Native American language * Native American culture * Les atikamekw (en francais)

Atikamekw Language (Attikamek, Tête-de-boule)

Language: Atikamekw is an Algonquian language closely related to Cree; indeed, some consider it to be a dialect of Cree. Like Cree, Atikamekw is a polysynthetic language with long, complex verbs. Most people in the Atikamekw tribe (four to five thousand in total) speak their native language, but few are literate in it, and the lack of printed materials in Atikamekw has some Indian language advocates concerned about the future of the language. French, rather than English, is the second language of choice among the Atikamekw people.

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Names: Atikamekw is the tribe's endonym (that is to say, their name for themselves in their own language.) It means "whitefish," and can also be seen spelled many other ways such as Attikamek, Attikamekw, Atikamekw, Attimewk, or Attikamegue. The Atikamekw have also been known by the name Tete-de-Boule, which is a local French Canadian word for the same kind of fish, or by the indigenous names Iriniw or Nehiyaw, which mean "person" and "Native American" in their own language.

People: The Atikamekw Nation is located in Quebec, in three communities: Manawan, Obedjiwan, and Wemotaci. The Atikamekws are traditional allies of the Montagnais (Innu) and adversaries of the Inuit. There are around 5,000 Atikamekw Indians living on reserves in Quebec today.

History: The Attikameks had little direct contact with Europeans, and no armed conflict with them; indirect contact, though, brought them no end of grief. From their allies the Innu they caught several devastating European epidemics. The fur trade between the Montagnais and the French wound up drawing the Attikamekw into a war between the Montagnais Innu and the powerful Iroquois, a war in which the Innu didn't fare so well. Dams and reservoirs built near their territories flooded them out on more than one occasion, and most recently the Attikameks, like the Innu, are suffering from mercury poisoning Canada's hydroelectric plants have been contaminating their water supply with. For all these woes, though, the Attikamekw people have not been displaced from their traditional lands, and they have lost neither their language nor their traditional culture.

Atikamekw Language Resources
Atikamekw language samples, articles, and indexed links.

Atikamekw Culture and History Directory
Related links about the Atikamekw Indians past and present.

Atikamekw Legends
Introduction to Atikamekw mythology.

Atikamekw Indians Fact Sheet
Our answers to frequently asked questions about the Atikameks, their language and culture.

Atikamekw Language Resources

Our Online Language Materials

Atikamekw Vocabulary:
    List of vocabulary words with comparison to words in other Algonquian languages.
Atikamekw Pronunciation Guide:
    How to pronounce Atikamekw words.
Atikamekw Animal Words:
    Illustrated glossary of animal words.
Atikamekw Body Parts:
    Online and printable worksheets showing parts of the body in Atikamekw.
Atikamekw Possession:
    Lesson on the use of Atikamekw possessive prefixes.

Atikamekw Language Lessons and Linguistic Descriptions

Atikamekw Alphabet and Pronunciation:
    Phonological inventory of the Atikamekw language, with sample texts.
    Orthography and text example.
Glossary of Atikamekw terms:
    Small Atikamek wordlist.
First Peoples: Attikamekw:
    Overview of the Attikamekw people that includes linguistic information.
Attikameque: The Enigma:
    Brief synopsis of the Atikamekw language and its current situation.
Atikamekw Language Tree:
    Theories about Atikamekw's language relationships compiled by Linguist List.
Atikamekw Language Structures:
    Atikamekw linguistic profile and academic bibliography.

Atikamekw Language Preservation and Usage

The Future of Atikamekw:
    Article about Atikamekw language use.
L'Avenir d'Atikamekw * Atikamekw Bilinguism and Biculturalism:
    Articles in French about Atikamekw.
    Demographic information about Attikamekw from the Ethnologue of Languages.

Atikamekw Proper Names

Placenames: Innu:
    Canadian place names in Atikamekw, Montagnais and Cree.
Native American Dog Names:
    Fundraiser offering names for dogs and other animals in Native American languages (including Atikamekw).

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Atikamekw Language Materials Available Offline

The best Atikamekw reference I know of is Jean Pierre Béland's two-volume Atikamekw Morphology and Lexicon, published in 1978, which contains a grammatical description and dictionary. Good luck finding a copy (a university library is your best bet).

Société de Communication Atikamekw-Montagnais:
    Information about radio programming in Attikamekw and Montagnais. Page in French.
The Atikamekw Linguistic Institute:
    Contact information for this organization is posted here (letters may be answered more easily if you write in French).
Native American Language Dictionary:
    Attikamekw and other American Indian dictionaries and language materials for sale.

Additional Resources, Links, and References

  Endangered Languages Project: Attikamek:
  Bibliography of Attikamek language resources.
  Wikipedia: Attikamekw:
  Encyclopedia entry on the Attikamek language.
  La Langue Atikamekw * Dictionnaire atikamekw-français * Atikamekw Langue:
  Information on the Atikamekw language in French.
  La Lengua Attikamek:
  Information on the Atikamekw language in Spanish.
  Attikamekw Language: * Attikamekw Tribe:
  Atikamekw links.
  Atikamekw Tribe:
  Atikamekw Indian books.

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