Pembina Band of Chippewa Indians

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United States Gotoarrow.png Indigenous Peoples of the US Gotoarrow.png Minnesota, United States Genealogy Gotoarrow.png Indigenous Peoples of Minnesota Gotoarrow.png Pembina Band of Chippewa Indians

History[edit | edit source]

It is not known exactly how long the Pembina Chippewa's have lived from northwestern Minnesota, eastern North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, northwestern Ontario, southern Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. 19th century books and reports about the Pembina Chippewa's are helpful. Historians generally classify the Pembina Chippewa's as being Saulteaux but history tells of a Pembina Chippewa District.

A letter written by Father Belcourt to Major Woods in 1849, described the district of these Chippewa people. Belcourt claimed from Pembina, North Dakota, the Pembina Chippewa District extended around 400 miles from north to south. Belcourt claimed it commenced at the 49th parallel of latitude or the border of Canada and the United States. Belcourt only included the Pembina District land in the United States. Pembina District in the United States, extended from just north of Pembina, North Dakota at the Canadian border, to extreme southeastern South Dakota adjacent to Iowa.

Belcourt also told Woods that the Pembina Chippewa District extended over 500 miles from east to west, at the height of land where the Mississippi River is in Minnesota. That be the 47th parallel of latitude (the Leech Lake Reservation region). That be from Cass Lake over 500 miles to the west. Probably just southeast of what is now Fort Peck Reservoir. The Pembina Chippewa District bordered theLittle Shell Band of the Chippewa Tribe District. These Districts had close ties with the Lake Superior ChippewaDistrict to their east. The Yellowstone River in Montana may have been the Districts border. To the west was the Little Shell Chippewa District and to the east was the Pembina Chippewa District. Pembina Chippewa land in Canada was located in northwestern Ontario, Manitoba, and probably a small area of southeastern Saskatchewan. In the early 20th century, many Pembina Chippewa's who lived in southern Manitoba (St. Peters near Selkirk) were forced to relocate to the north and northeast. That be the Fisher River and Peguis region of Manitoba, and the region east of Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba and northwestern Ontario. That happened when adhesion's were signed to Treaty 5 on August 24, 1908 (Fisher River) and June 9, 1910 (Deer's Lake). Long before that, however, the Pembina Chippewa's migrated north into northern Manitoba and Nunavut.

Historians think the Chippewa's became attracted to the plains in the 18th century. And the fur trade was not as important to the Chippewa's as historians suggest. When the Chippewa's had the opportunity to trade they often did. However, they were prone to keep away from the white trading posts for a good reason. Trading companies knew it and lured the Chippewa's to the trading posts by offering alcohol. Chippewa leaders found it extremely difficult to stop their subjects from visiting the trading posts and were probably forced to use harsh measures to keep them away from the trading posts. All too often it failed.

By the late 18th century, the Pembina Chippewa's were living in the Devil's Lake region of North Dakota and also the Turtle Mountains region of North Dakota and Manitoba. To the south of Devil's Lake, the Lakota, who had yet to be subjugated by the Pembina Chippewa's, used the guns they received from white trading posts to attack the Pembina Chippewa's. At the time the Chippewa soldiers could easily defeat the Lakota using only bows and arrows. The single shot musket guns were no match. Some Lakota people were always capable of not being subjugated by the Chippewa's. They tended to keep their villages located near white trading posts.

Some time in the 18th century, the Pembina Chippewa's had forced their way into the east of South Dakota. They mixed their culture and language with the Lakota people they had subjugated. It is not known when the Pembina Chippewa's reached the Montana region. According to the Chippewa author Peter Jones, the Chippewa's had fought a war in far western Montana (around the Missoula and Bitterroot Valley region) many generations before his time which was the mid 19th century. Jones could only provide those details.

Since Jones wrote the event occurred Many Generations before his time, that may indicate it was a period of more than 100 years. A few generations is maybe about 5. Many generations can actually add up to 10, 20 or even more. However, William W. Warren wrote that the Ojibway people counted one generation as being 40 years. So the Chippewa war in far western Montana, possibly occurred 200 to 400 to 800 years before Jones time which was the mid 19th century. That be anywhere between the 1000s, 1400's and 1600's. And Peter Jones was not the only author to write about the Chippeway's fighting a war in far western Montana.

