The Ojibwa of Southern Ontario

The Ojibwa of Southern Ontario

Peter S. Schmalz
Copyright Date: 1991
Pages: 334
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    The Ojibwa of Southern Ontario
    Book Description:

    The 0jibwa have lived in Ontario longer than any other ethnic group. Until now, however, their history has never been fully recorded. Peter Schmalz offers a sweeping account of the 0jibwa in which he corrects many long-standing historical errors and fills in numerous gaps in their story. His narrative is based as much on Ojibwa oral tradition as on the usual historical sources.

    Beginning with life as it was before the arrival of Europeans in North America, Schmalz describes the peaceful commercial trade of the 0jibwa hunters and fishers with the Iroquois. Later, when the Five Nations Iroquois attacked various groups in southern Ontario in the mid-seventeenth century, the 0jibwa were the only Indians to defeat them, thereby disproving the myth of Iroquois invincibility.

    In the eighteenth century the Ojibwa entered their golden age, enjoying the benefits of close alliance with both the French and the English. But with those close ties came an increasing dependence on European guns, tools, and liquor at the expense of the older way of life. The English defeat of the French in 1759 changed the nature of 0jibwa society, as did the Beaver War (better known as the Pontiac Uprising) they fought against the English a few years later. In his account of that war, Schmalz offers a new assessment of the role of Pontiac and the Toronto chief Wabbicommicot.

    The fifty years following the Beaver War brought bloodshed and suffering at the hands of the English and United Empire Loyalists. The reserve system and the establishment of special schools, intended to destroy the Indian culture and assimilate the Ojibwa into mainstream society, failed to meet those objectives.

    The twentieth century has seen something of an Ojibwa renaissance. Schmalz shows how Ojibwa participation in two world wars led to a desire to change conditions at home. Today the Ojibwa are gaining some control over their children's education, their reserves, and their culture.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7802-6
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (pp. vii-viii)
  4. PREFACE (pp. ix-xv)
  5. Map (pp. xvi-2)
  6. 1 INTRODUCTION ‘We Are Not Brutes To Be Whipped into Duty’ (pp. 3-12)

    The Ojibwa history of southern Ontario generally suffers from a combination of misunderstanding and neglect. In the early period of the French in Canada, there are few clearly defined sources dealing exclusively with the Ojibwa; beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, in contrast, there is a mountain of undigested archival sources. Added to this problem is confusion about the people who constitute the Ojibwa. Purist historians have shied away from examining the Ojibwa, whose very name seems to defy definition. One of the most knowledgeable scholars who investigated these people was E.S. Rogers, and his use of Ojibwa to define the...

  7. 2 CONQUEST ‘By the Power of the Great Serpent’ (pp. 13-34)

    The expansion of the Ojibwa into southern Ontario in the last decades of the seventeenth century must be examined in the context of the fur trade and the related conflict between the French and the English colonial powers in America. That conflict created a system of native alliances that attempted to gain hegemony in the beaver-skin trade. Those Indian traders who would not conform to the wishes of the dominant aboriginal groups faced pillage, dispersal, or extermination. At the same time, those groups which did exchange furs for the coveted European goods greatly increased their material standard of living and...

  8. 3 THE GOLDEN AGE ‘Our Warriors Make the Earth Tremble’ (pp. 35-62)

    After the conquest of southern Ontario in 1701 and until the fall of New France in 1759, the Ojibwa in the Great Lakes region experienced a ‘golden age’ of trade, presents, and plunder. With the advantages of competitively priced European goods, gifts from their allies, and war booty, the Ojibwa were in an enviable position. Both the English and the French in America vied for the coveted furs which these Indians and their allies could provide. This competition forced up the price of pelts to such an extent that the trade was sometimes conducted, particularly by the French, more for...

