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Ontonagon Tribe

Ontonagon Indians. A Chippewa band formerly living on Ontonagon River, in upper Michigan. Regarding the origin of the name, Baraga1 says: “The proper meaning of this word is `my dish.’ An Indian tradition says that a squaw once came to the river, now called ‘ Ondonagan,’ to fetch water with an Indian earthen dish, but the dish escaped from her hand and went to the bottom of the river, whereupon the poor squaw began to lament: nid nind ondgan, nind ondyan! Ah, my dish, my dish! And the river was ever since called after this exclamation.”

Alternate Spellings:

  • Nantunagunk. Wm. Jones, inf’n, 1905 (correct form).
  • Octonagon band – U . S. Stat. at Large, x, 220, 1854 (misprint).
  • Ontonagon band – La Pointe treaty (1854) in U. S. Ind. Treat., 224, 1873.


  1. Baraga, Otchipwe Dict., 295, 1882 

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