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Assiniboine Family, Montana, 1890-1891.

The Assiniboine (pl. Assiniboines, Assiniboins, (esp. collectively) Assiniboine, Assiniboin) or Hohe, also known by the Ojibwe name Asiniibwaan ("Stone Sioux"), and by the endonyms Nakota-Nakoda-Nakona, are a Siouan Native American/First Nations people originally from the Northern Great Plains of the United States and Canada, centered in present-day Saskatchewan; they also populated parts of Alberta, southwestern Manitoba, northern Montana and western North Dakota. They were well known throughout much of the late 18th and early 19th century. Images of Assiniboine people were painted by such 19th century artists as Karl Bodmer and George Catlin.

The Assiniboine have many similarities to the Lakota Sioux in lifestyle, language, and cultural habits. They are considered a separated part of the central sub-group of the Sioux nation. It is believed that the Assiniboine broke away from Yanktonai Dakota[1] in the 16th century. They are more closely linked by language to the Stoney First Nations people of Alberta. The latter two tribes speak varieties of Nakóda, a distant, but not mutually intelligible, variant of the Sioux language.[2]

Assiniboine man, Montana, 1890-1891.

The Assiniboine were close allies and trading partners of the Cree, engaging in wars against the Atsina (Gros Ventre) alongside them. Together they later fought the Blackfoot. A Plains people, they generally went no further north than the North Saskatchewan River. They purchased a great deal of European trade goods from the Hudson's Bay Company through Cree middlemen.

The life style of this group was semi-nomadic. During the warmer months, they followed the herds of bison for hunting, preserving the meat for winter. They did a considerable amount of trading with European traders. They worked with the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara tribes, a factor strongly attached to their life style.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition journals noted the tribe as the party was returning from Fort Clatsop down the Missouri River. The explorers had heard rumors that the Assiniboine were a ferocious group, and hoped to avoid contact with them. They did not see any and did not prove the rumors one way or another.

The names by which the Assiniboine are usually known are not derived from their autonym, what they call themselves. As a Siouan people, they traditionally thought of themselves as the Hohe Nakota. With the widespread adoption of English, however, many simply use the English name consistently. The English borrowed Assiniboine from the earlier French colonists. They took adapted it from the Ojibwe exonym asinii-bwaan (stone Sioux), as well as the Creeasinîpwâta (asinîpwâta ᐊᓯᓃᐹᐧᑕ NA sg, asinîpwâtak ᐊᓯᓃᐹᐧᑕᐠ NA pl). In the same way, Assnipwan comes from the word asinîpwâta in the western Cree dialects, from asiniy ᐊᓯᓂᐩ NA - "rock, stone" - and pwâta ᐹᐧᑕ NA - "enemy, Sioux". Early French traders in the west were often familiar with Algonquian languages. They transliterated many Cree or Ojibwe exonyms for other western Canadian indigenous peoples during the early colonial era. At another remove, the English adopted terms from the French, sometimes trying to spell them with English phonetics.

The Assiniboine were referred to with terms using "stone" because they primarily cooked with heated stones. They dropped hot stones into water to heat it to boiling, for cooking meat.

Today, a substantial number of Assiniboine people live jointly with several branches of the Sioux people on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in northeastern Montana, and with the Atsina people on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in north central Montana.

Canada Steamship Lines paid tribute by naming one of their new ships CSL Assiniboine.[3]



See also


  1. ^ for a report on the long-established blunder of misnaming “Nakota” the Yanktonai people, see the article Nakota
  2. ^ Ullrich, Jan (2008). New Lakota Dictionary (Incorporating the Dakota Dialects of Yankton-Yanktonai and Santee-Sisseton). Lakota Language Consortium. pp. 2–6. ISBN 0-9761082-9-1. 
  3. ^ Great Lakes and Seaway Shipping (2005). "CSL Assiniboine". Retrieved 2007-05-02. 

Further reading

  • Denig, Edwin Thompson, and J. N. B. Hewitt. The Assiniboine. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2000. ISBN 0806132353
  • Fort Belknap Curriculum Development Project. Assiniboine Memories Legends of the Nakota People. Harlem, Mont: Fort Belknap Education Dept, 1983.
  • How the Summer Season Came And Other Assiniboine Indian Stories. Helena, Mont: Montana Historical Society Press, with the Fort Peck and Fort Belknap Tribes, 2003. ISBN 0917298942
  • Kennedy, Dan, and James R. Stevens. Recollections of an Assiniboine Chief. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1972. ISBN 0771045107
  • Nighttraveller, Will, and Gerald Desnomie. Assiniboine Legends, Saskatoon: Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College, 1973.
  • Nighttraveller, Will, and Gerald Desnomie. Assiniboine Legends, Saskatoon: Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College, 1973.
  • Schilz, Thomas F. 2009. "Brandy and Beaver Pelts Assiniboine-European Trading Patterns, 1695-1805". Saskatchewan History. 37, no. 3.
  • Writers' Program (Mont.), James Larpenteur Long, and Michael Stephen Kennedy. The Assiniboines From the Accounts of the Old Ones Told to First Boy (James Larpenter Long), The Civilization of the American Indian series. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1961.

External links



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