Anishinabe aking ate awaso kikinawadjichigan. (This land we are upon is the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.)
Ottawa was called many things before Queen Victoria named Canada’s capital. It was called Bytown, Unitytown, Outaouais and other names too. Ottawa is an Anishnabe word that means “to trade”. Odawa is actually how we spell it; it is a First Nation as well.
Algonquin people refer to themselves as Anishnabe in their original language. It is commonly believed by the original people of this region that French explorer, Samuel de Champlain, overheard the East Coast First Nation, the Maliseet people, refer to us as “They who are our allies” and/or “They who are dancing” and this he wrote in his diary as what the people of this area were called.
Algonquin came to be a more widely known term for the language grouping of First Nations representing the Anishnabe, Odawa, Ojibwe, Omamawinini, Kitchesipirini, Micmac, Maliseet, Cree, Saulteaux, Potawatami and others.
Long before first contact with Europeans, Indigenous people had a name for this landbase, Kitche Zibi or Great River. Today this river is called the Ottawa River. There were four directions that people came here to gather for ceremony and trade, east and west and south by way of the present day Gatineau river and north by way of the Rideau river which flows north. There are sacred ceremonial sites throughout this region.
This area came to have what were called Peace and Friendship Treaties. They were not land surrenders. The use of the wampum belt was a form of agreement whereby the newcomers and original people, the Iroquois and the Anishnabe, would continue living by hunting and gathering in their traditional territories like they had for millenia.
This is why today we refer to the City of Ottawa as Unceded land, it was never surrendered to any Crown from overseas.