|Regions with significant populations|
|Canada (Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba)|
United States (Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin)
|English, French, Ojibwe (Including Odawa), Potawatomi, and Algonquin|
|Midewiwin, Catholicism, Methodism, and others|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Odawa, Ojibwe, Potawatomi, Oji-Cree, Algonquin peoples and Métis|
The Anishinaabeg (adjectival: Anishinaabe) are a group of culturally related indigenous peoples present in the Great Lakes region of Canada and the United States. They include the Ojibwe (including Saulteaux and Oji-Cree), Odawa, Potawatomi, Mississaugas, Nipissing and Algonquin peoples. The Anishinaabe speak Anishinaabemowin, or Anishinaabe languages that belong to the Algonquian language family.
At the time of first contact with Europeans they lived in the Northeast Woodlands and Subarctic, and some have since spread to the Great Plains.
The word Anishinaabe translates to "people from whence lowered". Another definition refers to "the good humans", meaning those who are on the right road or path given to them by the Creator Gitche Manitou, or Great Spirit. Basil Johnston, an Ojibwe historian, linguist, and author wrote that the term's literal translation is "Beings Made Out of Nothing" or "Spontaneous Beings". The Anishinaabe believe that their people were created by divine breath.
The word Anishinaabe is often mistakenly considered a synonym of Ojibwe. However, Anishinaabe refers to a much larger group of tribes.
ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯ Anishinaabe has many different spellings. Different spelling systems may indicate vowel length or spell certain consonants differently (Anishinabe, Anicinape); meanwhile, variants ending in -eg/ek (Anishinaabeg, Anishinabek) come from an Algonquian plural, while those ending in an -e come from an Algonquian singular.
The name Anishinaabe is sometimes shortened to Nishnaabe, mostly by Odawa people. The cognate Neshnabé comes from the Potawatomi, a people long allied with the Odawa and Ojibwe in the Council of Three Fires. The Nipissing, Mississaugas, and Algonquin are identified as Anishinaabe but are not part of the Council of Three Fires.
Closely related to the Ojibwe and speaking a language mutually intelligible with Anishinaabemowin (Anishinaabe language) is the Oji-Cree (also known as "Severn Ojibwe"). Their most common autonym is Anishinini (plural: Anishininiwag) and they call their language Anishininiimowin.
Among the Anishinaabe, the Ojibwe collectively call the Nipissings and the Algonquins Odishkwaagamii (those who are at the end of the lake), while those among the Nipissings who identify themselves as Algonquins call the Algonquins proper Omàmiwinini (those who are downstream).
Not all Anishinaabemowin-speakers call themselves Anishinaabe. The Ojibwe people who migrated to what are now the prairie provinces of Canada call themselves Nakawē(-k) and call their branch of the Anishinaabemowin Nakawēmowin. (The French ethnonym for the group is Saulteaux). Particular Anishinaabeg groups have different names from region to region.
Each of the six miigis established separate doodem (clans) for the people. Of these doodem, six clan systems appeared:
After founding the doodem, the six miigis returned to the depths of the ocean as well. Some oral histories surmise that if the seventh miigis had stayed, it would have established the Animikii Thunderbird doom.
The powerful miigis returned in a vision relating a prophecy to the people. It said that the Anishinaabeg needed to move west to keep their traditional ways alive, because of the many new settlements and people not of Anishinaabeg blood who would soon arrive. The migration path of the Anishinaabeg would become a series of smaller Turtle Islands, confirmed by the minis shells (i.e., cowry shells). After receiving assurance from their "Allied Brothers" (i.e., Mi'kmaq) and "Father" (i.e., Abnaki) of their safety in crossing other tribal territory, the Anishinaabeg moved inland. They advanced along the St. Lawrence River to the Ottawa River and through to Lake Nipissing, and then to the Great Lakes.
The first of these smaller Turtle Islands was Mooniyaa, where Mooniyaang now stands. Here the Anishinaabeg divided into two groups: one that traveled up and settled along the Ottawa River, and the core group who proceeded to the "second stopping place" near Niagara Falls.
