Ethnohistory of the Algonkian-speaking people of Georgian Bay: Precontact to 1850
The Algonkian speaking peoples of Georgian Bay occupied the shoreline and island environment of eastern Lake Huron, in Georgian Bay, between the French and Severn Rivers. They were likely the product of a constant cultural flux of peoples who came to occupy the shores and islands of Georgian Bay perhaps as early as 1200 A.D., although the archaeological evidence is problematic. Often regarded by vague reference by historical observers who included them with the Nipissing and the Ottawa during the seventeenth century, The Georgian Bay Algonkian speaking peoples were likely peoples of various origin. During the nineteenth century they appear in the historical records as Mississauga, Ojibwa, and Potowatomi, although these are often political identifications.
This study attempts to piece together the ethnohistory of the Georgian Bay Algonkian by presenting an ethnographic account dating from precontact times to 1850. The presence of Algonkian speaking poeples in the Georgian Bay region has largely been neglected by ethnohistorians. Identified as convenient trading partners (Heidenreich 1971: 293), and economic dependents of the Huron (Trigger 1976, 1: 168; 1985: 205), the Georgian Bay Algonkian speaking peoples have been considered to have had little influence in the region (Jenness 1932: 276). It is not surprising that little is known about them. Culturally, they have been relegated to a rather ethnographically ambiguous position in Great Lakes culture history.
By examining the archaeological, environmental, and historical record this study argues that the Algonkian speaking peoples of Georgian Bay were strongly influenced by both their geographic and political position in an environment where year round subsistence was available from fishing, small game mammals, and corn (either traded or cultivated). This economy in turn, influenced their ritual, political and social organization. The extensive temporal depth of this adaptation is followed through an examination of regionally important historical influences, including a devastating war with the Iroquois, various fur trades, an influx of native immigration, government sponsored settlement programs, and land surrenders. Within this context, the history of the Algonkian speaking people of Georgian Bay achieved cultural definition.
Minority & ethnic groups;
0631: Minority & ethnic groups