Algonquian tribes and their names


Last Updated: 11 months

This is a list of tribes or sub-tribes who are part of the Algonquian linguistic group. (from the word “alligewinenk” which means “come together from distant places.”) This is a work in progress. There are probably others. The Algonquian-speaking (linguistic) groups include:

Abenaki, meaning Morning or Sunrise or People of the East (also spelled Abnaki, Abenaquis, Abanaki, Abenakis, Alnôbak, Wabanaki) Their language is called Alnombak or Aln8bak (8 is a Jesuit symbol for a nasalized, unrounded ‘o’.) They call themselves Alnombak meaning “the People”. They were members of the Wabanaki Confederacy, along with the Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, Mi’kmaq, and the Penobscot, adversaries of the Iroquois. Previously located in the New England area of the US and currently in Quebec, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Algonkin or Algonqiun or Weskarini (water people), Previously of the Ottawa River, now mostly found in Canada. Algonkin/Algonquin, which are tribes, are not to be confused with Algonkian/Algonquian, which is the entire language family. Algonkin are the people whose lands lie within the Ottawa Valley in Canada. The Algonkin people were also known as Abitibi, Nipissing, and Timiskaming.

Amikwa, meaning people of the Beaver, (alternate spellings: Amicouas, Amicoues, Amikouas, Amikouets, Amiqouis). Could they be the same as Illinois or Illinoetz? Illiniwek (ih-lih-new-eck), which means “the best people?”  I’m still trying to determine exactly who this group is. If you know, please let us know.

Northern Arapaho and Southern Arapaho, (Arapahoe or Arrapahoe) called themselves Inuna-Ina (Hinonoeino), ‘our people’. They are closely related to the Gros Ventre (also known as Atsina), who were at one time part of this group. The Arapaho are currently found in Wyoming and Oklahoma.

Attikamekw, (Attikameks, Atikameks, Atikamekw or Tête-de-Boule). They were previously and are still of the Quebec area, having not been displaced.

Beothuk (Beothuck, Skraeling, Red Indian, Red Man) are now an extinct tribe, at least as a culture. They were the aboriginal inhabitants of Newfoundland when Europeans arrived, and were the first indigenous people the Europeans encountered in what is now Canada. Their use of Ochre (a red dye) resulted in the Europeans calling them “Red Man”, a term which was applied to native Americans, in a derogatory and racist way. Theorized to be of Norse descent, but probably of Innu or Mi’Kmaq.

Blackfoot or Blackfeet (misspelled by the US Government), Siksika (which means Blackfoot, referring to the dark color of the mocassins), Kainah (or Bloods), and Piegan/Peigan. Three bands are now located in Alberta, Canada and one in Montana.

Cheyenne, call themselves Tsitsistas, “the people.” (named by the Dakota word hiyenan meaning “red talkers”), lived previously from Minnesota to the Missouri River. They are now located in Montana and Oklahoma.

Chitamacha, (Chetimacha, Chettimanchi, Chitamacha, Chittamacha, Shetimasha, Shyoutemancha, Tchetimanchan) from their own language “Pantch Pinankanc.” They are now located in Louisiana.

The Fox, or name for themselves, Meskwaki (Mesquakie or Mesquaki) means “red earth people.” They are also known as Reynard, Musquakies and Outagamies and are related to the Sauk (Sak), previously of Wisconsin and Minnesota. Today the Sauk and Meswaki are combined into one tribe with 3 bands, which are all referred to as the Sac & Fox. They currently live on reservations in Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa.

Gros Ventres, name for themselves Anai, meaning “White Clay People.” Currently on reservations at Fort Belknap, and Fort Peck, Montana, which they share with the Assiniboine. Incorrectly called Rapid Indians, Willow Indians, Big Bellies, and Waterfall Indians. They were part of the Arapaho Nation until sometime around the 1600s. “Gros Vaunt” means “big belly” in French.

Illini, name for themselves Illiniwek (ih-lih-new-eck), means “the best people.” Formerly of Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa, now of Kansas and on the Peoria Reservation in Oklahoma.

Kickapoo (Kikapu, Kikapoo) comes from the Shawnee word meaning “wanderer” or “he who moves about.” Previously of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, currently on reservations in Kansas and Oklahoma.

