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Abnaki or Abenaki (both: ăbnäˈkē) [key], Native North Americans of the Algonquian branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). The name Abnaki was given to them by the French; properly it should be Wabanaki, a word that refers to morning and the east and may be interpreted as those "living at the sunrise." The Abnaki lived mostly in what is now Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Abnaki legend has it that they came from the Southwest, but the exact time is unsure. The Abnaki resided in settled villages, often surrounded by palisades, and lived by growing corn, fishing, and hunting. They were early involved in the French fur trade. Their own name for their conical huts covered with bark or mats, wigwam, came to be generally used in English. After a series of bloody conflicts with British colonists in the late 17th and 18th cent. (see French and Indian Wars), the Abnaki and related tribes (the Malecite, the Micmac, the Passamaquoddy, the Pennacook, the Penobscot, and others) withdrew into Canada, where they received protection from the French. In 1990 there were some 1,500 Abnaki in the United States, mostly in N Vermont. About 1,000 live in Quebec and another group lives in Maine. There are also around 2,500 Passamaquoddy, mostly in Maine (see separate entries for other related tribes).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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