Algonquin history - from the Stone Age to the European invasion
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Algonquin History

Algonquin arrowhead
Algonquin arrowhead from about 1 AD
made from stone imported from
south of the Great Lakes

May 2016 - Algonquin tradition says that people who called themselves Algonquins first lived along the Atlantic Coast, in the north-eastern part of North America, north of the Iroquois and south of the Inuit (in modern Canada). Probably sometime before 1000 AD they came from Athabascan land further west, because their language was related to the Cree and Blackfoot languages. By the 1400s AD, the Algonquins had moved back a little to the west, along the St. Lawrence river.

Algonquin people mainly hunted and gathered their food, traveling in small nomadic bands. In the short northern summer, they met in larger groups for fishing and religious ceremonies, like their relatives the Blackfoot further west. When fall came, they split up again into small bands and left for their own hunting territory, which was passed on from father to son.

The Algonquins lived too far north for farming, (it was too cold and dark), so they got corn and beans by trading with (and raiding) the Iroquois to their south. Algonquin traders used their canoes to travel long distances on the St. Lawrence River to trade with people as far away as the Cree on the Great Lakes.

Learn by doing: rent a canoe and paddle around
More about the Algonquin

Bibliography and further reading about Algonquin history:

Later Algonquin people
Cree people
Blackfoot people
Native Americans
Quatr.us home

Algonquin projects and activities

A cuddly stuffed beaver, if you can't see one live.

A real canoe, to take river trips the way the Algonquin did

A bag of wild rice to cook, to eat something Algonquin people ate a lot of


Celebrating Black History Month with the pharaoh Hatshepsut, the queen Shanakdakhete, the poet Phillis Wheatley, the medical consultant Onesimus, the freedom fighters Toussaint L'Ouverture, Denmark Vesey, Yaa Asantewaa, and Samora Moises Machel, and the civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
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