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The Leech Lake Ojibwe or Chippewa

Commonly called Chippewa in the United States and Ojibway in Canada, the people of Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas to the south and Ontario to the north, call themselves Anishinabe meaning "first men".

The Anishinabe prefer to be called this. They accept Ojibwe, but dislike intensely the name Chippewa even though some bands include it in their official name for purposes of recognition by the wider world.

Ojbiwe, or Ojibway, is an Algonquin phrase that refers to a unique style of puckered seam on the moccasins of the Anishinabe. Chippewa is considered to be a poor attempt by early French explorers to say the word "Ojibwe" (ENAT, 57-60).

The Ojibwe were and continue to be one of the largest tribes in the United States, third only to the Cherokee and Navajo according to most surveys. The Ojibwe however, have so intermingled with the white man's world that by the middle of this century it was thought that a "pure blooded Ojibwe" no longer existed.

Instead of there being a single flag for the Ojibwe nation in the United States, each band can decide whether or not it wants a flag and what that design should be. This situation is also true in the Canadian bands as explained by Kevin Harrington in Flagscan, the official publication of the Canadian Flag Association over a decade ago.

The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe live on approximately 28,000 acres that comprise the Leech Lake Reservation. The flag of that reservation is white and bears the tribal seal in the center (sample flag provided by Advertising Flag Co., Chicago, IL). That seal starts with a red ring around a white central disc. On the ring in red appears the name of the reservation.

Within the red ring the most prominent device is a yellow equilateral triangle. Outside the edges of this triangle starting from the hoist side are symbols of nature, in this case pine trees and a soaring eagle; symbols of education represented by diploma and graduation mortarboard hat; and symbols of justice and the law depicted as the scales of justice. Within the triangle appear a peace pipe and two brown feathers representing the Ojibwe people. The yellow triangle recalls the birchbark wigwams that were the ancient homes of the Ojibwe, and brings all the symbols together representing the concept that the Ojibwe people have a home on the Leech Lake reservation where they can prosper under the rule of law, through education and in harmony with nature.

Don Healy, Bisbee, Az 85603