All Ojibway people practiced the time-honored Midewewin religion. The Midewewin, Great Medicine Society, was an organization of medicine healers. The priests of the Midewewin contend that their religion began with their cultural hero Nanabozoho, the Great Hare, by order of the Great Spirit. Members of the Midewewin believe that Mother Earth is a living thing, and that all plants and animals upon her contain a spirit that is part of the Divine Creator. The Chippewa respected the cycle of seasons, the four corners of the earth, and gave thanks. Besides being a religious philosophy, the Midewewin is a practice of preserving the medicinal qualities of plants to aid the people’s longevity.
The ethics of the Midewewin religion are simple, yet comprised the structure of family values. Midewewin philosophy is related to nature. Tribal members lived as one with all life. They honored the “Four Orders of Creation, physical, plant, animal, and human. Without the earth, plants, and animals, there would not be human life. The Chippewa believed they were the last form of life created on Mother Earth, and lived with respect for all life forms, often calling other forms of creation their elders. Respect was a value they honored. With the teaching of values, proper conduct was inspired. The Chippewa believed a long and balanced life was acquired through following the sacred teachings of the Midewewin.
The practice of the Midewewin instilled values to the individual and the tribe. Such characteristics as sharing, honor, and learning throughout ones life were attributes of proper conduct. The survival of Chippewa society depended on the success of the tribe as a whole. Cooperation is an important factor to maintain safety and well being for everyone. Individuals were encouraged to develop personal skills. Through observation members acknowledged another’s abilities and honored them. In this way, individuals built self-esteem and a strong sense of pride in oneself and in one’s family.
The drum is used by the Chippewa for spiritual and social gatherings. It is believed that it is the heart of the people by it’s sound representing the heartbeat. Tobacco continues to be used in many spiritual rituals, each shred representing man, woman, animals, trees, agriculture, medicine, birds, spiritual beings, everything living and/or breathing. It is used as an offering to Kitchi Manito in prayers and is used when taking something of the earth for the use of food or medicine to help with hunger or healing. Sage, sweet grass, and cedar are also used in ceremonies. Eagle feathers are used in many ceremonies and are symbols of honor and accomplishment.
There are different types of pipes. One type is used for healing as the Midewewin society. This type of pipe is an important part of the Midewewin and is a statue that is earned through members within the society. Another type of pipe is used as a symbol of peace for all tribes and nations, which signifies accepting peace.