Abenaki - Settlements

Abenaki villages based on hunting, fishing, and collecting were probably always more permanent than those of horticultural communities to the south and west. The Abenaki were unwilling to risk serious horticulture as long as they were at the mercy of frequent crop failures so far north. Thus, the Abenaki settlement pattern does not feature a large number of village sites, each the result of a short occupation. On the other hand, both the coast and the interior lakes are dotted with the traces of temporary camps that were used for seasonal hunting and gathering by family groups. At the time of first contact with Europeans, village houses appear to have been wigwams. These were large enough to accommodate an average of ten people each, although the range of three to twenty-seven people per house suggests considerable variation in house size. Houses at hunting camps were either small versions of the domed wigwam or pyramidal structures having square floor plans. In all cases these early houses were shingled with sheets of bark. Later Penobscot houses combined European log walls with bark roofs, and later villages were palisaded. Still later, in the nineteenth century, frame houses of European design replaced the earlier forms entirely.

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