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 written in.


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."





Who am I?

Index of Ojibwe (Anishinaabe/Chippewa) Authors online

Nancy Vogt,
September 1994. (Updated Oct. 1999)