History of the Ojibwe

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“When the creator Gichi-Manidoo made the universe, ‘that one’ imbued the manidoog beings and forces with immortality, virtue, and wisdom and implanted them, to various degrees, into beings and objects.” Gichi-Manidoo was said to have had a vivid vision of the universe, which they were supposed to bring into existence. This act, of creating a new world was seen as the ultimate selfless gift, “a use of the creator’s power purely to benefit others, and a gift so awesome that it can never be fully reciprocated.” In honor of Gichi-Manidoot all beings that were created by them work to show the same selfless. The manidoog gave gifts to humans, and humans in turn give gifts to help others of their own kind and show respect to those who have helped them. “The creator did not bring into existence a predetermined creation but rather entrusted all beings not only with purpose but also with free will. Those who shared their gifts or blessings did so out of free will, and on the same basis, they could also withhold their presents.” Due to their strong relationship with their creator, the Ojibwe worked for spiritual enlightenment from a young age.

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The Ojibwe people had a very strong religion prior to first contact with the United States, connecting with different gods throughout their entire lives, starting in childhood. “The Indian youth from the age of ten to manhood are encouraged by their parents and old people to fast in order to gain favor with some god.” The children would then start their fasting for several days in which they would note anything unusual in their surroundings and in their dreams. Following their fast, they would reflect upon what they heard, saw, and dreamt. Whichever of the unusual events or dreams made the biggest impression on them, is supposed to show which spirit will become their personal mundoo for the rest of their lives. “Every Ojibwe tale mentions some use of supernatural power, suggesting that Ojibwe peoples considered relationships with manidoog and the blessings and gifts that flowed from them to be a regular part of everyday experience.” Their religion was not challenged very much during the Ojibwe’s contact with the French.

Dutch East India Company set up in 1609, in the lower part of Canada to hunt beaver and gather their pelts for trade. Soon the beavers were over hunted in that area and the company had to expand down into North America to find continue their trade, in about 1660. There they encountered many tribes, the Ojibwe being one of them. Wars due to competition between the Ojibwa and the Sioux began very soon after both tribes started trading fur for other goods with the French and continued until the fur trade tapered off in the 1800s. These conflicts were often due to the instigation of rival fur traders. Eventually the French’s foothold in North America was challenged by the British colonies.

From 1682 to 1763, France and Britain engaged in conflict over North American, a conflict which is now known as the French and Indian Wars. “In 1754, the last and most ferocious French and Indian War began as one facet in the Seven Years War, fought in Europe, India and North America over global commerce and colonial control. British supremacy in industrial might and naval power won the day.” After the French lost to England for the last time, they retreated from the Great Lakes area, where the Ojibwe are located, leaving the western area of Lake Superior in complete control of the Ojibwe. In the gap between French and British control the Ojibwe ruled freely and heavily taxed those who traveled the Pigeon and Kaministiquia rivers. The fur trade continued under their control until British troops forced their way into Ojibwe territory. After being met with resistance the British soon learned the French had successful trade because they cultivated good relationships with many gifts. The British took over French trading posts by force, foregoing gifts, pleasantries, and fair treatment in favor of quick revenue. This British take over occurred just under 20 years before the colonies gained independence.

The Ojibwe people’s first contact with the United States was in 1783, when the Treaty of Paris was signed; the treaty officially gave independence to the United States from Britain. The Ojibwe were already being forced to trade with England so when those same British representatives became United States citizens, the result was the Ojibwe’s first contact with the United States. The Ojibwe signed their first treaty with the United States in 1836. In this treaty the Ojibwe gave land to the United States, but the Ojibwe kept the right to hunt, fish, and gather food on the land they had sold. They did this because the land they sold had been their home for many years and they were worried without they would starve or lose their resources for medicine and clothing.

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History of the Ojibwe. (2021, Mar 20). Retrieved December 4, 2022 , from
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