The Abenaki & The Europeans
What was Vermont before it became a state? What happened when people from different cultures met?
400 years ago, Vermont was not “Vermont.” It was, and still is, part of the land Ndakinna where the Western Abenaki people live. Their land includes what is now Vermont and New Hampshire. It also includes parts of Maine, Massachusetts and Quebec, Canada. Historians estimate(to make a guess) that in the early 1600s, 10,000 Abenaki lived in what is now Vermont.
For over 12,000 years, Abenaki people have lived on this land. They hunted in the woods and fished in the rivers. The Abenaki grew crops in fields and built wigwams in villages.
After the Europeans(people from Europe) came, the Abenaki traded with them. The French and English traders wanted furs to sell in Europe. Abenaki people traded these furs for metal tools and cloth. The Europeans also gave the Abenaki new diseases they had never had before. Many Abenaki got sick or died from diseases like small pox.
Some of the Europeans came to North America to stay. They started settlements, then towns, and then colonies(land that is ruled by another country). The English settlers wanted to own the land where they built their houses and farms.
Sometimes the Abenaki and Europeans got along and shared their spaces. Sometimes they fought each other over the land. The Europeans had more guns and more people than the Abenaki. The Abenaki people knew the land better than the Europeans.
The European settlers took most of the land from the Abenaki. Many of the Abenaki people moved farther away from the Europeans. Some moved into the forests. Others moved north to the Abenaki villages of Missisquoi and St. Francis. And the Europeans kept coming to what is now Vermont.
Thinking About History
Historians ask questions to think deeply about history.
History has different stories or sides. How would the English settlers tell the story of coming to America?
How would the Abenaki tell the story of the Europeans coming to their land?
Follow the links below to explore related topics.
Listen to Abenaki Chief Don Stevens tell the story of Odzihozo and the creation of Bitawbwa (Lake Champlain) and Champ
Read the article Chimney Point: Where Cultures Meet from Historic Roots Magazine
Watch the video Native Americans in the Champlain Valley from This Place in History
Examine the mural An Abenaki Village from the Vermont History Museum
Listen to the book Malian's Song - an Abenaki story of the British raid on the village of St. Francis - from the Vermont Folklife Center
Explore the website Raid on Deerfield: The Many Stories of 1704
Examine a 1762 map showing Abenaki territory and European settlements
Copy and paste this citation to show where you did your research.
Vermont Historical Society. "The Abenaki & The Europeans." Vermont History Explorer. Accessed December 4, 2023. https://vermonthistoryexplorer.org/the-abenaki-and-the-europeans