"The Bingo Van" Natives:
The Chippewa are also called the Ojibwe, Ojibwa, Ojibway, and Anishinabe, which means "original people" in the Chippewa language. Use of the word Chippewa actually stemmed from a mispronunciation of Ojibwe. Today Ojibwe is the most popular name for the Chippewa but many of the actual people of the Ojibwe tribe prefer Anishnabe (Bial 13). One of the largest Native American tribes, the Chippewa used to live in Manitoba, Michigan, Minnesota, Ontario, and Wisconsin. Many still live in these areas but on reservations (Lund 7). White Earth is Minnesota's largest Chippewa reservation (Osinski 39).
The Chippewa language is part of the great Algonquian family which is also spoken by the Abenaki, Arapaho, Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Delaware, Fox, and Shawnee (Bial 13). Their government used to be based on clans within bands (Lund 15). Each clan had a symbol better known as a totem from the Chippewa word ototeman. This totem was typically an animal and indicated the clan's original ancestor. Every clan in a band had a specific task they did like making canoes, tending cornfields, or gathering wood. Clans that still exist are the Bear, Catfish, Crane, Eagle, Goose, Loon Marten, Moose, Pike, Reindeer, Sturgeon, Sucker, and Whitefish (Bial 22-24).
A patrilineal society, Chippewa could not marry within their own clans (Bial 23). Traditionally, a married couple would live with the wife's family for one year before moving into their own home (Lund 11). These couples would rarely have more than two children (Bial 35).
Because the Chippewa believed names held power and did not want others to use them for nefarious purposes, they did not call each other by their birth names but instead by titles such as Aunt, Brother, and Grandmother (Lund 11).
The main grain for the Chippewa in the past and today is wild rice. Wild rice harvesters work in pairs. While one person guides the canoe through the water, the other person knocks the rice into the canoe. Some of the rice inevitably falls into the water too and these will provide the seeds for the next years harvest. Although the Chippewa were primarily hunters and gatherers, women often had small gardens where they planted things like corn, beans, squash, and potatoes to supplement their diets (Bial 44-50). Another staple to the Chippewa diet is maple sugar which was previously used to season most of their foods instead of salt (Osinski 20).
To get a taste of what the Chippewa ate, put two cups of water in a pot. Once it is boiling add one cup of wild rice, cover the pot and reduce the heat. This should simmer for about thirty minutes. When the rice is done it should be chewy. Drain the water from the rice and mix in a tablespoon of either maple syrup or maple sugar and mix well (Lund 22).
A more modern recipe is the Blueberry and Wild Rice Breakfast. For this you need one cup of cooked wild rice, half a cup of blueberries, two teaspoons of sugar, a quarter teaspoon or nutmeg, and half a cup or milk or cream. After dividing the rice and blueberries into two bowls sprinkle them with the sugar and nutmeg, then pour the milk or cream over each serving (Bial 57).
Traditionally the Chippewa spearfish and have continued that tradition to current times. However, at one point there was a state attempt to end spearfishing for fear of fish depopulation. The courts ruled in the Chippewa's favor to continue spearfishing. Following that, the Chippewa formed a group to monitor fish population to ensure there will always be fish (Lund 17).
Men and women bother typically wore moccasins and their clothing was made of animal skins. Usually men wore shirts, leggings, and sometimes breechcloths. Women would wear dresses and sometimes leggings underneath (Lund 9).
The building of wigwams was a joint effort of both sexes. Men would place and bend the poles, which provided the infrastructure of the round home, and women would then cover that with strips of bark and grasses. These wigwams were easy to pack up and move to new locations (Osinski 10-13).
The Chippewa made light and sturdy canoes with a white cedar frame covered with birthbark that they had sewn together with a type of spruce tree root that do not rot during the winter. Once this was all done the seems would then be covered in tree gum, usually from spruce or pine (Osinski 17-18).
An interesting type of artwork that the Chippewa used to make is called a dental pictograph. These are made by folding sheets of birchbark and then biting designs into them (Osinksi 15).
Like many other Native American tribes, the Chippewa religions is based on the belief in spirits like the Kitche Manitou or Great Spirit who the Chippewa would refer to as Grandfather (Bial 14). Other spirits that they prayed to were Mother Earth and the spirits that lived in the four cardinal directions (Osinski 29).
In matters of the afterlife, the Chippewa believed that after a person died their soul traveled for four days. At which point they would arrive in the land of spirits, "a beautiful country of clear waters and abundant game." There they would be reunited with all of their deceased relatives (Bial 43).
One of their most important legendary figures was Nanobozho who helped and taught the Chippewa how to survive and flourish. In Chippewa legend it is said that the daughter of the moon was tricked into leaving the sky world through the water where she ended up on earth. Pregnant at the time of trickery, she gave birth to a little girl who she later warned not to expose herself to the powerful west wind. When the girl grew up, however, she forgot about the warning. The west wind swept into her clothing and killed her when she stooped over. Her mother then found a baby boy next to the girl's body and raised him. This baby boy was Nanabozho (Brial 10-11).
One of Nanabozho's great feats was the creation of the very land we live on today. Observing the flooded words from high up in a tree, Nanabozho asked the animals to bring mud up from the bottom. The muskrat was the only creature to succeed and doing so cost him is life. Nanabozho then revived the muskrat and turned the retrieved mud into an island. Then he told the birds to fly around the island so that it would grow until it was big enough for humans to live on (Lund 21).
The Legend of Sleeping Bear honors a mother's love and dedication to her children. In a Wisconsin forest by Lake Michigan in a time before either had names Mother Bear lived with her two cubs. One night a fire started in the forest and all of the animals fled. To escape the flames Mother Bear and her cubs fled into the lake in the hopes of swimming to the other side. They swam, and swam, and swam and the cubs fells farther and farther behind their mother. At last Mother Bear reached the shore but her two cubs were no where in sight. She climbed to a high hill by the shore and sang for her cubs that would never come. Eventually, she fell asleep on the hill and the wind covered her with sand. In recognition of her sadness and love for her cubs, the Great Spirit sent a great gust of wind to raise the cubs from the lake to form North Manitou Island and South Manitou Island where Mother Bear can forever keep watch over them.
This is Mother Bear's song:
My children, as the years may pass,
and time slips through our hands,
my love will linger near the shore
and in the blowing sands.
I'll send you kisses in the wind
to let you know I'm here,
sleeping near the water's edge,
I am always near.
My children, you can rest assured,
that we are now together,
and I am watching over you,
and loving you forever.