Published on July 25, 2012 by Amy
The Assiniboines or Assiniboins, also known as the Hohe and known by the endonym Nakota (or Nakoda or Nakona), are a Siouan Native American/First Nations people originally from the Northern Great Plains of the United States and Canada. In modern times, they have been based in present-day Saskatchewan; they have also populated parts of Alberta, southwestern Manitoba, northern Montana and western North Dakota. They were well known throughout much of the late 18th and early 19th century. Images of Assiniboine people were painted by such 19th-century artists as Karl Bodmer and George Catlin.
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The Assiniboine have many similarities to the Lakota Sioux in culture and language. They are considered to have separated from the central sub-group of the Sioux nation. Scholars believe that the Assiniboine broke away from Yanktonai Dakota in the 16th century.
They are more closely linked by language to the Stoney First Nations people of Alberta. The latter two tribes speak varieties of Nakóda, a distant, but not mutually intelligible, variant of the Sioux language.
The Assiniboine were close allies and trading partners of the Cree, engaging in wars together against the Atsina (Gros Ventre). Together they later fought the Blackfoot. A Great Plains people, they generally went no further north than the North Saskatchewan River. They purchased a great deal of European trade goods from the Hudson’s Bay Company through Cree middlemen.
The life style of this group was semi-nomadic. During the warmer months, they followed the herds of bison for hunting, preserving the meat for winter. They hunted using bow and arrows and horses. The successful tribe were excellent horsemen. They got their horses by trading with the Blackfeet and the Gros Ventre tribes. They did a considerable amount of trading with European traders. They worked with the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara tribes, a factor strongly attached to their life style.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition journals noted the tribe as the party was returning from Fort Clatsop down the Missouri River. The explorers had heard rumors that the Assiniboine were a ferocious group and hoped to avoid contact with them. They did not encounter them at all.
The Europeans and Americans adopted names that other tribes used for the Assiniboine; only later learning the self-appellation of this tribe, or autonym. In Siouan, they traditionally called themselves the Hohe Nakota. With the widespread adoption of English, however, many now use the English name. The English borrowed Assiniboine from earlier French colonists, who had adapted it from what they heard from the Ojibwe. They called the people in Ojibwe asinii-bwaan (stone Sioux). The Cree called them asinîpwâta (asinîpwâta ᐊᓯᓃᐹᐧᑕ NA sg, asinîpwâtak ᐊᓯᓃᐹᐧᑕᐠ NA pl). In the same way, Assnipwan comes from the word asinîpwâta in the western Cree dialects, from asiniy ᐊᓯᓂᐩ NA – “rock, stone” – and pwâta ᐹᐧᑕ NA – “enemy, Sioux”. Early French traders in the west were often familiar with Algonquian languages. They transliterated many Cree or Ojibwe exonyms for other western Canadian indigenous peoples during the early colonial era. The English referred to the Assiniboine by adopting terms from the French spelled using English phonetics.
Other tribes associated “stone” with the Assiniboine because they primarily cooked with heated stones. They dropped hot stones into water to heat it to boiling for cooking meat. Some writers see this as a confusion between “-boine” and French “bouillir”, to boil
Today, a substantial number of Assiniboine people live jointly with other tribes, like the Plains Cree, Saulteaux, Sioux and Gros Ventre, in several reservations in Canada and the United States. In Manitoba, the Assiniboine currently survive only as individuals, with no separate reserves.
United States – Montana:
Canada – Saskatchewan:
About 250 people are today speaking the Assiniboine language or A’ M̆oqazh, most are over 40 years old. The majority of the Assiniboine today speaks only American English. The 2000 census showed 3,946 tribal members who lived in the United States.