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ALGONKIN-LENAPE AND IROQUOIS NATIONS.
The Cheppeyan and other eastern Athapasca tribes are bounded on the south by Indians of the great family, called Algonkin by the French, and recently Lenape in America.
The Iroquois tribes are, on all sides but the south, bounded by the Algonkin-Lenape; and it is most convenient to describe, in the first place, the limits of the territory which was in possession of both together, at the time when the Europeans made their first settlements in that part of North America.
Those limits may be generally stated to have been :
On the north; the Missinipi River from its source to its mouth in Hudson's Bay, and thence, crossing that bay, a line extending westwardly, through Labrador, until it reaches the Eskimaux.
On the east; the Labrador Eskimaux, and, from the extreme boundary of these on the northern shores of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Atlantic Ocean to Cape Hatteras or its vicinity ; the line across the Gulf of St. Lawrence passing between Cape Breton Island and Newfoundland; although it is possible that the Micmacs, an Algonkin tribe, may have occupied the southwestern parts of the last mentioned island.
On the south; an irregular line, drawn westerly from Cape Hatteras to the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi or its vicinity ; which divided the Tuscaroras, Iroquois, and various Lenape, from some extinct tribes, and from the respective territories of the Catawbas, of the Cherokees, and of the Chickasaws.
On the west; the Mississippi to its source, thence the Red River of Lake Winnipek, formerly called Lake of the Assiniboins (a Sioux tribe), down to that lake; whence the original line northwardly to the Missinipi cannot be correctly traced. The Algonkin tribes are, along the whole of this line, bounded on the west by the Sioux. But there are several exceptions to the general designation of the Mississippi as forming the boundary. This was probably formerly true, as high up as Prairie du Chien in latitude 43o. But the united Sacs and Foxes, an Algonkin nation, are now established on both sides of the Mississippi, from the River Desmoines to Prairie du Chien; whilst, above that point, the Dahcotas, the principal Sioux nation, have long
been in full possession of a portion of the country on the east side of the river, at least as high up as the 45th degree of lattude. And the Winnebagoes, another distinct Sioux tribe, were, when the French made their settlements in Canada, already established in the vicinity of Lake Michigan.
The Iroquois nations consisted of two distinct groups, both embraced within those boundaries, but which, when they were first known to the Europeans, were separated from each other by several intervening, but now extinct Lenape tribes.
The northern group or division was on all sides surrounded by Algonkin-Lenape tribes. When Jaques Cartier entered and ascended the river St. Lawrence in 1535, he found the site of Montreal, then called Hochegala, occupied by an Iroquois tribe, as evidently appears by his vocabulary, an extract from which, taken from De Laet, is annexed. We have no further account till the year 1608, when Champlain founded Quebec; and the island of Montreal was then inhabited by the Algonkins. The boundaries of the Northern Iroquois appear, at that time, to have been as follows:
On the north, the height of land which separates the waters of the Ottawa River, from those which fall into Lakes Huron and Ontario and the River St. Lawrence. But the country north of the lakes was a debatable ground, on which the Iroquois had no permanent establishment, and at least one Algonquin tribe, called “ Mississagues," was settled.
On the west, Lake Huron and, south of Lake Erie, a line not far from the Scioto, extending to the Ohio, which was the boundary between the Wyandots, or other now extinct Iroquois tribes, and the Miamis and Illinois.
On the east, Lake Champlain and, farther south, the Hudson River as low down as the Katskill Mountains, which separated the Mohawks from the Lenape Wappingers of Esopus.
The southern boundary cannot be accurately defined. The Five Nations were then carrying on their war of subjugation and extermination against all the Lenape tribes west of the River Delaware. Their war parties were already seen in 1608 at the mouth of the Susquehannah; and it is impossible to distinguish between what they held in consequence of recent conquests and their original limits. These did not probably extend beyond the range of mountains, which form southwestwardly the continuation of the Katskill chain. West of the Alleghany Mountains they are not known to have had any settlement south of the Ohio ; though the Wyandots have left
their name to a southern tributary of that river, (the Guyandot.)
The southern division of the Iroquois, the principal nation of which was called, in Virginia, Monæans, in North Carolina, Tuscaroras, extended above the falls of the great rivers, at least as far north as James River, and southwardly at least to the river Neus. They were bounded on the east by Lenape tribes bordering on the Chesapeake and Atlantic, on the south by the Cheraws and the Catawbas, on the north and west by extinct tribes, some of the Lenape stock, others of doubtful or unknown origin.
The numerous nations and tribes, into which that large family was subdivided, may geographically, but not without some regard to the difference of languages, be arranged under four heads ; Northern, Northeastern, Eastern or Atlantic, and Western.
Under this head are included the Knistinaux, the Algonkins and Chippeways or Ojibways, the Ottawas and the Potowotamies and the Mississagues.
