I’m doing research on American Indian tribes. Could you tell me which if any of the following tribes are extinct:
“Abenaki” – spelled variously as: Abenaqui, Abnaki, Alnanbal, Benaki, Oubenaki, Wabanaki, Wippanap;
Owenunga; and Skacewanilom (Iroquois)
Also, are the Abnaki, also known as Abenaki, considered an official native American tribe by the United States government?
–Submitted by Randy K.
The many, many names of the north american indians who make up the group of indians known as the Abenaki can be quite confusing. All of the names you mentioned are actually just various names for the Abenaki indians in the Wabanaki Confederacy, or place names related to them.
The Abenaki called themselves Alnanbal meaning “men.” The name “Abenaki” (also spelled Abenaqui, Abnaki, Alnanbal, Benaki, Oubenaki, Wabanaki, and Wippanap) originated from a Montagnais (Algonquin) word meaning “those living at the sunrise,” “those living at the east,” “people of the dawn,” or “easterners,” in various references.
Indiscriminately applying their name for the Mahican to all Algonquin south of the St. Lawrence, the French frequently referred to the eastern Abenaki as Loup (wolves) – or more formally as the Natio Luporem or Wolf Nation.
The French, however, called the western Abenaki the Sokoki.
Borrowing the name of the southern New England Algonquin for Abenaki, the English at first used Tarrateen for both Abenaki and Micmac.
Later, Tarrateen came to mean only the Micmac, which is also variously spelled as:
Mi’kmaq, Mi’gmaq, Mi’gmawaq, Mi’gmewaq, Micmacs (all plural forms)
Mi’gmawl or Mi’gmewa’jl, (means “a Micmac,” used when speaking in third person),
gomgwejui’gaqan or gomgweju’igaqan (a hieroglyphic
character used to write “Micmac”),
Mi’gmaw, Mi’kmaw or Mi’gmew (the name of the language the Micmac spoke),
Mi’gmewa’j or Mi’gmewa’jg (literal meaning: “a micmac person”), and
Lnu’k and Miqmak.
The most common spelling is Micmac, but the correct spelling is Mi’kmac or Mi’kmaq. A “q” is an ending for plural nouns in the Mi’kmaw language.
The English called the tribes of northern Maine Abenaki.
The Sokoki, or western Abenaki, were known in New England as the St Francis Indians.
Other names for the Abenaki were:
Bashabas ( a name given them that refers to a band lead by a principle chief named Bashaba)
Gannongagehronnon or Cannon-gageh-ronnons, (names given them by the Mohawk)
Moassones (from a name applied to their country; perhaps from Penobscot)
Maweshenook (meaning “berry place”)
Narankamigdok or Nar¨¡nkamigdok epitsik arenanbak (which means”villages of the Nar¨¡nkamigdog,” said to be a collective name for all the Abnaki villages)
Natsagana or Nats¨¢gana (a name given them by the Caughnawaga Iroquois).
They were also known as the Obunego, Onagungees, Onagunga, Owenagunges, Owenunga, Onnogonges, Owenagunges, Opanango, Anagonges, or Skacewanilom, (all various spellings of names given them by the Iroquois).
“Aquannaque” is Wabanaki as pronounced by the Huron.
The Montagnais are a group of Abenaki people located originally in Labrador, Canada. They received their name from the French, meaning “mountaineers”. There are many ways to spell the name of these people including Montagnar, Moatagne, Montagnie, and Montainier.
Another group of people closely related to the Montagnais are the Naskapi. In recent times, the Montagnais and the Naskapi joined to create the Innu. Currently there are about 12,000 Innu living on reservations throughout Quebec.
Before European contact, the Abenaki (excluding the Pennacook and Micmac) may have numbered as many as 40,000. The Abenaki tribe, together with the Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, Mi’kmaq, and Penobscot Indians, were members of the old Wabanaki Confederacy. These allies spoke related languages, and Abenaki and Wabanaki have the same Algonquian root, meaning “people from the east.”
