, a tobacco made from dried leaves and bark. The characteristic dwelling was the wigwam. The Ojibwa had a unique form of picture writing that was intimately connected with the religious and magico-medical rites of the Midewiwin society.
Today the Ojibwa, or Chippewa, constitute the third largest Native American group in the United States, numbering over 100,000 in 1990. Their numerous bands include the Turtle Mountain, Sault Ste. Marie, Red Lake, Minnesota, Lac Courte Oreilles, White Earth, Leech Lake, Bad River, and others. More than 76,000 live in Canada, in 125 bands. While some Ojibwa are engaged in the traditional occupations of hunting, fishing, and harvesting wild rice, others run manufacturing and casino businesses. Some bands are still seeking redress for the loss of hunting and fishing rights stemming back to treaties made in the 1850s..
See F. Densmore, Chippewa Customs (1929, repr. 1970); R. Landes, Ojibwa Sociology (1937, repr. 1969) and Ojibwa Woman (1938, repr. 1971); H. Hickerson, The Chippewa and Their Neighbors (1970).
(also Chippewa or Saulteaux), an American Indian tribe of seminomadic fishermen and hunters who inhabited the eastern shore of Lake Superior in North America during the 16th century.
The Ojibwa were at the Neolithic stage in the development of their material culture. Their language belongs to the Algonquian language family. In the 17th century, under the influence of the colonial fur trade, the Ojibwa changed over to fur trapping, which led to the breakup of their clan organization and to their scattering over an extremely large territory. By the early 19th century the Ojibwa were the most numerous of the North American Indians; by that time they had split up into three localized tribal groups, distinguished according to occupation and culture.
The present-day Ojibwa live on reservations in the USA (about 40,000 persons; 1967, estimate) and Canada (about 40,000 persons). Their main source of subsistence is wage labor. Lack of employment on the reservations forces them to migrate to the cities, where their lives are made more difficult by racial discrimination. The Ojibwa are engaged in the general Indian struggle for improved living conditions and the fight against racism. They are Christians, although they have preserved many of their old tribal cults.
REFERENCESNarody Ameriki, vol. 1. Moscow, 1959.
Averkieva, Iu. P. “Rod i obshchina u algonkinov i atapaskov amerikan-skogo Severa.” In the collection Razlozhenie rodovogo stroia i formirovanie klassovogo obshchestva. Moscow, 1968.
Among the Ojibwa, a group of Algonquin-speaking North American and Canadian Indians numbering about fifty thousand individuals, dreams are viewed as actual experience and constitute important elements of the sociocultural system. In Ojibwa ontology, the focal point is on people, differentiated in two different categories: human beings and personified natural objects—such as the sun, the winds, the thunderbirds—which are thought of as persons and are addressed as such. One of the major sources of information about these other-than-human persons is myths.
It is within the web of social relations with other-than-human persons, as well as humans, that the Ojibwa strive for life in the fullest sense. Social relations with human beings belong to the sphere of waking life, whereas interactions with other-than-human persons occur chiefly during dream experiences. Dream experiences are not confused with waking events, because persons in dreams are not the same kind of persons with whom the individual is most concerned in ordinary waking life.
Ojibwa dream imagery is intimately linked with the motivation of individuals, traditional values, and social behavior. As a matter of fact, interactions with other-than-human persons are sought by individuals in order to achieve a good personal life adjustment. Also, dream experiences are considered fundamental with respect to the social system, because they validate specialized vocations, such as curing.
It is believed that a good life cannot be achieved through relations with other human beings alone, and that the help of powerful other-than-human persons is necessary, especially for men. This help can be obtained primarily through a deep personal face-to-face contact with other-than-human persons in dreams. Help from other-than-human persons implies the fulfillment of particular obligations to them, and these obligations assume a primary moral force in the life of Ojibwa individuals.