was very important to the Ojibwa. Families were called clans. When a
baby was born, that child became a member of its mother's clan.
People were named after things in nature. But
the Ojibwa did not call each other by their names. Instead, they
called each other by their family name - Brother, Aunt, Grandmother.
It did not matter if you were a great-great Grandmother. You
would still be called Grandmother.
Names: Although the Ojibwa did not call each
other by name, they did give each clan a name. Clans had animal or
You were not allowed to marry someone from your own
clan. When two people married, the groom moved into the wife's family
wigwam for about a year. After that, the young couple built a wigwam
of their own.
Winter Camps: The
Ojibwa lived in various
camps throughout the year, gathering and storing food. It was only
in the summer that they lived in villages.
Summer Villages: In
summer, the Ojibwa gathered together in bands of 400 or 500 people.
The frames of their wigwams
were arranged in a circle with an open space in the center of the
circle. No one owned the frames. When an Ojibwa family arrived at a
summer village, one of the first things they did was to select a frame
from whatever frames were still available. They wrapped a covering of
hide around it. Then they covered the hide with bark. That was their
home for the summer.
Village life was fun for everyone. Families had
just left a long period of isolation, and suddenly, there were people
everywhere they looked. The Ojibwa might return to the same village
each summer, or they might travel and join with another location. But
all the Ojibwa people knew the locations of the meeting places.
summer, they gathered wild berries and vegetables and fruits. They ate
meat and fish as available. They carried some food with them. Each
family cooked their own meal except on special occasions.
was little government. There was little to no crime. Children were
taught good manners. Still, people did not always behave perfectly. Grandfather's
night messages went a long way in correcting those who did not
behave in a proper way.
Ojibwa Manners: Children
were taught bravery, patience, and self control from the time they
were born. Here are some of the things the Ojibwa taught their
You may not walk between an older person and
You may not interrupt an older person who is
You may not laugh if something unusual
You may not go to the neighbors at mealtimes
and look wistfully at their food.