Native America Tribal Nations Mini-lesson: The Ojibwe

Native America Tribal Nations Mini-lesson: The Ojibwe

These are fun mini-lessons that I get to share with my followers, and will also be sharing a few of them here on the powwows website.

The Ojibwe

The Ojibwe are part of an Indigenous group of people known as Anishinaabeg. There are three Ojibwe nations in Minnesota, and extend up into First nations Canada.

In Minnesota, there is the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Red Lake Nation, White Earth Band of Ojibwe and the Mille Lacs Lake Band of Ojibwe.

My niece and nephew are Mille Lacs Band, as well as other family. We always enjoy coming out to Mille Lacs to visit.

Especially because they have this gigantic walleye fish statue next to the lake. My son enjoys that in particular.

The term “Ojibwe” translates a few different ways into English. There is some dispute among people about the actual translation. Some say it means “Those who roast until it puckers.” In reference to fire curing moccasins to make them waterproof.

Others say it means “Those who keep records.” Talking about how the Ojibwe would keep records on birchbark scrolls.

Anyone who's from Minnesota can tell you that Ojibwe harvested wild rice is the best wild rice in the world. (Don't believe me? Go get some from Leech Lake!)

The Ojibwe have harvested their rice in the same way for thousands of years. This tradition continues today and is careful passed down through the generations, and the rice is an integral part of meals.

Ok Powwow fans, did you know that the Jingle dress dance, one of the most popular powwow styles, originated with the Ojibwe people?

It came specifically from the Mille Lacs Lake Band of Ojibwe. I love to dance both Contemporary and Traditional style.

The dance started as a dream. A man had a dream of four women dancing in dresses lined with cone-shaped bells. They danced in a straight line, with simple steps. Each women had a dress in a different color. Red, blue, yellow and green. The women of the tribe decided to make the dresses and have a ceremony to dance in them.

At this ceremony was a sick girl. The sound of the dancing women caused her to sit up. She slowly inched closer to the circle, and by the end of the night she was dancing with them, and so it is called a healing dance. Many time when a woman or girl is Jingle dress dancing she will be dancing with someone in mind who cannot dance for themselves.

I often dance with our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in mind, or for my brother who was in a wheelchair after being thrown from his horse. We use the time and space in the circle to ask for healing to those who need it.

Like a prayer.

Finally, at the close of this mini-lesson, I would like to draw your attention to a serious issue that the Ojibwe nations are fighting currently. There is a very dangerous pipeline that is trying to cross Minnesota's beautiful lakes.

The following is a statement taken from the website.

“The existing Line 3 is an Enbridge pipeline that ships crude oil from Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin. It spans northern Minnesota, crossing the Leech Lake and Fond du Lac reservations and the l855, 1854, and l842 treaty areas.  And it is a ticking time bomb.  It was built with defective steel in l96l, has had numerous ruptures and spills, and is running at half pressure because of severe corrosion.  Instead of cleaning up this liability, Enbridge wants to simply abandon it in the ground forever, and cut a brand new energy corridor through our best lakes, wetlands, and wild rice beds, and the heart of Ojibwe treaty territory.  They first proposed this new route for the Sandpiper pipeline in 2013, but years of fierce resistance in Minnesota drove them to cancel that project and buy a share of the Dakota Access pipeline instead.

At $7.5 billion, the proposed new Line 3 would be the largest project in Enbridge’s history and one of the largest crude oil pipelines in the world, carrying up to 915,000 barrels per day of one of the dirtiest fuel on earth, tar sands crude.  They call it a “replacement” but it is larger, with higher volume, in a new corridor.  First Nations, tribal governments, landowners, environmental groups, and communities across the Great Lakes have been fighting for 5 years now to stop this new corridor and #StopLine3.  We are here to protect the water and our future generations.”

That's my son and my brother in that photo..but in all seriousness this pipeline spells huge trouble for the Ojibwe people, and water protectors like Nataani Means, Tara Houska, and Rafael Gonzales are fighting these pipelines every day of their young lives.

So that's your mini lesson of the day!

Check back tomorrow to learn about a whole different Native Nation!


Last Updated on February 15, 2024 by Paul G

5 Comments on “Native America Tribal Nations Mini-lesson: The Ojibwe”

  • Avatar for Dale Dayley

    Dale Dayley


    My step-grandfather, although I saw him more as my grandfather, was Ojibwe. His name was BUG O NAY GE SHIG o quay, which translates to “Chief kick a hole in the sky.” I do not know the exact tribe he was part of.

  • Avatar for Elaine Smith

    Elaine Smith


    The MN Chippewa Tribe includes Bois Forte, Grand Portage, Fond du Lac, Leech Lake and White Earth Bands of Ojibwe or Anishinabe. The Red Lake Nation is another Ojibwe tribe in MN.

  • Avatar for Nina



    Also Bois Forte band of Chippewa but we perferr to be called Anishinaabe.

  • Avatar for Patricia



    I enjoy educating myself on various Native American customs.
    I was able to attend the Intertribal Pow Wow in Tacoma, Wa. (Several years ago)
    I felt a very strong spirit with me.
    Not sure what it was. I really wanted to dance but did not want to show any disrespect.
    Any suggestions for my next Pow Wow?

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