Ojibwe Language and Culture
by Nancy Vogt
Welcome to Ojibwe language and culture. This is not meant to
include a complete dictionary or tutorial to learn the language,
or to be the final word on cultural issues but I hope it will be
a pleasant and interesting introduction.
You may be more familiar with the name Chippewa or the spelling
Ojibway. They are all the same tribe. The name Chippewa
originated as a mispronunciation. The "ji" (especially in
Canada) has a hard sound very similar to "ch" and when spoken
quickly, the "O" is almost silent. The spelling Ojibway leads
English speakers to the correct pronunciation (almost "chipway"
up north, softer sounds in the south).The spelling Ojibwe is more
correct to the system that the Ojibwe language is generally
The Ojibwe territory was at first farther north into Canada, but
as French settlers came the Ojibwe people moved farther south and
west pushing the Sioux (Lacota, Dakota and Nakota people) south
also. Now most Ojibwe people live in southern Canada and in the
north central United States. The people are of the woodland
tribes, traditionally living off of hunting and trapping woodland
animals, gardening and harvesting wild rice and berries.
They used birch bark as their main building material for canoes,
storage containers and to shingle their houses.
They did not use horses or hunt buffalo.
About a year ago, I was teaching a unit on Native Americans to
some kindergartners. I asked first if they had any special
questions. One little boy slowly raised his hand. I called on
him and he asked (in a way that showed he was not sure he should
ask this because maybe it's something everybody else knows or he
should already know, but he really wanted to know the answer),
"Are there any left?" he said. "Indians?" I asked. "Yeah" he
said in a very serious, curious tone. "What do the rest of you
think?" I asked the others. There were mixed answers. "Yes," I
said, "there are a lot of Indians left."
Index of Ojibwe (Anishinaabe/Chippewa) Authors online
- Kimberley Blaeser
- kateri akiwenzie-damm
- Louise Erdrich
- Lee Francis
- Winona LaDuke
- Jim Northrup
- Armand Garnet Ruffo
- Denise Sweet
- Drew Hayden Taylor
- Mark Turcotte
- and Gerald Vizenor.
September 1994. (Updated Oct. 1999)