Extending across most of northern New England into the southern part of the Canadian Maritimes, the Abenaki called their homeland Ndakinna meaning “our land.” The eastern Abenaki were concentrated in Maine east of New Hampshire’s White Mountains, while the western Abenaki lived west of the mountains across Vermont and New Hampshire to the eastern shores of Lake Champlain.
The southern boundaries of the Abenaki homeland were near the present northern border of Massachusetts excluding the Pennacook country along the Merrimack River of southern New Hampshire. The maritime Abenaki occupied the St. Croix and the St. John’s River Valleys near the border between Maine and New Brunswick.
Up to 75% of Native Americans in New England were killed by European diseases in the 1600’s and early 1700’s. They were hit by:
Smallpox epidemics in1631, 1633,1639, 1649, 1670, 1677, 1679, 1687, 1691, 1729, 1733, and 1758;
An unknown epidemic in 1646;
Influenza in 1647 and1675;
Diphtheria in1659; and
Measles in 1687.
Dozens of distinct tribes originally lived in this area, but after each disaster the survivors of neighboring villages merged together, and their identities became blurred even in Indian oral history. As a result, descendents of almost every southern New England Algonquin (Pennacook, Narragansett, Pocumtuc, Nipmuc) tribe can still be found among the Abenaki, especially the Sokoki (western Abenaki).
After another century of war and disease, there were less than 1,000 Abenaki remaining after the American Revolution.This merging of tribes has hampered their efforts to receive US federal recognition.
Divisions of the Wabanaki Confederacy
Abenaki Confederation tribes:
Amaseconti, Androscoggin, Kennebec, Maliseet, Ouarastegouiak, Passamaquoddy, Patsuiket, Penobscot, Pigwacket, Rocameca, Sokoni, and Wewenoc. Although they were also members of the Abenaki confederation, the Micmac and Pennacook have been listed listed as separate tribes.
Seven Nations of Canada:
Composed of seven mission communities located along the St. Lawrence River in 1750: Caughnawaga (Mohawk), Lake of the Two Mountains (Iroquois and Nipissing), St. Francois (Sokoki, Pennacook, and New England Algonquin), Becancour (Eastern Abenaki), Oswegatchie (Onondaga and Oneida), Lorette (Huron), and St. Regis (Mohawk).
Amaseconti Between the upper Kennebec and Androscoggin Rivers in western Maine.
Androscoggin (Amariscoggin, Ameriscoggin, Anasaguniticook, Arosaguntacook, Asschincantecook). Their main village, on the river of the same name was called Arosaguntacook Town. Arosaguntacook is sometimes applied in error to the St. Francois Indians.
Kennebec (Caniba, Sagadahoc, Kanibesinnoak, Norridgewock, Nurhantsuak) lived along the Kennebec River in northern Maine. Their villages were: Amaseconti (Amesokanti, Anmissoukanti), Norridgewock (Naridgewalk, Neridgewok, Noronjawoke), Kennebec, and Sagadahoc.
Ossipee. Located on a lake of the same name in east-central New Hampshire.
Penobscot (Pentagoet, Panaomeska). Meaning “rocky place,” or “ledge place.” Location – Both sides of Penobscot Bay extending far inland along the Penobscot River.
Subdivisions – The Penobscot on Moosehead Lake are known as “Moosehead Lake Indians.” Villages: Agguncia, Asnela, Catawamtek, Kenduskeag, Mattawamkeag, Meecombe, Negas, Olamon, Oldtown, Passadumkeag, Pentagouet, Precaute, Segocket, and Wabigganus.
Pigwacket (Pegouakki, Peguaki, Pequawket). Main village called Pequawket Town was located on the upper Saco River.
Rocameca Upper Androscoggin River.
