The Chippewa Tribes are part of the Ojibwe. Although the name seems to be used interchangeably, Chippewas are more commonly identified in the United States and Ojibwe are more commonly identified in Canada. The Chippewa is the third largest tribe in terms of population in the US today, behind the Cherokee and Navajo. The Chippewa, Ottawa and Pottawatami tribes are known as the Three Fires and were friendly with each other.
The Chippewa tribes were at one time on the east coast in the areas of present-day New England states. They moved westward into the areas around the Great Lakes when Europeans began settling along the coast. Today, their area stretches from Michigan to Montana. The Chippewa tribes have signed more than fifty treaties. Even though at one point, the US Goverment policy was Indian Removal, the Chippewa Tribes kept their lands in reservations where they were used to living.
Many of the Chippewa tribes throughout Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin are considered woodland tribes. Woodland Tribes are ones that are more hunter/gatherer than agricultural, but they do grow some produce. One of their main staples in their diets is the wild rice that they harvest. The Chippewa tribes in the Dakotas and Montana are Plains tribes, whose diet is centered around the buffalo.
The Chippewa warriors were known for conquering both the Iroquois and the Sioux, their natural enemies. The Chippewa also endeavored to conquer the Sauk/Sac and Fox tribes, who were forced west during the period of Indian Removal.
The Chippewa were known for their birch bark canoes, birch back scrolls, cowrie shells, wild rice and copper points. Once firearms reached them from the Europeans, they were also known for their technology with the firearms, particularly against the Sioux and Fox tribes.
Many of the birch back scrolls have been found, translated and relate details of events, songs, history, maps, memories, stories, geometry and mathematics. The pictographs that have been found have been well preserved and reveal much of the Chippewa way of life.
The Chippewa were able to maintain and obtain reservations in their traditional territories, although as part of the Indian Removal Act, the US Government did attempt to move the Chippewas west of the Mississippi River. The result is known as the Sandy Lake Tragedy. Several hundreds of Chippewa warriors died from starvation and the cold weather and public sympathy turned the tide for the Chippewas. The treaties resulting from this established the reservations in Wisconsin and Michigan.