The Ojibway people living on the North Shore of Lake Superior (ancestors of Rocky Bay First Nations people) survived by hunting, fishing, and gathering food. When the fur trade moved it’s way into the Lake Superior area, the Rocky Bay First Nations started to include hunting and trapping (their economic activities) for the purpose of trading.
The Ojibway hunting ranges had evolved into well-defined trapping territories. The Rocky Bay reserve is within the boundaries of the territory described by the Robinson-Superior Treaty of 1850. A 1963 Ontario Order-in-council transferred 32 acres at MacDiarmid to the federal government to be set apart as a reserve for the Rocky Bay.
Indian people from Gull Bay, Sand Point, Red Rock, McIntyre Bay and Chapleau had been living there in the early 1950’s, and were formally constituted as the Rocky Bay Band in 1960. In 1971, a federal Order-in-Council set apart those lands as Rocky Bay I.R. No.1 for exclusive use and benefit of the Band.
Most Ojibwa, except for the Plains bands, lived a sedentary lifestyle, engaging in fishing, hunting, the farming of maize and squash, and the harvesting of Manoomin (wild rice). Their typical dwelling was the wiigiwaam (wigwam) or the waaginogan, made of birch bark, juniper bark and willow saplings. They also developed a form of pictorial writing used in religious rites of the Midewiwin and recorded on birch bark scrolls.
The Ojibwe people and culture are alive and growing today. During the summer months, the people attend pow-wows or “pau waus” at various reservations in the US and reserves in Canada. Many people still follow the traditional ways of harvesting wild rice, picking berries, hunting and making maple sugar.
The legend of the Ojibwa “Windigo,” in which tribesmen supposedly identify with a mythological cannabalistic monster and prey on their families is mentioned in the fiction of Thomas Pynchon. A native tribe that is never specifically named but is probably the Ojibwe features prominently in the writings of Ernest Hemingway.
Several bands of Ojibwe cooperate in the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission which manages their treaty hunting and fishing rights. The commission cooperates with U.S. agencies to run several wilderness areas. See List of U.S. state and tribal wilderness areas.
An interesting example of the Ojibwe culture is that there is no word for “Goodbye”.
The Ojibwe people were divided into a number of doodem (clans) named for animal totems. This served as a system of government as well as a means of dividing labor. The five main totems were Crane, Catfish, Loon, Bear and Marten. The Crane totem was the most vocal among the Ojibwe, and the Bear was the largest — so large, in fact, that it was sub-divided into body parts such as the head, the ribs and the feet.
There were at least twenty-one totems in all, recorded by William Whipple Warren: Crane, Catfish, Loon, Bear, Marten, Wolf, Reindeer, Merman, Pike, Lynx, Eagle, Rattlesnake, Moose, Black Duck, Sucker, Goose, Sturgeon, White Fish, Beaver, Gull, and Hawk. Some totems indicate non-Ojibwe origins, such as the Wolf Clan for Dakota or Eagle Clan for American. There are other totems considered rare today among the Ojibwe because the totems have migrated to other tribes, such as the Merman Clan, which shows up as the Water-spirits Clan of the Winnebagoes
According to their own tradition, they came from the east, advancing along the Great Lakes, and had their first major settlement, referred as their “fourth stopping place”, in their present country at Sault Ste. Marie and their second major settlement, referred as their “seventh stopping place”, at Shaugawaumikong (or Zhaagawaamikong, French, Chegoimegon) on the southern shore of Lake Superior, near the present La Pointe or Bayfield, Wisconsin. Their first historical mention occurs in the Jesuit Relation of 1640. Through their friendship with the French traders they were able to obtain guns and thus successfully end their hereditary wars with the Sioux and Foxes on their west and south, with the result that the Sioux were driven out from the Upper Mississippi region, and the Foxes forced down from northern Wisconsin and compelled to ally with the Sauk. By the end of the eighteenth century the Chippewa were the nearly unchallenged owners of almost all of present-day Michigan, northern Wisconsin, and Minnesota, including most of the Red River area, together with the entire northern shores of Lakes Huron and Superior on the Canadian side and extending westward to the Turtle Mountains of North Dakota, where they became known as the Plains Ojibwa.
The Ojibwa were part of a long-term alliance with the Ottawa and Potawatomi First Nations, called the Council of Three Fires and which fought with the Iroquois Confederacy and the Sioux. The Ojibwa expanded eastward taking over the lands alongside the eastern shores of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. The Ojibwa allied themselves with the French in the French and Indian War, and with the British in the War of 1812.
In the USA, they were never removed as so many other tribes have been, but by successive treaty sales they are now restricted to reservations within this territory, with the exception of a few families living in Kansas.
In Canada, the cession of land by treaty or purchase was governed by the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and subsequently most of the land in Upper Canada was ceded to the Crown. See Treaty Timeline – Individual Treaties with maps at .