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Learning about the Abenaki

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1 Learning about the Abenaki
This is the title slide of a 25-slide presentation. To view the show, click on the easel-shaped icon in the icon grouping at lower left (or on the menu bar go SLIDE SHOW > VIEW SHOW). A suggestion: before sharing the presentation with students in a classroom setting, print the notes. Notes contain background information, slide annotations, and appropriate bibliographical information. If you prefer just to view the notes, go to VIEW > NOTES PAGE on the menu bar; then just scroll from slide to slide. To return to this view, go to VIEW > NORMAL. This image, researched and drawn by Gerald Morin, is titled “A New Hampshire Warrior of the Abnaki Confederacy.” It may be found in Thaddeus Piotrowski’s monograph History of the American Indians in the Manchester, N.H., Area (Manchester, 1977). Mr. Morin donated the drawing to the Manchester Historic Association. A Presentation by New Hampshire Historical Society

2 Using Natural Resources
Even in the harsh climate and rugged terrain of the region we now call New Hampshire… Scene in the Presidential Range of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Photograph by Christopher MacLeod

3 Using Natural Resources
Native Americans lived very well on the resources around them — long before Europeans arrived. Scene in the Presidential Range of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. On various trails, as you approach tree line, you confront these chilling warning signs: STOP The area ahead has the worst weather in America. Many have died there from exposure even in the summer. Turn back now if the weather is bad. Photograph by Christopher MacLeod

4 Using Natural Resources
What natural resources did the Indians make use of in what we call New Hampshire? (fish, furs, forests, wild berries, nuts, and game) The engraving from the drawings of W.H. Bartlett comes from Nathaniel Parker Willis’s American Scenery: or Land, Lake, and River: Illustrations of Transatlantic Nature (George Virtue: London, 1852). Based on what you see, what resources do you think might be available to the Abenaki?

5 Fishing If you included hunting and fishing, you were absolutely right. Here you see an Indian catching fish with the aid of a weir… …and spear. What are the Indians using to catch fish? Introduce the term weir. What place in New Hampshire today takes its name from the fact that Indians once fished there? (Weirs Beach) In addition to eating it fresh, fish was also smoked and dried to be stored. Drawings from C. Keith Wilbur’s The New England Indians, 2nd ed. (Guilford, Conn.: Globe Pequot Press, 1996). Used with permission.

6 Fishing Native Americans fashioned other tools for fishing, too…
…like nets and plummets, which were attached to fishing line to take it below the surface. Drawings from C. Keith Wilbur’s The New England Indians, 2nd ed. (Guilford, Conn.: Globe Pequot Press, 1996). Used with permission.

7 Fishing Abenakis are fishing with spears and nets at Amoskeag Falls, where the Merrimack flows through what is now Manchester. This was a good fishing place in the spring and summer. The Indians knew that there was good fishing "when the dogwood bloomed." Many tribes besides the Abenaki fished here as well. Have you visited the fish ladder located at Amoskeag Falls today? Photograph by Ernest Gould The Amoskeag Falls on the Merrimack River provided excellent fishing in spring and summer.

8 Animals of field and forest were another natural resource for the Abenaki.
Hunting This scene is of an Indian hunting camp. What type of housing do you see? Why is this a practical solution for providing shelter? Notice that there are domesticated animals in the picture. What does this tell you about Indian life? Indian Hunting Camp

9 Hunting Hunting and stalking were exhausting and challenging tasks.
They required great skill and strength. By Jacques Lemoyne de Morgues (1591) Using bows and arrows required great skill. A hunter also had to be strong because he might have to run after a deer for as many as twenty miles! Women prepared pemmican, pounded meat mixed with cornmeal and berries and baked. This dried food was taken on these hunting trips. What method of hunting is being used in this drawing? Hunting was a constant activity. Meats were dried and stored for winter when food could be scarce. In addition to using the meat from the animal, all other parts were used: skin: moccasins, thongs, clothing hair: stiff tail hairs were used for ornaments and embroidery antlers: tools and arrow points hoofs: rattles claws: “jingles” for belts, anklets, and rattles sinew (strong tendons): thread, bowstrings, and snares bones: knives, hairpins and needles bladders: bags and containers

10 While men hunted and fished, women gathered the region’s resources…
Gathering Berries Nuts Herbs Tree saps Seth Eastman’s sketch showing pre-contact life of Indians of the Northeast actually dates from the mid-1800s, over two hundred years after Europeans settled in the area. After learning about Abenaki life, students may wish to return to this image to note some possible errors in Mr. Eastman’s depiction of pre-contact Abenaki life. The sketch by Captain Seth Eastman (U.S. Army) is titled “Indian Sugar Camp.” It may be found in volume two (pl. 9, p. 59) of Henry R. Schoolcraft’s six-volume work Information Respecting the History, Condition, and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States (Philadelphia: Lippincott,1847). Indian Sugar Camp

11 Growing In warmer regions, women also were responsible for growing crops… especially, corn, beans, and squash — together called “the three sisters.” From C. Keith Wilbur’s The New England Indians, 2nd ed. (Guilford, Conn.: Globe Pequot Press, 1996). Used with permission. Hunting, fishing, and gathering food from the forests and streams were tasks performed mostly by men. Abenaki women were responsible for farming within the protected areas of their villages. Corn was ground and boiled, sometimes with currants, and used for corn meal cakes. Other foods included hominy (boiled, coarsely ground corn), baked beans, succotash (corn and beans), squash, and beans or corn cooked with animal fat.

