Explore the rich and vibrant history and culture of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe through our various museum exhibits, cultural objects, arts & crafts demonstrations, and tours, and shop for locally made Native American arts and crafts.
THE TURTLE MOUNTAIN CHIPPEWA INDIAN HERITAGE CENTER’S MISSION IS TO PRESERVE, PROMOTE, AND APPRISE THE HISTORY, CULTURE, AND LANGUAGE OF THE TRIBE IN ORDER TO PROMOTE WELLNESS WITHIN THE COMMUNITY AND SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES BY EDUCATING THE PUBLIC - ESPECIALLY THE YOUTH - OF THE BEAUTIFUL, HEALTHY, HOLISTIC, DIVERSE, AND LIVING CULTURES HERE, AND HOW THEY CAN BE USED TO BENEFIT THE LIVES OF COMMUNITY MEMBERS TODAY.
THE PURPOSE OF THE CENTER IS TO PRESERVE WRITTEN DOCUMENTS AND ARTIFACTS OF THE PEOPLE OF THE TURTLE MOUNTAIN BAND OF CHIPPEWA, AND TO MAKE HISTORICAL MATERIAL AVAILABLE FOR USE BY THE TURTLE MOUNTAIN CHIPPEWA PEOPLE, AS WELL AS, THOSE WHO DESIRE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE TURTLE MOUNTAIN BAND OF CHIPPEWA.
THE TURTLE MOUNTAIN INDIAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY AND HERITAGE CENTER WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1981 WITH A CONSTITUTION AND BYLAWS AS A 501(C)(3) NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION.
THE OJIBWE PEOPLE
The Ojibwe commonly refer to themselves as Anishinaabeg, a term meaning humans (as opposed to non-humans/whites).
The Ojibwe comprise numerous communities in the United States in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana, and in Canada in Ontario, southern and central Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The most common explanation of the name "Ojibwe" is said to be related to a root word meaning "puckered up," in reference to the distinct style of moccasin worn by the Ojibwe. Before European contact, the Ojibwe homeland was in the eastern US along the coast. Following a long migration, the Ojibwe soon spread along the eastern and northern shores of Lake Huron, up the northeastern shore of Lake Superior, and into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan before moving even further west into Minnesota, western Ontario, and Manitoba. During the fur trade, the Ojibwe moved out onto the plains of North Dakota, Saskatchewan, and as far west as the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Montana, including the Turtle Mountains.
The Ojibwe language (Ojibwemowin) is considered part of the "Algonquian language family". There are several dialects. Southern Ojibwa speakers include the Ottawas and Chippewas of southern Ontario, Manitoulin Island, and the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. To the east, the Nipissing and Algonquin represent another speech community, while western and northern Ojibwa speakers again represent other dialectal variants. The northern Ojibwa speak a dialect increasingly known as Ojicree or Oji-Cree, which resulted from intermarriage and contact with nearby Cree communities.
THE METIS PEOPLE
In addition to our Ojibwe community, we also have a strong Métis community in the Turtle Mountains.
The Métis are the “Otimpemsuak,” or “The People who own Themselves.” During the fur trade in west-central North America during the 18th century, intermarriage between local Ojibwe, Cree, Assiniboine, and other tribal people and Europeans became increasingly common. This resulted in a growing number of mixed-blood offspring who began to work in the fur trade industry and coalesce in areas such as Red River settlement (Manitoba) and Pembina (North Dakota). As this mixed-blood population progressed over several generations, they began to establish distinct communities separate from (but still loosely connected to) those of their Indians and Europeans forebearers, and started to marry among themselves, creating new kinship networks and a cohesive population that resulted in a growing sense of unity and shared identity. A new Aboriginal people emerged – the Métis people – with their own unique culture, traditions, language (Michif), way of life, and a collective consciousness and desire for nationhood.
Throughout the early 1800s, Red River and Pembina remained the heart of the Métis nation, as new Métis communities developed along the various trade routes across the northern Plains. Places like Turtle Mountain, Batoche, Wood Mountain, Cypress Hills, and places west in Montana and Alberta saw the rise of hundreds of communities.
Today, several of these historic Métis communities continue to exist, with the largest concentration of Métis existing at the Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota (whom accepted the Métis during the McCumber negotiations of the 1890s). The Métis culture is still strong in the Turtle Mountains with many people celebrating their heritage as Métis in addition to their pride and heritage as Ojibwe people.
The Turtle Mountain Reservation
The Turtle Mountain Reservation is in Rolette County in the wooded, rolling hills of north-central North Dakota.
The main part of the Turtle Mountain Reservation is 6 miles by 12 miles - encompassing 72 square miles (46,000 acres; 19,000 ha). An additional 26,175 acres (10,593 ha) is located in Rolette County, North Dakota, around the Turtle Mountain Reservation. In addition to the land in Rolette County, another 6,698 acres (2,711 ha) is managed by the Trenton Indian Service Area near Trenton, North Dakota.
Other lands include various Public Domain Allotments totaling 67,852 acres (27,459 ha) scattered across northern Montana, with small parcels in North Dakota and South Dakota.
The total area of the Turtle Mountain Reservation and all associated trust lands is 146,805 acres (229.383 sq mi; 59,410 ha).