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Minnesota Native Americans

The Anishinabe/Ojibwe Tribes/Lakota Tribe

Minnesota Native Americans

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 Lakota 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 larger, Ojibwe tribes occupy seven reservations, none smaller than 48,000 acres.

Ojibwe, Basic: Learn to Speak and Understand Ojibwe with Pimsleur Language Programs

Minnesota Native Americans

The Dakota Sioux now have four reservations, all less than three acres. Pipestone National Monument is a destination where you can observe the ancient craft of creating pipestone pipes from the pipestone quarry on this site.

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. Indian Fry Bread is popular across the state.

Native American quotes on our site include some from both the Ojibwe and Lakota traditions.

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.

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Minnesota  Native Americans

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, the Pine Point 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.

Minnesota Native Americans

The Pond-Dakota Mission Park, at 401 East 104th Street in Bloomington, 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 interpreting the Bible and other works into the native languages. the Gideon and Agnes Pond House is a fascinating look at early Minnesota life.

Other places to learn about Native Americans in Minnesota are the Minnesota History Museum in St. Paul, Grand Portage National Monument, Mille Lacs Indian Museum in Onamia and Pipestone National Monument and Jeffers Petroglyphs Historic Site both in southern Minnesota.

Many Minnesota state parks help us learn more about the history of native Minnesotans. These include Upper Souix Agency, and Blue Mounds state parks. 

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.


We are one people with three names. Those names are Chippewa, Ojibway and Anishinabe. Each name has it's own history and as best I can I will describe the differences and usage below. The following is based upon my research and my own cultural exposure and any errors or inconsistencies are my doing.

Chippewa "Chip-eh-wa"

The name Chippewa is the "official" name as recognized by the United States Government and is used on all treaties. As such, this name is often used when talking in an official matter, or informally to non-Indian people.

Ojibway "Oh-jib-way"

This name is the most popular and the most proper as given it was given by our enemies. We use this when talking with other Indian people or someone more familiar than the above "Chippewa". It has many different spellings; Ojibway, Odjibwa, Odjibwe, Ojibwag, Ochipoy, Tschipeway, Chepeways, Achipoes and others. There is some controversy over it's real meaning, but suffice it to say it means, "to pucker. "There are some that believe it is due to our puckered seam moccasins that were sewn that way to keep the snow out. There is another meaning too but I won't go into that here.

Anishinabeg "Ann-eh-shin-ah-beg"

This is the word that we call ourselves. Generally, it is reserved for Anishinabe people to refer to themselves, although there are some that would rather be known by this name. Actually, the Anishinabe are also people that live in our creation stories. They are the original people and were very weak.

One meaning is "original people as opposed to those other people who came later. "Another meaning is "Original people meaning creators, as opposed to those who cannot create". Connotations of the first meaning are that the "original people" came down from the sky.

Related Pages:

Native American Quotes

Ojibwe Tribes

Ojibwe Oral Traditions

Ojibwe Art

Anishinabe Tribe

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