The Algonquins are aboriginal/First Nations inhabitants of North America who speak the Algonquin language, a divergent dialect of the Ojibwe language, which is part of the Algonquian language family. Culturally and linguistically, they are closely related to the Odawa and Ojibwe, with whom they form the larger Anicinàpe (Anishinaabe) grouping. The Algonquin people call themselves Omàmiwinini (plural: Omàmiwininiwak) or the more generalised name of Anicinàpe.
Though known by several names in the past, the most common term "Algonquin" has been suggested to derive from the Maliseet word elakómkwik : "they are our relatives/allies". The much larger heterogeneous group of Algonquian-speaking peoples, who stretch from Virginia to the Rocky Mountains and north to Hudson Bay, was named after the tribe.
Most Algonquins live in Quebec. The nine Algonquin bands in that province and one in Ontario have a combined population of about 11,000. (Popular usage reflects some confusion on the point. The term "Algonquin" is sometimes used, in the Catholic Encyclopedia, to refer to all Algonquian-speaking societies, although this is not correct.)
Many Algonquins still speak the Algonquin language, called generally Anicinàpemowin or specifically Omàmiwininìmowin. The language is considered one of several divergent dialects of the Anishinaabe languages. Among younger speakers, the Algonquin language has experienced strong word borrowings from the Cree language. Traditionally, the Algonquins lived in either a birch bark wìkiwàms or in wooden mìkiwàms. Today Algonquins live in housings like those of the general public.
Traditionally, the Algonquins were practitioners of Midewiwin (the right path). They believed they were surrounded by many manitòk or spirits in the natural world. French missionaries converted many Algonquins to Catholicism in the 17th and 18th century. Today, many of the people practice traditional Midewiwin or a syncretic merging of Christianity and Midewiwin.
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