Anishinaabeg Leadership, 1760-1845
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: University of Nebraska Press
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
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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 chiefsâ 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.
1. Power in the Anishinaabeg World
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When the creator Gichi-Manidoo made the universe, âthat oneâ 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 âthat oneâ brought into being. This act is the ultimate selfl ess gift, a use of the creatorâs power purely to benefi t others, and a gift so awesome that it can never be fully reciprocated.
2. Ogimaag: Hereditary Leaders
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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.
3. Mayosewininiwag: Military Leaders
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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.
4. Gechi-Midewijig: Midewiwin Leaders
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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.
5. The Contest for Chiefly Authority at Fond du Lac
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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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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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Page Count: 328
Illustrations: 1 illustration, 1 map, 1 table, 1 glossary
Publication Year: 2010