By the time the Anishinaabeg established their "third stopping place" near the present city of Detroit, the Anishinaabeg had divided into six distinct nations: Algonquin, Nipissing, Missisauga, Ojibwa, Odawa and Potawatomi. While the Odawa established their long-held cultural center on Manitoulin Island, the Ojibwe established their center in the Sault Ste. Marie region of Ontario, Canada. With the expansion of trade with the French and later the British, fostered by the availability of European small arms, members of the Council of Three Fires expanded southward to the Ohio River, southwestward along the Illinois River, and westward along Lake Superior, Lake of the Woods and the northern Great Plains. In their western expansion, the Ojibwa again divided, forming the Saulteaux, the seventh major branch of the Anishinaabeg.
As the Anishinaabeg moved inland, through both alliances and conquest, they incorporated various other closely related Algonquian peoples into the Anishinaabe Nation. These included, but were not limited to, the Noquet (originally part of the Menomini Tribe) and Mandwe (originally part of the Fox). Other incorporated groups can generally be identified by the individual's Doodem (Clan). Migizi-doodem (Bald Eagle Clan) generally identifies those whose ancestors were from the area of the present-day United States and Ma'iingan-doodem (Wolf Clan) as Santee Sioux.
Other Anishinaabe doodem thought to have migrated out of the core Anishinaabeg groupings, such as the Nibiinaabe-doodem (Merman Clan), which is now the "Water-spirit Clan" of the Winnebago or Ho-Chunk. Anishinaabe peoples now reside throughout North America, in both the northern United States and southern Canada, chiefly around the Great Lakes and Lake Winnipeg.
After this migration and the immigration of European newcomers to North America, many Anishinaabeg tribe chiefs were coerced into signing treaties—in a language they did not speak nor could read—with the governments of the Dominion of Canada and the United States. Treaty 3 (of the Numbered Treaties) in Canada was signed in 1873 between the Anishinaabe (Ojibwa) people west of the Great Lakes and the government of Canada. Through other treaties and resulting relocations, some Anishinaabeg now reside in the states of Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana in the United States, and the provinces of Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia in Canada.
According to Anishinabe tradition, and from records of wiigwaasabak (birch bark scrolls), the people migrated from the eastern areas of North America, and from along the East Coast. In old stories, the homeland was called Turtle Island. This comes from the idea that the universe, the Earth, or the continent of North America are all sometimes understood as being the back of a great turtle, a mysterious natural consciousness. The Anishinaabe oral history considers the Anishinaabe peoples as descendants of the Abenaki people and refers to them as the "Fathers". Another Anishinaabe oral history considers the Abenaki as descendants of the Lenape (Delaware), thus refers to them as "Grandfathers". However, Cree oral traditions generally consider the Anishinaabe as their descendants, and not the Abenakis.
A number of complementary origin concepts exist within the oral traditions of the Anishinaabe. According to the oral history, seven great miigis (radiant/iridescent beings in human form) appeared to the Anishinaabeg in the Waabanakiing (Land of the Dawn, i.e., Eastern Land) to teach the people about the midewiwin life-style. One great miigis was too spiritually powerful and would kill people in the Waabanakiing whenever they were in its presence. This being later returned to the depths of the ocean, leaving the six great miigis to teach the people.
The Anishinaabeg are one of the First Nations in Canada.
The first of the Anishinaabeg to encounter European settlers were those of the Three Fires Confederation, within the states of Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania in the territory of the present-day United States, and southern Ontario and Quebec of Canada. There were many interactions between the Anishinaabeg and the European settlers, the Anishinaabeg dealt with Europeans through the fur trade and as allies in European-centered conflicts. Europeans traded with the Anishinaabeg for their furs in exchange for goods and also hired the anishinaabeg men as guides throughout the lands of North America. The Anishinaabeg women (as well as other Aboriginal groups) occasionally would intermarry with fur traders and trappers. Some of their descendants would later create a Métis ethnic group. Explorers, trappers, and other European workers married or had unions with other Anishinaabeg women, and their descendants tended to form a Métis culture.