The Knistinaux, Klistinaux, Kristinaux, and, by abbreviation, Crees, are the most northern tribe of the family. Bounded on the north by the Athapascas, they now extend, in consequence of recent conquests already alluded to, from Hudson's Bay to the Rocky Mountains, though they occupy the most westerly part of that territory, on the north branch of the Saskachawan in common with the Sioux Assiniboins. And they have also spread themselves as far north as the Lake Athapasca. On the south they are bounded by the Algonkins and Chippeways ; the dividing line being generally that which separates the rivers that fall into James's Bay and the southwestern parts of Hudson's Bay, from the waters of the St. Lawrence, of the Ottawa River, of Lake Superior, and of the River Winnipek. Near Hudson's Bay they are generally called Northern Men. According to Dr. Robertson, they call themselves, as many other Indian tribes do, “Men,” “ Éithinyook," or, “ Iniriwuk,” prefixing occasionally the name of their
special tribes. Thus the true name of the Monsonies or Swamp Indians, who inhabit Moose River, is Mongsoa Eithynyook, or, “ Moosedeer men.” The same author says, that the name Knistinaux was originally applied to the tribe of Lake Winnipek, called Muskegons. The name has now become generic, and the variations in the first syllable are only an instance of the frequent transmutations, amongst adjacent tribes speaking the same language, of the letters l, r, and n. There are, however, several varieties amongst the dialects of the Knistinaux ; the natural result of an unwritten language, spoken, through a territory so extensive, by tribes independent of each other and not united by any regular alliance. Amongst these varieties are mentioned the Muskegons and the Monsonies, of whose dialects we have no vocabularies. That of Harmon is most to be relied on. His wife, as he informs us, was a native of the Snare nation, living near the Rocky Mountains. Yet, allowing for differences in orthography, it does not differ materially from that of Mackenzie's, which must have been taken from the Knistinaux who traded between Lakes Winnipek and Athapasca.
It is difficult to ascertain whether the name of Algoumekins, or Algonkins, did belong to any particular tribe, or was used as a generic appellation. At the first settlement of Canada, all the St. Lawrence Indians living below and some distance above Quebec were designated by the name of Montagnars or Montagnes. This appellation was derived from a range of hills or mountains, which, extending northwesterly from Cape Tourmente (five miles below Quebec), divides the rivers that fall above that Cape into the St. Lawrence, the Ottowa, and Lake Superior, from those, first of the Saguenay, and afterwards of Hudson's Bay. The chain, or rather height of land, intersected by many small lakes, may be traced according to Mackenzie, as far as lake Winnipek, of which it forms the eastern shore. It turns thence westwardly, and is crossed at Portage Methye, (latitude 56° 40', longitude 109°,) between the sources of the Missinipi and a branch of the River Athapasca, where the elevation above the sea has been roughly estimated at two thousand four hundred feet.
The great trading-place of the Montagnars was Tadoussac, at the mouth of the River Saguenay, where several inland tribes and others living lower down the St. Lawrence and speaking the same language, met annually. In the most ancient specimen we have of the Algonkin tongue, which is found at
the end of Champlain's Voyages, it is called Montagnar. The name, from the identity of language, was soon after extended to all the St. Lawrence Indians, as high up as Montreal. Those living on the Ottawa River were more specially distinguished by the name of the Algonkins; and the distinction between those two dialects, the Algonkin and the Montagnar, was kept up for some time, until the name of Algonkin prevailed.
According to Charlevoix, the Nipissings were the true Algonkins. They are called in the First Relations, Nipissiriniens, and lived on Lake Nipissing, at the head of the Portage between the Ottawa River and the waters of Lake Huron. This is confirmed by Mackenzie, who states, that the inhabitants of that lake, about the year 1790, consisted of the remainder of a numerous tribe called Nipissings of the Algonkin nation.
The difference, however, between the two dialects must have been very triling Father Le Jeune acknowledges, that it was with great difficulty that he learnt the Montagnar, and that he never became perfect in it. But in one of his letters, he says, “I was consoled in finding that the Nipissiriniens, the neighbours of the Hurons, understood my broken Montagnes (mon baragoin Montagnes). Whoever should know perfectly the language of the Quebec Indians would, I think, be understood by all the nations from Newsoundland to the Hurons.”* And in another place he says that there is no greater difference between those two dialects than between those spoken in different provinces of France. Notwithstanding the Father's modesty, it appears that he had discovered some of the principal characteristics of the language. He observes, f
First, that different verbs are used according to the subject of the action ; for instance, that, instead of the verb nimitisson wbich signifies“ I eat,” another verb must be used if you specify the thing which you eat.
Secondly, that there is a difference in the verbs, according as the object is animated or inanimate; though they consider several things as animated which have no soul, such as tobacco, apples, &c. Thus, says he, “I see a man,” Niouapaman iriniou ;
“I see a stone," the verb is Niouabaten. More. over, if the object is in the plural number, the verb must also be put in the plural ; “ I see men,” Niouapamonet iriniouet. I
but if I say,
# Ibid. 1634.
* Relations of New France, 1636.