The Chippewas are one of the largest of the Algonquian tribes. The correct form of the name is Ojibwa. It signifies “to roast till puckered up” and had reference to the puckered seam in their moccasins, it being peculiar to the tribe, no others making the moccasin in that way.
The original territory occupied by this tribe bordered both shores of Lake Huron and Lake Superior, and extended westward to the Turtle Mountains, in North Dakota. This land was beyond and beside the trails and courses of the first settlers, and as a consequence the Chippewas were not embroiled in so many of the border wars as were other tribes less fortunately situated.
The Chippewas, as did many other Indian nations, became widely scattered as a result of the settlement of the country by Europeans. A number of small bands settled and remained about Lake St. Clair. The band on the Swan Creek of that lake came to be known as the Swan-Creek band. The Black River flows into Lake St. Clair, and the band living on that stream came to be called the Black-River band. By a treaty made May 9, 1836, these bands ceded their lands on the stream named, and were guaranteed a reservation west of the Mississippi of eight thousand three hundred and twenty acres. This tract was finally located a few miles west of Ottawa, in Franklin County, Kansas. Only a few families were settled on these lands. To these the whole reservation was given. By the terms of the treaty made July 16, 1859, the Munsee or Christian Indians were united with these Chippewas and made joint owners of the reservation. This band was composed of the Christian Indians of the Munsee tribe, and this tribe had had notice in our account of the Delawares. In the treaty of 1859 provision was made for allotment of lands in severalty. In the course of time this was done. In 1871 the surplus land was sold. The Chippewas then asked that they be permitted to sell all their lands and move to the Indian Territory. This was complied with, but the process was slow. It was 1901 before the transaction was completed and the Indians received the proceeds of the sales of their lands.
There was a Moravian mission among these Indians. Little was ever accomplished in the way of Christianizing the Chippewas, however. Their missionary once remarked that he had little hope of meeting any of them in heaven.
There were twenty-three clans among the Chippewas:
- Mud Turtle.
- Snapping Turtle.
- Little Turtle.
- Pigeon Hawk.
- Bald Eagle.
Additional Chippewa History