Lake Superior Chippewa

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History[edit | edit source]

Lake Superior is a special place for the Lake Superior Chippewa. According to tradition the Chippewas migrated from the east coast to Lake Superior. After reaching the eastern shores of Lake Superior they may have agreed to distribute land among themselves. One branch moved to southern Michigan. They are the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan. They are also known as the Sac and Sauk.

Another branch moved west into what is now the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Included among them are the Menominee Indians. They also colonized northern Wisconsin and Minnesota. Either the Chippewas from northern Wisconsin or southern Michigan are believed to have colonized southern Wisconsin.

Another branch moved to the northern shores of Lake Superior which the Chippewa call Gitchi Gami. They were not as numerous as the Chippewas from the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Their totems were largely non military but that changed after the whites began to move into the area. It is believed that the Cree Indians lived north of the Chippewas who lived north of Lake Superior. Hudson Bay Company kept details about the Indians in that region. They indicated that the Cree did not use totems or clans. If that information is correct it means the Cree are not Algonquian. All Algonquians used totems or clans. We do know the Swampy Cree or James Bay Cree and Woodland Cree, used totems or clans. The James Bay Cree are obviously Chippewa.

They did not migrate to the Lake Superior region in the 1500s. Ojibway authors from the 19th century wrote of the Chippewas forcing their way east from the west. George Copway wrote that the Chippewas from the Minnesota region colonized the land east of Lake Superior and north of Lake Huron, around 1634 and 1635. They had to fight the Lakota who contested the Chippewa military advance into those lands.

William W. Warren wrote that the Chippewas waged a war against the Lakota of Minnesota in the early 17th century. Warren learned the Chippewas counted one generation as being 40 years. Either the Chippewas were forcing their way east from North Dakota or even Montana, west to Lake Superior, or an unknown event has been lost which could have provided the details of this Chippewa military advance to the east. Warren also wrote that the Chippewas forced their way to the east from the west.

Of the Chippewa Districts, the Lake Superior Chippewa District may have been the oldest. On the west was the Pembina Band of Chippewa Indians District. To their northwest was the Saulteaux Indians District and to the west of the Pembina Chippewa's District was the Little Shell Band of Chippewa Indians, Montana District.

Throughout the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, the Lake Superior Chippewa's were constantly at war against the whites and their Indian allies. By the late 19th century and early 20th century, they had signed treaties with Canada and the United States, which ceded land and established Reservations.

Brief History[edit | edit source]

16th century:

It is believed that the first contact with the whites probably happened in Quebec. It was not a peaceful meeting and there was ever increasing resistance to the continuing settlement of whites into lands that had been owned by the native Americans in the past. In either the 1530s or 1540s, the Dutch and French established trading posts in Quebec and New York. They were destroyed and the whites forced to leave the area.

17th century:

Very early in the 17th century Europeans began to settle the eastern lands of North America. They were Dutch, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedes and English.

These early settlers formed alliances with non Algonquian Indians and launched a military campaign around 1629. From Florida to Quebec, the white confederation and their Indian allies had driven the eastern Chippewa's to near Lake Michigan. However, the Lake Superior Chippewas were reinforced with large numbers of Chippewa soldiers from the west. They eventually drove the European settlers and their Indian allies back towards the Atlantic Coast.

18th century:

By the 1760s, European settlers were making their way westward. England and France constructed trading posts inland from Hudson Bay in 1774. After the Battle of Fallen Timbers, the leaders of the Lake Superior Chippewa agreed to accept peace and cede land. Thus began the questionable "legal" but rarely "moral" acquisition of land by the white settlers and the US government. This time was a time of increasing turmoil between the white settlers and the native Americans as each was determined to gain or hold on to lands previously held. Native Americans, being outnumbered and out-gunned, were eventually defeated and moved (often only by force and with little to no thought to their safety or well-being) to reservation lands. (See:Trail of Tears The reservation land was usually land that no one else wanted and subsequently the native Americans suffered, and continue to suffer to this present time. This period of time in our American history has left negative memories for the indigent people who were here for centuries before the arrival of the Europeans.

Reservations[edit | edit source]

Grand Portage Reservation

Fond du Lac Reservation

Bad River Reservation

Red Cliff Reservation

Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation

Lac du Flambeau Reservation

St. Croix Reservation

Menominee Reservation

Stockbridge-Munsee Reservation

Sokaogan Reservation

Forest County Reservation

Ho-Chunk Reservation

Oneida Reservation (Wisconsin)

Hannahville Reservation

L'Anse Reservation

Ontonagon Reservation

Keweenaw Bay Reservation

Sault Ste. Marie Reservation




Serpent River


Brunswick House

Chapleau 74A

Chapleau 75



Pic Mobert

Pic River

Pays Plat

Red Rock

Fort William

Lac Des Mille Lacs


Gull Bay

Animbigoo Zagaigan

Bingwi Neyashi

Biinjitiwabik Zaging

Long Lake 58


Constance Lake


Additional References to the History of the Tribe[edit | edit source]

Tribal Headquarters[edit | edit source]

Records[edit | edit source]

Treaties[edit | edit source]

Important Websites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]