The earliest Europeans to encounter native peoples in the Great Lakes area were the French voyageurs. These men were professional canoe-paddlers who transported furs and other merchandise over long distances in the lake and river system of northern America. Such explorers gave French names to many places in present-day Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin. The French were mainly trappers and traders and struggled in the harsh North American climate to form permanent successful settlements. Generally, the Europeans relied heavily on indigneous groups to provide provisions in order to survive in North America.
The ethnic identities of the Ojibwa, Odawa, and Potawatomi did not develop until after the Anishinaabeg reached Michilimackinac on their journey westward from the Atlantic coast. Using the Midewiwin scrolls, Potawatomi elder Shop-Shewana dated the formation of the Council of Three Fires to 796 AD at Michilimackinac.
In this council, the Ojibwa were addressed as the "Older Brother", the Odawa as the "Middle Brother", and the Potawatomi as the "Younger Brother". Consequently, when the three Anishinaabeg nations are mentioned in this specific order: Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi, it implies the Council of Three Fires as well. Each tribe had different functions: the Ojibwa were the "keepers of the faith", the Odawa the "keepers of trade," and the Potawatomi are the "keepers/maintainers of/for the fire" (boodawaadam). This was the basis for their exonyms of Boodewaadamii (Ojibwe spelling) or Bodéwadmi (Potawatomi spelling).
The Ottawa (also Odawa, Ottawa, Outaouais, or Trader) are a Native American and First Nations people. Ojibwe, Ojibwa, Chippewa (or Anishinaabemowin in Eastern Ojibwe syllabics) is the third most commonly spoken Native language in Canada (after Cree and Inuktitut), and the fourth most spoken in North America (behind Navajo, Cree, and Inuktitut). Potawatomi is a Central Algonquian language. It is spoken around the Great Lakes in Michigan and Wisconsin, as well as in Kansas in the United States. In southern Ontario in Canada, it is spoken by fewer than 50 people.
Though the Three Fires had several meeting places, they preferred Michilimackinac due to its central location. The Council met for military and political purposes. The Council maintained relations with other nations, both fellow Anishinaabeg: the Ozaagii (Sac), Odagaamii (Meskwaki), Omanoominii (Menominee), and non-Anishinaabeg: Wiinibiigoo (Ho-Chunk), Naadawe (Iroquois Confederacy), Nii'inaa-Naadawe (Wyandot), Naadawensiw (Sioux), Wemitigoozhi (France), Zhaaganaashi (England) and the Gichi-mookomaan (the United States). After the Europeans came into the country, the French built Fort Michilimackinac in the 18th century. After the Seven Years' War, the victorious English took over the fort, also using it as a trading post.
Through the totem-system (a totem is any entity which watches over or assists a group of people, such as a family, clan or tribe) and promotion of trade, the Council generally had a peaceful existence with its neighbours. However, occasional unresolved disputes erupted into wars. The Council notably fought against the Iroquois Confederacy and the Sioux. During the Seven Years' War, the Council fought with France and against England, as it had longstanding trade relationships with the French. Militarized war, however, was a European import. Ceremonial warfare that was the predominant mode prior to European contact parallels older forms of European chivalry, where combatants met oftentimes one-on-one honor bouts. These matches did not always end in casualties and they had no component of political or material gain attached.
Later, the Anishinaabeg established a relationship with the British similar to that they had with the French. They formed the Three Fires Confederation in reaction to conflict with encroaching settlers and continuing tensions with the British Canadian government, as well as that of the new United States after it established independence at the end of the eighteenth century. The letters of Colonel Henry Boquet and Jeffery Amherst of the British army reveal a plan to eliminate Anishnaabe people through the intentional distribution of smallpox infected materials at Fort Pitt circa 1763. Peter Harstead's article 'Sickness and Disease on the Wisconsin frontier' (1959) chronicles similar efforts made by Americans (the fur company at Mackinac circa 1770). In the latter case, a cask of liquor was wrapped in a flag. Instructions were given that this gift not be opened until the Anishnaabe people present had returned to their home communities. Opening the gift early at Fond du Lac people began to get sick, and one who had seen the disease before in Montreal recognized it as smallpox.
