Published on June 15, 2012 by Amy
The Ottawa lived along the shore of Georgia Bay in Canada when the French explorer Samuel de Champlain located them in 1615. A quarter-century later, pressured by the Iroquois (see Iroquois Confederation), the Ottawa moved to Green Bay in present-day Wisconsin from where they spread into northwestern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Culturally, the Ottawa are Algonquian, the Chippewa and Potawatomi being their closest tribal relatives. Although they lived in villages and planted crops, the Ottawa were best known as traders, traversing the rivers of northeastern America as well as the Great Lakes in their canoes and following the “Moccasin Trail” well into Florida. Their name, in fact, derives from the Algonquin “Adawa,” meaning to trade or barter (Ref 1).
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Having supported the French in the French and Indian War of 1754-1763 (see Glossary), the Ottawa — under the commanding leadership of Chief Pontiac (see Glossary) — organized strong resistance to the British power in the Great Lakes area. During the American Revolutionary War, the Ottawa sided with the British, but were able to control most of Ohio after the War. Increasing incursion by white settlers, however, forced the tribe to move steadily westward, first into Kansas and, by 1867, into a 12,000-acre (4,856 hectares) tract of land purchased from the United States in the northeastern corner of Indian Territory [Ted: glossary item] (present Oklahoma), where they remain to this day (Ref 1).
The flag of the Ottawa reflects their history: The evergreen tree and grass knoll recall their origins in the Northeast Woodlands while the prominently displayed canoe alludes to their first-rank trading skills and Algonquian name. These images are contained in the colorful seal centered on the white background of their flag. Two black rings surround the central seal. Between them are the words “OTTAWA TRIBE” curving oboe it and “OF OKLAHOMA” curving beneath, both in black letters on a white background. The central disk has the motto “UNITED WE STAND DIVIDED WE FALL” curving to either side of a dark-green evergreen tree, symbolic of the Tree of Life. The tree stands on a lighter-green grass knoll. To the right of the evergreen, is a light-brown war club with dark-brown lines and crisscrossing, a typical weapon the woodland Indians used in hand-to-hand combat and hunting. Toward the lower end of the war club a black- and-white eagle’s feather projects to the left, fastened to the club by a dark-brown strap.
Since many of the Ottawa Indians of Oklahoma belong to the Otter (Negig) Clan, the animal is featured to the right of the Tree of Life, in dark brown with light-brown accents, looking toward the hoist (left). The basic religion of the Ottawa is the otter skin or medicine-dance religion, as described in a pamphlet supplied by tribesmember Claudean Epperson. This entire upper portion of the seal — war club, evergreen, otter, grass knoll and motto — appears against a light-blue sky.
Beneath the knoll is a light-brown canoe with dark-brown trimmings and slats. It floats on medium-blue water highlighted with a dark-blue wave and light-green lily pads. The water represents the source of all life and is an important sacrament in all Indian religions. At the right end of the canoe, on the grass knoll, stand a few cattails shown in dark brown with light-brown stems.
Ref 1 — Information provided by Margie Ross, Program Director at the Ottawa’s Miami, Oklahoma, headquarters from materials in The Ottawa People, Joseph H. Cash and Gerald W. Wolff, Vol. 34, Indian Tribes Series.
Historical note for Glossary Entry (Ted: relying on you to correct any dumb stuff)
French and Indian War (1754-1763) — This nine years’ war, fought between France and Great Britain for control over the vast colonial territory of North America, was the American phase of the Great War of the Empire — a pivotal struggle between the two colonial powers, the European phase of which (1756-1763) is known as the Seven Year’s War. Sparked by the issue of control over the upper Ohio River valley, the struggle ended with the 1763 Treaty of Paris, which had dramatic consequences for the history of the future United States: it established the hegemony of English culture over the heartland of North America. The Treaty forced France to cede all its territory on mainland North America east of the Mississippi River, including Canada, to Great Britain. It also had permanent, and mostly nefarious, consequences for the Native tribes who had fought alongside the losing French forces. (see Tunica-Biloxi, Ottawa, + ???)
Ted While I’m at it, here’s a couple more definitions for the glossary:
Woodland (also Northeast Woodland) Indians — Native Americans who lived or live on lands marked by mountains, lakes, and forests that “reaches up to the southern portion of Canada and extends as far south as Kentucky in the Unites States. East to west, Woodland region stretches from the coast of the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River. The forest continues a short distance on the western side of the Mississippi, where it gradually gives way to the Tall Grass Plains.” Indians of the Northeast, Lisa Sita, Michael Friedman Publishing Group, Inc, 1997, p. 9. Quoted by permission.
Algonquian Languages — One of two main North American Indian language families (the other is the Iroquoian language family), with member languages spoken in New England, the Atlantic coastline as far south as North Carolina, in the regions surrounding the Great Lakes, and westward to the Rocky Mountains. Examples of Algonquian languages are: Ojibwa, Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Micmac, Arapaho, and Fox-Sauk-Kickapoo.
Algonquin — Any of a number of widely scattered Algonquian-speaking Native American bands or tribes, such as the Chippewa (or Ojibwa), Lenape (or Delaware), Micamac, Mohegan, Ottawa, and the Pequot.
Pontiac — Ottawa Indian chief who became a great intertribal leader in an effort to stem the encroachment of British settlers on Native hunting grounds and ancestral lands. During Pontiac’s War (1763-64), also known as the Great War of Indian Confederations, he organized a loose confederacy with the Potawatomi and Ojibwa, besieging Detroit and capturing a series of fortified posts. Three years after concluding a peace treaty with the British in 1766, he was assassinated by a Peoria Indian. The ensuing bitter war between the Ottawa and the Peoria almost led to the annihilation of the latter tribe. He remains the most famous and revered personality of the Ottawa Indians.
Indian Territory — Originally defined as all territory of the United States west of the Mississippi River but not within the states of Missouri, Louisiana, and Arkansas — it soon became restricted to the present state of Oklahoma. The Choctaw, Creek, Seminole, Cherokee, and Chickasaw tribes were forcibly moved to this area between 1830 and 1843.