Les Indiens Algonquins (French version)
North American Indian languages American Indian cultures American Indian art
Native American Facts For Kids was written for young people learning about the Algonquins for school or home-schooling reports. We encourage students and teachers to visit our main Algonquin website for in-depth information about the tribe, but here are our answers to the questions we are most often asked by children, with Algonquin pictures and links we believe are suitable for all ages. Photographs are the property of the sources we have credited.
Algonquin band flags
Each Algonquin community lives on its own reserve, also known as a reservation. Reserves are land that belongs to the tribe and is legally under their control.
Each Algonquin tribe--known as a band or First Nation in Canada--is
politically independent and has its own leadership. Algonquin First Nations have their own
government, laws, police, and services, just like small countries. However, the Algonquins are also Canadian citizens and must obey Canadian law.
The leader of each Algonquin band is called ogima or ogema, which is translated as "chief" in English. The ogima used to be chosen by tribal councilmembers, often from the last chief's sons, nephews, or sons-in-law. Today chiefs are elected by the Algonquins, just like governors or mayors.
|They do the same things all children do--play with each other, go to school and help around the house. Many Algonquin children like to go hunting and fishing with their fathers. In the past, Indian kids had more chores and less time to play, like early colonial children. But they did have toys, games and dolls, like this 18th-century doll in its miniature cradleboard. Algonquin mothers, like many Native Americans, carried their babies in cradleboards on their backs--a custom which many American parents have adopted now.|
Wigwam in Ontario
The Algonquins didn't live in tepees. For most of the year they lived in settled villages of birchbark houses,
called waginogans or wigwams. Algonquin wigwams were usually dome-shaped and not very large--
only a single family unit lived in each one. In some Algonquin communities, multiple families from the same clan would live together in a
much larger birchbark longhouse, like their Iroquois neighbors. During the winter, the village split up to go to hunting camps, and each
Algonquin family would build a cone-shaped shelter like
this for their camp.
These shelters were temporary and were discarded whenever the family needed to move. At the end of winter,
they would move back to their permanent lodges in their village.
Here are some more pictures of American Indian houses like
the ones the Algonquins used.
Today, Native Americans only build a birchbark lodge for fun or to connect with their heritage. Most Algonquin people live in modern houses and apartment buildings, just like you.
Chief Rocky Boy
Algonquin women wore long dresses with removable sleeves and the men wore
breechcloths and leggings.
Both genders wore moccasins
on their feet and cloaks in bad weather. Later, the Algonquins adapted European costume such as cloth blouses and jackets, decorating
them with fancy beadwork.
The Ojibway chief to the left is wearing
the same style of clothing Algonquin men did. Here are
more pictures of Ojibway and Algonquin clothing styles, and some photos and links
about Native American clothing in general.
Some Algonquin warriors shaved their heads in the Mohawk style, using grease to stiffen their hair so that it spiked up. Otherwise, Algonquin men and women both wore their hair in long braids. Some men wore a porcupine roach with a feather in it. (These roaches are made of porcupine hair, not the sharp quills!) In the 1800's, some Algonquin chiefs began wearing a feathered headdress like their neighbors the Sioux. The Algonquins painted their faces and arms with bright colors. They used different patterns for war paint and festive decoration. Some Algonquin men also wore elaborate tribal tattoos.
Today, some Algonquin people still wear moccasins or a beaded shirt, but they wear modern clothes like jeans instead of breechcloths... and they only wear feathers in their hair on special occasions like a dance.
Yes--the Algonquin Indian tribe was famous for their birchbark canoes. Here is a website with pictures of
Native American canoes.
Canoeing is still popular in the Algonquin nation today. Over land, the Algonquins used dogs as pack animals.
(There were no horses in North America until colonists brought them over from Europe.)
The Algonquins used
sleds and snowshoes to help them travel in the
Today, of course, Algonquin people also use cars... and non-native people also use canoes.
Algonquin deer hunt
What was Algonquin food like in the days before supermarkets?|
The Algonquins were hunting people. They hunted for deer, moose, and small game, and went fishing in the rivers and lakes. Some Algonquin communities grew corn and squash in small gardens, but most Algonquins only got foods like those in trade with neighboring tribes. Besides fish and meat, the Algonquins gathered berries and wild plants to eat. They also made maple syrup from tree sap. Here is a website with more information about Native American food.
What were Algonquin weapons and tools like in the past?
Algonquin Indians used bows and arrows or spears for hunting. Algonquin hunters also built traps like the ones in this picture to catch deer and other game animals. Algonquin fishermen used pronged spears to stab fish from their canoes or through holes in the ice, instead of fishing with hooks. Algonquin warriors fought each other with war clubs, spears, or tomahawks. Here is a picture of an Anishinabe war club, and a website with pictures and more information about Native American weapons in general.
|Algonquin artists are known for their beadwork and basketry arts. Like other eastern American Indians, Algonquins also crafted wampum out of white and purple shell beads. Wampum beads were traded as a kind of currency, but they were more culturally important as an art material. The designs and pictures on wampum belts often told a story or represented a person's family. Today, Algonquin people also create contemporary art like oil paintings. You can visit this site to see photographs of Algonquin paintings.|
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