Ojibwa - Orientation

Identification. The Ojibwa are a large American Indian group located in the northern Midwest in the United States and south-central Canada. "Ojibwa" means "puckered up," a reference to the Ojibwa style of moccasin. The Ojibwa name for themselves is "Anishinabe," meaning "human being."

Location. Aboriginally, the Ojibwa occupied an extensive area north of Lakes Superior and Huron. A geographical Expansion beginning in the seventeenth century resulted in a four-part division of the Ojibwa. The four main groups are the Northern Ojibwa, or Saulteaux; the Plains Ojibwa, or Bungee; the Southeastern Ojibwa; and the Southwestern Chippewa. At the end of the eighteenth century the Northern Ojibwa were located on the Canadian Shield north of Lake Superior and south and west of Hudson and James bays; the Plains Ojibwa, in southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba; the Southeastern Ojibwa, on the lower peninsula of Michigan and adjacent areas of Ontario; and the Southwestern Chippewa, in northern Minnesota, extreme northern Wisconsin, and Ontario between Lake Superior and the Manitoba border. The Canadian Shield country is a flat land of meager soil and many lakes and swamps. The country of the Plains Ojibwa is an environment of rolling hills and forests dominated by oak, ash, and whitewood. The homeland of the Southeastern Ojibwa and the Southwestern Chippewa, also a country of rolling hills, includes marshy valleys, upland prairie, rivers and lakes, and forests of maple, birch, poplar, oak, and other deciduous species. Throughout the region, winters are long and cold and summers short and hot.

Demography. The Ojibwa are one of the largest American Indian groups north of Mexico. In the mid-seventeenth Century they numbered at least 35,000, perhaps many more. Today the Ojibwa who are located in Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan in Canada and Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, and Oklahoma in the United States, number about 160,000; the majority of them live in the Canadian provinces.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Ojibwa languages are classified in the Algonkian language family.

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