The Algonquins

by Rohit Chouhan

#7204

Introduction

The Algonquin were a very skillful American tribe. They were a nomadic tribe that lived in the Ottawa River Valley, which is located in Ontario, Quebec, and Northeast America. In 1603, there were about a combined total of 6,000 Algonquin people.They survived the harsh winters in the North, organized their community, allied with the French, and even faced wars from the Iroquois. This tribe had some obstacles to overcome in order to survive, but they adapted to their environment by mainly hunting instead of farming. The Algonquin were very organized to accomplish so many things as a Native American tribe.

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This is where the Algonquin live (marked in maroon).

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This is an Algonquin hunting a deer, a common animal for hunting.

Area inhabited/ruled [if members of your group emigrated, immigrated, or established settlement (colonies) outside of their home country you should include an explanation of that travel or settlement in this section; include places traveled and reasons for leaving home country]


The Algonquin used their environment to their advantage, even though they were living so far North. First, they didn’t use as much farming for food because it would be hard to grow crops in such cold weather, so they hunted. The Algonquin used bow and arrows, traps, and spears to hunt birds, deer, and catch fish, and the animal hides were made into clothing. The Algonquin also used the river for their gain. They used the river not only to drink fresh water, but they also used it for transport. They made birchbark canoes to travel on the river and to trade with French fur traders. The French were attracted to the Algonquin because they were such a skilled hunting tribe. Eventually, the French became an ally to the Algonquin tribe. Even though the Algonquians didn’t grow much food, they did grow corn and tap maple trees for sugar. They also ate potatoes, peppers, squash, and beans. The environment benefited the Algonquin so they could thrive as a Native American tribe.

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This is a dome shaped wigwam.




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This is an Algonquin indian who has been painted for either a war or a celebration.

Everyday Life

The everyday life and culture for Algonquin was very distinguished. The men normally hunted and went to war. They wore breech cloths and leggings, also used animal fur to make robes during the winter. The woman gathered plants, cooked, and took care of their child. They wore long dresses and they also wore animal fur robes. Both men and women used moccasins for a shoe. The kids were similar to us because they played games too, and one game was snow snake. The kids took a long piece of maple wood and take turns sliding it on a level and compacted stretch of snow. Whoever has the farthest slide wins. Body painting was another part of the Algonquin culture. They used roots, berries, and charcoal as paint for celebrations and war; the men painted many designs on themselves. The Algonquin lived in wigwams. These were 8-10 ft. tall wooden structures. They were made out of wooden frames and then covered in woven mats or birchbark sheets. After that, rope, or strips of would be tied to hold it in place. They could be cone, rectangle, or dome shaped. They weren’t portable, but were easy to build; and they could be lived in for many months until the Algonquians needed to move. The Algonquin culture has shaped how this tribe is perceived from others.



Social and Political Organization

A very important part of any tribe or civilization is political organization, and the Algonquin definitely had that. They had rules and a police like a miniature country. The Algonquin area had divisions, which were called reserves. A reserve is land that is legally owned. Each reserve had an ogema or ogima, which was the ruler. The ogema translates to chief. The ruler ship passed from father to son, or another close relative. The political organization really helped the Algonquin thrive and kept order in the community.



Religion

Like most tribes and countries, the Algonquin have religious beliefs. They believe in a “supreme creator” and “lesser beings” that controlled the elements. They also believed in demons and heroes. The believe in the afterlife or life after death, but they had no concept of hell. They also related the elements to religion. An example is lightning; the Algonquin thought it was a snake being vomited by Manito, or the creator. Religion impacted and shaped the lives of the Algonquin.

Arts/Technology/Developed Culture

Art in the Algonquin tribe gave their items meaning. The Algonquin tribe was known for their beadwork and basketry. The design on the art usually told an important story. The technology aspects of the Algonquin were essential to their survival. They used bow and arrows, spears, fishing nets, knives, and traps to catch animals and fish so they could eat. They used wigwams which enabled them to make a home easily, and it lasted for several months. They wove mats for the wigwams, so wind and other elements of nature could not affect the wigwam. The Algonquians used their knowledge of building birchbark canoes for transport and trade. The technology used by the Algonquin tribe was definitely needed to make their lives easier and so they could flourish.

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This is a birchbark canoe.

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This is an Algonquin basket.

Conclusion

The Algonquin tribe was very smart. They allied with the French so they could feel safer. Even with the French protection, they were attacked by the Iroquois and pushed North. The Algonquians had their own lifestyle and religious beliefs. They ate a lot of meat, but also used agriculture. They lived in wigwams and made birchbark canoes as transportation devise. The Algonquin were an ingenious tribe by adapting to their environment.