Algonquian and Great Lake Tribes


The Algonquin did some farming, but were mainly hunters. They used fish to fertilize their corn fields. They tapped maple trees for sap to make sugar. The Algonquin Indians that lived on the coast had clambakes in which they ate clams, oysters, lobsters, mussels, and other shellfish. During these clambakes the Indians wrapped fish in seaweed then cooked it in a pit dug in the earth.

The Great Lakes Tribes were excellent hunters, farmers, and food gatherers. They ate wild birds and game. The men hunted moose, caribou, beaver, otter, and other small animals. The women gathered nuts, greens, and berries. The women grew corn, beans, and squash. One main food was the wild rice the Indians gathered that grew in the marshlands around the Great Lakes. The Indians of the Great Lakes knocked off the grains with sticks so the rice fell into their canoes. 


Pow Wows

Every six months the Algonquins came together for a powwow or general meeting. Each tribe brought its chief to the powwow council. The powwow was an occasion for feasting and dancing. Arguments between groups were settled, alliances formed, and trading was completed during the powwow.   


Snowsnake was a game played by the tribes of the Great Lakes. A snowsnake was a long, smooth stick of maple wood. One end was carved to look like a snake's head. To play the game the Indians packed down the snow on a long, level strip of ground. Each player slid the stick along the ground, taking turns. The one who slid the stick the farthest was the winner.


The men made canoes, traps, utensils, and weapons. The Algonquian people used spears to help them catch fish and eels from the bow of a canoe.

The women wove fishnets, mats, and bark containers. The Algonquian tribes of Maine and Nova Scotia made birchbark boxes decorated with porcupine quills. These were used when gathering roots and berries.


Small Bag
The artists of the Great Lakes used natural objects as models for their artwork. Flowers, leaves, and stems were stitched onto bags and clothing. The Chippewa designed flowing flowers. The Winnebago embroidered simpler symmetrical floral patterns.
Birch Bark

In the Northeastern Woodland area the Native Americans used birch bark for making many items. The outer bark of white paper-like bark was used for building canoes and for the outer covering of wigwams. Decorative items such as fans and beadwork items were also made from birch bark. Hunting and fishing gear such as arm guards and quivers were made from birchbark. Another use was bark containers. The containers were used to collect, store, cook, and even serve food or other products.

The Native Americans gathered the bark from fallen trees all year long. The bark from live trees was gathered in the spring. The bark was thickest at this time of year. In the spring the bark was easy to peel itself from the tree. Pieces of the bark were laced together using basswood or dogbane cord   of the thin strips of inner cedar bark or of black spruce roots. When making containers  handles were constructed with willow or other branches.


Dream Catchers

The Algonquian Indians hung dreamcatchers from cradleboards to protect their babies. They believed that the dreamcatcher would catch bad dreams and allow good dreams to pass through the web.

Hiawatha found a method for Indians to use to help them remember messages. Shell beads were woven into designs. Each design had a special meaning. The Wampum belts were used when council chiefs met to help them remember long speeches. Later the wampum belts were used as money. These were often exchanged as signs of good faith.


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