By Chris Belleau - Garden River First Nation
Chief Shingwauk's original name was Shingwaukonse, meaning Little Pine.
Any understanding of Shingwaukonse and his purposes must be viewed in the proper time, place and cultural context. From Birth To Death, the only Nation that Shingwaukonse devoted himself and tirelessly worked for was the Ojibway Nation. He presented himself from no other perspective. His social status and National Accomplishments are entirely dedicated to the Advancement of the Ojibway Nation and the Well-being of Ojibway Citizens.
He advanced himself as a War Chief and established himself as a National Leader during the War of 1812. The Ojibway Nation agreed to fight in this war, to stem the tide of Settler Invasions, provided that an Indian Buffer State was respected and acknowledged by European Powers. Shingwaukonse was very much a proponent of this purpose. Sadly, the negotiators in Ghent, Holland removed the Indian Buffer State as a condition of Peace in 1814. For the next 40 years, Shingwaukonse will dedicate his efforts to maintain the Ojibway Nation's possessions amid the rising tide of Settler Invasions.
During the 1830's Colonial People's of the World, refused to acknowledge the Territorial Land Rights of Original Peoples. Draconian methods were developed such as outright genocide, but Removal Policy became the method in vogue in North America. During the entire period of Removal Policy of the United States, Shingwaukonse would reinforce Ojibway resolve by offering Safe Harbor for any Ojibway wishing to remain in Ojibway Territory. Fortunately, the official end of the Removal Policy came with the signing of the Treaties of 1855, at Sault Sainte Marie, where reserves were established.
The concept of the Teaching Wigwam is the result of the desire that the Ojibway Nation, develop and process resources needed by foreign demands. This was a effort to develop the capacity of the Ojibway Nation, to maintain its' possession to resources and lands. The Teaching Wigwam initiative was an importation of skills, not an abandonment of Culture and Identity. The discovery of copper on the north shores of lake Huron and Superior sparked a confrontation that would lead to the Robinson Treaties of 1850. Shingwaukonse, quoting the Proclamation of 1763, successfully defended the Treaty Process required by Law. Shingwaukonse died in 1854, just after the conclusion of the Robinson Huron Treaty. The pursuit of the Teaching Wigwam would have to be carried on by his sons.
As a result of the work of Agustin Shingwauk and Bugujjewenene and the Anglican Church, the Teaching Wigwam became a reality. Sadly, the operations and purpose of the Teaching Wigwam was aligned with the Assimilation and Genocide of the Ojibway Nation as opposed to the initial purposes originally advocated by Shingwaukonse.