Chippewa Tribe

Chippewa (Objiwe) Plains Indian

The Chippewa (Ojibwe) Tribe
Summary and Definition: The Chippewa tribe are also referred to as the Ojibwe, Ojibway or Ojibwa in Canada. The Chippewa (Objiwe) tribe originally occupied a vast tract of lands around Lake Huron and Lake Superior and south in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota when their lifestyle was of the Northeast woodland cultural group. They were hunters, fishers and farmers. Their fierce, warlike reputation and their sheer numbers made the Chippewa one of the most feared tribes. They extended their territories across a massive are and many adopted the lifestyle of the buffalo hunters of the Great Plains.

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Facts about the Chippewa Native Indian Tribe
This article contains fast, fun facts and interesting information about the Chippewa Native American Indian tribe. Find answers to questions like where did the Chippewa tribe live, what clothes did they wear and what food did they eat? Discover what happened to the Chippewa tribe with facts about their wars and history. The item known as the Dreamcatcher originated with the Chippewa (Objiwe) tribe.

What was the lifestyle and culture of the Chippewa tribe?
The warlike Chippewa tribe were the largest and most powerful tribe in the Great Lakes area. The French established New France in the 1600's and established trading links with the Chippewa who they referred to as the Sauteux. Like most of the Algonquian speaking tribes they became strong allies of the French fighting against the English and the tribes of the powerful Iroquois Confederacy. The Chippewa expanded their territories to control most of lower Michigan and southern Ontario. Successes in tribal warfare and increased trade led them to expand their lands still further. Many of the people settled on the Great Plains. The Chippewa tribe adapted to their changing environment adopting different lifestyles and cultures during their migration. In 1769 the Chippewa formed a confederacy known as "The Three Fires" with the Ottawa and Potawatomi tribes aimed at forcing the Peoria tribe from the Illinois River. In 1785 the Chippewa  joined the Western Confederacy that consisted of a league of many different tribes including the Potawatomi, Ottawa, Shawnee, Delaware, Kickapoo, Huron and the Seneca tribes. The goal of the Western Confederacy was to keep the Ohio River as a boundary between Native American lands and the United States. There were no wars between the Americans and Chippewa after 1815 and the majority of the Chippewa remained in their homelands in the United States and Canada.

What language did the Chippewa tribe speak?
The Chippewa tribe spoke in a related dialect of the Algonquian language. The Algonquian name for them 'Ojibway' was later corrupted by the English as "Chippewa". Their name means "Original Men" in their own language, other meanings of their name were said to mean 'people of the puckered moccasin'.  They were known to the French as the Sauteux or Saulteurs meaning "People of the Falls", in reference to the place of their residence about Sault Ste. Marie on the St. Marys River in Ontario, Canada. The a name still applied to them by the French Canadian. 

Picture of the Chippewa (Objiwe) Native Indian Chief - Sha-co-pay
The above picture depicts Sha-co-pay, meaning  "Six", who was a distinguished chief of the Plains Chippewa. It was painted by the famous artist George Catlin (1796-1872) at Fort Union in 1832. George Catlin described the chief as a huge, proud man. His buckskin shirt is beautifully embroidered and painted with symbols representing his battles and his life. His hair is decorated with eagle feathers and hair pipes and he wears a beaded choker necklace that was unique to the Chippewa (Ojibwe) and Cree tribes of the northern plains. Chief Sha-co-pay was a great warrior and his battle trophies in the form of small scalp locks taken from his enemies - refer to practise of Taking Scalps in Indian Warfare.


Where did the Chippewa tribe live?
The Chippewa were originally people of the Northeast Woodland Native American cultural group. The location of their original tribal homelands are shown on the map.  The geography of the region in which they lived dictated the lifestyle and culture of the Chippewa tribe.

