History of Indigenous Peoples

Algonquin or Algonkian?

is the term Algonquin used to refer to the Eastern Woodland tribes and some
> of the Canadian tribes? Is it used to refer to tribes that spoke a similar
> dialect? Does it refer to a Nation?
> Also, is there such a word as Algonkian? I recall seeing both words used in
> books about some of the Eastern Woodland tribes.
> Is there such a thing as an Algonquin language?

I hope I can make this clear. The Algonquin/Algonkin are a nation living
in southern Quebec and Ontario. They speak Algonquin/Algonkin.

During the period when anthropologists classified Native languages, they
took all of the languages of the same language family as Algonkin and
called it the Algonquian/Algonkian language family, in the same way
Winnebago and Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota are called "Siouan languages,"
and French and Italian are called "Romance" languages because of their
earlier links with Latin/Rome.

Although you'll often hear people refered to as "Algonkian-speaking" or
"Algonkian speakers," there is no Algonkian language: there are probably
more than a hundred in the family, and all are languages, not dialects.
Also, Algonkian languages are not confined to the East: if I remember
correctly, Blackfeet is an Algonkian language, and there are also
Algonkian languages among the many California tribes. And of course not
everyone in the east spoke an Algonkian language: the Iroquois languages
are totally different and are related only to Cherokee. As far as the
spelling goes, I like to use a "K" because that's the way it's supposed
to be pronounced, after the folks in Canada the French called Algonkin.

Ann McMullen
annmcm@mpm1.mpm.edu

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