Abenaki Facts

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The Abenaki were a woodland hunter gatherer and farming confederacy. Their oral tradition says that they migrated to the location they were in at the time of European contact from the southwest. The first European contact with the Abenaki people was with the British, but they later allied with the French and attended French missions. In early colonial times, this tribe was located throughout southwestern Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire. Later, when conflicts arose with the Europeans, many Abenakis sought refuge in Canada.
Language Family: Eastern Algonquian
Stock: Algonquian
Phylum: Algic
Macro-Culture: Eastern Woodlands
Speakers 20 (1991 M. Krauss)
A large Abenaki Confedereation was formed as early as 1679 as a military organization resulting in the tribe participating in numerous conflicts on both the side of the French and British and suffering great losses over the years. The only recognized Abenaki reside in Quebec though most of the tribe live in Vermont.
Aboriginal Locations: Subdivisions (Villages)
ME Amaseconti, Arosagunacook, Norrigewock, Ossipee, Pequawket, Rocameca, Sokoki, Wawenoc (29)
VT Missiassik (1)
Present Locations
MA Cowasuck Band of Pennacoo Abenaki People, Franklin, Maine
RQ Abenakis of Becancour, Becancour, Quebec, Canada
Odanak, Odanak, Quebec, Canada
VT St. Francois/Sokoki Band of Abenakis of Vermont, Swanton Currently, Vermont law only recognizes Abenakis as Native American Indians, not the tribes or bands.

UNRECOGNIZED / PETITIONING TRIBES

  • Abenaki Tribe of Vermont
  • ELNU Tribe of the Abenaki (aka ELNU Koasek Traditional Band of the Abenaki Nation)
  • Koasek Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation (formerly Northern New England-Coos Band, Independent Clans of the Coos United, Cowasuck of North America and Cowasuck-Horicon Traditional Band; aka Cowasuck Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation). This tribe is composed of:
      • Coos Band of Abenaki Nation
      • Northern New England Band of Abenaki Natio
  • Missisiquoi Council Abenaki Nation
  • Nulhegan Band of Coosuk Abenaki
  • St. Francis/Sokoki Band of Abenakis of Vermont Abenaki Tribal Council. Letter of Intent to Petition 4/15/1980; Proposed Finding 11/17/2005.
  • Traditional Abenaki of Mazipskwik and Related Bands
Year History
1497 European fishing boats soon began fishing at Grand Bank off of the coast of Maine soon after the visit of Sebastian Cabot
1524 Giovanni da Verrazano also explored the area
1607 Unsuccessful attempt by the Plymouth Company to establish a colony on the Kennebec River
1614 Captain James Smith met Abenaki when he explored and mapped the coast of northern New England
1616 Epidemic
1619 Epidemic (75% depopulation over two epidemics)
1628 Mohawk attacked Western Abenaki
1633 Smallpox epidemic
1637 Abenaki received first firearms
1646 Beginning of French trading missions to the Abenaki
1647 Eastern Abenaki attacked by Mohawk
1650 Mohawk once again began attacking Western Abenaki and other Algonquian tribes
1675 Few Abenaki participated in King Philip’s War
1676 Many Abenaki retreated to Quebec
1679 Abenaki returned to Maine
1688 Outbreak of war between Britain and France; Abenaki turned on New England colonists
1699 Abenaki promised to remain neutral by treaty
1701 Queen Ann’s War; Abenaki raids resumed
1726 War in Maine ended with defeat of Eastern Abenaki and a peace treaty; Canadian Abenaki at Wolinak and St. Francois to agreed to peace with New England
1727 Grey Lock was absent from the treaty signed at Montreal but a long peace soon ensued
1730 Smallpox epidemic forced the abandonment of Missisquoi
1731 Missisquoi reoccupied
1744 King George’s War (1744-48) between Britain and France, peace ended, Abenaki and Sokoki supported the French, the Cowasuck and Eastern Abenaki removed toward Canada, a few St. Francois and Pigwacket found refuge near Boston with the English
1746 At least 35 Abenaki and Sokoki war parties attacked the frontier
1748 Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle; complete peace took two or more years
1750 Pigwacket disappear from record
1754 The murder of two of Abenaki hunters by New Englanders brought retaliatory raids against the New England
1755 French and Indian War (1755-63)
1757 Abenaki and Sokoki warriors participated in Montcalm’s campaign in northern New York
1759 Rangers commanded by Major Robert Rogers attacked and burned St. Francois, 30 probably killed though 200 claimed
1761 Abenaki scattered in small groups as settlers claimed their land
1776 St. Francois were divided but some helped the Americans attack Boston and provided guides for Benedict Arnold’s failed expedition against Quebec
1781 Some Abenaki served with the British and raided Maine’s Androscoggin Valley
1812 War of 1812, last conflict participated in by the Abenaki on British side
Year Total Population NH ME RQ VT Source
1600 3,000 Mooney estimate; there seems to be a consensus that earlier populations were significantly greater, but the several estimates of more than 20,000 seem excessive since it would result in by far the most dense pre-Columbian population in the United States and Canada (later adherents to the Abenaki Confederation excluded from this analysis)
1617 5,000 Tolstaga
1700 5,200 700 2,900 400 1,200 NAHDB calculation
1760 700 1,200 Abenaki Nation
1800 1,000 100 300 400 200 NAHDB calculation
1884 Official
1900 1,200 800 400 NAHDB calculation
1900 22 798 5 Census
1903 395 St. Francis Records
1923 280 St. Francis Records
2000 4,000 1,800 2,200 NAHDB calculation
2003 Nationmaster
2005 4,400 1,900 2,500 Arrostook Micmac
Other speakers of the same language:
Pennacook, Penobscot