  9. Illustrations (pp. None)
  10. 4 THE BEAVER WAR ‘You Have Not Yet Conquered Us!’ (pp. 63-84)

    The Seven Years’ War ended with the defeat of the French in America, but their Indian allies had not been conquered, nor had they been included in the European peace negotiations between Britain and France. How would the dominant European power on the continent treat the Ojibwa of southern Ontario now that the Indians could no longer count on the French for military supplies and trade goods? The well-being of the indigenous people of the Great Lakes had been sustained by the competitively priced trade goods which they obtained in exchange for furs. Their strength lay in pitting one power...

  11. 5 THE PEACEFUL CONQUEST ‘We Have Melted Away Like Snow’ (pp. 85-119)

    Before the Pontiac war there seemed to be a serious effort on the part of the government to control, if not eliminate, the distribution of liquor to the Indians. After the war, rum flowed freely and increasingly became the main method of appeasing (if not destroying) Indian militancy. It was the indispensable product sold by the uncontrolled traders who multiplied among the Southern Ojibwas, eroding their will to resist. The highest officials in the Indian Department made their fortunes through the trade in spirits, even though they knew they were weakening Indian morale as well as their physical and intellectual...

  12. 6 THE SURRENDERS ‘You Have Swept Away All Our Pleasant Lands’ (pp. 120-146)

    Over a period of about one hundred years, from the 1780s to the 1880s, the Ojibwa of southern Ontario surrendered almost all of their lands and began to live on reserves. The major cessions covered three distinct chronological periods and geographical areas: ‘Between 1781 and 1806 Britain acquired the waterfront along the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, the Niagara River, Lake Erie, the Detroit River, Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River. In the decade after 1815, the Crown arranged several large purchases which opened up a second line of settlement, behind the first range of surrenders, to accommodate...

  13. 7 EARLY RESERVES ‘We Must Go Begging’ (pp. 147-179)

    As the Ojibwa relinquished their millions of acres in southern Ontario, they either retained small areas, usually on rivers and lakes which had traditionally been their summer camps, or purchased or were permitted to settle on small tracts isolated from the more populated European settlements. Unauthorized white persons were discouraged from living among the Indians in these geographical areas set aside for the exclusive use of Indians. This policy, initiated by the British and continued by the Canadian government, evolved into the Indian reserve system as we know it today. The reserves were established to convert the Indians from heathens...

  14. 8 RESERVE STAGNATION ‘We Are under a Dictatorship’ (pp. 180-226)

    Responsibility for Indian affairs was transferred to the Province of Canada in 1860. The relative objectivity that the British had brought to solving problems between the natives and the colonists came to an end. As a result, the noose around the necks of the indigenous peoples was tightened. In the last half of the nineteenth century, public and political attention shifted from the Ojibwa in southern Ontario to the Indians of western Canada as new lands were settled by pioneers. This was evident in the Indian Act of 1876, which consolidated the existing legislation dealing with native people. The Ojibwa,...

  15. 9 THE RENAISSANCE ‘There Is a Strong Spirit of Revival’ (pp. 227-260)

    The stagnation on the reserves in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century was demoralizing but did not result in complete apathy. While material prosperity in Euro-Canadian terms was deplorable, it began to improve dramatically after about 1950. This change was due partly to a sympathetic public but also to a greater militancy in the native communities. The Ojibwa retained a pride in their culture and heritage which blossomed as the unsuccessful assimilationist policy was rejected. Educational institutions in mainstream society began to appreciate the unique and rich Ojibwa heritage as the Indians increasingly gained control of their own schools....

  16. 10 CONCLUSION ‘Native Issues Will Come to the Forefront in the 1990s’ (pp. 261-266)

    When Paudash made his speech to the Ontario Historical Society in 1905 he was optimistic that the ‘neglected’ history of his people would be written. From their ‘importance in the deeds of war’ alone, he believed that the Ojibwa of southern Ontario deserved a place in the history of Canada. Over half a century later his wish had not been granted. This study has been an attempt to weave the major events of his people into the historical fabric of the nation. To avoid a Euro-Canadian bias, the Ojibwa perspective of the events has been employed as much as possible....

  17. NOTES (pp. 267-308)
  18. SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY (pp. 309-319)
  19. PICTURE CREDITS (pp. 320-320)
  20. INDEX (pp. 321-334)

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