During the Northwest Indian War and the War of 1812, the Three Fires Confederacy fought against the United States. Many Anishinaabeg refugees from the Revolutionary War, particularly Odawa and Potawatomi, migrated north to British-held areas.
Those who remained east of the Mississippi River were subjected to the 1830 Indian Removal policy of the United States; among the Anishinaabeg, the Potawatomi were most affected. The Odawa had been removed from the settlers' paths, so only a handful of communities experienced removal. For the Ojibwa, removal attempts culminated in the Sandy Lake Tragedy and several hundred deaths. The Potawatomi avoided removal only by escaping into Ojibwa-held areas and hiding from US officials.
William Whipple Warren (1825–1853), a United States man of mixed Ojibwe and European descent, became an interpreter, assistant to a trader to the Ojibwe, and legislator of the Minnesota Territory. A gifted storyteller and historian, he collected native accounts and wrote the History of the Ojibway People, Based Upon Traditions and Oral Statements, first published by the Minnesota Historical Society in 1885, some 32 years after his early death from tuberculosis. Given his Anglo-American father, Lyman Marcus Warren, and American education, the Ojibwe of the time did not consider Warren as "one of them". However, they retained friendly relations with him and considered him as a "half brother" due to his extensive knowledge of the Ojibwe language and culture and the fact that he had Ojibwe ancestry through his mixed Ojibwe-French mother, Marie Cadotte. His work covered much of the culture and history of the Ojibwe, gathered from stories of the Ojibwe Nation.
Warren identified the Crane and Loon clans as the two Chief clans among his mother's Anishinaabe people. Crane Clan was responsible for external governmental relationships, and Loon Clan was responsible for internal governance relationships. Warren believed that the British and United States governments had deliberately destroyed the clan system, or the polity of governance when they forced indigenous nations to adopt representative government and direct elections of chiefs. Further, he believed such destruction led to many wars among the Anishinaabe. He also cited the experiences of other Native Nations in the US (such as the Creek, Fox, and others). His work in its entirety demonstrated the significance of the clan system.
After the Sandy Lake Tragedy, the government changed its policy to relocating tribes onto reservations, often by consolidating groups of communities. Conflict continued through the 19th century, as Native Americans and the United States had different goals. After the Dakota War of 1862, many Anishinaabeg communities in Minnesota were relocated and further consolidated
There are many Anishinaabeg reserves and reservations; in some places, the Anishinaabeg share some of their lands with others, such as the Cree, the Dakota, the Delaware, and the Kickapoo, among others. The Anishnabeg who "merged" with the Kickapoo tribe may now identify as being Kickapoo in Kansas and Oklahoma. The Prairie Potawatomi were the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi of Illinois and Wisconsin who were relocated to Kansas during the 19th century.
The Anishinaabe of Manitoba, particularly those along the east side of Lake Winnipeg, have had longstanding historical conflicts with the Cree people.
In addition to other issues shared by First Nations recognized by the Canadian government and other aboriginal peoples in Canada, the Anishinaabe of Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec have opposed the Energy East pipeline of TransCanada. The Chippewas of the Thames First Nation legally challenged the right of the Canadian government to hold a pipeline hearing without their consent. The project was also the basis of a June 2015 declaration of reclaimed sovereignty over the Ottawa River valley by several Anishinaabe peoples.
The relationship between the various Anishinaabe communities and the United States government has been steadily improving since the passage of the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act. Several Anishinaabe communities still experience tensions with the state governments, county governments, and non-Native American individuals and their groups.
