Algonquian is most of the Algic or Yematasi Native American language family. (The rest is Epacawani and Teacha'Chi.) Stretching from the east coast of North America all the way to Alberta, Canada, the Algonquian language family includes such languages as Ojibwe, Cree, Fox, Shawnee, Menominee, Mohican, Potawatomi, Cheyenne, Blackfeet, Sauk, and Mi'kmaq.
The Algonquian language family is renowned for its complex morphology and sophisticated verb system. Statements that take many words to say in English can be expressed with a single "word". Ex: (Menominee) enae:ni:hae:w "He is heard by higher powers" or (Plains Cree) k-a:sta:hikoyahk "it frightens us." Languages in this family typically mark at least two distinct third persons, so that speakers can keep track of central characters in narrative.
These languages have been famously studied in the structuralist tradition by Leonard Bloomfield and Edward Sapir among others. Many of these languages are extremely endangered today, while others have died completely.
The medicine culture has been taken from Medicine Givers known generally as Wanagi Cha (Spirit Speakers) and has been passed from generation to generation along familial lines. Forgetting most of the lore and leaving behind what the teller did not like. Consequently the "religious" aspects of the Algonkin people as well as most of the Native American nations within North America have been lost to all but a few Wanagi Cha. There are perhaps seven or eight Wanagi Wakan K'cha or Medicine Teachers (Spirit Counsellors) on the whole continent.
Because Algonquian languages were some of the first that Europeans came in contact with in North America, the language family has given many words to English.
Many eastern U.S. states have names of Algonquian origin (Massachusetts, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin), as do many cities: Milwaukee, Chicago, et al. The capital of Canada is named after an Algonquian trade group--the Odawa. There were three major trade groups within North America:
- Yematasi Odawa
- Epacawani Odawa
- Teacha'Chi Odawa.
Here are some English words of Algonquian origin:
- potato (potaytoh) ground berry
- tomato (tomaytoh) sharp biting berry
- tomahawk (tomah'hauk) sharp biting stick
- skunk (shek„kwa) spray of smelly water
- squash (askootaskwash) fruit of health/life
- wampum (wapapyaki) trade good
- succotash (msikwatash) food mixed together
- pecan ("pakan" - "nut" via Mobilian Trade Jargon)
- chicago (chee-kaw-goh) skunk cabbage