One of the most ancient Canadian native tribes is Abenaki. Their name can be translated as “those who come from the east.” The Abenaki nation consisted of two tribes: eastern and western. Traditionally, they would settle down in areas from Quebec to Vermont and New Hampshire. The Abenaki tribe was among those nations who initiated the formation of Wabanaki Confederacy at the end of the seventeenth century. The Confederacy still exists and possesses due rights in the regulation of a wide range of issues from ecology to access to land. From a territorial perspective, the eastern and the western tribes would settle down in different areas as it might be understood from their names. Thus, for example, in the very beginning of the seventeenth century, the eastern tribe lived in what we now know as Maine State. The western tribe, in turn, occupied the north of the New England, i.e. such areas as New Hampshire and Lake Champlain.
In the seventeenth century, the main activities that the people of Abenaki were involved with were fishing, hunting, and gathering. During the seasons, they would hunt moose or used their canoes to travel down to the village waterfalls to catch some fish. When the season of hunting and fishing was over, they settled down on the coast in small family groups. The people of Abenaki were not good at agriculture; it was only when they developed the fur trade that they succeeded in agriculture as well.
The Abenaki nation had a rich and diverse culture. Their cultural traditions comprised art, dancing, and oral stories. Even though a large part of the cultural heritage was lost because of the pressure of the federal policies, some portions of their traditions were preserved and can be now explored by our contemporaries. Thus, for example, a lot of valuable artifacts and relics can be found in Musée des Abénakis that is situated in Odanak. Since both Abenaki tribes belonged to the Algonquian cultures, they would naturally speak Algonquian languages even though there were some insignificant differences between the two dialects that the tribes used.
From a religious perspective, the people of Abenaki would worship the so-called “Great Spirit.” This Great Spirit was perceived as an abstract benignant supreme force that would not enter in any interactions with human beings. The fact that the Great Spirit was regarded as an abstract genderless force is evidenced by the oral stories that Abenaki created. In all those stories, they would hardly ever personify their deity. This, however, does not mean that the power of the deity was anyhow questioned. On the contrary, the people of Abenaki would impart their Great Spirit with unlimited capacities. Thus, according to their oral stories, it was the Great Spirit who brought sound and color and who appealed to the Great Turtle to form land. The process of creating humans, according to Abenaki, would flow when the Great Spirit slept. As such, humans and animals were regarded as the characters that materialized from the dreams that the Great Spirit saw. Apart from the Great Spirit, the people of Abenaki would also adore their hero Gluskabe who appeared in almost every oral story.
The first sign of the decline of the Abenaki nation appeared in the second part of the seventeenth century when the diseases brought from the Old World brought away almost ninety percent of all the population of Abenaki. Those who managed to survive would be further disengaged during the War of 1812. The only group of Abenaki people that has survived up to the present moment is a small community which occupied the Old Town of Maine.