Cree (Kiristinons, Kilistinons, Kristinaux) call themselves Ayisiniwok, Iyiniwok or Ininiwok, Eenou, Iynu, or Eeyou, meaning “the people,” or Nehiyawok. They are speakers of the Cree language. The Cree mostly live in Canada today, but can also be found in North Dakota and Montana. They have blood relatives among the Metis people.

Lenape or Leni-Lenape, meaning the “True People.” Today, they are also known as the Delawares (Delewars). They originally lived in the New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and along the Delaware River. Today, they live on reservations in New Jersey, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma. They are also found in Ontario.

The Lumbee, (Croatan, Croatoan, Pamlico, Carolina Algonquian) are mixed bloods whose ancestors include Cheraw, Tuscarora, and Croatan Indians, and many African-Americans (runaway slaves). They are found in North Carolina.

Mahican ,”Mahican” comes from the word Muheconneok, “from the waters that are never still” (referring to the Hudson River). Mahicans and Mohegans are not and never have been the same tribe. Natives of the New York region, currently found in Wisconsin.

Mohegan, (Pequot, Montauk, Niantic, Metoac) comes from the word Mahiingan, “wolf.” Natives of New York State region. Are not extinct as portrayed in James Fenimore Cooper’s novel “Last of the Mohicans,”. Also known as the Stockbridge Indians of Massachusetts. Currently in Wisconsin, on a joint reservation with the Munsee Indians.

Maliseet (Malecite, Malecites, Malisit) name for themselves is Wolastoqiyik, referring to the river running through their homeland. Maliseet is a Mi’kmaq word for “talks imperfectly.” Previously, and still located in Canada, mostly New Brunswick, and there is still a band in Maine. They belonged to the confederation of eastern Indians known as the Wabanaki Alliance, together with the Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, Mi’kmaq, and Abenaki Indians.

The Menominee (Menomini) called themselves Mamaceqtaw, but their Algonquian relatives called them Menomini, meaning “wild-rice people.” Previously territory was Wisconsin and upper Michigan, but they are currently found in Wisconsin.

Métis(Mitchif, Metis Creole, French Cree) is a French word meaning “mixed bloods,” descendants of many of the Algonquian speaking natives and the French, Scot, and other European groups dating back to the arrival of the first Europeans. Their language is called Michif. They can mostly be found in Canada and the northern USA, but are scattered throughout the world.

Miami, (Piankashaw, Wea) Name for themselves is Myaamia, which means “allies.” Originally in Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio, removed to Oklahoma, and Indiana.

Mi’Kmaq (Mi’kmawi’simk, Mi’kmaw, Micmac, Mikmaq) Called themselves Lnu’k (or L’nu’k), the people. “Mi’kmaq” comes from a word in their own language meaning “my friends” or “Cœour alliés”. Previously of the Great Lakes to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Currently in Québec, New Brunswick and Maine.

Mississaugas, sub-tribe of the Ojibway, located in southern Ontario. Called Mississauga by European settlers because they traded along the Mississagi River in central Ontario, Canada, which originates at the head of Lake Huron.

Montagnais Innu, (Innu-Aimun, Innu Aionun) French for “mountaineer.” Currently in Labrador and Quebec. Not related to the Inuit.

Narragansett, closely related to the Mohegans and Wampanoag. Currently in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Long Island, New York.

Naskapi Innu, same people as the Montagnais, although living in different areas, and dressing differently. Montagnais word for “lousy dressers.” Currently in Labrador and Quebec.

Nanticoke, (Southern Delawares) related to the Munsee and Lenape, the latter whom they consider they elder kin. Took in many of the escaped slaves. Previously of Chesapeake Bay and Delaware, where some remain today.

Nipissing (Nepcinqui, Nepissing, Nipercinean) of Ojibway descent. Biissing translation is “little water”. Called the “Nation of the Sorcerers” by the French. Of Lake Nipsissing. Found in Montreal and Ontario.

Ojibwa (Ojibway (Odgiboweke, Odjibewais,), Bungi/Bungee Ojibway (Michif?), Anishnabe, Anishinabe, Anishnabeg, Meaning “Spontaneous Man” Chippewa (Chipeways, Chippewais), Pahouitingonach, Saulteaux (Saulteurs, Sauteurs): meaning “people of the Sault or Rapids”. One of the largest tribes living in the Great Lakes region.

