In 1615, when noted by Samuel de Champlain, many Ottawa lived near the mouth of French River on Georgian Bay. Known as great traders, they claimed the Ottawa River region and controlled trade with the French on that river. They allied themselves with the French and the Huron. Their alliance with the Huron, however, made them the enemies of the Iroquois, who forced the Ottawa to flee to the islands off Green Bay. After a few years some moved on to Keweenaw Bay in Lake Superior, while another section joined the Huron and went to the Mississippi near Lake Pepin. From there the Sioux drove them northward to Chequamegon Bay in N Wisconsin.
Promised protection by the French, the Ottawa returned (1670) to Manitoulin Island, where the mission of St. Simon was established among them. Next they joined the Huron at Mackinac in Michigan, and soon after they dispersed over a wide area. The Ottawa were active in the Indian wars of the Old Northwest; Pontiac was an Ottawan. Eventually part of the Ottawa settled on Walpole Island in Lake St. Clair and part on Manitoulin Island, while others have settled in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Michigan. In 1990 there were close to 8,000 Ottawa in the United States.
See A. S. Blackbird, History of the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians of Michigan (1897); M. A. McDonnell, Masters of Empire (2016).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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