Hunting, fishing and gathering were means of subsistence* for the Algonquian people. These activities provided them with food and materials to make clothing and houses.

The men of the Algonquian tribes hunted with a bow, club or spear, depending on the game being hunted. When a hunter got an animal, he shared it with the other members of the band.

The Algonquians mostly fished in the summer, when they set up camp along the water’s edge for several weeks. They also fished when travelling by canoe. They did this by trailing a fishing line in the water behind the canoe. Their fishing hooks were made from bones shaped like a hook.

The Algonquian people got a lot of their food from gathering. Depending on the season, they could gather fruits, vegetables and plants like wild leek, wild rice, cattails and various berries. In the spring, they collected maple sap to make syrup. While Iroquoian Nations tended to have a sedentary lifestyle, most Algonquian Nations did not farm. They did not stay in the same place long enough to grow crops.

These statements are of course a generalization. For example, according to W8banaki’s History of the Nation, some W8banakiak groups lived more semi-nomadic/sedentary lifestyles and did adapt horticulture practices around 1200. We encourage you to continue your learning using resources produced by members of the specific Algonquian Nations or communities you are interested in. 

Author: Alexandre Lanoix. Adaptations and translations by LEARN/RÉCIT. W8banaki’s History of the Nation was accessed online, Feb. 8, 2024.

* Subsistence = Feeding themselves and ways to find or create only what was essential. 

Important concepts and big ideas:

Adapt to the environment – S’adapter à l’environnement
Division of labour – Division du travail
Nomad – Nomad
Resources – Ressources
Subsistence – Subsistance
Trade Network – réseau de échanges

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