Around the time of the War of 1812, the whites launched an invasion into the south of Manitoba. Pembina Chippeway soldiers defeated and subjugated them. They allowed the whites who had settled in the few white forts and settlements in southern Manitoba, some degree of freedom. Freedom of religion was one and to stay in contact with the whites at the trading posts was another. The Metis people are a part of Pembina Chippewa history.

They liked the lifestyle of the Pembina Chippewa's who frequently hunted for buffalo. They are a mixture of Chippewa and white, or the descendants of the white settlers who invaded southern Manitoba between 1800 and 1820. They would cause problems as the 19th century progressed. The Pembina Chippewa's mixed their culture and language with the whites they subjugated. Much mixing occurred and the Metis were prone to fall for the religion of the whites. The Pembina Chippewa's were liberal about religion but were not stupid. They first allowed the whites to carry on with their religion but sometimes reacted with great rage if the whites appeared to be foolish.

Brief Timeline[edit | edit source]


Were probably living in the south of Manitoba and northwestern Ontario. A larger Lake Winnipeg probably existed during those times so the Pembina Chippewa's were probably more at home in northwestern Ontario.

16th century:

May have had first contact with the whites.

17th century:

They definitely had contact with the whites. Probably from the Hudson Bay region. Pembina Chippeway soldiers were sent east to help fight the whites and their Indian allies.

18th century:

Though their participation in the wars against the whites was limited, Pembina Chippeway soldiers did participate in those wars. In 1774 (around the time of Lord Dunmore's War or Revolutionary War), the whites commenced to build trading posts inland from Hudson Bay. It agitated the Chippeway's. After the Revolutionary War, an increase in the number of inland trading posts followed. Hudson Bay Company was really searching for the Northwest Passage. After finding it, they commenced to build forts in northern Alberta and the Northwest Territories. It caused unrest among the Chippeway's.

19th century:

During the War of 1812, the whites launched an invasion to the south of Manitoba. Chippeway soldiers stopped and defeated the whites. They subjugated most until 1869. Wars on the plains of the northern United States and Minnesota, led to large numbers of Pembina Chippewa casualties. Many followed prophecy and fled west. Chief Yellow Quill, who originally lived in southern Manitoba, was instrumental in leading large numbers of Pembina Chippewa's to eastern Saskatchewan. One of chief Yellow Quill's sub-chiefs named Kinistin, led large numbers of Pembina Chippewa's north to the Barren Lands (Caribou Land) of Manitoba, northeastern Saskatchewan, and Nunavut. Chiefs James and John Smith, led large numbers of Pembina Chippewa's from the St. Peters region in southern Manitoba, to Saskatchewan. Many Pembina Chippewa's were led into Montana by chief Sitting Bull. Chief Sitting Bull was born and raised among the Red River Chippewa's, or was Pembina Chippewa.

Reservations[edit | edit source]

Cheyenne River-Standing Rock Reservation.

Crow Creek-Lower Brule Reservation.

Fort Berthold Reservation.

Fort Peck Reservation (Possibly not).

Fort Totten Reservation.

Lake Traverse Reservation.

Leech Lake Reservation.

Pine Ridge-Rosebud Reservation.

Red Lake Reservation.

Turtle Mountain Reservation.

White Earth Reservation.

Barren Lands

Berens River

Big Grassy

Birdtail Sioux



Buffalo Point




Crane River (O-chi-chak-ko-sip-pi)

Cross Lake

Cumberland House

Dakota Plains

Dakota Tipi

Dauphin River

Deer Lake

Ebb and Flow

Fairford (Pinaymootang)

Fisher River

Fishing Lake

Fox Lake


God's Lake

God's River (Manto Sipi)

Grassy Narrows

Hollow Water

Island Lake (Garden Hill, Red Sucker Lake, St. Theresa Point, and Wasagamack)


James Smith




Kinonjeoshtegon (aka Jackhead)

