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Michipicoten

The Michipicoten River has been occupied by the aboriginal people for over 7,000 years and part of a trading route to James Bay and the north east corner of Lake Superior

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From archeological sites excavated at the mouth of the Michipicoten River it is evident that there has been an uninterrupted occupation of this region by the aboriginal people for 7,000 years or more. Some of the sites identified are from the period just before the arrival of the Europeans (between 700-1500 AD) which showed that the Ojibway people whose “summer grounds” were located at the mouth of the Michipicoten River used to marry widely with tribes from the south of the Lake and east of it. The ancient canoe routes also showed that the mouth of the Michipicoten River and Magpie Rivers were a hub of transportation and gateways to the interior as far north as James Bay with access to the vast interior of what is today northern Ontario and connecting it with the other Great Lakes and the inland sea of Hudson’s Bay.
The earliest records of the Europeans tell us that they met with two Ojibway tribes inhabiting the north east corner of Lake Superior, an inland group and a coastal group. The inland group was identified as the “Tetes de Boules” or “Gens de Terre”, and later became known as the “Big Head Ojibway”.
The coastal people were the “Michipicoute” also known as “Gens du Lac”. These tribes were connected by marriage and trade. At the height of the fur trade from the 17th to 20th centuries, many Europeans who came to the region took Ojibway wives and their descendants lived the native way of life making a large part of their livelihood by fishing and trading furs with the Hudson’s Bay Company and other settlers.
In 1850 when the Robinson Superior Treaty was signed in Sault Ste. Marie by Chief Tootomenai (Too-too-many); another Chief or headman Chingans (Shing-ans) of the coastal Michipicoten was also present at that signing. The first list of the Ojibway families who received treaty at Michipicoten included the inland (Big Head) and coastal Ojibway (Michipicoute). The tribe called Michipicoten was made up of several different family groups who lived the traditional way of life and were dispersed over a large area of several hundred square miles gathering together in the summer months at strategic points where alliances of trade, marriages and shared ceremonies took place.

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