12 Using Natural Resources
The Abenaki were skillful at using their resources for more than… hunting and fishing and gathering and growing

13 Shelter temporary conical wigwams and
The forest resources of New Hampshire yielded tree bark and saplings for both… temporary conical wigwams and more permanent dome-shaped wigwams Birch bark and sometimes elm bark were the common coverings of wigwams. Strips of softened basswood bark were often used to tie the saplings together. Especially in southern areas, Abenakis also used longhouse-style wigwams, like that shown in slide no.11. Drawings from C. Keith Wilbur’s The New England Indians, 2nd ed. (Guilford, Conn.: Globe Pequot Press, 1996). Used with permission.

14 Food Preparation Mortars and Pestles, made of wood or stone,…
…were used to grind or pound nuts and grains. Women were responsible for food preparation. What materials were needed to make these tools? (The mortars on the right are made of stone.) How were they used? Drawings from C. Keith Wilbur’s The New England Indians, 2nd ed. (Guilford, Conn.: Globe Pequot Press, 1996). Used with permission.

15 Food Preparation At first, males carved pots from stone. Later, around 1400, women learned how to make clay pots by using clay mixed with crushed quartz, feldspar, or shells for strength. Pots were shaped by laying hand-rolled coils on top of each other, smoothing them together, and firing. The neck of the pot was often reinforced so that the pot could be hung by a rope over a fire for cooking. Pots were often decorated with natural colors or shells. The steatite bowl on exhibit at the New Hampshire Historical Society Museum is among the museum’s oldest objects, dating back 2,500 to 3,000 years. Originally, Indians carved bowls from stone — work that was performed by men. When the Abenaki learned how to make clay pots, women took over the task of making the vessels.

16 Storage These baskets in the collections of the N.H. Historical Society show distinctive Abenaki design and use of natural resources… birch bark and porcupine quills. These baskets show the continuity of Abenaki basket-making. The birch bark basket is modern, made c by Gerard Simeon; the arch-lidded box belongs to a group of quill-work containers common to the early 19th century. When received by the N.H. Historical Society in 1923, this box contained early 19th-century sewing tools.

17 Transportation birch bark canoes for rivers and streams
New Hampshire’s waterways were like highways to the Abenaki. They made birch bark canoes for rivers and streams and dugout canoes for lake travel. And of course they walked! The illustration of making a dugout canoe is from Theodore De Bry’s Admiranda Narratic Fida Tamen, de Commodis (1590).

18 Using Natural Resources
Basically, the Indians in New Hampshire were self-sufficient. They used the woods and waters of the region to fulfill their needs… from tools… …to toys Drawings from C. Keith Wilbur’s The New England Indians, 2nd ed. (Guilford, Conn.: Globe Pequot Press, 1996). Used with permission. All of this was about to change!

19 Contact What do you think were some of the immediate changes?
The arrival of European traders and settlers in the 1600s brought many changes to the lives of Native Americans. What do you think were some of the immediate changes? The arrival of European settlers beginning in the 1600s brought many changes to the lives of native Americans. At first, Europeans were looking for a northwest passage to India. Then they sought gold such as the Spanish found in Central and South America. Later they sought furs, fish, and forest products—tall pines for ship masts and pitch to build ships.)

20 Contact Passaconaway, the great Pennacook sagamore, encouraged cooperation with the European newcomers. According to Native American tradition, Indians had been foretold of the coming of white people. This lithograph by the B.W. Thayer & Co. of Boston appears in C.E. Potter’s History of Manchester (1856) and is reportedly “drawn from historical descriptions.” It is titled “Papisseconewa, Sagamon.”

21 Contact Extensive trade developed. What did each offer?
Indians could supply fish, furs, and forest products. Europeans could offer clothing, metal tools, and beads. Because Indians had access to furs, fish, and forest products, an extensive trade developed with Europeans. In return, Indians received blankets, beads, metal, clothing, and later guns. Europeans had different ideas about property ownership—they believed that one person or a group of people could own land and restrict its use-- and that caused a great problem for Native Americans who believed that all land was owned in common. The engraving by Theodore de Bry in Great Voyages shows Bartholomew Gosnold trading with New England Indians. Note that the artist did not understand how Indians made use of shells and assumed that they strung entire shells together.

22 The Abenakis’ traditional way of life was doomed
The Abenakis’ traditional way of life was doomed. There were several factors. Contact Wars between England and France Increasing numbers of English settlers Differing ideas about land ownership Growing Abenaki dependence on European goods And European diseases unknown to the Indians This engraving shows an Englishman and a Frenchman each offering goods to an Indian to secure his friendship. The Englishman offers a Bible and a bolt of cloth; the Frenchman, a tomahawk and a purse of money. The image is taken from the cover of the March 1758 issue of The American Magazine and Monthly Chronicle for the British Colonies (Vol. 1, No. 6) published in Philadelphia.

23 Abenakis Today While the Abenaki way of life may have been doomed, the Abenaki themselves were not. Some still live among us today, and more live in Quebec where many emigrated in the 1700s. Abenaki people are still very much among us, still living in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine — though many live in Quebec where many migrated during the 1700s.

24 Abenakis Today Some Native Americans are working to preserve the knowledge and skills of their ancestors. Splitting ash to make baskets, a traditional Abenaki activity, is still very much in evidence today among Abenaki craftsmen. Photograph by Cheryl Cullimore at “Passamaquoddy Indian Days” (8/10/2002)

25 © 2008 Christopher MacLeod for the New Hampshire Historical Society
Education Services Coordinator New Hampshire Historical Society 6 Eagle Square Concord, NH Updated: 11/25/2009 © 2008 Christopher MacLeod for the New Hampshire Historical Society

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