Collection Description

Brief Culture Description

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Culture Description

The Ojibwa communities range from southern and northwestern Ontario, northern Michigan and Wisconsin, and Minnesota, to North Dakota and southern and central Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The four main Ojibwa groups are the Northern Ojibwa, or Saulteaux; the Plains Ojibwa, or Bungi; the southeastern Ojibwa; and the southwestern Chippewa. The Ojibwa economy was mixed, combining fishing, hunting, and gathering with gardening (in the south) and trade, particularly the fur trade. The Plains Ojibwa turned more to bison hunting. By the 1850s, their land base and population had been severely reduced by United States removal policies, disease, and the overall pressures of heavy European American settlement, especially in more southern areas.


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North America --Arctic and Subarctic



United States

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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.

The Ojibwa file consists of fifty-five documents ranging in time coverage from approximately the late eighteenth to the late twentieth centuries. Historically the Ojibwa have occupied an enormous geographical area extending from southern Ontario to the Rocky Mountains. This has led to significant regional variations in both culture and dialect which is clearly reflected in the documents comprising this file, many of which focus primarily on specific communities or regions during a given time period. The file has been divided into four major geographical and temporal periods: the Central Ojibwa: "traditional" to ca. 1850; the Central Ojibwa: 1850-1950; the Northern Ojibwa: 1780-1950; and the contemporary Ojibwa of the period from 1950 to the 1990s.

The Central Ojibwa include the Ojibwa of Parry Island, southern Ontario, Michican, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. The Northern Ojibwa include those Ojibwa groups living around Lake Winnipeg as well as those of northern Ontario north of the Arctic watershed (e.g., Weagamow Lake, Berens River, etc.) and eastern Manitoba. Documents dealing with the Central Ojibwa of the traditional period to ca. 1850 are primarily concerned with history, migrations, material culture, warfare, the fur trade, social and political organization, religion, subsistence activities, and Ojibwa-white contacts. These are best represented by the works of Densmore (1929, no. 5), Hilger (1951, no. 15), Hickerson (1988, no. 29), Wheeler-Voegelin (1974, no. 31), Peers (1994, no. 36), Quimby (1962, no. 37), Rogers (1978, no. 38), Schmalz (1991, no. 39), and Warren (1885, no. 46). The studies relevant to the Central Ojibwa of the period from 1850-1950 also deal with many of the ethnographic topics mentioned above, but in addition provide much informa tion on the reservation period, treaties between the Ojibwa and the United States and Canadian governments, and the loss of native lands. The works by Kugel (1985, no. 50), Meyer (1994, no. 51), and Shifferd (1976, no. 53) present fairly representative accounts of this time period. The Northern Ojibwa for the period 1780-1950 are best represented in this file by the works of Dunning (1959, no. 22), Grant (1890, no. 19), Bishop (1974, no. 54), Greenberg (1982, no. 57), Hallowell (1991, no. 58), Rogers (1981, no. 60), and Steinbring (1981, no. 63). Topics discussed are basically the same as for the previous two divisions noted above, but with reference to a different geographical location. The contemporary Ojibwa of the period from 1950 to the 1990s are best described in Hodgins (1989, no. 69), Johnson (1988, no. 70), LaDuke (1987, no. 71), Longclaws (1980, no. 72), Minore (1991, no. 73), Ross (1992, no. 74), and Shkilnyk (1985, no. 75). These documents focus on Ojibwa problems of adaptation to "modern" socie ty, such as in the development of native resources (e.g., land use), court litigation suites, community development, various social problems (e.g., drug and alcohol use, adolescent suicide), and labor organizations such as the marketing collectives, and education.

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in the file, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

The culture summary was written by Jennifer S.H. Brown in April 1997. The synopsis and indexing notes were written by John Beierle in January 1999. The Human Relations Area Files wishes to acknowledge with thanks the suggestions offered by Laura Peers on file organization and bibliographical selection.

Overview by

John Beierle

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