Ottawa Indians, a tribe of the Algonquian linguistic group, closely related to the Chippewa and Potawatomi. They were a trading people, and their name comes from an Algonquian word, adawe, which means “to trade.” When first encountered by European explorers in the early 17th century, the Ottawas were living on Manitoulin Island and around Georgian Bay in Lake Huron. After the Iroquois defeated the Hurons in 1649, they drove the Ottawas, along with the Hurons, westward—to the Straits of Mackinac and to Green Bay. During the 18th century, the Ottawas established settlements at various locations along the coasts of Lakes Huron and Michigan.
The Ottawas fought for the French during the French and Indian War, and Pontiac, an Ottawa chief, was the leader of an uprising of Algonquian tribes against the British in 1763. The Ottawas fought on the side of the British, however, in the American Revolution and the War of 1812. In the 19th century, some Ottawas returned to Manitoulin Island and the Canadian shore of Lake Huron. The majority remained in Michigan. Ottawa bands in Ohio were given a reservation in Kansas in 1833, and many continued to live in Kansas on individual farms after the reservation was given up. In 1867,a small number accepted a reservation in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). Today, there are several thousand Ottawas in the United States and Canada.