The Abenaki are one of the five members of the Wabanaki Confederacy. They include the Wabanaki people of interior New England, and in Quebec and the Maritimes of Canada.
If your ancestor came from Quebec, Maine, New Hampshire, or Vermont, it’s likely you might have Abenaki ancestry. But an Abenaki accompanied La Salle on his expedition down the Mississippi, Abenaki were living in Indian communities in the Midwest in about 1750, and Spanish records report Abenaki west of the Mississippi after the American Revolution, so your Abenaki ancestor won’t necessarily be found in these states.
An Abenaki Indian might be described as a Nipmuc, a Sokoki, a Pennecook, a Penobscot, or a St. Francis Indian, or as all of these, depending upon whether Europeans saw him in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, or Quebec.
If you are searching for a female ancestor that you believe is Indian, it isn’t likely that you will find her or her mother on any Indian rolls. Most documents only list the heads of households (men and widows) by name. Tribal rolls do not usually include women who married outside the tribe.
An Indian woman lost her tribal rights when she married outside of the tribe. This applied to all Wabanaki – Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, Mi’kmaq (MicMac), and Canadian Abenaki. This law changed in the State of Maine in 1956. Check the laws in the area you are researching for the status of Indian women who married non-Indians in the time period you are researching.
In most cases, you will need to connect your female ancestor to a male ancestor, through birth, death, or marriage records if she lived prior to 1850.
Starting with the 1850 census (in the USA), all the names of people living in the household were recorded. If you can find your female ancestor in a household, than you can look for the head of the household on tribal rolls. If he shows up as Abenaki (or Penobscot, etc.) and you can prove she was his daughter, than you have proved your Native bloodline.
Many Abenaki were baptized in the Catholic Religion and received French baptismal names which were often used in documents. However, a person may have had a native name and/or a nickname that they were known by to friends and family and this common name could change several times during the person’s lifetime.
If you are tracing the anglo name Hill – try looking for Descoteaux in Canada (the original French name).
- Arsigantegok (also Arrasaguntacook, Ersegontegog, Assagunticook, Anasaguntacook), lived along the St. Francis River in Québec. Principal village: St. Francis (Odanak). The people were referred to as St. Francis River Abenakis, and this term gradually was applied to all Western Abenaki.
- Cowasuck (also Cohass, Cohasiac, Koasek, Koasek, Coos – “People of the Pines”), lived in the upper Connecticut River Valley. Principal village: Cowass, near Newbury, Vermont.
- Missiquoi (also Masipskwoik, Mazipskikskoik, Missique, Misiskuoi, Missisco, Missiassik – “People of the Flint”), also known as the Sokoki. They lived in the Missisquoi Valley, from Lake Champlain to the headwaters. Principal village around Swanton, Vermont.
- Ossipee, lived along the shores of Ossipee Lake in east-central New Hampshire. Often classed as Eastern Abenaki.
- Pennacook (also Penacook, Penikoke, Openango), lived in the Merrimack Valley, therefore sometimes called Merrimack. Principal village Penacook, New Hampshire. The Pennacook were once a large confederacy who were politically distinct and competitive with their northern Abenaki neighbors.
- Pequawket (also Pigwacket, Pequaki), lived along the Saco River and in the White Mountains. Principal village Pigwacket was located on the upper Saco River near present-day Fryeburg, Maine. Occupied an intermediate location, therefore sometimes classed as Eastern Abenaki.
- Sokoki (also Sokwaki, Squakheag, Socoquis, Sokoquius, Zooquagese, Soquachjck, Onejagese – “People Who Separated”), lived in the Middle and Upper Connecticut River Valley. Principal villages: Squakheag, Northfield, Massachusetts, and Fort Hill.
- Winnipesaukee (also Winnibisauga, Wioninebeseck, Winninebesakik– “region of the land around lakes”), lived along the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire.
- Amaseconti, lived between the upper Kennebec and Androscogginrivers in western Maine.
- Androscoggin (also Alessikantekw, Arosaguntacock, Amariscoggin), lived in the Androscoggin Valley and along the St. Francis River, therefore often called St. Francis River Abenaki.
- Kennebec (also Kinipekw, Kennebeck, Caniba, later known as Norridgewock), lived in the Kennebec River Valley in northern Maine. Principal village: Norridgewock (Naridgewalk, Neridgewok, Noronjawoke); other villages: Amaseconti (Amesokanti, Anmissoukanti), Kennebec, and Sagadahoc.
- Kwupahag (also Kwapahag)
- Maliseet (also Wolastoqiyik, Walastekwyk, Malecite), lived in the inland of upper Maine and middle New Brunswick along the St. John River. Principal villages: Meductic, Aukpaque. Now a separate federally recognized tribe.
- Odanak (also known as St. Francis, St. Francois du Lac), lived southwest of Trois-Rivières, Quebec, and included settlements along the St. Francois River.
- Ossipee, lived along the shores of Ossipee Lake in east-central New Hampshire. Sometimes classed as Western Abenaki.
- Penobscot (also Panawahpskek, Pamnaouamske, Pentagouet), lived in the Penobscot Valley. Principal villages: Penobscot (Pentagouet),now Indian Island, Old Town, Maine; other villages: Agguncia, Asnela, Catawamtek, Kenduskeag, Mattawamkeag, Meecombe, Negas, Olamon, Passadumkeag, Precaute, Segocket, and Wabigganus. Now a separate federally recognized tribe.
- Passamaquoddy (also Peskotomuhktati, Pestomuhkati), lived on the Passamaquoddy Bay coast and inland, between the St. John, St. Croixand Penobscot rivers, in present-day Maine and New Brunswick. Principal village: Machias. Now a separate federally recognized tribe.
- Rocameca, lived along the upper Androscoggin River, near Canton, Maine.
- Wawinak (also Ouanwinak, Sheepscot, Wawenock, Wawnock, Wewenoc), lived in the coastal areas of southern Maine.
- Wôlinak (also Becancour), lived around Trois-Rivières, Quebec.
Wabanaki groups prior to 1800
- Native Communities after 1800
New York State
Southern New England
Census Records (US & Canadian) include Native People – often listed as black, colored, mulatto, and very often white. Canadian records often record them as Indian or Sauvage. Native populations sometimes show up in U.S. Census on special forms which are often found at the end of the County.
Odanak / St. Francis
Wolinak / Becancour
Abenaki / Wabanaki Vital Records
Tribal Registration Rolls & Tribal Genealogies are generally NOT available to the general public.
Few documents exist prior to 1750. Scattered documents exist between 1750 and 1825 which are helpful. From 1825 to present, enough documents exist to piece together many Abenaki families.
French Canadian Resources at NEHGS
Beginner to Intermediate Level – Learn what resources exist for French Canadian genealogical research and how to get the most out of them.
New England Historic Genealogical Society – French Canadian Genealogy
The Abenaki Indians of North America
New Worlds for All: Indians, Europeans, and the Remaking of Early America