Wewenoc (Ouanwinak, Sheepscot, Wawenock, Wawnock) Coastal areas of southern Maine.
Wolinak (Becancour) Trois-Rivieres, Quebec.
Other names associated with the eastern Abenaki: Arsikantegou, Kwupahag (Kwapahag).
Closer in language and culture to the Micmac, the Maliseet and Passamaquoddy have been listed as Abenaki for historical reasons. The French usually referred to both tribes as the Etchemin.
Maliseet (Aroostook, Malecite, Malicite, St. John’s Indians). From the Micmac word “malisit” meaning “broken talker.” Their own name “Wulastegniak” means “good river people.” Located along the St. John River in northeastern Maine and western New Brunswick.
Their villages: Devon, Kingsclear, Madawaska, Mary’s, Medoctec (Medoktek, Meductic), Okpaak, Oromocto, St. Anne, St. Basile, The Brothers (Micmac), Tobique, Viger, and Woodstock.
Passamaquoddy (Machias Tribe, Opanango, Pesmokant, Quoddy, Scotuks, Scootuck, St. Croix Indians, Unchechauge, Unquechauge). The name means “pollock spearing place” where their villages were located on Passamaquoddy Bay, the St. Croix River, and Schoodic Lake.
Their villages: Gunasquamekook, Imnarkuan, Machias, Sebaik, and Sipayik. Other towns at Lewis Island and Calais in Maine with a few locations on the Canadian side of the St. Croix River.
Western Abenaki (Sokoki):
Originally composed of Abenaki tribes in Vermont and New Hampshire west of the White Mountains, Sokoki means “people who separated.” Various forms of Sokoki are: Assokwekik, Ondeake, Onejagese, Sakukia, Sokokiois, Sokoquios, Sokoquis, Sokokquis, Sokoni, Sokwaki, Soquachjck, and Zooquagese. Some accounts include groups of the western Pennacook as Sokoki: Amoskeag, Naamkeek, Nashaway, Souheyan, and Winnipesaukee.
Sokoki is often confused with the Saco, a name given to eastern Abenaki who lived near the Saco River (a combination of Pigwacket, Kennebec, and Androscoggin).
Cowasuck (Cahass, Cohassiac, Coos, Coosuc, Koes). Village name was Cowass “place of the pines.” Located on the Connecticut River in northern Vermont.
Hoosac. Mixed settlement with the Mahican.
Missisquoi (Mazipskoik, Misiskuoi, Missiassik, Missique, Missisco) “place of flint.” Eastern shore of Lake Champlain.
Schaghticoke. Mixed Mahican and New England Algonquin settlement on the Hudson River north of Albany, New York.
Squakheag (Squaeg, Squawkeag). Variously assigned to the Sokoki, Pocumtuc and Nipmuc. Mixed population and probably at various times was occupied by any of these tribes.
St. Francois (Odanak, St. Francis, St. Francois du Lac). Southwest of Trois-Rivieres, Quebec and included settlements along the St. Francois River.
Other Names of Abenaki Villages:
Aquadocta, Cobbosseecontee, Ebenecook, Ketangheanycke, Mascoma, Masherosqueck, Mecadacut, Moshoquen, Muscongus, Negusset, Ossaghrage, Ouwerage, Pasharanack, Pauhuntanuc, Pemaquid, Pocopassum, Sabino, Sagadahoc, Satquin, Segotago, Sowocatuck, Taconnet, Unyjaware, and Wacoogo.
Amaseconti, on Sandy River, Franklin County.
Arosaguntacook, on the lower course of Androscoggin River.
Missiassik, in the valley of Missisquoi River, Franklin County, Vt.
Norridgewock, on Kennebec River.
Ossipee, on Ossipee River and Lake in Maine and New Hampshire.
Pequawket, on Lovell’s Pond and the headwaters of Saco River, Maine and New Hampshire.
Rocameca, on the upper course of Androscoggin River.
