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Anishinaabeg Leadership, 1760-1845

Cary Miller

Publication Year: 2010

Cary Miller’s Ogimaag: Anishinaabeg Leadership, 1760–1845 reexamines Ojibwe leadership practices and processes in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. At the end of the nineteenth century, anthropologists who had studied Ojibwe leadership practices developed theories about human societies and cultures derived from the perceived Ojibwe model. Scholars believed that the Ojibwes typified an anthropological “type” of Native society, one characterized by weak social structures and political institutions. Miller counters those assumptions by looking at the historical record and examining how leadership was distributed and enacted long before scholars arrived on the scene. Miller uses research produced by Ojibwes themselves, American and British officials, and individuals who dealt with the Ojibwes, both in official and unofficial capacities. By examining the hereditary position of leaders who served as civil authorities over land and resources and handled relations with outsiders, the warriors, and the respected religious leaders of the Midewiwin society, Miller provides an important new perspective on Ojibwe history.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press


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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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List of Illustrations

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p. vi


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p. vii

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pp. 1-19

Buffalo and Nodin were among the Ojibwe ogimaag, or chiefs, gathered at Snake River in the fall of 1837 in hopes of convincing President Martin Van Buren to reassess their recent treaty. Dutifully written down by American interpreters, the chiefs’ pronouncements were treated as ritually formulaic by American officials, who saw the ogimaag as the locus of power and decision-making authority in Ojibwe communities.

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1. Power in the Anishinaabeg World

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pp. 21-63

When the creator Gichi-Manidoo made the universe, “that one” imbued the manidoog beings and forces (defined in the introduction) with immortality, virtue, and wisdom and implanted them, to various degrees, into beings and objects.1 Gichi-Manidoo had a vivid vision of the universe, which “that one” brought into being. This act is the ultimate selfl ess gift, a use of the creator’s power purely to benefi t others, and a gift so awesome that it can never be fully reciprocated.

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2. Ogimaag: Hereditary Leaders

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pp. 65-112

Anishinaabe leadership arose from two sources: charismatic and hereditary. Charismatic individuals who led through demonstrated ability might lead war parties, emerge from the ranks of the Midewiwin, or direct the actions of hunting groups. These leaders are addressed in chapters 3 and 4. Before looking at such roles, we must examine the types of leadership embedded within Ojibwe social organization.

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3. Mayosewininiwag: Military Leaders

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pp. 113-146

The presence and assistance of the manidoog infused Anishinaabeg leadership and drew people to follow those whose benefi cial decisions refl ected extensive support from these very important and very revered spiritual kin. While the support of these beings was important for ogimaag, it was crucial for leaders like mayosewininiwag and gechi-midewijig whose authority rested on the ability to gain followers through demonstrated success and persuasion.

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4. Gechi-Midewijig: Midewiwin Leaders

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pp. 147-182

Religious leadership, like war leadership, provided another charismatic avenue to diffuse and consolidate power in Anishinaabeg communities. The Midewiwin, or Grand Medicine Society, the traditional religious organization of the Anishinaabeg to which most healers and other religious practitioners belonged, offered another opportunity to demonstrate expanded connections with manidoog assistance that helped the community to survive.

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5. The Contest for Chiefly Authority at Fond du Lac

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pp. 194-226

Anishinaabeg ogimaag did not claim coercive power, but they held important roles in mediating confl icts over the use of community resources, including fisheries, hunting grounds, maple sugar stands, and garden plots. European American fur traders and military offi cials had learned that when they wished to build in Native communities, they should make formal requests to the chief and council and present appropriate gifts on an annual basis.

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pp. 227-236

The Anishinaabeg of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries lived in a universe suffused with powerful manidoog that positively or negatively affected their daily lives at all levels, from subsistence to warfare to courting to politics. These manidoog became incorporated into Anishinaabeg lives through webs of reciprocal social relationships that extended the notion of kin far beyond biological relatives.


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pp. 237-274


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pp. 275-276


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pp. 277-293


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pp. 295-314

E-ISBN-13: 9780803234512
E-ISBN-10: 0803234511
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803234048
Print-ISBN-10: 080323404X

Page Count: 328
Illustrations: 1 illustration, 1 map, 1 table, 1 glossary
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 859671664
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Ogimaag

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Ojibwa Indians -- Politics and government -- 18th century.
  • Ojibwa Indians -- Politics and government -- 19th century.
  • Indian leadership -- Northeastern States -- History -- 18th century.
  • Indian leadership -- Northeastern States -- History -- 19th century.
  • Ojibwa Indians -- Kings and rulers -- History -- 18th century.
  • Ojibwa Indians -- Kings and rulers -- History -- 19th century.
  • Power (Social sciences) -- Northeastern States -- History -- 18th century.
  • Power (Social sciences) -- Northeastern States -- History -- 19th century.
  • Northeastern States -- Politics and government.
  • Northeastern States -- Ethnic relations.
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