Being a semi-nomadic people, the
W8banakiak moved around their territory as much to follow the game according to
the seasons, as to meet other W8banakiak groups in order to carry out
exchanges, weddings and celebrations. . The many rivers formed a large network
of river highways which facilitated long journeys in the territory. To give you an
idea of the scale of Ndakina, take a look at the map below where the
traditional W8banaki territory is defined by the color green. Today, two
w8banakiak communities are located in Quebec, Odanak and W8linak, while there are five other
w8banakiak communities in the United States.
In this section, you will discover and learn more about the Ndakina as well as its great
traditional, cultural and historical richness. Good discovery !
Did you know that the communities of Odanak and W8linak are only a tiny part of the whole of the traditional W8banaki territory? Indeed, at a certain time, before colonization, the W8banakiak occupied a very large territory from Boston in the United States to the south, to Quebec, to the north, in the St. Lawrence Valley. Imagine that at that time, around 26,000 W8banakiak occupied the whole of this immense territory! Being a semi-nomadic people, the W8banakiak moved around their territory as much to follow the game according to the seasons, as to meet other W8banakiak groups to carry out exchanges, weddings and celebrations among others. . The numerous rivers formed a large network of river highways which facilitated long journeys in the territory. To give you an idea of the scale of the w8banaki territory, take a look at the map below! W8banaki traditional territory is defined by the color green. Today, 2 w8banakiak communities are located in Quebec, Odanak and W8linak, while there are 5 other w8banakiak communities in the United States.
In this section, you will discover and learn more about Ndakina and its great traditional, cultural and historical wealth. Good discovery !
Wôlinak, which means “at the bay”, was founded in 1704. It is the place of establishment of one of the two Abenaki communities in Quebec. It is located along the Bécancour River, near the town of the same name, in Center-du-Québec.
Many of the Abenakis established in Bécancour come from Mégantic. When they arrive in Bécancour, they first settle on an island, which today bears the name of Montesson. A chapel is built there for these Abenakis who are Christians. However, after more than 30 years of establishment, they were forced to leave the premises for Île aux Sauvages when the Seigneurie de Bécancour changed owners. They were then driven out again to find themselves, in 1735, on the land they still occupy today. The church that is erected there welcomes Canadians from the surrounding area, who take advantage of its proximity to frequent it until another is built in Bécancour. In 1757, French settlers, dissatisfied with the intendant who gave land to the Abenakis, set fire to the church in Wôlinak. The cross on the steeple, saved from the flames, now stands in the middle of the village. The bell, meanwhile, is in the provincial parliament in Quebec.
In 1812, when most of the Abenakis left to fight to defend Canada, part of their land was usurped by French settlers and some Jesuits. The territory that remains after this theft corresponds to that occupied by the Abenakis of Wôlinak to this day. Today, the community of Wôlinak occupies an area of approximately 700 m², which has a little over 100 inhabitants out of a population of approximately 400 members. During the summer season, a small chapel for the interpretation of Abenaki history and culture is open to the public and a pow-wow is organized annually to celebrate the diversity of the Aboriginal nations. The Abenakis of Wôlinak deploy many efforts to revitalize their culture, reconnect with ancestral practices and strengthen their identity belonging to their Nation.
La communauté abénakise d’Odanak (au village en abénakis) fut officiellement fondée en 1700 lors de l’établissement d’une mission jésuite à l’intérieur de la fortification des Abénakis. La superficie originale de la seigneurie des Abénakis s’étend sur environ 64 km². À cette époque, les Abénakis pratiquent une économie de subsistance basée sur la chasse, la pêche, la trappe, la cueillette de petits fruits ainsi que sur l’agriculture du maïs, des haricots, des courges, des pommes de terre et du tabac. Ils confectionnent des paniers tressés de frêne et de foin d’odeur pour la cueillette de baies sauvages et font bouillir la sève des érables pour faire du sirop. Lors des guerres franco-anglaises, les Abénakis s’allient aux Français. Une anecdote tirée de cet épisode relate l’histoire d’un Chef abénakis dénommée Nescambuit qui aurait défendu la Nation des ennemis du roi Louis XIV, qui le reçut au rang de chevalier. La vannerie demeure une activité traditionnelle pour les membres des deux communautés.
Aujourd’hui la communauté d’Odanak est d’une superficie d’un peu plus de 6 km² où environ 400 abénakis qui y demeurent. La population totale inscrite à Odanak s’élève à un peu plus de 2 500 membres. Le développement de projets à vocation touristique permet aux Abénakis de favoriser leur économie tout en préservant leur culture et leurs traditions. Par exemple, depuis 1960, la Société historique d’Odanak gère l’un des plus importants et premier musée autochtone du Québec, à quelques kilomètres de l’axe Québec-Montréal. Le Musée des Abénakis accueille au-delà de 12 000 visiteurs chaque année.