The Mississauga are a subtribe of the Anishinaabe-speaking First Nations peoples located in southern Ontario, Canada. They are closely related to the Ojibwe. The name "Mississauga" comes from the Anishinaabe word Misi-zaagiing, meaning "[Those at the] Great River-mouth." It is closely related to the Ojibwe word Misswezahging, which means ‘a river with many outlets.’
According to the oral histories of the Anishinaabe, after departing the "Second Stopping Place" near Niagara Falls, the core Anishinaabe peoples migrated along the shores of Lake Erie to what is now southern Michigan. They became "lost" both physically and spiritually. The Mississauga migrated along a northern route by the Credit River, to Georgian Bay. These were considered their historic traditional lands on the shores of Lake Superior and northern Lake Huron around the Mississagi River. The Mississauga called for the core Anishinaabe to Midewiwin, meaning 'return to the path of the good life'. The core Anishinaabe peoples formed the Council of Three Fires and migrated from their "Third Stopping Place" near the present city of Detroit to their "Fourth Stopping Place" on Manitoulin Island, along the eastern shores of Georgian Bay.
By the time the French explorers arrived in 1534, the Mississauga were a distinct tribe of Anishinaabe people, living along the Mississagi River and on Manitoulin Island. On the 1675 Carte du Mississippi et des lacs Supérieur, Michigan et Huron, the Mississauga were recorded as "Missisakingdachirinouek" (Misi-zaaging dash ininweg: "Regular-speakers of the Great River-mouth"). They had moved from the Mississagi River area southward into the Kawartha lakes region. From this location, a smaller contingent moved southwest to an area along the Lake Ontario shoreline. They developed a large settlement at the mouth of the Credit River, just west of the site of modern-day Toronto. French fur traders set up a trading post there. The French identified the peoples as Mississauga, likely a transliteration of what they heard as the name.
Alternate spellings of the name are Mississaga, Massassauga and Missisauga, plural forms of these three, and "Mississauga Indians". Before Anishinaabe replaced the Wyandot language in the mid-17th century as the lingua franca of the Great Lakes region, the Mississauga were also known by the name (exonym) which the Wendat called them.
When Conrad Weiser conducted a census in Logstown in 1748, he identified the people as Tisagechroamis, his attempt at conveying the sound of their exonym name in Wendat. Other variants of this spelling were Tisagechroamis, Tisaghechroamis, Tisagechroan, Tisagechroanu, and Zisaugeghroanu. "The Tisagechroanu were the Mississagas from Lake Huron, a large tribe of French Indians, or under French influences. The name Tisagechroanue here is probably a misprint, for it is most often found Zisaugeghroanu."
In the waning years of the American Revolution, starting in 1781, the British Crown purchased land from the Mississauga in a series of transactions that encompassed much of present-day southern Ontario. They purchased the land to fulfill promises made in the 'Haldimand Deed', land promised to the Haudenosaunne of the Six Nations' Iroquois Confederacy for their allied support in the war, and to compensate them for losses of former territory to American colonists. But Britain, and subsequently Canada, reneged on many of their promises, as Lord Simcoe sought instead make land grants to United Empire Loyalists and other white settlers seeking farmland.
In 1848, the Haudenosaunee granted land to the Mississauga within the former's Six Nations Reserve on Grand River. The Mississauga became established on the New Credit. Beginning in the 19th century, the Mississauga sought to gain compensation for the land granted to them but given to other settlers. In the 21st century, the Canadian government awarded the Mississauga of the New Credit First Nation nearly $145 million in settlement of this land claim.
- The city of Mississauga is named after them.
- The Western and Eastern massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus) are named after them.
- Fort Mississauga is named after them.
All the Mississaugas are a subset of the Ojibwe nation of 200,000 people.
Historically, there were five First Nations that made up the Mississauga Nations. Today, there are six, listed here along with their historical counterparts, where applicable:
- Mississauga First Nation — Mississagi River 8 Reserve
- Mississaugas of Chibaouinani (historical)
- Alderville First Nation (formerly: Mississaugas of Alnwick) — Alderville First Nation Reserve, Sugar Island 37A Reserve
- Mississaugas of the Credit (historical)
- Mississaugas of Beldom (historical)
- Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation — New Credit 40A Reserve. One of the largest communities; as of 2005, the Mississaugas of the Credit had a population of 1,375.
- Mississaugas of Matchedash (historical)
- Mississaugas of Rice Lake, Mud Lake and Scugog Lake (historical)
- Curve Lake First Nation (formerly: Mississaugas of Mud Lake) — Curve Lake First Nation 35 Reserve, Curve Lake 35A Reserve and Islands in the Trent Waters Indian Reserve 36A
- Mississaugas of Grape Island (historical)
- Hiawatha First Nation (formerly: Mississaugas of Rice Lake) — Hiawatha First Nation Indian Reserve, Islands in the Trent Waters Indian Reserve 36A
- Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation — Mississaugas of Scugog Island Reserve, Islands in the Trent Waters Indian Reserve 36A
- Crawford Purchase
- Toronto Purchase
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- Anonymous [Bernou, Claude?] (1675): [Carte du Mississippi et des lacs Supérieur, Michigan et Huron.]
- George Thornton Fleming, Vol. 1, History of Pittsburgh and environs, from prehistoric days to the beginning of the American revolution, Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Digital Research Library, 1999
- "The History of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation" (PDF). mncfn.ca. Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. Retrieved 11 April 2021.