Batchewana First Nation of Ojibways is located on the westerly shores of Batchawana Bay on Lake Superior in Northern Ontario near and in Sault Ste. Marie.
Tribal Name: Batchewana First Nation of Ojibways
Address: Rankin Reserve, 236 Frontenac Street, R.R.# 4 Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario P6A 5K9
Official Website: www.batchewana.ca/
Band No. 198
Traditional Name: The Ojibway refer to their people as Anishinaabe, which mean “Original People.”
Alternate Names: Ojibwe, Ojibway, Ojibwa and Chippewa are just different spellings of the same word and all mean “puckered,” referring to their style of moccasins.
Governance: North Shore Tribal Council
Political Organizations: Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians
Reserve No. 15
Location/Size: They were reserved this land in the 1850 Robinson Huron Treaty, but surrendered most of it under the 1859 Pennefather Treaty.
Communities: Rankin, Batchewana, Goulais, and Whitefish Island
Reserve No. 15A
Name: Goulais Bay 15A Reserve
Location/Size: The Goulais Bay 15A reserve is located on the western shore of Goulais Bay. It is a 6.47 km2 tract of land encompassing most of the unincorporated community of Goulais Mission. As of 2006, 82 people lived on this reserve.
Reserve No. 15C
Name: Goulais Bay 15C Reserve
Location/Size: The band was granted a 5 acre reserve at Gros Cap called Goulais Bay 15C. The land was sold in 1956 for $3,600.
Reserve No. 15D
Name: Rankin Reserve
Location/Size: This is the main reserve for the band. It is a 15.66 km2 tract of land located between Sault Ste. Marie and Garden River 14. It takes its name from the Rankin Mining Company, from which the land was purchased in 1939. It wasn’t recognized as a reserve by the government until 1952. As of 2006, 566 people lived on this reserve.
Reserve No. 15E
Name: Obadjiwan Reserve
Location/Size: 115.8 acres at Corbeil Point on Batchawana Bay. The Corbeil Point Lighthouse is located on the reserve.
Name: Whitefish Island Reserve
Location/Size: All of Whitefish Island. Whitefish Island is an island in the St. Marys River south of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. This 0.17 km2 island had been a center for fishing and trade since time immemorial due to the annual abundance of lake whitefish.
Treaties: Robinson Huron Treaty of 1850, Pennefather Treaty, 1859
The Robinson Huron Treaty of 1850 was signed at Sault Ste. Marie by representatives of the Ojibways along the eastern and northern shores of Lake Huron. The bands ceded their territories to the Crown, except for “reserves” set aside, along with other concessions. Reserve No. 15, given to Nebenaigoching and his Band included:
- “a tract of land extending from Wanabekineyunnung west of Gros Cap to the boundary of the lands ceded by the Chiefs of Lake Superior, and inland ten miles throughout the whole distance, including Batchewanaung Bay; and also the small island at Sault Ste. Marie used by them as a fishing station.”
The Pennefather Treaty was signed on 9 June 1859 at Gros Cap between the “Chiefs and Warriors of Batchewananny Bay and Goulais Bay Band of Indians,” and the Crown. The chiefs and warriors agreed to relinquish to the Crown the reserved lands set aside in the Robinson Treaty (Reserve No. 15), exxcept for Whitefish Island.
The Crown, in return, would sell the land, and all interest accrued from the sale of the land would be distributed to band members annually. Each family could receive 40 acres of land on the Garden River reserve, and may purchase 80 acres of the land being sold at the selling price (with government-established conditions).
The bands were also given $1,200 divided amongst themselves, and all “improvements” to the lands being sold could be compensated after survey. Despite promises, band members never received any of the promised land from the Crown.
After the construction of the Sault Ste. Marie International Railroad Bridge began in 1887, a legal battle between railroads (Algoma Central Railway, Pacific and Atlantic Railroad Company and Hudson Bay Railway Company) resulted in Whitefish Island being expropriated under the Railway Act.
Residents were forced to move to Goulais Bay in 1905, and the traditional burial ground was relocated to Sault Ste. Marie in 1906.
Although the land was expropriated for railroad construction, no railway was ever constructed on the island. The federal Department of Public Works took possession of the island in 1913.
Regaining lost lands
In 1939, the band purchased 3,763.9 acres of land within Sault Ste. Marie, including a non-contiguous strip of waterfront property. In 1949, 8.25 acres were purchased north of Silver Creek, and 15.3 acres of land were sold. On 8 July 1952, this land was formally recognized as a reserve, Rankin Location 15D.
On 23 January 1964, the Department of Transportation and Communication gave two small parcels of land (115.8 acres) at Corbeil Point on Batchawana Bay to the Department of Indian Affairs, which was made into the Obadjiwan 15E reserve on 6 December 1966.
The land had originally been set apart for the Department of Marine and Fisheries to build the Corbeil Point Lighthouse by order in council on 29 May 1874.
Band members voted against selling 30.85 acres to the City of Sault Ste. Marie for the construction of a by-pass through Rankin in 1966. Negotiations ensued, and on 12 June 1969 the land was sold to the city for $45,000.
On 8 January 1979, the band council paid the Crown $365.20 to purchase 6.47 km2 of land in and around Goulais Mission. This became the Goulais Bay Reserve 15A.
In 1982, the band filed a land claim to reclaim Whitefish Island, which was then part of Parks Canada’s national inventory as a National Historic Site. After unsuccessful negotiations, hereditary Chief Edward James Sayers Nebenaigoching occupied the island from 1989 until the land claim was settled in 1992.
The band was paid $3.5 million in damages, and the island was returned to reserve status in 1997.
Men hunted and went to war to protect the family.
Both men and women participated in artwork, music, traditional medicine and story telling.
The Great Plains Ojibway lived in Tipis, and the Woodlands Ojibway made their homes out of bent poles covered in sheets of Birchbark, called Wigwams.
Until the early 1900s, there was a hereditary chief, descended from Nebenaigoching. Since then, Chief and Council have been elected by band members for 2-year terms, or more recently to 3 year terms.
The abundant lake whitefish found in eastern Lake Superior and especially the St. Marys Rapids have attracted anglers and trade since time immemorial.
Archaeological evidence shows occupation of Whitefish Island since about 200 BCE.
The first European record is from French explorers in 1621, who documented natives living on Whitefish Island. The Jesuits took note of extensive fishing in the rapids around 1670.
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