Sokoki, on Saco River and in the adjacent parts of Cumberland and York Counties.
Wawenoc, on the seacoast of Sagadahoc, Lincoln, and Knox Counties.
Historic Abenaki Villages
Amaseconti; there were two villages of this tribe, at Farmington Falls and New Sharon, respectively.
Aquadocta, westward of Saco.
Arosaguntacook town, probably near Lewiston.
Cobbosseecontee, a town or band on the stream of that name, which empties into the Kennebec River at Gardiner.
Ebenecook, at Ebenecook Harbor, Southport Island.
Kennebec, between Augusta and Winslow.
Ketangheanycke, near the mouth of Kennebec River.
Masherosqueck, near the coast and not certainly Abnaki.
Mecadacut, on the coast between Penobscot and Kennebec Rivers.
Missiassik, belonging to the Missiassik tribe, on Lake Champlain at the mouth of Missisquoi River, Vt.
Moratiggon, probably on the Maine or New Hampshire coast and possibly not Abnaki.
Moshoquen, on or near the coast.
Muscongus, on the coast and probably near Muscongus Island.
Negusset, about the site of Woolwich.
Ossaghrage, Iroquois name of an Abnaki village.
Ossipee, probably on Ossipee Lake.
Ouwerage, probably on Ossipee Lake.
Pasharanack, probably on the coast.
Pauhuntanuc, probably on the coast.
Pemaquid, near Pemaquid, Lincoln County.
Pequawket town, about Fryeburg.
Pocopassum, probably on the coast.
Sabino, at the mouth of the Kennebec River, possibly on the west side.
Sagadahoc, at the mouth of the Kennebec River.
Satquin, on the coast southwest of the Kennebec River.
Segotago, probably identical with Sagadahoc.
Sowocatuck, perhaps the chief village of the Sokoki, Saco River.
Taconnet, at the falls of the Kennebec near Waterville.
Unyjaware, Iroquois name for an Abnaki village.
Wacoogo, probably on or near the coast.
Abenaki Locations and Divisions Today
New England settlement and war forced many of the Abenaki to retreat north into Quebec where two large communities formed at St. Francois and Becancour near Trois-Rivieves. These have continued to the present-day.
There are also three sub-tribes who have reservations and federal status in northern Maine (Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, and the Houlton Band of Maliseet) and seven Maliseet reserves located in New Brunswick and Quebec in Canada.
Other groups of Abenaki, without reservations or recognition, are scattered across northern New Hampshire and Vermont in the United States.
Today there are about 2,000 Abenakis living on the two reserves in Quebec, and another 10,000 Abenaki descendants scattered throughout New England. Only the Canadian Abenaki tribe is officially recognized, but there are at least three Abenaki bands in the United States: the Sokoki and Mazipskwik Abenakis of Vermont and the Cowasucks of Massachusetts.
The Penobscot have a reservation on Indian Island at Old Town, Maine and a tribal membership near 2,000. The Passamaquoddy number about 2,500 on three Maine reservations: Pleasant Point, Peter Dana Point, and Indian Township, while the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians have close to 600.
There are also seven Maliseet bands in Canada (470 in Quebec and 2,000 in New Brunswick) for a total of 2,470. Canada also has 400 Abenakis de Wolinak (Becancour) on a reserve near Trois-Rivieres, Quebec and almost 1,500 at Odanak (St. Francois) 30 miles to the southwest.
The other Abenaki are scattered among the general populations of Quebec, New Brunswick, and northern New England. Currently there are about 2,500 “Vermont Abenaki” in both Vermont and New Hampshire but concentrated in northwest Vermont near Lake Champlain.
Organized as the Sokoki-St. Francis Band of the Abenaki Nation, a tribal council was established in 1976 at Swanton, Vermont. State recognition was granted that year but later withdrawn. In 1982 they applied for federal recognition which is still pending. State recognition is expected this week (see today’s top story).
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