Lake Manitoba

Lake St. Martin

Little Black River

Little Grand Rapids

Little Saskatchewan

Long Plain

Marcel Colomb

Mathias Colomb





Nelson House (Nisichawayasihk)


Northwest Angle No. 33

Northwest Angle No. 37

Norway House


Ocean Man





Oxford House (Bunibonibee)



Peter Ballantyne

Pheasant Rump


Pine Creek

Poplar Hill

Poplar River

Red Earth

Rolling River

Roseau River

Sachigo Lake

Sagkeeng (Fort Alexander)

Sandy Bay

Sandy Lake


Sayisi Dene


Shoal Lake No. 40

Sioux Valley


Swan Lake





War Lake


Wauzhushk Onigum


White Bear 

Wuskwi Sipihk

Yellow Quill

York Factory

Additional References to the History of the Tribe[edit | edit source]

Tribal Headquarters[edit | edit source]

Records[edit | edit source]

The majority of records of individuals were those created by the agencies. Some records may be available to tribal members through the tribal headquarters.They were (and are) the local office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and were charged with maintaining records of the activities of those under their responsibility. Among these records are:

Treaties[edit | edit source]

Important Websites[edit | edit source] Father Belcourt Chiefs Kinistin Chief Yellow Quill

References[edit | edit source]

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives; Record Group 75, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
  • Hodge, Frederick Webb. Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1906 Available online.
  • Klein, Barry T., ed. Reference Encyclopedia of the American Indian. Nyack, New York: Todd Publications, 2009. 10th ed. WorldCat 317923332; FHL book 970.1 R259e.
  • Malinowski, Sharon and Sheets, Anna, eds. The Gale Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes. Detroit: Gale Publishing, 1998. 4 volumes. Includes: Lists of Federally Recognized Tribes for U.S., Alaska, and Canada – pp. 513-529 Alphabetical Listing of Tribes, with reference to volume and page in this series Map of “Historic Locations of U.S. Native Groups” Map of “Historic Locations of Canadian Native Groups” Map of “Historic Locations of Mexican, Hawaiian and Caribbean Native Groups” Maps of “State and Federally Recognized U.S. Indian Reservations. WorldCat 37475188; FHL book 970.1 G131g.
Vol. 1 -- Northeast, Southeast, Caribbean
Vol. 2 -- Great Basin, Southwest, Middle America
Vol. 3 -- Arctic, Subarctic, Great Plains, Plateau
Vol. 4 -- California, Pacific Northwest, Pacific Islands
  • Sturtevant, William C. Handbook of North American Indians. 20 vols., some not yet published. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1978– .
Volume 1 -- Not yet published
Volume 2 -- Indians in Contemporary Society (pub. 2008) -- WorldCat 234303751
Volume 3 -- Environment, Origins, and Population (pub. 2006) -- WorldCat 255572371
Volume 4 -- History of Indian-White Relations (pub. 1988) -- WorldCat 19331914; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.4.
Volume 5 -- Arctic (pub. 1984) -- WorldCat 299653808; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.5.
Volume 6 -- Subarctic (pub. 1981) -- WorldCat 247493742; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.6.
Volume 7 -- Northwest Coast (pub. 1990) -- WorldCat 247493311
Volume 8 -- California (pub. 1978) -- WorldCat 13240086; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.8.
Volume 9 -- Southwest (pub. 1979) -- WorldCat 26140053; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.9.
Volume 10 -- Southwest (pub. 1983) -- WorldCat 301504096; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.10.
Volume 11 -- Great Basin (pub. 1986) -- WorldCat 256516416; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.11.
Volume 12 -- Plateau (pub. 1998) -- WorldCat 39401371; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.12.
Volume 13 -- Plains, 2 vols. (pub. 2001) -- WorldCat 48209643
Volume 14 -- Southeast (pub. 2004) -- WorldCat 254277176
Volume 15 -- Northwest (pub. 1978) -- WorldCat 356517503; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.15.
Volume 16 -- Not yet published
Volume 17 -- Languages (pub. 1996) -- WorldCat 43957746
Volume 18 -- Not yet published
Volume 19 -- Not yet published
Volume 20 -- Not yet published