First Nations O-P-Q

First Nations O-P-Q

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The Ottawa (also Odawa, or Odaawaa), meaning "traders," are a Native American and First Nations people. They are related to but distinct from the Ojibwe nation. They lived near the northern shores of Lake Huron. There are approximately 15,000 Ottawa living in Michigan, Ontario, and Oklahoma. The Ottawa language, like the Ojibwe language, is part of the Algonquian language family.The Ottawas and Chippewas (or Ojibways) were kinfolk and allies who spoke different dialects of the same language (just like most Americans and Canadians speak English, but with different accents). However, also like America and Canada, the Chippewa and Ottawa tribes were culturally and politically independent, with distinct leadership and customs. After Europeans arrived, some groups of Ottawas and Ojibways banded together for safety's sake, but in most cases, the two nations remain independent.


Clothing and housing were also similar – buckskin and semi-permanent villages of medium-sized longhouses and wigwams. For this reason, it is difficult today to distinguish between the site of a Pequot village and that of another tribe. The main difference being that Pequot villages were almost always heavily fortified. The Pequot were not that much larger than the tribes surrounding them, but they differed from other Algonquin in their political structure. Highly organized, the strong central authority exercised by their tribal council and grand sachem gave the Pequot a considerable military advantage over their neighbors. In this way, the Pequot were more like the Narragansett of Rhode Island and the Mahican of New York's Hudson Valley (with whom they are frequently confused).  


Like other New England Algonquin, the Pocumtuc were an agriculture people who lived in one of the most fertile farming areas in New England. Their homeland also abounded with game, and during the spring they were able to take advantage of large fish runs up the Connecticut and its tributaries. Besides the obvious north-south transportation provided by the Connecticut River (Quinnitukqut "long river"), the Pocumtuc homeland sat astride several important east-west trade routes, including the Mohawk Trail, which linked Native Americans in the interior with those on the Atlantic coast.   


The Potawatomi name is a translation of the Ojibwe "potawatomink" meaning "people of the place of fire." Similar renderings of this are: Fire Nation, Keepers of the Sacred Fire, and People of the Fireplace – all of which refer to the role of the Potawatomi as the keeper of the council fire in an earlier alliance with the Ojibwe and Ottawa.