The Serpent River First Nation is part of the unceded lands retained by the Ojibway who traditionally inhabited the North Shores of the St. Mary’s River and the Georgian Bay, of Northern Ontario Great Lakes Region. The Serpent River First Nation is part of the Robinson Huron Treaty which was signed on September 5th, 1850.
The Serpent River First Nation is also known as Genaabaajiing or Cutler or in the recent past as Kenabutch [sic]. For the past three decades, traditionalists have preferred the Ojibway titles as Genaabaajing and Chi Gebebek Ziibibg Anishnabek.
The reserve has always been a relatively small community; however, recent years have showed a rapid development of community infrastructure and community services. In addition, the on-reserve population has shown a definite increase.
The Serpent River First Nation is located approximately 160 kilometers east of Sault Ste. Marie or approximately 140 kilometers west of Sudbury. It is located 30 kilometers east of the Town of Blind River on the Trans- Canada Highway 17. Two small communities flank the community: The Town of Spanish to the east and the Township of the Northshore (Serpent River) to the west. Serpent River First Nations is a twenty-minute drive from the retirement (nee mining) community of Elliot Lake. It is also bounded by the Serpent River and Grassy Lake to the north, Whalesback Channel and Lake Huron to the south and west.
The reserve consists of a land base of 26,947 acres along the north shore of Georgian Bay. It is located on the Precambrian Shield and consists primarily of outcropping igneous and metamorphic rock containing large areas of granite. This type of steeply rolling topography and its effects on groundwater limits the types and locations of developments in the community. Mining, Forestry and Commercial Fishing have been the main employment areas.
The residents are of the Ojibway Nation and have traditionally always inhabited the area. They continue to use the Ojibway language and pursue traditional ways.
The total population as of January 2013 is 1,300 members of which 371 live on reserve and 863 band members live off reserve. The large number of band members living off reserve is due to the number of reinstated registered members under the Bill C-31 process of 1985. There are 160 households.