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Ojibwa
First Nations

The Ojibwa (also Ojibway or Ojibwe) or Chippewa (also Chippeway) is the largest group of Native Americans-First Nations north of Mexico, including Métis. They are the third largest in the United States, surpassed only by Cherokee and Navajo. They are equally divided between the United States and Canada. Because they were formerly located mainly around Sault Ste. Marie, at the outlet of Lake Superior, the French referred to them as Saulteurs. Ojibwa who subsequently moved to the prairie provinces of Canada have retained the name Saulteaux. Ojibwa who were originally located about the Mississagi River and made their way to southern Ontario are known as the Mississaugas.

As a major component group of the Anishinaabe peoples — which includes the Algonquin, Nipissing, Oji-Cree, Odawa and the Potawatomi — the Ojibwe peoples number over 56,440 in the U.S., living in an area stretching across the north from Michigan to Montana. Another 77,940 of main-line Ojibwa, 76,760 Saulteaux and 8,770 Mississaugas, in 125 bands, live in Canada, stretching from western Quebec to eastern British Columbia.

They are known for their birch bark canoes, sacred birch bark scrolls, the use of cowrie shells, wild rice, copper points, and for their use of gun technology from the British to defeat and push back the Dakota nation of the Sioux (1745). The Ojibwe Nation was the first to set the agenda for signing more detailed treaties with Canada’s leaders before many settlers were allowed too far west. The Midewiwin Society is well respected as the keeper of detailed and complex scrolls of events, history, songs, maps, memories, stories, geometry, and mathematics.