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As well as being the capital city of Canada, the heavily tattooed and pierced Ottawa of the Great Lakes were one of the major Algonquin tribes (although referred to themselves as Anishinabe). They were known as intertribal traders, and formed the Council of Three Tribes with the Chippewa and the Potowatomi, and the Council of the Three Fires with the Iroquois Confederacy and the Sioux.

Considered to be a politically independant offshoot of the Ojibwe tribe, the Ottawa are now mostly found in lower Michigan, southern Ontario and in Ottawa County, Oklahoma, where they live on a 14,860-acre reserve. There are around 15,000 Ottawa in North America, with a little over half in the United States. As well, the Northern Michigan Ottawa Association is one of the largest Native groups in the U.S. without federal recognition. Urban legend holds that the name Ottawa (also known as Odawa or Odaawaa) means "nation of pierced noses" (this probably stems from the Nez Perces) but in fact it simply means "to trade" in the Algonquin language.

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