INTRODUCTION: With the CHIPPEWA (OJIBWAY) and the POTAWATOMI, the Ottowa formed the Council of Three Fires. All three Algonquian tribes supposedly migrated to the GreatLakes country from the north as one people, then separated. In the early 1600s, when French explorers and missionaries arrived to the area, the Ottowa controlled the northern reaches of Lake Huron-- especially Manitoulin Island and the shores of Georgian Bay. The Ottowa lived like other Great Lakes ALGONQUIANS--surviving through a combination of hunting in the forests, fishing in the lakes and rivers, gathering wild rice in the marshes, and, when conditions allowed, planting crops in cultivated fields (see NORTHEAST INDIANS). They shared many typical Algonquian beliefs--for example, in Manitou, the Great Spirit--but they had their own unique legends and traditions too. Their creation myth tells the story of their descent from three different creatures--Michabou, the Great Hare, Namepich, the Carp, and the Bear's Paw. After the arrival of Europeans, the Ottowa became noted in two connections: first as traders, then as the tribe that produced one of the great Indain leaders, Pontiac. Their fame as traders came about while the French controlled much of North America, up until 1763. Their name, pronounced AHT-uh-wuh, means "to trade" or "at-home-anywhere people." (An alternate spelling, preferred by most tribal members, is Odawa, singular, or Odawak, plural.) The name was given to the river that uns through what was once their territory and which now separates Quebec from Ontario in Canada. (The name was also given to the capital city of Canada.)The Ottowa River was a main trade route for Indians and Frenchmen alike. It probably had more canoes going up and down it than any other river in history. The Ottowa were part of the Grat Huron Trade Circle. They supplied furs to HURON (WYANDOT) middlemen, who took them to the French in Quebec and Montreal and then returned to pay off the Indians with European trade goods. After 1649, when the IROQUOIS (HAUDENOSAUNEE) defeated the Huron, the Ottowa took over as the middlemen. Now it was their turn to deal directly with the French, bartering
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- History, Ottowa, Pontiac's Rebellion