Algonquin Indian Tribes of Michigan and the Influence the Early French Term Paper

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Agonquin Indian Tribes of Michigan and the Influence the Early French Had on These Tribes

The history of the American people is the result of numerous influences that have put their mark on what is today the American culture and heritage. The entire array of factors that have determined the unique yet troubled history of the United States belong to numerous cultures and civilization that have remained to this day important landmarks for the definition of the cultural framework of this country. In this sense, the Indians have had a considerable contribution to the establishment of the cultural background as well as of the environment in which later settlers, such as the Europeans would place their mark and in which they would develop a distinctive cultural identity.

A good example for such facts is those represented by the Algonquin Indian tribes from Michigan. The present paper will address precisely the relationship between the Indians and the French settlers, which represented an important contribution to the history of our nation and the local culture.


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Once the North American continent is discovered, it becomes an appealing target for most Europeans. However, in the Michigan region the French exercised an extensive influence over the local population and determined an original set of items that can be considered to be an important asset to the American cultural framework. However, in order to see the actual impact of the French and their influence on the Indian population in the area it is important to consider several aspects which may shed some light on the events that led to the creation of a distinctive culture, as well as of a regional identity which proves the unique sense of the history of the era.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Algonquin Indian Tribes of Michigan and the Influence the Early French Had on These Tribes Assignment

Firstly, the role of the culture that existed before the French arrival is important for determining the precise structure of the native Indian society and for pointing out in the end the elements, which suffered the greatest change after the French arrival. Secondly, a detailed account on the actual modifications in the Indian life after the French arrival is essential because it offers an image of the assimilation of the European values by the natives and, at the same time, it gives a perspective of the way in which the contacts between the two sides took place. Thirdly, taking into account that in the end the changes that occurred were also related to politics and that problems arising from the differences in cultures and approaches were often solved through treaties and land acts, it is important to take into account the way in which disputes and misunderstandings were solved through law. All these are necessary questions to be raised and answered especially taking into account the complexity of the issue and the significance it has for the history of the United States.



The Indian tribes of the Great Lakes region were one of the most representative presences of population in America. Richard White in the Middle Ground refers "to these people as Algonquians, the term is admittedly problematic. Algonquin refers to a language group the domain of whose speakers stretched far beyond the pays d'en haut. And not all the people of the pays d'en haut were Algonquin speakers" the geographical position is therefore established. There are other coordinates as well that can determine the region of the Algonquin tribes. More precisely, the Algonquian were made up of several hundred tribes, which occupied most of the Canadian region lying to the south of Hudson Bay between the Rocky Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. Also, they occupied that section of what is now the United States extending northward from North Carolina and Tennessee. The cartographical representation of the tribes made by White in these regions is important because it often resulted in clashes with the Iroquois or the Sioux tribes.

The present analysis focuses on four tribes of the Algonquin Indians represented according to the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society. They were taken into consideration particularly because of their non-conflict relation as "the Chippewas, or Ojibwas, Ottawa's, Potawatamies and the Huron or Wyandots (...) usually acted together and in harmony" They were the representatives for the areas they inhabited throughout history. However, they were considered to be nomadic tribes, an element which clearly points to one important aspect of their culture and way of life. In this sense, the geographical position and environment did not allow them to undergo any activities related to agriculture. This innovation pointed out the fact that the Algonquin tribes were developed enough to follow the characteristics of the environment in which they lived and at the same time to properly and successfully adapt to the requests of the natural conditions.

A general account of the early history of the Indian tribes is related to some basic descriptions of the way in which they ran their existence. Painting such an image is essential for creating a wide perspective on the identity of the Algonquin Indians. In this sense, "our pioneer fathers and mothers (...) found a race of people unknown to them in the land from which they came. The wild savage of the forest was frequently found lurking in the bush and tall grass, ready to strike down, with gunshots or tomahawk, the unsuspecting whites. (...). The very easy surveyors in pursuit of their calling and the pioneer in exploring this region for a favorable location for his homestead found large areas (...) upon which were then growing the largest oaks and other trees of the forest." These were some of the basic elements which constituted the natural habitat of the first Indians to be seen by the missionaries.

From the perspective offered by the natural circumstances, the social environment developed accordingly. Therefore, there were two distinctive elements that separate the way in which social relations were conducted. On the one hand, there were certain socializing activities in the summer, but during the winter the communities were much reduced in order to enable better possibilities for movement.

On the other hand, the cultural identity of the Algonquin tribes can also be explored from the point-of-view of the structure of the society. In this sense, the society was based on the patriarchal structure. More precisely, the main role inside the small Algonquin society was that of the man. Therefore, the centerpiece of the family was represented by the fatherly figure. There is indirect evidence which attests this issue, taking into account the simple fact that none of the stories of brave deeds of Indians even include a woman as a central piece. This was an important element in the wider economy of the social structure because it offered the viewpoint of the inheritance options; more precisely, in most cases, the property of the family was acquired on paternal line, while women were disregarded in this sense.

In terms of the history of the Algonquin tribes, it must be said from the very beginning that it was greatly influenced by the arrival of the French population in the early 17th century. The presence of the French colonialists is not necessarily historically attested but rather there are various accounts of their presence. In this sense, "the French, says Archbishop Spalding seem to have visited Michigan as early as the year 1610, and missionaries went thither occasionally soon afterward, but no priest appears to have been stationed at Detroit before 1701." Therefore, it can be said that in the beginning the presence of the French was limited, and in time, it came to be a permanent affair.

Currently, as most sources reveal, there are ten communities of Algonquin Indians, none of them in Quebec, and one in Ontario However, these communities are the result of a combination between the early settlers in the region and the European presence, in particular that of the French. However, there are little accounts of the clashes between them; nonetheless, history points out their encounters in order to establish the fact that their clashes made them vulnerable for the outside threats such as the French or the British, respectively. Therefore, it can be pointed out the fact that there was not only the colonist pressure which enabled them to take control of the Algonquin tribes; it was also the local historical framework which created the proper environment for their conquest.

As it has been stated in the beginning, the French were the dominant influence for the Algonquin tribes. In order to have a better account of the situation in which the contacts with the Europeans were established in the 17th century, it is important to consider the economic and cultural relations that were established at the time between the natives and the whites. On the one hand, there was commerce which enabled relations to be established. On the other hand, the political and cultural aspects are also essential for creating the relations between them.

The fur trade represented one of the most important endeavors of the Indian tribes.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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