The Abenaki: between War and Peace

During the excavations in Odanak, archaeologists found dozens of pits typical of those that were dug in the floor of Abenaki longhouses, as well as traces of posts testifying to the presence of various domestic features: sleeping platforms, storage platforms and supports for cooking pots. The pits, which were dug in the sand, contained large quantities of very well-preserved animal bones from, in particular, fish and mammals, such as muskrat, beaver and deer. Pieces of carbonized corncobs from an indigenous eight-row variety of corn called Northern Flint were also found.

The excavation team discovered copper adornments and glass, bone and red argillite beads. As well, they found beads made from mollusc shells from New England, which is quite exceptional. Other discoveries included decorative or religious objects such as a so-called ”Jesuit” ring and a slate medallion engraved with fine lines forming a cross and a herringbone pattern. Certain objects made of materials of European origin had been recovered and modified to meet Amerindian needs; for example, some gunflints had been converted into drills. A small human figurine found at the bottom of one of the pits attracted the archaeologists’ attention: it was carved from a type of argillite that the Abenakis associated with the Mikwesu or Man8gamasak: little dwellers of the forest.

The architectural features uncovered at Odanak, coupled with the remains of wild animals and a wide variety of man-made objects, clearly reflect the presence of dwellings and craftworking areas on the site.

  • Colour photograph of four circular pieces cut out of clay concretion. They all have different sizes.
  • Colour photograph of a bowl pipe made of clay. The piece is blackened.
  • Colour photograph and illustration showing the manufacturing steps of copper cones, made from a piece of copper cauldron.
  • Colour photograph of two broken glass bottlenecks.
  • Colour photograph of four bear claws placed one next to the others.
  • Colour photograph of a pit, (blackened area), in lighter grounds.
  • Colour photograph of several pieces of minerals, very thin and sometimes translucent. Some pieces are black, while others are almost white. They all have different shapes and sizes.
  • Color photograph of a faceted translucent glass bead on a thread.
  • Colour photograph of two faceted glass blue beads on a thread.
  • Colour photograph of a set of various animal bones.
  • Colour photograph of glass beads of different colors and sizes, copper cones, red argillite triangular ornaments and shell and bone beads.
  • Colour photograph of a charred corn cob and two squash seeds.
  • Colour photograph of a bone scraper, an awl made of gunflint and two iron needles.
  • Colour photograph showing the remains of a wooden post, a pit, and heated soil.
  • Colour photograph of a beige clay concretion forming two round shapes onto which a face and hands are engraved.
  • Colour photograph of a gray slate disc with a diameter of 10 cm drilled in the center. The disc is engraved with chevron-shaped symbols and double lines.
  • Colour photograph of a rusted iron harpoon head.
  • Painting of a trading post and a meal preparation. Aboriginal people are sitting around a fire.
  • Colour photograph of three dark areas on a lighter soil.