Rama Road today
Oral history tells us that the Ojibwe Nation was one of the largest nations in North America. We migrated from the eastern seaboard to the west side of Lake Huron, Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, pushing the Sioux further west. We made our way into this area from the southern portion of Chippewa territory in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Known as the Chippewas of Lake Simcoe and Huron, our people are part of the Chippewa Tri-Council, an alliance of three First Nation communities now known as the Chippewas of Beausoleil First Nation on Christian Island, the Chippewas of Georgina Island on Georgina Island, and the Chippewas of Rama First Nation. Under the leadership of our hereditary Chief, Chief Musquakie (Yellowhead) who served his community from 1818 to 1844, the Chippewa Tri-Council First Nations continue their alliance today.
Well known for our hospitality, we shared our knowledge and medicines with early settlers which enabled them to survive their first difficult years in a sometimes harsh land.
Around 1830, our community was moved to the Coldwater Narrows area by the Crown, part of an “experiment” which shaped “Indian Reserves”. We continued on as industrious people, building a road for commerce which is known today as Highway 12, establishing farms, mills, and markets for selling produce, fish and game to settlers and travellers.
Forced to move again after our land was taken in what is now being termed an “illegal surrender”, we purchased land in Rama Township in 1836 and made a new beginning for our people.
The land was difficult to farm and, with the loss of our inherent right to fish and hunt with the disputed Williams Treaties in 1923, we pursued other entrepreneurial opportunities in the tourism market.
The Mnjikaning Fish Fence Circle was established in 1993 by community members and area residents for the purpose of protecting and promoting the weirs. In 1982, the government recognized the Mnjikaning Fish Weirs as a National Historical Site. In conjunction with Parks Canada and the Mnjikaning Fish Fence Circle, strategic plans are in development to protect and promote the weirs located in our territory.
The fish fence at the Atherley Narrows, is located near Rama First Nation. It is a complex system of underwater fences which was used for harvesting fish.
In the Anishnaabeg telling of the creation of the world, each species of living things was given a purpose to fulfill. The fish were told to come together at certain times of the year and hold council. At these times, the people could more readily access them for food.
In spite of all the changes the Narrows has undergone over the centuries, the fish still hold to their role in creation and come together at Rama every spring and fall.
Elders say that the historical role taken on by Rama was important to the Chippewa Tri-Council communities. We kept the fence and made sure that the harvest garnered was distributed equally to the other communities involved.
Rama, over the centuries, was more than a place for fishing. It was a traditional meeting place because of its unique geographical location with respect to the convergence of lakes and tributaries.
The Deer Clan are traditional caregivers. Our community symbol is the Deer.
Rama First Nation leadership believes in community consultation as a primary tool for guiding policy, program and legislative development.
Since the mid-1980’s, Rama has undertaken ten-year community visioning and consultation processes. The most recent consultation process in 2015 included on and off-reserve members. Members had the opportunity to participate by survey, in meeting and focus groups, and on an individual basis.
Chief and Council with the community and administration are committed to initiatives which move towards key goals identified in the process including:
The Restoration of Traditional Ecological Knowledge from all available resources in order to rebuild our traditional relationship with the land.
Developing a new Health and Social Services building committed to promoting mental, physical, spiritual and emotional well-being of our people. Services would include both traditional and western medicine.
Researching, writing and publishing of Rama's history to preserve our Ojibwe language and dialect, our culture, traditions and history.
Eco-Tourism include the development of Black River Wilderness Park as a multi-use, year round destination that is also a place for our children to learn about culture, to be the basis of a global indigenous university in the future as well as a place to practice our land skills.
Economic Development to ensure diverse investments and projects to sustain our community well into the future.
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