How do I go about researching my Algonquin genealogy?


Last Updated: 5 years


My family is descended from the Algonquin’s. If I were to try to get in touch with a member of the tribe to learn more about where my family comes from how would I go about it?

~Submitted by Grace K.ANSWER:

Hi Grace,

Tribes don’t usually offer any genealogy services, at least none that I am aware of. The tribe will not be able to “look you up” and see if you are a descendent of theirs. You will need to do this work yourself or hire a professional genealogist to do the work for you, which is not usually cheap.

Once you have all your genealogical information including your ancestor’s full name, presence on any Indian rolls with applicable roll numbers, and exact relationship to you, then you may contact the tribal enrollment office of your specific tribe and inquire about their citizenship laws.

There is no point in contacting the tribe before you have obtained this information–if you can’t even find this information about your own family, then how could they? By now, each tribe has thousands (some hundreds of thousands) of decendants with various intermarriages with a number of other indian and non-indian cultures, varying mixtures of tribal blood, and many misspellings of each family surname. In addition, many individuals had both an Indian name and an English name, and some changed names several times in their lifetimes.

Most tribes couldn’t possibly afford office staff to offer such services to sort it all out for you and the thousands of others like you who are searching for their native american roots.

The majority of native american tribes still do not have internet connections or websites. Many do not even have phone lines yet. Most tribes in America, with a few exceptions, still have an economic status comparable to third world countries, and tracing genealogy for people who “might” be related to their tribe is the least of their worries.

They expect you first to do the legwork and find out what government role lists your ancestor with Algonquin blood.

Then you must trace down all the birth and death certificates establishing the bloodline from that ancestor directly to yourself, and provide them with the name and numbers of the rolls you found your ancestor on and also provide them with originals of the documents that prove that lineage continues to you, before they will even consider starting the enrollment process.

This can take hundreds of man hours to accomplish, and none of the tribes I am aware of have funding for such services. Once you have accomplished all this, then they may be able to “look you up” and confirm your ancestor is on thier rolls.

First you would need to establish which Algonquin tribe you are talking about, as there are a number of them. There is a loose confederacy of Algonquin tribes in Canada. They number about 8,000 tribal members, organized into ten separate First Nations, nine are in Quebec and one in Ontario.

You may be aware of this, but in addition, the term “Algonquin tribes” is often used loosely and erroneously to include several dozen tribes that speak related languages. Algonquin (also spelled Algonkin) is both the name and the language of one tribal group while Algonquian (also spelled Algonkian) is a group of related languages which includes the Algonquin language and many other languages.

Many people tend to confuse the two terms.

“Algonquin” refers to one specific tribe and its language and “Algonquian” is a more general linguistic/anthropological term used to refer to not only the small Algonquin tribe but dozens of distinct Native American tribes who speak languages that are related to each other.

The Algonquin tribe call themselves Anishinabe (plural form ) or Anishinabec (singular form).

Algonquian tribes range from the Yurok in California to the Powhatans in Virginia, from the Cheyennes in the Great Plains to the Naskapi Innu people in northern Labrador.

The Long Island Algonquians are generally Mohegan Indians. The New York Algonquians are the Mahicans and Munsee Delawares. New England Algonquians include the Wampanoag in Massachusetts and the Mohegans in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Mid-Atlantic Algonquians include the Lenni Lenape in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and the Nanticokes in Delaware and Maryland.

Virginia Algonquians are generally Pohatan, and Carolina Algonquians are generally Lumbee (Croatan). The Ohio Valley Algonquian Tribes are poorly known because most of them were destroyed by smallpox epidemics and Iroquois attacks, but the Shawnee and Potawatomi tribes still exist.

The Abenaki (also known as Wabanaki), Eastern Abenaki, Western Abanaki, and the Maliseet/MicMac (also spelled Mi’kmaq) in New York, Maine and some of the other Atlantic states in the USA are Algonquian tribes.

Then on the plains, the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Chippewa, Ottawa, Blackfoot, Cree and Odawa are all offshoots of the Algonquin tribe that were once grouped together, but splintered off into separate tribes several centuries ago.

The links below may give you some idea of where to start your search for your Algonquin roots online.

Most public libraries have a genealogy research section with hard to find reference books and access to microfilm records. They can also borrow reference material from larger libraries for you in many cases. That is a good place to start learning about genealogy research in general.


Algonquian is a language group, not a tribe of indians

General cultural beliefs of Algonquin speaking tribes

Algonquian language groups

The Dawes Commission

My short Top 10 list of native american genealogy resources on the internet


Free Genealogy Course for beginners starting to trace their native american roots. Includes free data forms.

Quebec Genealogy Links

Ontario Genealogy Links

Cyndi’s Native American Genealogy Links

Native American Rolls

List of 70 mailing lists related to native american genealogy for different tribes.

US Gen-Web Project – free genealogy websites for genealogical research in every county and every state of the United States.

Access Genealogy’s Algonquian Genealogy Index