What were the British colonies in America like in the 1770s?
The following lesson is intended to extend those found in the middle
school We the People text and build on previously taught concepts.
The purpose of this lesson is to briefly discuss the impact on the Ojibwe by the presence and expansion of the British colonies in North America in the 1770s. When you finish with this lesson, you should be able to list some of the traditional values of the Ojibwe and contrast those with the values of the British colonists during the same period.
Wisconsin Model Academic Standards for Social Studies
B.8.10 Analyze examples of conflict, cooperation, and interdependence
among groups, societies, or nations
B.8.11 Summarize major issues associated with the history, culture,
tribal sovereignty, and current status of the American Indian tribes
and bands in Wisconsin
Wisconsin Model Academic Standards for Language Arts
A.8.4 Read to acquire information
E.8.1 Use computers to acquire, organize, analyze, and communicate information
F.8.1 Conduct research and inquiry on self-selected or assigned topics,
issues, or problems and use an appropriate form to communicate their findings
Terms to Understand
Anishinabe – a cultural and trading alliance between the Ojibwe, Ottawa, and Potawatomi tribes
How did British settlement affect the Ojibwe?
Though the British did not immediately settle on lands occupied by the Ojibwe, the tribe almost instantly felt the presence of the British. Before the British settlement in North America in the 1770s, the French enjoyed mostly friendly relationships with Native American tribes based on the mutual benefits of the fur trade, with the French receiving fur pelts that could be sold in Europe, and the Native Americans receiving finished products that were otherwise unobtainable.
The Ojibwe, Ottawa, and Potawatomi formed the Anishinabe alliance in part to build a strong and powerful trading network across what is now the northeastern part of the United States. The Anishinabe tribes would harvest animal furs to deliver to French trading posts such as Detroit and Montreal in exchange for finished goods including guns, metal traps, cloth, and pots.
This arrangement lasted until the British and the Native American allies, including the Iroquois, defeated the French and their allies in a seven-year war—known as the French and Indian War—fought over control of North America. After the British won the war, the French control of the fur trade ended, and the tribes that had allied with the French suffered.
With the road to settlement now clear of French intrusion, British colonists, forcing the local eastern tribes to move west, quickly took over the land. As eastern tribes continued to be displaced by British expansion, the Ojibwe and other tribes of the Great Lakes region found their land intruded upon by increasing numbers of refugee tribes, and in turn looked west to places like Wisconsin, already occupied by the Menominee and Ho-Chunk. The result was an increasing competition between tribes over animal and plant resources, as well as water routes and trading posts, often resulting in warfare. In fact, many of the tribes present today in Wisconsin are there because of the British colonization of eastern North America.
How do traditional Ojibwe values compare to the rights the colonists valued?
Values of hard work and self-sufficiency, along with the right to freedom, have already been identified as most important to the colonists. Other important individual rights provided by British and colonial governments included the right to a trial by jury, free elections, and the right of free men to own property. Theses values proved to be key ingredients to the creation of later governments. However, most Native American tribes, specifically the Ojibwe, did not share them. The following is a list of values the Ojibwe call the Good Path, which provides guidance for behavior and continues to support the Ojibwe today.
1. Honor the Creator
2. Honor Elders
3. Honor Women
4. Honor Plants and Animals
5. Be Peaceful
6. Be Kind to Everyone, even Those with Whom We Disagree
7. Be Moderate in Our Thoughts, Words, and Deeds
8. Be Courageous
9. Keep Our Promises
Differences between tribes and colonial American governments
Write the following lists on the board or distribute printed copies; they may be useful when comparing the differences in values between the two groups. With these differences in mind, it is not difficult to understand why later conflicts between tribes and colonial American governments occurred.
• Rights to do things or have things
• Protections from others
• Qualifications for rights (men with property)
• Land ownership
• Responsibilities to do things
• Protections for others
• Everyone expected to act in the same way
• Land was to be used and respected, not owned
1. What were the results of the British settlement of North America for the Ojibwe?
2. What values did the Ojibwe consider to be important?
3. How were the Ojibwe values different from the values of the colonists?
Visit your library or perform an Internet search to find a map identifying the specific tribes present on the Atlantic coast at the time of British colonization. Research when, where, and if they relocated. Research the fur trade and the tribes that played important roles in trading. Create a map of important trade routes and posts.
Indian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance and Renewal by Patti Lowe
Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society, 2001.
The Good Path: Ojibwe Learning and Activity Guide for Kids by Thomas Peacock and Marlene Wisuri. Afton: Afton Historical Society Press, 2002.
Ojibwe Waasa: We Look in All Directions by Thomas Peacock and Marlene Wisuri
Afton: Afton Historical Society Press, 2002.