Native Languages of the Americas: Algonquin (Algonkin, Anicinabe, Anishnabe, Anishnabeg)
Language: Algonquin is the language for which the
Algonquian language family
is named. This has caused great confusion:
many websites incorrectly identify other Algonquian languages as Algonquin or the Algonquin language as Algonquian,
and some people even claim there is no "Algonquin" language. There is, and it is spoken by 3000
Algonquin people in Quebec and Ontario. "Algonquin" refers only to that language, while "Algonquian" refers to the entire language
family-- just as "German" refers to a language while "Germanic" refers to a language family. The Algonquin Indian language is
a verb-based and
language closely related to Ojibwe.
Some linguists even consider it an Ojibwe dialect, since speakers
can roughly understand each other (similar to Spanish and Italian speakers in Europe.)
Names: The origins of the name Algonquin are unclear. It is often said to be a
Mohawk name meaning "bark-eater," but that is mistaken--
the Mohawk name for the Algonquin tribe was Adirondack (which does mean bark-eaters.) "Algonquin" may have
come from the Maliseet word elehgumoqik ("our allies,") the Mi'kmaq word algoomaking
("of the fish-spearing-place"), or the Maliseet word elakanqin ("they are good dancers.")
In their own language, the Algonquin people call themselves AnicinÓbe
("original people") and their language AnicinÓbemowin ("original people's language.") Since this is the same self-designation used by the
and Potawatomi tribes, Algonquin people today most often use
the names Algonquin or OmÓmiwinini
to differentiate themselves from their these politically independent tribes. Alternate spellings of these
tribal names include Algonkin, Algonkian, Algoumequin, Algic, AnicinÓpe, Anicinabe, Anishinabe, Anishnabe, AnicinÓbek, Anishnabeg, Anishnabek,
AnicinÓpemowin, Anicinapemi8in, AnishinÓbemiwin, OmÓmiwininiwak, and OmÓmiwininýmowin.
People: There are 8000 Algonquin Indians in Canada today, organized into nine nations in
Quebec and one nation in
The Algonquin Indians were the victims of unfortunate European politics. The banding together of
the Iroquois Confederacy had driven the Algonquins from lands
that were once theirs, and when the French arrived trading firearms for furs, the Algonquins jumped at the deal.
Though the French were good friends to the Algonquins, they did not make such good allies. The powerful Iroquois, aided first by the Dutch
and later by the English, defeated the French and Algonquins alike. Though the Algonquins were defeated, they were never destroyed, and the Algonquin
Indian culture lives on in pockets of their once-vast territory.