Native Languages of the Americas: Attikamekw

Published on August 3, 2014 by Amy

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Language: Attikamekw or Tête-de-Boule is an Algonquian language closely related to Cree; indeed, some consider it to be a dialect of Cree. The entire Atikamekw tribe (four to five thousand in total) speaks their native language, but few are literate in it, and the lack of printed materials in Attikamekw has some Indian language advocates concerned about the future of the language. French, rather than English, is the second language of choice among the Attikamekw people. Like Cree, Atikamekw is a polysynthetic language with long, complex verbs.

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People: The Attikamekw Nation is located in Quebec, in three communities: Manawan, Obedjiwan, and Weymontachie. The Attikamekw (also known as the Attikameks, Atikameks, Atikamekw, or Tete-de-Boule) are traditional allies of the Montagnais (Innu) and adversaries of the Inuit. There are around 5,000 Attikamekw Indians living on reserves in Quebec today.

History: The Attikameks had little direct contact with Europeans, and no armed conflict with them; indirect contact, though, brought them no end of grief. From their allies the Innu they caught several devastating European epidemics. The fur trade between the Montagnais and the French wound up drawing the Attikamekw into a war between the Montagnais Innu and the powerful Iroquois, a war in which the Innu didn’t fare so well. Dams and reservoirs built near their territories flooded them out on more than one occasion, and most recently the Attikameks, like the Innu, are suffering from mercury poisoning Canada’s hydroelectric plants have been contaminating their water supply with. For all these woes, though, the Attikamekw people have not been displaced from their traditional lands, and they have lost neither their language nor their traditional culture.

Source: native-languages Unabridged
Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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