Ojibwe Warrior Unit Page

What is the Ojibwe Warrior all About?
IMPRESSION: Ojibwe Warrior

WHY OJIBWE? We have chosen to portray the Ojibwe because my ancestors were members of this tribe.

GOALS: Our goal is to authentically portray Ojibwe warriors during the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War, and the War of 1812.

STORY: My name is pashkwadashi (prairie-wolf) of the Mackinac (Michilimackinac) Band of Ojibwe. I was born in the year 1738 in the territory call Michigan to an older Ojibwe warrior father and a white captive mother. I do not know much of my Mother as she died during my birth. My father was a fierce warrior who survived many battles during the Beaver Wars (1630-1700) with the Iroquois. He died when I was only 7 years of age. As a child I learned the ways of my people. We were hunter-gatherers who harvested wild rice and maple sugar. My people were also skilled hunters and trappers (useful skills in war and the fur trade). We used birch bark for almost everything: utensils, storage containers, and, most importantly, canoes. Coming in a variety of sizes depending on purpose, the birch bark canoe was lighter than the dugouts used by the Dakota (Sioux) and other tribes. Birch bark was also used to cover their elliptical, dome-shaped wigwams. When we moved, the covering of the wigwam was rolled up and taken along leaving only the framework. My father went east to defend Quebec from a British invasion. In 1745 the British captured the French fortress at Louisbourgh. This enabled them to blockade the St. Lawrence River and cut our supply of French trade goods. Without these, our French alliance collapsed. We soon found ourselves fighting with the Detroit tribes (Ottawa, Wyandot, and Potawatomi). My father never returned home. 7 years passed and at 14 found myself with Charles Langlade, a Métis of French-Ojibwe heritage. He gathered a war party of 250 Ojibwe and Ottawa at Mackinac and led us south in June, 1752 to attack the Miami village and British trading post at Pickawillany (Piqua, Ohio). We killed one British trader and captured five along with £3000 of trade goods. Thirty Miami were also killed in the attack including their chief, Memeskia (called La Demoiselle by the French). This was my first experience with war. In 1755, the British assembled a large army under General Edward Braddock to capture Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh). Langlade and my fellow Mackinac Ojibwe and I played an important part in the ambush which almost annihilated Braddock's command. After that the war moved east, and we went to Montreal to participate in French campaigns at Lake Champlain in northern New York. It was during these campaigns that our warriors contracted small pox in 1757, which we brought back to our villages. This ended our involvement in the war. I was fortunate not to contract the disease. With the general breakdown of authority preceding the French defeat, my people in 1761 were on the verge of war with the Menominee and Winnebago. The British slipped into the old French role of mediator, but, while the agreement they negotiated ingratiated them to the Menominee and Winnebago, it aggravated us and remained hostile. At Fort Mackinac, word of Pontiac’s uprising had not reached its garrison by the time of the King's birthday on June 4, 1763. We used a lacrosse game to lull the soldiers into false security while the warriors assembled as spectators and participants. Suddenly, the ball was launched towards the gates of the fort, and grabbing weapons hidden under the blankets of their women, we rushed in and overwhelmed the garrison. Sixteen soldiers were killed outright, but the French were not harmed. Pontiac's rebellion collapsed as Forts Detroit, Pitt, and Niagara continued to hold and British forces began to arrive. We attended the general peace conference held at Niagara in July of 1764, but the La Pointe and Mississippi bands did not. The British restored annual presents to the chiefs and promised to reopen trading posts with more trade goods. Despite this, my band and the Saginaw remained aloof and hostile for some time. It was shortly after this that I began living with The Saginaw band. Here I settled down with a Saginaw Band woman. She along with my child died in the winter of 1772 during birth of our second child. The British remained interested observers in the struggle for the Ohio Valley until the beginning of the American Revolution (1775-83), at which time they began actively supporting the Ohio tribes against the Americans. Only the Saginaw Band had any important part in this fighting.

Basic Dress

Breechclout - color should be red, blue, green, or black - the preferred colors for wool were red and blue. Red should be fairly bright; blue is more of a navy blue than a cobalt. Look for a light- to medium-weight wool, and if you can find one with a "hard" texture, so much the better. Wool broadcloth is usually readily available and is reasonably close to the appropriate weight for stroud wool. The breechclout should be no more than mid-thigh length. Tie it around your waist with a cord or leather thong.

Wool side-seam leggings - same selection of colors for wool as the breechclout; legging color does not need to match the clout. Leggings should reach to mid-thigh and be tailored close to your leg; allow at least a three-inch flap on the sides. Leggings are tied to the strap used for the breechclout. These may be decorated with silk ribbon or beading if you like; decoration runs the length of the flaps and around the bottom of opening. Leggings aren't totally necessary in hot weather; however, they do provide protection when working over a fire or when walking through brush.

