American Indian Communities in Minnesota - Chippewa (Ojibwe) American Indian Bands Overview

American Indian Communities in Minnesota
Chippewa (Ojibwe) American Indian Bands Overview

A significant number of American Indians in Minnesota are Chippewa, with reservations located in central and northern parts of the state, including the Bois Forte (Nett Lake), Fond du Lac, Grand Portage, Leech Lake, Mille Lacs, White Earth, and Red Lake Reservations.

At one time, the Chippewa nation was one of the largest nations north of Mexico. When settlers arrived in Minnesota, the Chippewa occupied more than half the state. They had a tendency to remain in forests and avoid the farming areas of the settlers, lessening the effects of white encroachment.(10)

Beginning in 1854, the treaties creating reservations for these bands were enacted. After the reservations were formed, the Dawes Act of 1887 and the Nelson Act of 1889 initiated the allotment of American Indian land. In addition, it allowed for all Chippewa in Minnesota to be persuaded to move to the White Earth Reservation. The move to White Earth was resisted, especially by the Red Lake people who were eventually excluded from the act. Their resistance was possible because the act designated that the allotments could be taken up where American-Indians were currently residing. Most Chippewa remained on their respective reservations, taking the option of choosing allotted land at their current location. The allotment process had negative results for American Indians, leading to massive land losses by the turn of the century. The effects of allotment were somewhat lessened through the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 which, among other things, increased tribal land acreage.(11)

The Chippewa originally were governed by hereditary chiefs. Today, each of the seven Chippewa Bands is governed by an elected representative government. Those bodies exercise authority over all matters within the band's tribal jurisdiction, and the individual band governments are the key decision makers for these communities.

There is also an organization called the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, governed by an Executive Committee consisting of the chair and secretary-treasurer (or equivalent) of six of the seven Chippewa Bands in Minnesota.

The Red Lake Band is independent of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, has no allotted land, and has a closed legal status.(12)

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