Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Council of Three Fires

Council of Three Fires

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Council of Three Fires'
Start a new discussion about 'Council of Three Fires'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The Council of Three Fires, also known as the People of the Three Fires, the Three Fires Confederacy, the United Nations of Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi Indians, or Niswi-mishkodewin in the Anishinaabe language, is a long-standing Anishinaabe
Anishinaabe
Anishinaabe or Anishinabe—or more properly Anishinaabeg or Anishinabek, which is the plural form of the word—is the autonym often used by the Odawa, Ojibwe, and Algonquin peoples. They all speak closely related Anishinaabemowin/Anishinaabe languages, of the Algonquian language family.The meaning...

 alliance of the Ojibwe (or Chippewa), Ottawa
Ottawa (tribe)
The Odawa or Ottawa, said to mean "traders," are a Native American and First Nations people. They are one of the Anishinaabeg, related to but distinct from the Ojibwe nation. Their original homelands are located on Manitoulin Island, near the northern shores of Lake Huron, on the Bruce Peninsula in...

 (or Odawa), and Potawatomi
Potawatomi
The Potawatomi are a Native American people of the upper Mississippi River region. They traditionally speak the Potawatomi language, a member of the Algonquian family. In the Potawatomi language, they generally call themselves Bodéwadmi, a name that means "keepers of the fire" and that was applied...

 Native American
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 tribes and First Nations
First Nations
First Nations is a term that collectively refers to various Aboriginal peoples in Canada who are neither Inuit nor Métis. There are currently over 630 recognised First Nations governments or bands spread across Canada, roughly half of which are in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia. The...

.

Originally one people, or a collection of closely related bands, the identities of Ojibwa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi developed after the Anishinaabeg reached Michilimackinac
Michilimackinac
Michilimackinac is a name for the region around the Straits of Mackinac between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. Early settlers of North America applied the term to the entire region along Lakes Huron, Michigan, and Superior. Today it is mostly within the boundaries of Michigan, in the United States...

 on their journey westward from the Atlantic coast. Using the Midewiwin
Midewiwin
The Midewiwin or the Grand Medicine Society is a secretive religion of the aboriginal groups of the Maritimes, New England and Great Lakes regions in North America. Its practitioners are called Midew and the practices of Midewiwin referred to as Mide...

 scrolls
Birch bark scrolls
Wiigwaasabak are birch bark scrolls, on which the Ojibwa people of North America wrote complex geometrical patterns and shapes. When used specifically for Midewiwin ceremonial use, these scrolls are called mide-wiigwaas...

, Potawatomi elder Shup-Shewana dated the formation of the Council of Three Fires to 796 AD at Michilimackinac.

In this Council, the Ojibwe were addressed as the "Older Brother," the Odawa as the "Middle Brother," and the Potawatomi as the "Younger Brother." Consequently, whenever the three Anishinaabe nations are mentioned in this specific and consecutive order of Ojibwe, Odawa
Ottawa (tribe)
The Odawa or Ottawa, said to mean "traders," are a Native American and First Nations people. They are one of the Anishinaabeg, related to but distinct from the Ojibwe nation. Their original homelands are located on Manitoulin Island, near the northern shores of Lake Huron, on the Bruce Peninsula in...

, and Potawatomi
Potawatomi
The Potawatomi are a Native American people of the upper Mississippi River region. They traditionally speak the Potawatomi language, a member of the Algonquian family. In the Potawatomi language, they generally call themselves Bodéwadmi, a name that means "keepers of the fire" and that was applied...

, it is an indicator implying Council of Three Fires as well. In addition, the Ojibwa are the "keepers of the faith," the Odawa are the "keepers of trade," and the Potawatomi are the designated "keepers/maintainers of/for the fire" (boodawaadam), which became the basis for their name Boodewaadamii (Ojibwe
Ojibwe language
Ojibwe , also called Anishinaabemowin, is an indigenous language of the Algonquian language family. Ojibwe is characterized by a series of dialects that have local names and frequently local writing systems...

 spelling) or Bodéwadmi (Potawatomi
Potawatomi language
Potawatomi is a Central Algonquian language and is spoken around the Great Lakes in Michigan and Wisconsin, as well as in Kansas in the United States, and in southern Ontario in Canada, 1300 Potawatomi people, all elderly...

 spelling).

Though the Three Fires had several meeting places, Michilimackinac
Michilimackinac
Michilimackinac is a name for the region around the Straits of Mackinac between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. Early settlers of North America applied the term to the entire region along Lakes Huron, Michigan, and Superior. Today it is mostly within the boundaries of Michigan, in the United States...

 became the preferred meeting place due to its central location. From this place, the Council met for military and political purposes. From this site, the Council maintained relations with fellow Anishinaabe
Anishinaabe
Anishinaabe or Anishinabe—or more properly Anishinaabeg or Anishinabek, which is the plural form of the word—is the autonym often used by the Odawa, Ojibwe, and Algonquin peoples. They all speak closely related Anishinaabemowin/Anishinaabe languages, of the Algonquian language family.The meaning...

g nations, the Ozaagii (Sac), Odagaamii (Meskwaki), Omanoominii (Menominee
Menominee
Some placenames use other spellings, see also Menomonee and Menomonie.The Menominee are a nation of Native Americans living in Wisconsin. The Menominee, along with the Ho-Chunk, are the only tribes that are indigenous to what is now Wisconsin...

), Wiinibiigoo (Ho-Chunk
Ho-Chunk
The Ho-Chunk, also known as Winnebago, are a tribe of Native Americans, native to what is now Wisconsin and Illinois. There are two federally recognized Ho-Chunk tribes, the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin and Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska....