Leg ties - should be fingerwoven strips about 1.5 to 2 inches wide. Beadwork or quilled ties are also appropriate; a length of worsted tape or a wool strip or leather thong will also do. The most common weave throughout the period was the oblique weave, although patterns such as chevrons, arrowheads, and lightnings begin to appear in the later Revolutionary War period.

Center seam moccasins - don't get pre-made moccasins of the "bedroom slipper" style; these have the wrong construction.

Shirt - white linen, plain or with neck and/or wrist ruffles, is preferred. In period, a little over half of the described shirts are white linen; of the remainder, about half are various solid colors and the rest prints or checks. So a colored shirt isn't wrong, but is less common than white. Cotton was also available by the late war period, but again, was less common than white linen. So get the linen - you'll be more comfortable anyway.

Matchcoat or blanket - can be decorated with ribbon or left plain.

Hair - The problem here is that we're dealing with a genotype. The common hair color was dark - black or very dark brown. If your hair is any lighter than a medium brown, you should color it. One of the most commonly documented hairstyles is a scalplock; the head is shaved or plucked with the exception of a patch of hair at the crown which is then braided. The lock may be decorated with silver or other trinkets. Other regional styles are also common; look at period paintings and descriptions for other ideas.

Optional Garments

Hide leggings - Hide clothing, usually leggings, still turns up in accounts from this period, though much less frequently than clothing made of the ubiquitous red and blue wool. Descriptions of clothing made from trade cloth outnumber those of clothing made from hide, however.

Painted shirt - There are mentions in captivity narratives of trade shirts that were painted on the shoulders and worn until they disintegrated. Painted (or paint-smeared) shirts turn up in the record, though many of the accounts predate our period.

Shoes - Shoes were worn by natives in the 18th century, but should be less common than moccasins in the camp.

Coat - Sleeved waistcoat, full-skirted French-style capote, or cheaply-made civilian-style gentleman's coat made of gaudy red, blue, or printed fabric with lace and shiny buttons. The latter style is more appropriate for a leader or chief warrior; it is not a common item. Coats should be less common in the camp than matchcoats.


Jewelry - Basics include silver ball-and-cone earrings, nose rings, ear twists, brass or silver bracelets, wampum bracelets and necklaces, trade bead necklaces, wound-glass pony bead necklaces, finger rings, and silver ring brooches. Silver hair tubes and bells are nice for more "dress-up" occasions. Don't go too far overboard, unless you're going out "on the town" - too much jewelry can get in the way while you're working.

Paint - The most commonly documented colors are red and black, although others turn up at various times and places. Do your research! For red and black paint, use red ochre, vermilion powder, or charcoal mixed with bear grease or something similar. Paint may be applied in any manner that suits your fancy, from a full-body treatment to one or two patches. This is something best used for dress-up or warfare.

Neck knife - May have a quilled or undecorated sheath.

Sashes - The best choice is a fingerwoven sash, preferably using the oblique weave. Patterned sashes, such as those using chevrons, arrowheads, or lightning bolts are not often found until later in the 18th century; the Assomption sash pattern is an example of one which does not appear to be common until the 19th century.

Shelter, Pack, and Bedding

Shelter can be anything from a simple half-shelter to a large domed wigwam. Wedge tents, also, may be used; an account from a council at Niagara states that the fort had set up wedge tents for use by their native guests and when they left, the tents went with them. Do your research and decide what is most appropriate for your own situation and abilities.

Support poles
Tent or tarps
Stakes, including a few extras
Rope - you can never have too much
Axe or tomahawk
Woolen Blanket
Linen Haversack
Oilskin Tarp
Tumpline (Burden Strap)

Arms & Accoutrements

Flintlock Musket
Cleaning kit
war club
Ammunition pouch
Powder Horn

Food & Cooking Gear

Canteen, jug, or water gourd
Fire starting kit (1 or more in the camp)
Tin or brass kettle (1 or more in the camp)
Tin/Wood Bowl or Plate
S hooks

Historic descriptions of the wigwam
Basic wigwam construction
Sewn cattail mats

Wigwam with a pole frame bent into a dome with woven mats or bark over the framework. Deer, moose hide, or blanket used for the door.

Warrior wears deer hide leggings with a woven sash and garters, and a wool breech cloth. He carries with him a spanish military musket, a dirk and haversack from a fallen Royal Highlander; along with a English shoulder box.

Sketches and information above is from Sketch Book 56 Vol VI Indian Allies by Ted Spring

Common paint colors include red and black, but there are accounts of Ojibwa wearing red on green.
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