Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit.
What does Western Abenaki sound like? Listen to these stories (one familiar, one less familiar) to find out.
- The Nat Geo News article discusses many Native American identities, including Algonquin, Western Abenaki, Wampanoag, and Patuxet. How are these concepts different from each other?
- Algonquin describes a wide collection of cultures and people speaking a common language group. Algonquin peoples were originally native to what is now northeastern and central Canada and the United States.
- Western Abenaki is a language. Actually, the article tells us, it’s is an amalgamation of a vast group of languages once spoken throughout what are today Vermont, New Hampshire, and parts of eastern Canada. (Just to make things confusing, the Abenaki are also a Native American tribe in the New England region of the United States and a First Nations government in Quebec and the Maritime Provinces of Canada.)
- The Wampanoag were a confederation of several bands of Native American communities. The great Wampanoag leader Massasoit, for instance, was from the Pokanoket band of Wampanoag. Today, the two largest Wampanoag communities are both in Massachusetts: the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah).
- The Patuxet were a band of Wampanoag. Squanto, the remarkable Native American diplomat, was from the Patuxet band of Wampanoag.
- According to the Nat Geo News article, Western Abenaki is a threatened language. How are Abenaki speakers working to revitalize the language and save it from extinction? Read through the article or this website on Western Abenaki for some help.
- Speakers are creating an online dictionary.
- Speakers are producing a radio show which includes basic dialog, traditional and contemporary stories and songs, lessons, news, and other information.
- Speakers are offering online lessons, games, and exercises created by fluent speakers.
- Speakers are creating online language sources, including phrases and even stories that have not been read in hundreds of years.
- Speakers are offering language immersion camps and activities.
- Take a look at today’s beautiful map of Native American Languages. Besides the Wampanoag, can you identify other pre-contact tribes that spoke an Algonquian language?
- The Penobscot, native to what is today northern Maine, spoke Eastern Abenaki. Today, Eastern Abenaki is an extinct language.
- The Powhatan confederation, native to what is today eastern Virginia, spoke an Algonquian language called either Powhatan or Virginian Algonquian. Today, Powhatan is an extinct language.
- The Shawnee, native to the Ohio Valley, spoke Shawnee. Today, Shawnee is a threatened language.
- The Blackfoot, a confederation native to the northern Great Plains, spoke an Algonquian language called either Blackfoot or Siksika. Today, thanks to a successful education campaign, thousands of people in the British province of Alberta and the U.S. state of Montana speak Blackfoot.
- The Arapaho, native to the central Great Plains, spoke an Algonquian language called either Arapaho or Heenetiit. Today, Arapaho is an endangered language.
- Take another look at today’s beautiful map of Native American Languages. What crucial elements are missing from the map?
- Native American languages and cultures from Alaska and Hawaii aren’t represented on the map. Here’s a nice map of the languages and cultures of Alaska, and Hawaii is, well, Hawaiian.
- OK, take one final look at today’s beautiful map of Native American Languages (or the Alaskan map provided above). In the 1700s, what Native American languages and cultures were thriving where you live? Are those cultures part of organized tribes today? Have you ever heard those languages spoken?
Nat Geo: Saints and Strangers
Nat Geo: Native American Languages and Groups
Western Abenaki: Abenaki Creation Story
Western Abenaki: Goldilocks and the Three Bears