  • The Chippewa originally lived in the western area of the Great Lakes and in Canada. They migrated to Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa and Missouri but then continued to move even further south and to the west to the Great Plains

  • The geography of the region in which they lived dictated the lifestyle and culture of the Chippewa tribe

  • Climate: The climate varied according to the location of the tribe

Map showing Northeast Woodland location - Chippewa tribe

Map showing location of the Northeast or
Eastern Woodland Indians Cultural Group and the Chippewa (Objibwe) tribe


Chippewa Objiwe Native Indian with full headdress

What clothes did the Chippewa wear?
The pictures on this page show a variety of the different types of clothes worn by the Chippewa tribe that were dictated by climate and customs. The Chippewa wore breechcloths in the summer and in cold climates they wore fringed, decorated tunics, high moccasins and leggings and turbans of soft fur. The women wore wraparound skirts or buckskin dresses. Warm robes or cloaks were also worn to protect against the rain and the cold. Clothes were decorated and colored with red, blue, yellow and green dyes. The George Catlin picture depicts a Chippewa warrior called 'A-wun-ne-wa-be', meaning "Bird of Thunder". He is wearing the full regalia of a Plains Indian with a magnificent feather war bonnets with a long trailer of feathers that was worn as a symbol of honor and accomplishment. The war bonnet consisted of a band decorated with eagle feathers, ermine fur and beadwork with feathers trailing to the floor.


Chippewa Canoes
The Chippewa men were skilled fishermen and boat builders. The Chippewa who had lived around the Great Lakes built Birchbark canoes for hunting and trading expeditions and for transportation of their war parties. The Chippewa stripped the paper-like bark from the trees. The birch bark was stretched over a strong, lightweight, wooden frame to make a birch bark canoe that could be easily manoeuvred and steered. The ribs of the canoe were made of strong hickory, cut into long, flat pieces, and bent to the shape of the boat. The Chippewa (Objiwe)  birch bark canoes measured about seven metres long and one metre wide and could carry four or five men and about 91 kilograms of cargo. The light, speedy birchbark canoe was perfect for travel along fast streams, rivers and shallow waters and were also sturdy enough for rough waters. The picture by George Catlin depicts a canoe race held by the tribe.

Chippewa (Objiwe) Canoes

Chippewa canoe race


Chippewa Tribe: Picture of a wigwam

What did the Chippewa tribe live in?
The Chippewa tribe lived in lived in several different types of shelters, the most common being the
Wigwam, a form of temporary shelter that was used by Algonquian speaking tribes who lived in the northeastern woodland regions. Wigwams were small cone-shaped houses with an arched roof made from wooden frames that were covered with sheets of birchbark and woven mats that were held in place by ropes or strips of wood. 

Chippewa wigwams were also covered with buffalo hides when they migrated to the Great Plains. Wigwams were usually about 8-10 feet tall and 10 - 15 feet wide at the base.

What food did the Chippewa tribe eat?
The food that the Chippewa tribe ate depended on the natural resources that were available to them in the locations that they lived in.

  • The food of the Chippewa Northeast Woodland people were fish and small game including squirrel, deer, raccoon, bear and beaver. Corn, squash, beans and pumpkin were also available

  • The food of the Chippewa people who inhabited the Great Plains region was predominantly buffalo but also they also hunted deer, bear and wild turkey. Their diet was supplemented with roots and wild fruit and vegetables

What weapons did the Chippewa use?
The weapons used by the Chippewa (Ojibwe) tribe included bows and arrows, a variety of different clubs including the Bird Head club, hatchet axes, spears, lances and knives. The rifle was added to their weapons with the arrival of the European traders.

Chippewa History: What happened to the Chippewa tribe?
The following Chippewa history timeline details facts, dates and famous landmarks of the people. The Chippewa timeline explains what happened to the people of their tribe.

Chippewa History Timeline

  • 1600s: The Chippewa (Ojibewe) tribe lived in the northern Great Lakes Region and numbered over 100,000.

  • 1600's: New France' was established in the area of the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes. New France was divided into five colonies of Canada, Acadia, Hudson Bay, Newfoundland and Louisiana

  • 1600's: Canadian French fur traders establish trading links with the Chippewa

  • 1634: A devastating epidemic of smallpox are spread by the Europeans.

