The Abenaki Indians lived in the northern part of New England and the southern part of the Canadian Maritimes. The Abenaki were divided into eastern, western, and maritime divisions. The eastern Abenaki were located in modern day Maine, to the east of New Hampshires White Mountains. The southern boundaries of the Abenaki homeland were near the present northern border of Massachusetts. The western Abenaki lived on the eastern shores of Lake Champlain. The Maritime Abenaki were found on the border between what is now Maine and New Brunswick.
Prior to the arrival of the white man the Abenaki population was nearly 40,000 people, divided respectively among the three divisions. The Abenaki referred to themselves as Alnanbal, meaning men. The name Abenaki meant people of the dawn or easterners. Among the Europeans the Abenaki were known as the St. Francis Indians. The Abenaki spoke their own unique Dialect of the Algonquin language. Politics The Abenaki is more of a geographical and linguistic group, rather than a political group. Before contact individual tribes were the usual level of political organization.
Occasionally several tribes would unite under a powerful sachem for purposes of war, but the Abenaki were known for their general lack of central authority. Even at the tribal level, the authority of their sachems was limited, and important decisions, such as war and peace, usually required a meeting of all adults. In many ways the lack of central authority served the Abenaki well. In times of war, the Abenaki could abandon their villages, separate into small bands, and regroup in a distant refuge beyond the reach of their enemies. The Abenaki could just melt away, regroup, and then counterattack.
It was an effective strategy in times of war, but it has left the impression that the Abenaki were nomads. Since the Abenaki usually retreated to Canada during war, New England came to think of them as Canadian Indians (which, of course, they were not) but it served as an excuse to take most of their land in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont without compensation. Largely invisible over the years, the Abenaki have remained in their homeland by living in scattered, small bands. New England has numerous romantic monuments, which celebrate the disappearance of its original residents.
Misleading, since they never really left! Economics The Abenaki lived in a manner similar to Algonquin in southern New England. Since they relied on agriculture (corn, beans, and squash) for a large part of their diet, villages were usually located on the fertile floodplains of rivers. Depending on location and population, some of their cultivated fields were extensive. Hunting, fishing, and the gathering of wild foods supplemented agriculture. The relative importance of fish/seafood depended on location. In areas of poor soil, fish were often used as fertilizer to increase the yield of corn.
In spring and summer, bands would gather at fixed locations near rivers, or the seacoast, for planting and fishing. Social Structure Kinship The Abenaki lived in isolated villages, mainly consisting of extended families. During the winter they would roam their hunting grounds, which were inherited through the father (the Abenaki being a patrilineal society). In the spring the people would emerge from the forest to regroup at set locations, invariably near a river. Here they would plant their crops and fish. The average summer village would consist of about one hundred people.
For dwellings, the Abenaki preferred to make use of the dome shaped wigwam, which was covered in buffalo hides. Religion The Indians believed in a God named Cautantowit. In the beginning, the evil spirits in the earth caused a tremendous flood to cover the land. Many of the animals escaped to the Great Mountain. The birds and the animals were given many god-like qualities, because they lived near Cautantowit, also, known to the Algonquin tribes as “Kiethan” or “Woonand. ” After remaking the earth, Cautantowit made man and woman out of stone. He was displeased with them, so he smashed them and made them again.
This time he made them out of a living tree and he was pleased. The Abenakis had these religious beliefs before they met the white men: Each tribal member chose a lesser-god “Manito” as his guardian. At times this spirit would reveal itself in dreams, visions, or in mysterious sights or sounds. At the age of 12-13 a boy would go on a vision quest to find his guardian spirit [Manito]. He wouldn’t eat until he found it. The spirit would appear in an animal form. Drums were usually used in religious ceremonies to call up the spirits. Wedding ceremonies included feasts and dances.
After the wedding, the son-in-law would normally move in with the wife’s family. Since the Indians had no way of keeping their food fresh and very careful not to waste any part of the animal, the hunter, having more meat than his family could eat, would hold a big feast. Many people would come to his wigwam to eat. He would even close the opening to his wigwam until all the meat had been eaten. On the southern end of Lake Champlain, called Petrowbowk by the Abenakis, was a large rock that the Abenakis thought was a guardian spirit. It was called Wojahase, meaning “the Forbidder.
They believed that if they throw corn to it, it would watch over them as they traveled. If not, the spirit would come after them, yelling and screaming. Navajo Navajo, or Dine -they call themselves, is the largest tribe of North American Indians. Long ago, the ancestors lived in Northwestern Canada and Alaska. Over 1,000 years ago they began to travel south and reached the southwestern United States. They met farmers who are known as Pueblo Indians, and the Navajo began to settle near them and learn from them. The Navajo learned how to plant corn, beans, squash, and melons.
The Navajo also began to learn a similar style of weaving, making clothing and art from the Pueblo Indians. The Navajo Indians lived in homes called hogans. They are made from wooden poles, tree bark, and mud. The doorway opened to the east so they could welcome the sun. After the Spanish settled in the 1600s, the Navajo began to steal sheep and horses from them. The Navajo started to use the animals in their daily life. They used the sheep for its wool to make clothes, blankets, and rugs. They also used the sheep for food. They used the horses to travel longer distances and also used them to begin trading.
The Navajo began making items to trade in towns. There were also trading posts built on reservations to sell their handmade crafts, such as pottery and blankets. The Navajo reservation is currently the largest in the United States. It has over 140,000 people with 16 million acres most of which are in Arizona. They still weave from wool and use natural vegetable dyes for color. Today, people live like the old days the best they can with the modern lifestyle, but others use modern technology to live. Politics Economics The Navajo economics have evolved throughout time.
The Navajo are a very large and long-lived and their economy has evolved a lot throughout the years they have lived in the southwest. It is said that the Navajo were around in the prehistoric and early historic periods and that their main economy was based on trade. They would trade among themselves, but also with neighboring tribes, mainly the Pueblo. Later on, in the 19th century, the economics changed to a more trading post economy. Where trading posts were scattered throughout the Navajo land, and the people would buy their clothing, bedding, house ware, hardware, etc. re at trading posts.
The people would live off of credit for most of the year and would pay off their debts in wool in the spring and lamb in the fall. Live most Native American tribes, the Navajo lived off the land, by farming, animal herding, and selling their goods. The economy of the Navajo is fairly simple, and not much is known about it. The Navajo today are modernizing, their economy is changing to the Americans economy with every day gone by. Soon the Navajo will change entirely and the ones, who want to live the traditional way, will be known as outcasts.