Ojibwa - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. In the summer when they gathered in their villages, the aboriginal and early historic Ojibwa fished, collected wild nuts and berries, and planted small gardens of maize, beans, squash, and pumpkins. In some areas wild rice was harvested in the fall. In the winter the bands dispersed and moved to hunting grounds where they subsisted on deer, moose, bear, and a variety of small game. In the spring maple sap was gathered and boiled to produce maple syrup. By the late 1600s, the Ojibwa were heavily involved in the exchange of mink, muskrat, beaver, and other animal pelts for European trade goods. Among the Southeastern Ojibwa and the Southwestern Chippewa this subsistence pattern persisted, but with a greater emphasis on wild rice harvesting among the latter and more intensive farming among the former. Among the Plains Ojibwa bison and bison hunting became the basis of life. The Northern Ojibwa fished, gathered wild foods, and hunted game and waterfowl, but were beyond the environmental range of wild rice and the sugar maple, and so the exploitation of those resources was not part of their subsistence pattern.

Industrial Arts. Birchbark was a multipurpose resource for most of the Ojibwa, providing the raw material for canoes, lodge coverings, and storage and cooking containers. Various types of wood were used for snowshoes, canoe frames, lacrosse racquets, bows and arrows, bowls, ladles, flutes, drums, and fishing lures. Among the Plains Ojibwa bison were the principal source of raw materials for clothing, shelter, and tools.

Trade. Aboriginally, furs and maple sugar were traded to the Huron for maize and tobacco. After becoming involved in the European fur trade Ojibwa traders made annual treks to Quebec and later to Montreal to trade furs for blankets, firearms, liquor, tools, kettles, and clothing. As trading posts were established by the French at Detroit and other closer points the distance of the trading expeditions was gradually reduced. Fur trapping and trading remained an important source of income among the Northern Ojibwa until the mid-twentieth century.

Division of Labor. Men and women shared responsibility for numerous economic activities, such as fishing and trapping, and sometimes cooperated in the same tasks, such as canoe construction. Men's labor focused on hunting, trapping, and trading, and women's labor was most concerned with processing hides, making clothes, preparing food, caring for children, and collecting plant foods and firewood.

Land Tenure. With the development of the European fur trade, bands tended to exploit a particular hunting and trapping territory. Gradually, these vaguely defined areas evolved into territories in which hunting and trapping groups had exclusive rights over fur resources.

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Apr 16, 2012 @ 8:08 am
Cool article! I learned a lot. I really enjoyed the part about the Ojibwe and their historic lifestyle!
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Oct 26, 2012 @ 5:17 pm
Thanks for the informative article! Really helped me with my work. Great job!
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Nov 4, 2012 @ 6:18 pm
This article is really informative and helpful, through it lacked information about divisons of labour!
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Feb 5, 2013 @ 2:14 pm
This is pretty cool considering i am bored and doing presentation on the ojibwa! Thanks!
The _Helix
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Mar 24, 2014 @ 10:10 am
The article really helped alot with my project on the ojibway! Thanks!
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May 19, 2015 @ 8:20 pm
This helped me ALOT, I got lots of info on Ojibwa Trading with Europeans!
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Oct 1, 2015 @ 12:12 pm
How do you pronounce these words Ojibwe, Ojibwa, Algonquin, and Huron
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May 10, 2016 @ 1:13 pm
Great article! Im Interested In Finding Out What Happened To The Ojibwa After The Fur Trade Plz Make Another Article About That.
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Mar 29, 2019 @ 1:13 pm
thanks for helping us with our project with the ojibwa
Nico Yazawa
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May 15, 2019 @ 1:13 pm
This article isn't the best...it could use some more info. Nico out!

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