Ottawa (Odahwaug), meaning to trade, of the Great Lakes. Completely independent of their close Ojibway relations, although they speak the same language. Also referred to themselves as Anishinaabe. Along with the Ojibway and Potawatomi, members of the alliance Council of the Three Fires. Previously of the Lake Huron region, currently of Michigan, Ontario and Oklahoma.

Passamaquoddy, (Peskotomuhkati) speakers of two dialects Passamaquoddy and Maliseet. Both tribes were referred to by the French as “Etchimins,” although they are independent of each other. Members of the Wabanaki Alliance. Primarily in Maine, and a small band lives in New Brunswick.

Penobscot, (Eastern Abnaki, Penawahpskewi, Penobscott) Members of the Wabanaki Alliance. Mostly found today in Maine.

Potawatomi (Nishnabek, Pottawatomie, Pottawatomi) properly spelled “Bode’wadmi”, though it is rarely spelt that way . Means “he who keeps fire”, referring to their role in the Council of the Three Fires. Name for themselves is “Nishnabek” similar to Ojibway word “Anishinabeg.” Previously of Lake Huron and Wisconsin, currently living in Kansas and Oklahoma, although some fled into the Canada side of the Great Lakes.

Sauk, (Sak, Sac, Asakiwaki,) means “yellow earth people.” Previously of the northeastern US, then the Great Lakes region (Michigan and Wisconsin), now found in Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa.

Shawnee (Shawano, Savannah, Sewanee, Chaouanons by early trader Perrot) meaning southerner, but the traveled a great deal, from the south east to west and north west. Leader Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa attempted to unite the eastern tribes with the idea of Indian unity. Called the Lenape “Grandfather”. Previously of Ohio and Pennsylvania, also small communities in NY and as far south as Georgia but as many other victims of Indian removal, can be now found in Oklahoma.

Tamaroa of the St Louis region, near former site of Cahokia. Members of the Illini Confederacy.

Tonkawa, “tonkawea,” meaning “staying together,” call themselves “Titskan-Watich Meaning “indigenous men.” In 1719, the French and Spanish described them as one of the “roving nations” in the upper Red River region. Found today in Oklahoma, previously found in Texas. Although this tribe is listed as an Algonkian language, still trying to verify this. They could be part of the Gulf region language group.

Wampanoag (Massachusett, Natick, Massassoit, Nantucket, Mashpee) (nearly extinct language.) Befriended the Pilgrims of Plymouth, bringing them food to help them with the winter at what is called today “The First Thanksgiving.” Soon after, they were displaced from their native lands by these same people.

Enticed with alcohol, they signed over their land. Metacomet, also known as “King Philip,” tried to have this sale overturned. The British won and many of the Wampanoags were sold into slavery. Forbade the use of the Massachusett language and tribal names. Some still residing in Plymouth County.

Wappinger, 9 tribes of Wappinger proper are: Manhattan, Wecquaesgeek, Sintsink, Kitchawank, Tankiteke, Nochpeem, Siwanoy, Mattabesec. Previously of the Hudson River from Manhattan Island to what is now Poughkeepsie and eastward to the lower Connecticut River valley but because of warring with the Dutch and other tribes of the region, assimilated into other Algonkian tribes in the US and Canada. Relations of the Mohicans.

Wiyot (Weott, Sulateluk) of Northwest coast of California, merged with allies and closest Neighbors, the Yurok. Victims of the Gold Rush era, when local thug Hank Larrabee (so-called even by white miners of the time) stormed Indian Island with a few followers while the men were out hunting and the Wiyot women and children were preparing for sacred ceremonies and murdered every woman and child in the tribe except one toddler.

Yurok of Northern California. Neither the Yurok nor the Wiyot are related to other Tribes of Northern Californa. Previously lived near the mouth of the Klamath River, near the Pacific. “Yurok” means, in fact, “downriver,” a name given them by their previous neighbors, the Keroks (not an Algonkian language). Merged with the Wiyots.

Algonquian Bands and Clans