The Algonquins are an aboriginal North American people speaking Algonquin. Culturally and linguistically, they are closely related to the Odawa and Ojibwe, with whom they form the larger Anishinaabe grouping. The tribe has also given its name to the much larger group of peoples, who stretch from Virginia to the Rocky Mountains and north to Hudson Bay. Most Algonkins, however, live in Quebec; the nine Algonkin bands in that province and one in Ontario have a combined population of about 11,000.
Although theirs was largely a hunting and fishing culture, some Algonkins practiced agriculture and cultivated corn, beans, and squash, the famous "Three Sisters" of indigenous horticulture.
They fought the Iroquois due to their rivalry in the fur trade; and formed an alliance with the Montagnais to the east in 1570.
From 1603 they allied themselves with the French under Samuel de Champlain. In 1632, after Sir David Kirke's occupation of New France had demonstrated French colonial vulnerability, the French began to trade muskets to the Algonkins and other aboriginal allies. French Jesuits began to actively seek Algonkin conversions to Roman Catholicism, opening up a bitter divide between traditionalists and converts.
Starting in 1721, many Christian Algonkins began to summer at Oka, a Mohawk settlement near Montreal that was then considered one of the Seven Nations of Canada. Algonkin warriors continued to fight in alliance with France until the British conquest of Quebec in 1760. Fighting on behalf of British Crown, the Algonkins took part in the Barry St Leger campaign during the American Revolutionary War.
Loyalist settlers began encroaching on Algonkin lands shortly after the Revolution. Later, the lumber industry began to move up the Ottawa valley, and the Algonkins were relegated to a string of small reserves.
In recent years, tensions with the lumber industry have flared up again among Algonkin communities, in response to the practice of clear-cutting. In Ontario, an ongoing Algonkin land claim has, since 1983, called into dispute much of the southeastern part of the province, stretching from near North Bay to near Hawkesbury and including Ottawa, Pembroke, and most of Algonquin Provincial Park.
In 2000, Algonkins from Timiskaming First Nation played a significant part in the local popular opposition to the plan to convert Adams Mine into a garbage dump.