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By the mid-nineteenth century the Ojibwa had enlarged their geographic boundaries and had splintered into four main groups.
The Southeastern Ojibwa lived southeast and north of Lake Huron, in present-day Michigan and southern Ontario.
To the missionaries the Ojibwa were heathens to be converted to Christianity.
To the fur traders they were commodities who could be purchased and indentured to company stores through watered-down alcohol and cheaply made goods.
According to the 1990 census, the Ojibwa were the third-largest Native group (with a population of 104,000), after the Cherokee (308,000) and the Navajo (219,000).
The Ojibwa call themselves the Anishinabeg (also spelled Anishinaabeg, or if singular, Anishinabe) for "first" or "original people." In the eighteenth century the French called Ojibwa living near the eastern shore of Lake Superior Salteaux or Salteurs, "People of the Falls." These terms now used only in Canada.At the Straits of Mackinac, the channel of water connecting Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, the vision ended, and the Anishinabe divided into three groups.One group, the Potawatomi, moved south and settled in the area between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.To the settlers they were wastrels who did not force the land to release its bounty. To the government they were impressionable and recalcitrant wards.
While there are many people who now value the Ojibwa culture, there are still others who regard the Ojibwa with disinterest or disdain, indicating that long-held stereotypes persist.
Early legends indicate that, 500 years ago, the Ojibwa lived near the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River.