The Anishinaabe (Anishinabewaki, Anishinabe, Anihšināpē, Nishnaabe, Neshnabé and Anishinabek) homelands cover a vast swath of territory in the Great Lakes and westward. They stretch from Georgian Bay on Lake Huron to the northwestern shores of Lake Superior. After the Iroquois Wars, however, the Anishinaabe population was most concentrated between Sault Ste. Marie and Michilimackinac. Three distinct peoples, the Ojibwe, the Odawa, and the Potawatomi make up the collective Anishinaabe, called the Council of Three Fires (Niswi-mishkodewin). The Ojibwe are the westernmost people of the Council of Three Fires, whose territory stretches from Sault Ste. Marie to western Lake Superior; at time of European contact they lived near prominent sturgeon fisheries and trade centres such as Grand Portage, Chequamegon, Kaministiquia, Nipigon, and Michipicoton.
In the mid-eighteenth century, the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Montréal-based North West Company expanded the fur trade into the Hudson Bay Watershed. Concurrently, in 1781-82, a continent-wide smallpox epidemic decimated half to two-thirds of the Cree and Assiniboine population of the Hudson Bay Watershed. Subsequently, the Ojibwe moved west into recently depopulated Cree and Assiniboine lands, which were fur and resource-rich. Moving into the Parkland and Prairies during the last decades of the eighteenth century, the Ojibwe lived among and intermarried with the Cree and Assiniboine who maintained their presence after the epidemics. Throughout much of their history on the Plains, the Ojibwe developed a Plains-oriented identity and way of life in tandem with their Cree and Assiniboine neighbors with whom they traded, intermarried, and fought against common enemies, particularly the Lakota and Gros Ventre. The Ojibwe, Cree, and Assiniboine formed strong allys and kinship with each other, Oji-Cree First Nation communities developed out of these partnerships and alliances.
- Saulteaux - Indigenous Saskatchewan Encyclopedia | University of Saskatchewan (usask.ca)
- The Ojibwe People | Historic Fort Snelling | Minnesota Historical Society
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