Eastern Abenaki wαpánahki, Western Abenaki wǫbanakii, literally, dawn land people, easterners
First Known Use: 1721
Abenaki traditional dance troupe performing a friendship dance in Montpelier, Vt.—Toby Talbot/AP
Confederacy of Algonquian-speaking North American Indian peoples living mostly in Quebec, Can., and Maine, U.S. The contemporary Abenaki consider their home territory to be southern Quebec and the U.S. states of Vermont and New Hampshire, as well as parts of Maine and New York. Their name means toward the dawn or easterners. The name is applied to a number of groupsincluding Androscoggin, Kennebec, Malecite, Ouarastegouiak, Passamaquoddy, Patsuiket, Penobscot, Pigwacket, Mi'kmaq (Micmac), Pennacook, Rocameca, Sokoni, and Wewenocwho formed the Abenaki Confederacy in order to resist the Iroquois Confederacy, especially the Mohawk. In the 17th century the Abenaki sided with the French against the English, but, after severe defeats, they withdrew to Canada, many eventually settling at Saint-François-du-Lac and Becancour, near Trois-Rivières, in Quebec. There are also reservations in Maine and in New Brunswick, Can. Abenaki descendants numbered some 8,000 in the early 21st century.