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The Decline of the Ojibwe People


By: Amanda Middlebrook
Mentor: Marika Kungla
For Essay sources go to Bibliography link

Historically, Canada as a whole is made up of many different cultures. People from all over the world have and continue to emigrate here and are proud to call Canada home. Before all this though, only a few native tribes lived in and around the country, the most significant being the Ojibwe. Canada has learned many lessons from the Ojibwe people and their culture. The Ojibwe have played a major part in our history, agriculture and art culture.

The history of the Ojibwe has greatly impacted Canada today. The first European settlers encountered the Ojibwe around the 1600s. The Ojibwe and the European alliance has taught co-operation. The Europeans and Ojibwe did this by trading their furs for goods. It is interesting to note that The Hudson Bay Trading Company began around this time, and is still running to this day. The tribe was helpful in transporting the settlers and helping set up trading posts. They knew their way around the land and taught the Europeans how to adjust to the Canadian winter climate. They fashioned snowshoes for walking on the snow and moved into the forest during the winter in order to keep warm. Sadly, the Ojibwe started to contract many diseases that the Europeans brought with them. Many of them died from a smallpox plague that claimed in some cases entire villages. The Ojibwe's knowledge of the land helped them to create herbal cures and salves for healing diseases and injuries. They used a sumac fruit made into a tea with crushed roots to stop bleeding. Today, some people still like to use herbal cures. Green tea is said to lower the risk of getting cancer. Ojibwe traditions have been passed on through the generations. While many live on reserves, they remain a proud people and continue to celebrate their traditional ways. A pow-wow is one cultural event where native tribes meet to dance, sing, socialize, and honour their native culture.

The Ojibwe have given Canada many new agricultural resources and techniques . Maple syrup is one of Canada's best known exports. The Ojibwe were the ones who first introduced this sweet substance that is now a part of almost every Canadian kitchen. To make maple syrup, the Ojibwe would carve holes in maple trees and collect the sap that would drip out of it. They would then boil the sap to make maple syrup or sugar. Today in early Spring Canada continues to carry the Ojibwe tradition of gathering and making maple syrup. Without the Ojibwe, maple syrup probably would not exist in our world today. The Ojibwe are known as hunters, gatherers and trappers. They were skilled hunters and they passed on their knowledge through their generations. They created utensils, storage containers and canoes out of birch bark. The Ojibwe would use canoes as a means of transportation of goods and people across lakes. Canoeing is now a leisurely activity enjoyed by people around the world.

Canada, specifically Ontario holds a variety of Ojibwe artifacts, from a huge totem pole at the Royal Ontario Museum in downtown Toronto, to a carving of a little bear at Whetung Art Gallery in Curve Lake Indian Reserve in Ontario. Ojibwe art is rich with stories of their culture and history within Canada. Ojibwe art tells stories and teaches us how Canada and their culture evolved. A great example of Ojibwe art and story telling is the totem pole. A totem pole can tell us many things about the Ojibwe like a family's kinship system, accomplishments, adventures, and rights.

Ojibwe history, agriculture and art culture have made a considerable imprint on Canadian society. Canada could not be what it is today without the Ojibwe and all that they have brought to our culture. In conclusion, Canada has learned many teachings from the Ojibwe people and their culture.

Ojibwe Painting by artist Norval Morisseau Title:Little Bird