The Abenaki Peoples



Native Americans have been in northern New England since before recorded history, and in these parts, they are known as the Abenaki. The name "Abenaki" originates from an Algonquin word meaning "people of the dawn" or "easterners." This term was generally applied to Algonquin-speaking people anywhere along the Atlantic coast, so differentiating actual tribes is difficult. The Abenaki called themselves ‘Alnanbal’ (meaning "men”) and their homeland ‘Ndakinna’ ("our land”). They were agricultural people and usually settled on the floodplains of rivers. Abenaki Confederation tribes included the Amaseconti, Androscoggin, Kennebec, Maliseet, Ouarastegouiak, Passamaquoddy, Patsuiket, Penobscot, Pigwacket, Micmac, Pennacook, Rocameca, Sokoni, and Wewenoc.

All these names are familiar to us in northern New England as names of rivers, lakes, mountains, and other natural landmarks. It is impossible to live here and not know that we were preceded. I lived on Lake Winnipesaukee, and in trying to ascertain what ‘Winnipesaukee’ means, I had come across an old article written in the early part of this century, that mentioned the meaning of ‘Winnipesaukee’ as “the smile of the Great Spirit”. Sounds wonderful, but it’s not true. Friends (thanks Ruth & Paul), told me that the descendants of the original inhabitants of New Hampshire now live in Odanak, Quebec. In the current Abenaki spelling, Winnipesaukee is ‘Wiwninbesaki’ and translates as 'lake around islands'. “Wiwni” is 'around', “nbes” is 'lake', and “aki” is 'land'.

For an in-depth view of these area peoples (and many other Native Nations), I refer the reader to Lee Sultzman’s site on Native Nations Histories. The amount of work and research he has put into this project is phenomenal and is something that will be valued for years and generations to come.




Other sites of interest:
Native Death/Rebirth Stories
Abenaki Page in NH Native American Resources
Abenaki Resources Site
Native Nations
First Nations Histories
Native Web
Native American Creation Cycles
Canada's First Nations
Aboriginal Star Knowledge
Native American Resources



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