Ojibwa Native Americans in Olden Times for Kids and Teachers - Village Life Illustration

Daily Life in Olden Times
for Kids

Woodland Ojibwa
(Chippewa) Native Americans
How did they live?

Clans: Family 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.

No Names: 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.

Clan Names: Although the Ojibwa did not call each other by name, they did give each clan a name. Clans had animal or bird names.

Marriages: 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.

In the 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.

Government: There 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 children:

  1. You may not walk between an older person and the fire.

  2. You may not interrupt an older person who is talking.

  3. You may not laugh if something unusual happens.

  4. You may not go to the neighbors at mealtimes and look wistfully at their food.

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