Pembina Plains Ojibwa  |  First Peoples  |  Ojibwa/Chippewa/Saulteaux

Ojibwa/Chippewa/Saulteaux peoples were formally brought within the Nehiyaw Pwat Confederacy/Iron Alliance shortly following the great smallpox plague from 1775-82, caused by the American Revolution in the Northeast, to wash over the continent like a blanket of death, especially for Aboriginal peoples. It spread throughout the Northern Plains up to Hudson’s Bay during the years 1781-82. It took from "over half," to "seven out of every ten," to "three quarters" of all native peoples in the North American West. From this event came the diminished condition of native peoples, giving rise to the interloper’s upper hand in the fight of Aboriginal peoples to maintain control of the continent. From then it was the declining spiral through war and resistance, until treaties became a thing of the past, whole tribes were dispersed and "fractionated" from traditional geographies and family based communities, cordoned off within reserved lands that felt more like corrals than homeland, and executive decrees that were the order of the day, profit motivated, and martial law enforced.

Following the epidemic, to boost their viability as independent players in the rush for survival, the Ojibwa/ Chippewa/Saulteaux/Michif/M.tis/mixed-heritage peoples were asked by the Nehiyaw Pwat to ritually be brought into alliance with their Cree and Assiniboine cousins, and to live out on the Plains with them fulltime. This occurred at the Pembina Hills (now Walhalla, North Dakota). Ojibwa Chief Peguis, a contemporary and peer of the first Chief Little Shell, told that, "after smoking and feasting for two or three days . . . [we] were formally invited to dwell on the plains – to eat out of the same dish, to warm ourselves at the same fi re, and to make common cause with them against their enemies the Sioux." In the ceremony the Cree and Assiniboine said to their younger bothers and sisters from the Great Lakes that, "[y]our presence will remove the cloud of sorrow that is in our minds and strengthen us against our enemies." It was then, in the 1780s, our ancestors became Plains Ojibwa and formally entered the Nehiyaw Pwat Confederacy/Iron Alliance. It is from these ancestral peoples the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana is directly descended: a people who share a common polyethnicity that includes tribal family lines from across the belt of the continent, and the earliest generations of westering Euroamerican men (mostly Gallic French and Gaelic Scot), and whose broad cultural identity includes the spectrum of those who self-identify culturally with "drum dance" to those who hold "fiddle dance" Indian mores, customs, and languages (i.e., Chippewa/Cree and Metis, and, Midewin/Thirsty Dance and Christianity).