Published on September 24, 2010 by John
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Chippewas of Mnjikaning
Chippewas of Rama First Nation, also known as Chippewas of Mnjikaning and Chippewas of Rama Mnjikaning First Nation, is Anishinaabe (Ojibwa) First Nation located in the province of Ontario in Canada. The name Mnjikaning, or fully vocalized as Minjikaning, refers to the fishing weirs at Atherley Narrows between Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching and it means “in/on/at or near the fence”.
Rama sits on approximately 2,350 acres (951 ha) of land on eight separate parcels. It was once known as Mnjikaning and Rama Mnjikaning but after a community referendum has since re-assumed the name of Chippewas of Rama First Nation. There are 1600 members with approximately 700 living on the reserve and about 900 living off the reserve.
The First Nation is adjacent to a 4,500 year old wooden stake fishing weir system which at one time sustained many Native peoples but, it is not clear who actually built this structure. The First Nation’s main reserve, the 908.4 hectares (2,245 acres) Mnjikaning First Nation 32 Indian Reserve, is located approximately 5 kilometres (3 mi) northeast of Orillia, Ontario. It is also home to 195,000-square-foot (18,100 m2) Casino Rama and Entertainment Complex.
Many of the families currently living on and off the reserve include the original family names Benson or Nanigishkung, Ingersoll, Williams, Douglas, Shilling, Simcoe, Snache, St. Germain and Stinson. Some later name additions (mainly due to marriage) include Muir, Comego, Cotrell, Desormeaux, Stiles, Noganosh, Sandy and others.
The First Nation’s leadership consists of a chief and six (6) councillors, elected under the Indian Act Electoral System put into place in the 1930s by Canada in the attempt to depose hereditary chiefs and headman as leaders. The current elected leadership (2008–2010) is Chief Sharon Henry and Councillors Brenda Ingersoll, Rodney Noganosh, Andrea Simcoe-Williams, Ronald Douglas, Byron Stiles and Robert Stinson. The First Nation is a member of Ogemawahj Tribal Council, a regional Chiefs’ council; though many who are members of the Ogemawahj Tribal Council are also members of Union of Ontario Indians/Anishinabek Nation, Rama First Nation is independent. Rama is also a part of the Chippewa Tri-Council which consists of Beausoleil First Nation and the Chippewas of Georgina Island. The Chippewa Tri-Council were once one reserve, the Coldwater Narrows Reserve established in 1830, under one principal chief, Chief Yellowhead. Further, before The Coldwater Narrows Reserve was established this group was the Chippewas of Lake Simcoe and Huron.