In contemporary times, the Anishinaabe have worked to renew the clan system as a model for self-governance. They have drawn from the work of Ojibwe educator Edward Benton-Banai, who emphasizes education based on one's own culture. They believe using the clan system will also be a basis for the cultural and political revitalization of the people. Clan originally meant extended family. In this system originally, clans were represented by a changing cast of spokespeople at yearly meetings. In more recent times, clans have come to align personality characteristics with the animals that represent them. This shifts the focus from extended family governance to groups of people who have a particular kind of strength to offer to the community. For example, the deer clan is sometimes understood as having the direction of hospitality toward visitors, whereas the crane clan or eagle clan, depending on region, may be aligned with leadership qualities. Conversations surrounding how to change current systems of governance to better match how the people governed themselves over millennia are always occurring throughout Anishinaabe Aki.
There are some major issues the various Anishinaabe communities face, such as cultural and language preservation or revitalization, full and independent federal recognition, some Anishinaabe communities are recognized by county or state governments, or are recognized by the federal government only as part of another tribe, disputes with band government(s), treaty rights, personal health issues, mistrust of mainstream medicine, poor relationship with law enforcement, and social disparity such as poor education, high unemployment rates, substance abuse/addiction and domestic violence rates.
Main article: Teachings of the Seven Grandfathers
The Teachings of the Seven Grandfathers are among the most commonly shared teachings in Native culture. They hold great significance to the Anishinaabeg and are considered to be the founding principles of their way of life. The Seven Grandfather teachings have been around for centuries, passed on from elders through storytelling. These teachings have helped shape the way of life for the Anishinaabeg for years and continue to do so. The stories can be adapted to fit specific community values and have been incorporated by organizations, schools, different programs, artists, individualists, and tribes.
According to Anishinaabeg culture, to cherish knowledge is to know wisdom. Wisdom is given by the Creator to be used for the good of the people. In Anishinaabemowin, this word expresses not only "wisdom" but also means "prudence," or "intelligence." In some communities, Gikendaasowin is used; in addition to "wisdom," this word can also mean "intelligence" or "knowledge."
According to Anishinaabeg culture, to know peace is to know love. Love must be unconditional. When people are weak they need love the most. In Anishinaabemowin, this word with the reciprocal theme idi indicates that this form of love is mutual. In some communities, Gizhaawenidiwin is used, which in most context means "jealousy" but in this context is translated as either "love" or "zeal."
According to Anishinaabeg culture, to honor all creation is to have respect. All of creation should be treated with respect. If an individual wants to be respected, they must also show respect. Some communities instead use Ozhibwaadenindiwin or Manazoonidiwin.
According to Anishinaabeg culture, to be brave is to face the foe with integrity. In Anishinaabemowin, this word literally means "state of having a fearless heart." To do what is right even when the consequences are unpleasant. Some communities instead use either Zoongadiziwin ("state of having a strong casing") or Zoongide'ewin ("state of having a strong heart").
According to Anishinaabeg culture, honesty in facing a situation is to be brave. Individuals should always be honest in word and action. If an individual is honest with themselves first, they will more easily be able to be honest with others. In Anishinaabemowin, this word can also mean "righteousness."
According to Anishinaabeg culture, humility requires recognizing oneself as a sacred part of Creation, neither better nor worse than any other creation. In Anishinaabemowin, this word can also mean "compassion." Some communities instead express this with Bekaadiziwin, which in addition to "humility" can also be translated as "calmness," "meekness," "gentility" or "patience."
According to Anishinaabeg culture, truth is knowing all of these things. Individuals should speak the truth and not deceive themselves or others.
