The First People

100_7902Anishnabe, or ancestors of today’s Chippewa or Ojibwa, developed a variety of techniques to fish Kichigame (Lake Superior) and Bowating (rapids of the St. Mary’s River). Modern-day archaeological excavations have gathered evidence which indicates fishing was practices as long as 5,000 years ago, throughout the Great Lakes system, using methods such as netting, spearing, angling weirs, and gaffing. Copper ice spuds used to chop holes in the ice have been found, as well as stone net weights, copper fish hooks, copper spears, and copper gorges in sliver of copper was pointed at both ends, tied at midpoint with line, and wrapped with bait, when swallowed by a fish the gorge is pulled crosswise and lodged in the fish.

As many as 25,000 Anishnabe may have gathered along the shores of Bowating every spring to fish and to celebrate old friendships. The area’s resources could not support such a large group year round, so the Anishnabe split into family groups, travelling inland in the winter to hunt. Winter was a time for families to hunt and share stories, early spring families began to tap maple trees for sap to make into maple sugar, spring fishing, followed by summer gathering of plants and dance ceremonies, with fishing in the autumn season before the families once again, moved into the warmer inland areas.


I am old… but ever young. Gichi Piitis Gwa
Used… but ever abundant. Gastamaa Gwa Geyabii
Filled with life and alive Ge Yaabe Doo Gzhiiwis
With energy – today, as much as yesterday. Mina Maadis Gwa
Follow me now…
from a time when man
first knew me as friend
and provider.
Nasaab Gwa Jiinaagwa
Gii Noopanak Ntam Nini Gii Kendag
Wiijikiiwe Aawid Gii Naadmowak


100_8524Shoulder Pouch or Bandolier, Ojibway

The ceremonial bag, a large pocket with shoulder band was worn by the men. An Ojibwa wearing a beaded pouch is considered in full dress. Two pouches were often worn, one on each shoulder. About 1860 when beads became available in great quantities, the Ojibway began to decorate their pouches with al-over bead embroidery, using beads of many colors in large floral patterns.