Ojibwa - Picture Messages Illustration

Daily Life in Olden Times
for Kids

Woodland Ojibwa
(Chippewa) Indians
Picture Messages

 
 

With all this coming and going, and moving camps, the Ojibwa needed a way to communicate. They did not write words. Instead, they used picture language. The Ojibwa could tell a whole story in a few quickly drawn pictures. The Ojibwa people could read the stories as easily as you and I read words.

This picture means "bear dead"
This picture means "bear alive"

As families traveled, they left messages for each other in the form of pictures. Some of those messages simply said, "Hi there. We passed this way. See you soon at the summer camp." Other messages were more serious. They told of danger ahead.

There is a legend about an Ojibwa family on their way to their maple sugar camp. They spotted a message someone had left - a picture on a piece of wood. The picture showed three canoes of people, camped for two days, at a place not far away, a place they recognized. There were three men in the picture. Two had guns. Grateful for the message someone had left, the family did not stop at their maple syrup camp. Instead, they moved quickly down the river and traveled to another maple syrup camp, one they had not used in several years.

Symbol Stories


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