Traditional Foods - Algonquin

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The Algonquin were traditionally a hunter, fisher and agricultural culture. Their cultivated food included squash, beans and corn. These three crops collectivelty were known to the Algonquin as the Three Sisters. In addition, much was known with respect to the use of medicinal herbs and plants. The "Four Sacred Medicines" of the Algonquin were tobacco (sema), sage (mshkwadewashk), sweet grass (wiingash) and cedar (kiishig).

The Algonquin have two ways of preparing meat: cooking the meat over an open fire or smoking it. If the meat is being cooked over an open fire it can be roasted or boiled, a healthier option. However, when the meat is cooked over an open flame it usually eaten right away, or else it becomes spoiled. The other option is to smoke the meat and dehydrate it so the meat can be eaten later on. This method is used relatively often when the meat supply is low or the rest of the meat is no longer fresh (Canada’s First Peoples, 2007).

The Algonquin fish in fresh water, because the largest bodies of water in their region are the Great Lakes.  The Ashinaabek fish for various water critters: pike, eels, bass, perch, ling, trout, mud-pout, whitefish and suckers (The Algonquin Way, 2013). Fishing is practiced traditionally by traveling on the waters by canoe and spearing for fish. Although, there are other methods the Algonquin people use to trap their fish: bone hooks and nets made from plants and root fibers (The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2015). Once the temperature drops and winter has begun the water freezes, through the winter the Algonquin will hunt more and are only capable of ice fishing. Ice fishing is done by carving a hole in the ice and lowering a fishing hook from a rod into the water.

The Algonquin people over time have become masters in their respective means of collecting food from the land. Ashinaabek women have practiced the sowing corn, squash and beans, the Three Sisters. Then, men have completed the hunting for game in the Eastern Woodlands. Also, Ashinaabek men practice ice fishing and fishing when the tempreture is warmer by method of traveling through the water by canoe and spearing for fish.


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