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Ojibwe in Minnesota

Anton Treuer

Publication Year: 2010

With insight and candor, noted Ojibwe scholar Anton Treuer traces thousands of years of the complicated history of the Ojibwe people—their economy, culture, and clan system and how these have changed throughout time, perhaps most dramatically with the arrival of Europeans into Minnesota territory. Ojibwe in Minnesota covers the fur trade, the Iroquois Wars, and Ojibwe-Dakota relations; the treaty process and creation of reservations; and the systematic push for assimilation as seen in missionary activity, movernment policy, and boarding schools. Treuer also does not shy away from today’s controversial topics, covering them frankly and with sensitivity—issues of sovereignty as they influence the running of casinos and land management; the need for reform in modern tribal government; poverty, unemployment, and drug abuse; and constitutional and educational reform. He also tackles the complicated issue of identity and details recent efforts and successes in cultural preservation and language revitalization. A personal account from the state’s first female Indian lawyer, Margaret Treuer, tells her firsthand experience of much change in the community and looks ahead with renewed cultural strength and hope for the first people of Minnesota.

Published by: Minnesota Historical Society Press

Series: People of Minnesota

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Ojibwe in Minnesota

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pp. 1-4

Pipest one drum group is singing at the Cass Lake powwow. High, powerful melody fills the air. Drumsticks pound in unison, igniting the rhythm of the dancers. Throngs of native and nonnative spectators surround the singers...

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Ojibwe Origins and Migration to Minnesota

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pp. 5-11

Cultures and languages change far faster than most people realize. If you’ve ever tried to read Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, you realize that the English language as it was written six hundred years ago is barely discernible to a literate English speaker today...

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The Ojibwe Fur-trade Era, 1640–1820

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pp. 11-17

When James Fenimore Cooper wrote The Last of the Mohicans, he did a lot more than write a popular white love story with an Indian background. He created a common adage for American understandings of Indian history...

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Ojibwe-Dakota Relations

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pp. 17-23

During the fur-trade era and into the 1800s, Ojibwe relations with the neighboring Dakota were far more important than their relationships with the French, British, or Americans. Although historians tend to emphasize conflict between the two tribes...

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Treaties and Reservations

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pp. 23-40

Ojibwe lives changed dramatically between their migration from the Atlantic and their settlement of northern Minnesota. But the pace and nature of change accelerated beyond anyone’s imagining once Americans arrived in the region. From 1819 to 1825, the U.S. Army built the first white settlement...

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The Indian New Deal

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pp. 40-43

When John Collier assumed control of the Bureau of Indian Affairs during the Great Depression, he engineered the most substantial change in U.S. Indian policy to date. The bia went from being the supervisory agency that oversaw all Indian matters in the country to being an advisory agency that empowered and assisted tribes in their dealings with the U.S. government...

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What Sovereignty Means

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pp. 43-54

The underpinnings of tribal sovereignty, treaty rights, and modern casino development are all deeply embedded in American law, which makes them paradoxically very well documented but poorly understood by most Americans. The U.S. Constitution has only two sections that pertain directly to Indians...

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Indian Gaming

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pp. 54-60

In addition to treaty rights, tribes have discovered and tested other critical areas of the law to their benefit. In Bryan v. Itasca County (1976), Ojibwe Indians Helen and Russell Bryan successfully proved that they should not be subject to state or county tax on their mobile home. The mobile home was on land held in federal trust for the Leech Lake Reservation...

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Community, Activism, and the Ojibwe in Minnesota

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pp. 60-67

The Ojibwe became U.S. citizens in 1924 with passage of the Indian Citizenship Act. In Minnesota, the Anishinaabe gained the right to vote shortly thereafter, within the living memory of many Ojibwe people today. In spite of that notable development, most Ojibwe saw themselves...

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Fighting Dysfunction

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pp. 67-74

In discussing the problems that Ojibwe communities face, many journalists, historians, and politicians have lost sight of the wonderful things about Indian country — resilient, surviving language and culture, authentic spiritual connection, a sense of community, sovereign power, and survival...

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Revitalizing Language and Culture

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pp. 74-81

Language and culture loss is one of the biggest concerns in Ojibwe country today. There are fewer than one thousand Ojibwe speakers in the United States, and nearly all of them reside in Minnesota. The statistics in the following sidebar are estimates and include community members displaced or living outside of their original communities. There are fewer than one hundred fluent Ojibwe speakers...

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Personal Account: Reflections by Margaret Treuer

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pp. 82-84

When I was growing up in the 1950s, nobody had jobs. We had to kill rabbits, partridge, and deer. And we had to poach a lot of our deer because the tribe didn’t have a tribal hunting season. The tribe got our hunting rights affirmed in the 1970s. Before that, we were on our own. And wild rice. We really ate a lot of rice. I remember asking my mom why I always ...

Suggestions for Further Reading

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pp. 85-86


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pp. 87-96


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pp. 97-101

Picture Credits

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pp. 102-103

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pp. 104

Minnesotans can trace their families and their state’s heritage to a multitude of ethnic groups. The People of Minnesota series tells each group’s story in a compact, handsomely illustrated, and accessible paperback. Readers will learn about the group’s accomplishments, ethnic organizations, settlement patterns, and occupations...

E-ISBN-13: 9780873517959
E-ISBN-10: 0873517954
Print-ISBN-13: 9780873517683
Print-ISBN-10: 0873517687

Page Count: 112
Illustrations: 50 b&w illustrations
Publication Year: 2010

Edition: 1
Series Title: People of Minnesota

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Subject Headings

  • Ojibwa Indians -- Minnesota -- Social conditions.
  • Ojibwa Indians -- Minnesota -- History.
  • Ojibwa Indians -- Minnesota -- Social life and customs.
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