The Anishnabek people of Wikwemikong are citizens of the Three Fires Confederacy: an alliance of Odawa, Ojibway and Pottawatomi nations. The Odawa inhabited Manitoulin Island or “Mnidoo Mnis” for many years prior to any other tribal settlements; it has been referred to as Odawa Mnis”. Manitoulin Island has also been called “Ogemah Mnis”, the home of the ancestors as recorded by many chiefs having been buried here. The Ojibway arrived in Wikwemikong during the 1850s era treaties. These families continue to reside and contribute to the community.
In 1832, three Pottawatomi families were already settled in Wikwemikong. With the ratification of the 1833 Treaty of Chicago in 1835, the U.S. government agents forced the Pottawatomi and neighbouring tribes to sell their land. More than 3,000 Anishnabek consequently left their homelands. Pottawatomi families began to arrive in Canada around this time. Concurrently in 1836, the main objective of the Bond Head Treaty was to initiate the migration of Upper Canada Indians to Manitoulin Island where they could live free from the influences of the encroaching white civilization.
The Upper Canada Indians did not migrate to Manitoulin Island as intended. Therefore, in 1862, the Mcdougall Treaty was initiated and signed. This treaty targeted the surrender of unsold lands on Manitoulin Island. Wikwemikong did not sign the treaty and thus it became known as an Unceded Indian Reserve. In 1968, an amalgamation took place among three bands: Manitoulin Island Indian Reserve, Point Grondine and South Bay. This amalgamation created the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve.
The people of Wikwemikong take great pride in the living history, culture and language of their community and in the diverse traditional arts that are present. In 2006, the citizens of Wikwemikong formally implemented a community-based Anishnaabemowin Language Strategy to retain our language for all future generations. It was also during this time that the Department of Canadian Heritage designated Wikwemikong as one of several Cultural Capitals of Canada.