The Eastern Abenaki population was concentrated in portions of New Brunswick and Maine east of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. The other major tribe, the Western Abenaki, lived in the Connecticut River valley in Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The Missiquoi lived along the eastern shore of Lake Champlain.
The name refers to their location “toward the dawn.” In its earliest known form, the Abenaki Confederacy consisted of tribes or bands living east and northeast of present-day New York state, including Abenaki, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot in present-day Maine, Malecite and Mi’kmaq (Micmac) in present-day Maritime
The Abenaki tribe lived in Wigwams aka Birchbark houses. This type of shelter, conical or domed shaped, or occasionally pyramid shaped wigwams, were common to the Algonquian speaking people. Wigwam is the word for “house” in the Abenaki language.
The name Abenaki (pronounced ah–buh–NAH–key) means “people of the dawnlands.” The Abenaki people call themselves Alnombak, meaning “the people.” The Abenaki (also called “Abanaki” or “Abnaki”) were part of the Wabanaki Confederacy of five Algonquian-speaking tribes that existed from the mid-1600s to the mid-1800s.
The Abenaki, like their fellow Wabanaki tribes, were peaceful, although they were often forced to defend themselves against the Iroquois. They relied upon horticulture for their food as well as hunting and fishing.
The most prominent early indigenous tribes in Vermont were the Abénaki and Mahican. The western Abénaki were composed of subdivisions including Sokoki, Missisquoi, and Cowasuck. Most of the indigenous tribes have disappeared from Vermont through warfare, disease, or migration.
When Europeans and Africans began arriving in what is now Virginia, they met Indian people from three linguistic backgrounds. Most of the coastal plain was inhabited by an Algonquian empire, today collectively known as Powhatan. The southwestern coastal plain was occupied by Iroquoians, the Nottoway, and Meherrin.
Most Abenaki crafted dome-shaped, bark-covered wigwams for housing, though a few preferred oval-shaped long houses. During the winter, the Abenaki lived in small groups further inland. The homes there were bark-covered wigwams shaped in a way similar to the teepees of the Great Plains Indians.
Wigwam is the word for “house” in the Abenaki tribe, and wetu is the word for “house” in the Wampanoag tribe. Sometimes they are also known as birchbark houses. Wigwams are small houses, usually 8-10 feet tall. Wigwams are made of wooden frames which are covered with woven mats and sheets of birchbark.
During much of the 17th century, the Abenaki were hunters, fishers and gatherers. Favoured game was more often moose than deer. They travelled mainly by birchbark canoes on lakes and streams, and lived in villages near waterfalls on major rivers during the seasons when migratory fish could be harvested.
We are one of the largest Abenaki Tribes still in existence today. As a nomadic and place-based people, we live and travel throughout our greater Western Abenaki territories as our ancestors did. These traditional homelands we call N’dakinna include Vermont, New Hampshire, and parts of Canada, Maine, and Massachusetts.
After the eastern Abenaki began to help the Montagnais against the Iroquois, the Pigwacket and Ossipee on upper Saco River were attacked by the Mohawk in 1647. Everything changed after the Iroquois overran the Huron during the winter of 1648-49.
“ The arrival of Europeans severely disrupted the life of the Algonquins, the Native people who lived in the Ottawa Valley at the time. By the mid-seventeenth century, several deadly diseases had been introduced, and great numbers of Algonquins perished.
They were sad to see the People were no longer working together, but preferred to sit alone, drinking sweet sap throughout their days.