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Our History

Welcome! Biindigen!

Who We Are as a People

We are the territory of the Deshkaan Ziibing Anishinaabeg, also known as Chippewas of the Thames First Nation. We are a forward thinking nation with a strong grasp of our traditional values. Through culture, heritage and continued education we are working towards a better future – towards a self-governing First Nation that thrives socially, culturally, spiritually and economically.

The majority of Southwestern Ontario is our modern traditional territory. We call ourselves Anishinabek which means the original people. We are known as the Ojibway, which are part of the Algonquin language family, who originally migrated to the Great Lakes area from the north-eastern region of North America. Our political alliances are with the Odawa (Ottawa) and Bodaywadami (Pottawatomi) who together form the Three Fires Confederacy.

We are located on the north bank of the Thames River approximately 20 km southwest of London, Ontario.  Chippewas of the Thames First Nation is an Ojibway community established in 1760 along the banks of the Thames River of which Chippewa is claiming title of the Thames waterbed.  The land base comprises 3,331 hectares of unceeded land in Southwestern Ontario.

Our Treaty History

The Longwoods Treaty was negotiated over several years, 1818 to 1822, where the sole signatories were Chippewas of the Thames leadership.  Most treaties in Canada represent a large number of First Nations. The Longwoods Treaty is our treaty and ours alone.  The Longwoods Treaty area encompasses approximately 900 square miles.  It is estimated to contain 580,000 acres and is roughly shaped like a rectangle that ate too much and bulges in the middle.  Either end of the Treaty area is approximately 12 to 14 miles in height

In the fall of 1818, the King’s representative met with the Chiefs of the Chippewas of southwestern Ontario and indicated that the King of England wanted to purchase land from the Chippewa.  The Chippewa agreed and told the Crown on what terms they would sell the land.  The minutes of that meeting form part of our understanding of what is meant by ‘spirit and intent’. The three written treaties of 1819, 1820, and 1822 are written in English and reflect British real estate law.

Why are there three written versions of the Longwoods Treaty?

There are three written versions of the same treaty, it seems, because the Crown originally intent on the payment for the Longwoods Tract in goods.  That was done in 1790 and for the sum of approximately $ in pots, pans, knives, and cloth, the Crown acquired nearly three million acres of land.  Our ancestors, the Chiefs of Chippewas of the Thames didn’t want to repeat that situation.  Our ancestors actively negotiated the Longwoods Treaty, because they wanted a cash payment.   In the end, our leadership caused the payment for the Longwoods Treaty to be an annuity of $2400 dollars per year forever.  The band still receives this payment every year like clockwork.

Southern First Nation Treaty Territory

Chippewas of the Thames First Nation is the single signatory to the Longwoods Treaty of 1822.  In addition, Chippewas of the Thames is signatory along with other First Nations to the following treaties: London Township, 1796; Sombra, 1796; Treaty #29, 1827; and McKee 1790. It is important to know that all these treaties were signed before  Canada was formed as a country in 1867.  The term often used is pre-Confederation Treaties and has become important in the rights-based approach that COTTFN uses.