), Naadawe (Iroquois Confederacy), Nii'inaawi-Naadawe (Wyandot), Naadawensiw (Sioux
Sioux
The Sioux are Native American and First Nations people in North America. The term can refer to any ethnic group within the Great Sioux Nation or any of the nation's many language dialects...

), Wemitigoozhi (France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

), Zhaaganaashi (England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

) and the Gichi-mookomaan (the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

).

Through the totem
Totem
A totem is a stipulated ancestor of a group of people, such as a family, clan, group, lineage, or tribe.Totems support larger groups than the individual person. In kinship and descent, if the apical ancestor of a clan is nonhuman, it is called a totem...

-system and promotion of trade, the Council generally had a peaceful existence with its neighbours. However, occasional unresolved disputes erupted into wars. Under these conditions, the Council notably fought against the Iroquois Confederacy and the Sioux
Sioux
The Sioux are Native American and First Nations people in North America. The term can refer to any ethnic group within the Great Sioux Nation or any of the nation's many language dialects...

. During the Seven Years' War
Seven Years' War
The Seven Years' War was a global military war between 1756 and 1763, involving most of the great powers of the time and affecting Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines...

, the Council fought against England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

; and during the Northwest Indian War
Northwest Indian War
The Northwest Indian War , also known as Little Turtle's War and by various other names, was a war fought between the United States and a confederation of numerous American Indian tribes for control of the Northwest Territory...

 and the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

, they fought against the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. After the formation of the United States of America in 1776, the Council became the core member of the Western Lakes Confederacy (also known as "Great Lakes Confederacy"), joined together with the Wyandots, Algonquins, Nipissing
Nipissing First Nation
The Nipissing First Nation consists of first nation people of Ojibwa and Algonquin descent who have lived in the area of Lake Nipissing in the Canadian province of Ontario for about 9,400 years. Though in history known by many names, they are generally considered part of the Anishinaabe peoples,...

, Sacs, Meskwaki and others.

With Great Britain

  • Treaty of Fort Niagara (1764) – as part of the Western Lakes Confederacy

With the United States

  • Treaty of Fort Harmar
    Treaty of Fort Harmar
    The Treaty of Fort Harmar was an agreement between the United States government and numerous Native American tribes with claims to the Ohio Country. it was signed at Fort Harmar, near present-day Marietta, Ohio, on January 9, 1789. Representatives of the Six Nations and other groups including the...

     (1789) – implied
  • Treaty of Greenville
    Treaty of Greenville
    The Treaty of Greenville was signed at Fort Greenville , on August 3, 1795, between a coalition of Native Americans & Frontiers men, known as the Western Confederacy, and the United States following the Native American loss at the Battle of Fallen Timbers. It put an end to the Northwest Indian War...

     (1795) – implied
  • Treaty of Fort Industry
    Treaty of Fort Industry
    The Treaty of Fort Industry was a successor treaty to the Treaty of Greenville, which moved the eastern boundary of Indian lands in northern Ohio from the Tuscarawas River and Cuyahoga River westward to a line 120 miles west of the Pennsylvania boundary, which coincided with the western boundary of...

     (1805) – not implied, though all 3 nations present
  • Treaty of Detroit
    Treaty of Detroit
    The Treaty of Detroit was a treaty between the United States and the Ottawa, Chippewa, Wyandot and Potawatomi Native American nations. The treaty was signed at Detroit, Michigan on November 17, 1807, with William Hull, governor of the Michigan Territory and superintendent of Indian affairs the sole...

     (1807) – not implied, though all 3 nations present
  • Treaty of Brownstown
    Treaty of Brownstown
    The Treaty of Brownstown was between the United States and the Council of Three Fires , Wyandott, and Shawanoese Indian Nations...

     (1808) – implied
  • Treaty of Springwells
    Treaty of Springwells
    The Treaty of Springwells was signed at Springwells, Michigan on September 8, 1815. The agreement was signed between the United States federal government and the Chippewa, Ottawa, and Pottawatomi tribes inhabiting the Genessee County. This treaty officially ended all hostilities between the U.S....

     (1815) – implied
  • Treaty of St. Louis (1816)
  • Treaty of Fort Meigs
    Treaty of Fort Meigs
    The Treaty of Fort Meigs, also called the Treaty of the Foot of the Rapids, was signed September 29, 1817 between the chiefs and warriors of the Wyandot, Seneca, Delaware, Shawnee, Potawatomi, Ottawa and Chippewa, tribes of native Americans and the United States of America, represented by Lewis...

     (1817) – not implied, though all 3 nations present
  • Treaty of Chicago
    Treaty of Chicago
    The Treaty of Chicago may refer to either of two treaties made and signed in Chicago, Illinois between the United States and the Ottawa, Ojibwe , and Potawatomi Native American peoples.-1821 Treaty of Chicago:...

     (1821) – not implied, though all 3 nations present
  • Treaty of Prairie du Chien (1825) – implied, as well as individually with the Ojibwa
    Ojibwa
    The Ojibwe or Chippewa are among the largest groups of Native Americans–First Nations north of Mexico. They are divided between Canada and the United States. In Canada, they are the third-largest population among First Nations, surpassed only by Cree and Inuit...

     and Odawa
    Odawa people
    The Odawa or Ottawa, said to mean "traders," are a Native American and First Nations people. They are one of the Anishinaabeg, related to but distinct from the Ojibwe nation. Their original homelands are located on Manitoulin Island, near the northern shores of Lake Huron, on the Bruce Peninsula in...

    .
  • Treaty of Prairie du Chien (1829)

External links