Who are the Wabanaki?

The term Wabanaki refers to the Native American People of Northeastern North America.

Their territory includes:

  • Maine
  • New Hampshire
  • Vermont
  • portions of Quebec
  • New Brunswick
  • Nova Scotia
  • portions of New York State

Modern day Tribes or Nations included under the term Wabanaki are:

  • Penobscot
  • Passamaquoddy
  • Maliseet
  • Mi’kmaq
  • Abenaki of Odanak
  • Abenaki of Wolinak


To learn more, visit the following pages:


The Historic Wabanaki People

A Wabanaki Timeline

A Few Tips, Cautions, & Problems For Wabanaki Researchers

General History of Abenaki on the Upper Connecticut Region

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2 thoughts on “Wabanaki

  1. I am doing family genealogy research For Andrew Gray and in particular, his wife Marie Mathesse. Here is the information I have from the Mormon genealogy webpage at FamilySearch.org . I trust their information as they use official documents from church registries, government records and census through the years.

    Here is the information I have:

    Andrew Gray 1764-1842 (Born in Scotland)
    Marriage: 1784 Carleton, Bonaventure, Quebec, Canada to Marie Mathesse 1770-1808

    I have provided a bit of background information, but my questions regard Marie Mathesse as we have always been told that she was Native and we would like to know if that is correct.

    We have not been able to find any information on her origins or family. I have looked on several native sites including New Brunswick and Quebec, but I did not find anything for the Mathesse name which is why I am considering other possibilities.

    1) Is Mathesse a misspelling, could her name have been Mattis, which sounds like Métis?
    2) Is Marie her surname and Mathesse her given name?

    If Marie was her surname, could Marie Mathesse have been placed in a catholic boarding school in the Gaspé and lost her original family name? I have seen Marie listed as family names for girls living with the Ursulines of Quebec, perhaps that was also done in N.B. or the Gaspé and I have just not come across it yet?

    In any event, she is my direct ancestor and I would like to know more about her if possible and whether or not she was of Native ancestry. I have already had a professional pedigree completed and I do have First Nation lineage from three different sources, but I am trying to solve the mystery of Marie Mathesse who has no known origins or family.
    Any information on her or database direction would be appreciated!

    Thank you!

    • Hi Maggie,
      You are asking all the right questions, unfortunately, I can’t be of much help.

      Time and place are always important. At this time & place, the local Natives are most likely Mi’kmaq, but possibly Maliseet. I have very little knowledge of Mi’kmaq family names in this time and place.

      Yes, Marie, is found as a surname among Natives in Quebec. Misspellings occur in all times and places.

      If the marriage record is from a Catholic Church, I am very surprised it does not provide the names of her parents, or her prior husband if she is a widow. Catholic records also generally label Native Peoples by their tribe – i.e. the record says “Mary Watso, Abenaki” or Mary Watso of the Abenaki village”, etc.. I have never seen a church record that used the word Metis – in the records I use they are either Native or not. If you are not viewing the actual church register, you might want to do that before you spend time on other research. Paging through the register, take note of how the priest is making each record. This will help you judge whether or not there is a spelling error or the name is written backwards in the record you are interested in.

      Please keep in mind that only a small fraction of records are online and New Brunswick does not have very many early records to begin with. Not being able to find a specific person, especially a women, is not uncommon. This alone does not suggest she is Native.

      In some situations, DNA testing could tell you if she is Native. If you test a living person descended from Marie through an all female line you could do an mt-DNA test, which would tell you if Marie has Native haplotype.

      Keep working the problem and educating yourself.

      Canyon Wolf

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