What Are Some Characteristics of the Abenaki Culture?


Quick Answer

Some of the characteristics of the Abenaki culture include a patrilineal system and an agricultural economy that was supplemented by hunting and fishing. The Abenaki people lived in wigwams made from birchbark in the area that currently covers the state of Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire. They spoke the Abenaki-Penobscot language.

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The Abenaki people lived in fertile areas close to rivers, as they relied on agriculture. Their main diet consisted of beans, squash and corn. They supplemented their food by gathering wild foods, hunting and fishing.

The Abenaki people did not have a central system of governance and lived in scattered bands that consisted of members of an extended family. The bands or village were usually small, and had an average of 100 people. They were a patrilineal society, and the bands occupied several hunting territories that the family inherited through the father. The bands would move near the river during spring and summer months to make it easier to farm and fish. These bands were sometimes fortified if there was warfare in the region.

Their wigwams were dome-shaped, though some people preferred oval-shaped, long houses. They wore different clothes depending on the season. During the summer, men wore breechcloths, leather leggings and moccasins. Women wore skirts or dresses made from deerskin, and leggings. In the winter, both men and women wore winter clothes made from buckskin.

The Abenaki language belongs to the Algonquian family. The word "Abenaki" means "people of the dawn," and this name refers to their location in the East. Their language is close to extinction, as few young people learn or speak it.

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