Minnesota Native Americans call themselves the Anishinabe Tribe or Ojibwe Tribes. Learn a bit about the culture and legacy of the state's first inhabitants.
Minnesota Native Americans are almost exclusively either Ojibwe or Dakota with the Ojibwe tribes predominating. This reflects the balance of power that was achieved between them by the time the European settlers began to appropriate their lands.
The Dakota now have four reservations, all less than three acres.
The larger, Ojibwe tribes occupy seven reservations, none smaller than 48,000 acres.
Our culture and Minnesota history is closely tied to that of our first residents, the Minnesota Native American tribes. Many city, town, lake and other place names come from the Ojibwe or Dakotah language. Many of our best-loved foods and Minnesota recipes use foods that are traditional in the Native American community.
Minnesota is home to more bands of Ojibwe tribes or Anishinabe tribe than any other state. According to Ojibwe oral traditions they originally settled up and down the East Coast. Those who do not share this traditional view think it is more likely the Ojibwe lived next to Hudson's Bay and moved southward.
Minnesota Ojibwe culture is deeply ingrained in our family history. I spent many of my growing up years on Native American reservations. I lived on the Leech Lake reservation, the White Earth reservation and near the Red Lake reservation.
My pastor father taught at Mo-kah-um, the Indian school near Cass Lake. He also pastored churches in the reservation towns of Cass Lake, Ponsford and White Earth....all towns on, or near, Ojibwe reservations.
Most of my friends in those years were Ojibwe children and my best friend from those wonderful days is still one of my best friends.
My connections to the Ojibwe community meant that I grew up hearing many of the stories that are part of the Ojibwe oral traditions.
Interview With Paul Buffalo is the chronicle of the life of an Ojibwe man who lived in and around the Cass Lake area where I spent so many years. Timothy G. Roufs, University of Minnesota Duluth, is the author of this amazing document.
The Pond-Dakota Mission Park is a place where you can explore some of Minnesota's Native American history and the connection to early missionaries. Gideon and Samuel Pond worked with the Dakota people during the mid-nineteenth century teaching people to farm and interpeting the Bible and other works into the native languages. the Gideon and Agnes Pond House is a facinating look at early Minnesota life.
Other places to learn about Native Americans in Minnesota are the Minnesota History Museum in St. Paul, Mille Lacs Indian Musuem in Onamia and on the shore of Lake Mille Lacs, Pipestone National Monument and Jeffers Petroglyphs Historic Site both in southern Minnesota.
Minnesota Pow Wows and Events lists many kinds of Native American festivals, pow wows and other events that are open to the public.
That part of my history continues to inform my interest in Ojibwe art, Ojibwe history, culture and spirituality. There is a beautiful video that, I think, expresses much of what I feel and remember about that part of my life. It is not in Ojibwe, but the theme is one I deeply feel.