Early in the seventeenth century, the Algonkin were the largest family of North American Indians within the present limits of the United States, extending from Newfoundland to the Mississippi, and from the waters of the Ohio to Hudson’s Bay and Lake Winnipeg. Northeast and northwest of them were the Eskimos and the Athabasca; the Dakotas bounded them on the west, and the Mobilian tribes, Catawba, Natchez, &c., on the south. Within this region also dwelt the Iroquois and many detached tribes from other families. All the tribes of the Algonkin were nomadic, shifting from place to place as the fishing and hunting upon which they depended required. There has been some difficulty in properly locating the tribe from which the family has taken its name, but it is generally believed they lived on the Ottawa River, in Canada, where they were nearly exterminated by their enemies, the Iroquois. The only remnant of the tribe at this time is at the Lake of the Two Mountains.

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Of the large number of tribes forming this family, many are now extinct, others so reduced and merged into neighboring tribes as to be lost, while nearly all of the rest have been re moved far from their original hunting-grounds. The Lenni Lenape, from the Delaware, are now leading a civilized life far out on the great plains west of the Missouri, and with them are the Shawnees from the south and the once powerful Pottawattamie, Ottawa, and Miami from the Ohio Valley. Of the many nations forming this great family, we have a very full representation in the following catalogue, about equally divided between the wild hunters and the civilized agriculturists.