Among the Algonquian people, each nation was governed by a chief and council. The chief was chosen because he possessed personal qualities such as strength, skill, courage, hunting prowess, wisdom and generosity. Despite these many fine qualities and the power he possessed, the chief could not make decisions by himself. Before taking action, he had to convince the members of the council that his decision was the right one. Everyone had to be in agreement for a decision to be made, it was called a consensus. Sometimes there needed to be long discussions before everyone was in agreement. Making important decisions could take a very long time.

The chief’s power

Since the chief could not make decisions without consulting the members of the council, his main power lied in his ability to convince the others that his decisions were right. He, therefore, had to be an excellent communicator and earn the respect of others. To do this, he had to be very generous with the other members of the tribe because this was the quality many Indigenous Peoples valued in a leader.

Author: Alexandre Lanoix. Adaptations by LEARN.


See also Traces of the past: 

1-  Oh, what type of men are the Europeans!  
2- The main quality needed in a chief

Important concepts and big ideas:

Political Structure – Structure politique
Social Structure – Structure sociale
Oral Tradition – Tradition orale

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