Map of Migration Route

Migration Story: Mishomis Book Chapter 14

Migration of the Ojibway to the New Land

When the seven prophets came to the Ojibwe with instructions about life from Creator, the People were living in the east on the shores of the Great Salt Water. There were so many people that these words have been told through generations, “The people were so many and powerful that if one was to climb the highest mountain and look in all directions, they would not be able to see the end of the Ojibwe nation.” Life was full and there was ample food from the land and sea. Because life was so full, some amongst the People doubted the migration predictions of the prophets and there was much discussion about the migration and the prophecies of the Seven Fires. Huge gatherings were held to discuss the plans. Many didn’t want to leave, many did and there was one group who supported the migration but agreed to stay behind and guard the eastern doorway and care for the eastern fire of the people. They were called the Daybreak People. (Today these are the Native People on the East coast known as the Wabanaki. (The Passamaquoddy are a part of the Wabanaki.)

So, those believing in the migration started off, traveling first to the island shaped like a turtle, as the first prophet instructed. (This area is probably somewhere on the St. Lawrence River around present day Montreal.) There were many ceremonies held there as the people sought instructions. After some time the People began their journey west again. Along the way some clans and families stopped and set up permanent camps. It is now believed that the People continuing moved along the southern shore of the St. Lawrence River and that their second major stop was around what is know today as Niagra Falls.

From here they traveled to what is today Lakes Huron and Erie. It is here that the Ojibwe and Iroquois confronted each other. The dispute was later settled when the Iroquois gave the Ojibwe a Wampum Belt made of a special shell. The Pipe was shared and a peace was sealed. The People began moving westward again and stopped when they came to a large body of fresh water as explained in the prophecy. (This was probably along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan.) At this point many went off in search of a way across the water. Some went south and others settled down to wait for more instructions. Generations passed until the People were instructed to travel North. Eventually they stopped at the place where “food grows on water,” as told in another prophecy. More and more Ojibwe came to the largest island in this area (now known as Manitoulin Island) until this area became known as the capital of the Ojibwe nation.

For some time the People stayed on this island, but then many set off to what is now the Sault Ste. Marie area. Because of the large abundance of food in the area many people settled here also and this became the fifth stopping place of the migration. From here the People split into two large groups – one group following the northern shore of (Lake Superior) another large body of water and another followed the southern shore.

The northern group settled on an island (today known as Spirit Island) at the west end of the big lake. Some of the southern group also settled here where they found “the food that grows on water,” (wild rice) believed to be a sacred gift from Creator. This became the sixth major stopping place of the Ojibwe people. But, something was still missing. One of the prophets had spoken of a turtle-shaped island at the end of their journey. The southern group had seen such an island on their journey. The People returned and settled on the island known today as Madeline Island), calling it Mo-ning-wun-a-dawn-ing or “the place that was dug”.

At last the migration had found their sacred ground. It is thought it took about 500 years to complete the journey, which began around 900AD. The Ojibwe people have been living in the area now called Minnesota since 1400AD, 400+ years before any Europeans settled in this area.