Main article: Indigenous storytelling in North America
The Anishinaabeg follow an oral storytelling tradition. Storytelling serves as an integral part of Anishinaabeg culture as "stories teach the stock of wisdom and knowledge found in the culture" and "promotes 'respectful individualism," wherein individuals do not force their thinking upon others. Instead of directly teaching right and wrong, the Anishinaabeg often use storytelling to share their history and cultural truths, including but not limited to the Teachings of the Seven Grandfathers. Stories often "provide important lessons for living and give life purpose, value, and meaning.": 184 They can further "include religious teachings, metaphysical links, cultural insights, history, linguistic structures, literay and aesthetic form, and Indigenous 'truths'." By understanding traditional stories, individuals can better understand themselves, their world, where they came from, and where they are going.: 184–185
Storytelling is situational, meaning that storytellers must be mindful of audience, of listener, and [should] keep the oration accessible and real." When a story is shared, "[t]he teller and the listener are equally activie; the listener is not passive." Furthermore, stories told are not static: "Once they become public, people will play will them, embellish them, and add to them ... There is no need for any particular story to have any particular form. Nor is it the case that any one story can ever be said to have achieved its final form. Instead, all stories are works in progress."
Before telling a story, Elders "very often begin by quoting the authority of Elders who have gone before. They do not state the authority as coming from themselves. They will say things like, 'This is what they used to say,' or 'This is what they said.'": 19
Beyond sharing cultural knowledge, storytelling traditions can help provide Anishinaabeg children "with the intellectual tools necessary to exercise authory." The Anishinaabeg see the act of allowing children to share stories as "an act of empowerment.": 163 This action "recognizes that even children have something to contribute, and encourages them to do so.": 163
Stories are typically shared throughout the winter when there is less to do and the animals are sleeping.
Main article: Trickster § In Native American tradition
The Trickster is a common character in Anishinaabeg storytelling and goes by many names, including Coyote, Raven, Wesakejac, Nanabozo, and Glooscap. They appear in many forms and genders. Stories involving the Trickster "often use humour, self-mocking, and absurdity to carry good lessons.": 5
The Trickster helps teach cultural lessons by "learning lessons the 'hard' way.": ix Within such stories, "Trickster often gets into trouble by ignoring cultural rules and practices or by giving sway to the negative aspects of 'humanness' ... Trickster seems to learn lessons the hard way and sometimes not at all.": 5 Contrary to some depictions of Trickster figures, the Trickster in Anishinaabeg stories "has the ability to do good things for others and is sometimes like a powerful spiritual being and [is] given much respect.": 5 Stories involving the Trickster serve to "remind us about the good power of interconnectedness within family, community, nation, culture, and land. If we become disconnected, we lose the ability to make meaning from Indigenous stories.": ix
Before the arrival of the Europeans, and until at least the 1800s, many Anishinaabeg were subsistence farmers. For example, the Odawa, centered in Michilimackinac grew corn in the summers and generally moved south in smaller family groups in the winters to hunt game. They tapped sugar maples in the spring, and moved back to the main villages to prepare for the lake sturgeon spawning season and planting.: 24
They were "renowned" for their skills at making and using canoes and traded widely.: 24
The Anishinaabe practised cannibalism, sometimes boiling and eating their foes after battles.: 3 They also practised slavery, usually as a way to "cover their dead".: 30
Their kinship was patrilineal and most Anishinaabe doodemag enforced exogamy, the wife keeping and representing her father's doodem while her children would take on their father's doodem.: 94 For the first few years of a marriage, a husband would live with his wife's family, and then they would typically return to the husband's people.: 94 As a result, many Anishinaabe villages included people speaking different languages not only from different clans, but also from entirely different peoples, such as the Huron and even occasionally Sioux.: 36
In June 1994, the Chiefs at the Anishinabek Grand Council gathering at Rocky Bay First Nation, directed that the Education Directorate formally establish the Anishinabek Education Institute (AEI) in accordance with the post-secondary education model that was submitted and ratified with provisions for satellite campuses and a community-based delivery system. (Res. 94/13)
In August 2017 the Anishinabek Nation in Ontario and the government of Canada signed an agreement allowing the Anishinabek Nation to control the classroom curriculum and school resources of its Kindergarten-to-Grade 12 education system in 23 communities.
Approximately 8% of Anishinabek students attend schools on-reserve.