  • 1640: The Beaver Wars (1640 - 1701), also called the French and Iroquois Wars, were fought by tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy against the French and their Indian allies who included the Chippewa

  • 1670: Hudson Bay Company is formed establishing significant fur trading in Lake Superior region

  • 1687: The Chippewa expanded to the south, east and west.

  • 1688: The French and Indian Wars (1688-1763) begin marking the outbreak of King William's War (1688-1699) and the Chippewa remain allies of the French

  • 1696: Price of furs begin to fall

  • 1701: The Chippewa controlled most of lower Michigan and southern Ontario.

  • 1702: Queen Anne's War (1702-1713) and the tribe fight with the French

  • 1712: The First French Fox War (17121716) began and the Chippewa join the French to fight their mortal enemies, the Fox tribe

  • 1737: The Dakota uprising against the French. The Chippewa fight with the French.

  • 1744: King George's War (1744 - 1748)

  • 1754: French Indian War (1754 - 1763), also known as the 7 year war, was the fourth and final series of conflicts in the French and Indian Wars fought between the British and the French. Both sides were aided by Native Indian allies

  • 1763: French and Indian War ends in victory for the British ending the colony of New France

  • 1763: The outbreak of Pontiac's War (17631766) in which Native American tribes resisted British settlement of the Great Lakes region

  • 1769: The Ottawa, Chippewa and Potawatomi form the 'Three Fires' confederacy and force the Peoria tribe from the Illinois River.

  • 1775: The War of Independence (17751783) - the  Chippewa fought the British and their colonies during the
    Revolutionary War

  • 1785: The Western Confederacy was formed consisting of many different tribes who aimed to keep the Ohio River as a boundary between Native Indian lands and the United States

  • 1785: Little Turtle's war (17851795), aka the Northwest Indian War, erupted

  • 1785: The Fort McIntosh treaty was the first between the Chippewa and the United States

  • 1787: The 1787 ordinance of Congress organized the North-western Territory, out of which the States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin were eventually formed, creating hostility with the tribes of the Great Lakes and beyond

  • 1790: Harmar's defeat. General Josiah Harmar attempted to subdue Native Indians in the Northwest Territory but was defeated by a tribal coalition, including the Chippewa, led by Little Turtle and Blue Jacket

  • 1791: Battle of the Wabash on November 4, 1791. Chief Little Turtle and Chief Blue Jacket led 1,000 warriors to a great victory battle against Major General Arthur St. Clair's 1,400 federal troops

  • 1794: Battle of Fallen Timbers on August 20, 1794. Major General Anthony Wayne defeated Little Turtle and the coalition of Native Indians including the Chippewa

  • 1795: The Treaty of Greenville ended Little Turtle's war and Native Indian tribes were forced to cede much of present-day Ohio and Indiana to the United States

  • 1800's: Conflicts erupt between settlers and Native Indians including the Illinois, Iroquois, Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi, Kickapoo, Miami, Shawnee, Sauk and Fox tribes throughout the 1800's

  • 1811: Tecumseh's War (18111813). The Chippewa join the Shawnee chief Tecumseh in an attempt to reclaim Indian lands

  • 1815: There were no wars and few confrontations between the Americans and Ojibwe after 1815

  • 1830: The Indian Removal Act of 1830  and many of the Chippewa tribe move north to Canada

Chippewa History Timeline


  • Interesting Facts and information about the way the Chippewa people lived
  • The clothes worn by Chippewa men and women
  • Description of the homes and the type of food the Chippewa would eat
  • Fast Facts and info about the Chippewa tribe
  • Interesting Homework resource for kids on the history of the Chippewa Native American Indians

Pictures and Videos of Native American Indians and their Tribes
The Chippewa Tribe was one of the most famous tribes of Native American Indians. Discover the vast selection of pictures on the subject of the tribes of Famous Native Americans such as the Chippewa nation. The pictures show the clothing, war paint, weapons and decorations of various Native Indian tribes, such as the Chippewa tribe, that can be used as a really useful educational resource for kids and children of all ages. We hope you enjoy watching the video - just click and play - a great social studies homework resource for kids .


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