Pennacook Tribe

Abenaki Native American Indian Tribe - Wigwam village

This article contains interesting facts, pictures and information about the life of the Pennacook Native American Indian Tribe of the Northeast woodland cultural group.

The Pennacook Tribe
Summary and Definition: The Pennacook tribe were members of the Wabenaki Confederacy. They were fishers and hunter-gatherers who inhabited New Hampshire and parts of Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont. Their numbers diminished due to the diseases brought by the French and English colonists and by wars. By the end of Queen Anne's War (1702-1713), the Pennacook had largely been absorbed into the Abenaki.

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Facts about the Pennacook Native Indian Tribe
This article contains fast, fun facts and interesting information about the Pennacook Native American Indian tribe. Find answers to questions like where did the Pennacook tribe live, what clothes did they wear and what food did they eat? Discover what happened to the Pennacook tribe with facts about their wars and history.

What language did the Pennacook tribe speak?
The Pennacook tribe spoke in the Algonquian language family and were members of the Wabenaki Confederacy. The name Pennacook comes from the Abenaki word 'penakuk' meaning "at the bottom of the hill." The people are also referred to as the Merrimack and the Pawtucket.

What was the lifestyle and culture of the Pennacook tribe?
The Pennacook tribe were primarily fishers, farmers and hunter gatherers. The Pennacook mainly lived in wigwams made of birchbark but as inter-tribal warfare increased they also lived in fortified villages of longhouses. The 1600's saw the French establish New France and the English settled in the present-day US states of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts encroaching on Pennacook lands. The Europeans brought terrible diseases such as typhus, smallpox, measles, influenza and diphtheria and a series of epidemics killed nearly 75% of the Pennacook people. The French and Indian Wars (1688-1763) raged for 75 years as France and England fought for the new lands in North America. The Pennacook become allies of the French. The French defeat in the wars and inter-tribal warfare resulted in the dispersal of the remaining Pennacook people who, by the end of Queen Anne's War (1702-1713), had been largely absorbed into the Abenaki who relocated to Canada. The descendants of the Pennacook tribe live amongst the Abenaki at St. Francis and Wollinak (Becancour) in Quebec. Other Pennacook descendents are based in Manchester, New Hampshire and in Franklin, Massachusetts.


Where did the Pennacook tribe live?
The Pennacook are people of the Northeast Woodland Native American cultural group. The location of their tribal homelands are shown on the map.  The geography of the region in which they lived dictated the lifestyle and culture of the Pennacook tribe who primarily inhabited the Merrimack River valley.

  • The Northeast Woodland region extended mainly across the New England States, lower Canada, west to Minnesota, and north of the Ohio River
  • Land: Lush woodlands, rivers, ocean
  • Climate: The climate varied according to the location of the tribe
  • Land Animals: The  animals included white-tailed deer, raccoon, bears, beavers, squrrel moose, and caribou
  • Fish and Sea Mammals: Whales, Seal, Fish and shell fish
  • Crops: The crops grown in the area were corn (maize), pumpkin, squash, beans and tobacco
  • Trees: Poplar, birch, elm, maple, oak, pine, fir trees and spruce

Map showing Northeast Woodland location - Pennacook tribe

Map showing location of the Northeast or
Eastern Woodland Indians Cultural Group


Chief Passaconaway and Pennacook Native Indians

What clothes did the Pennacook wear?
The picture shows Chief Passaconaway and the clothes worn by Pennacook Native Indians. During the hot summer the Pennacook men wore a breechcloth tucked over a belt that hung to mid-thigh from the back with fringed leggings that tapered towards the ankle. Moccasins were made with a long tongue and a high collar that could be left up or folded down. Snowshoes were also worn during the winter. The Pennacook women wore deerskin wrap-around skirts, poncho style and also wore leggings. In the winter cloaks or mantles were worn by both men and women. The Pennacook also wore highly distinctive, pointed or peaked hoods made from birch bark or leather that covered the shoulder were elaborately decorated with feathers at the point.

What did the Pennacook tribe live in?
The Pennacook tribe lived in Wigwams, also known as Birchbark houses - see the above picture. These shelters were domed shaped or pyramid shaped wigwams. A Wigwam was built using wooden frames that were covered with woven mats, sheets of birchbark and animal skins. Ropes were wrapped around the wigwams to hold the birch bark covering in place. As time passed the Pennacook started to build oval-shaped
Longhouses in fortified longhouse villages surrounded by fencing to afford defence from hostile tribes. 

What did the Pennacook tribe eat?
The food that the Pennacook tribe ate included included their crops of corn, beans and squash. Fish such as sturgeon, pike, salmon and trout were caught. Hunters provided meat from deer (venison), bear, moose and smaller game like squirrels and rabbits. Duck, grouse and wild turkey also added to the variety of their food. Their food also included vegetables, mushrooms, nuts and fruits (cherries, blueberries, plums, strawberries and raspberries). Maple syrup was obtained from the sap of the maple tree.

What type of Transportation did the Pennacooks use? Birch Bark Canoes
The Pennacook Native Americans built canoes made from the bark of the birch trees over a wooden frame. The lightweight Birch Bark canoes were broad enough to float in shallow streams, strong enough to shoot dangerous rapids, and light enough for one man to easily carry a canoe on his back.

Birch Bark Canoe

What weapons did the Pennacook use?
The weapons used by the Pennacook included tomahawks, battle hammers, war clubs, knives, bows and arrows, spears and axes.

Pennacook History: What happened to the Pennacook tribe?
The following Pennacook history timeline details facts, dates and famous landmarks of the people. The Pennacook timeline explains what happened to the people of their tribe.

Pennacook History Timeline

  • 1524: French expedition, led by Giovanni da Verranzano, made the first recorded contact with the Pennacook people

  • 1534: The colonization of New France began

  • 1604: French explorer Samuel de Champlain encountered the Pennacook tribe and established fur trading links

  • 1606: The colonisation of New England began

  • 1600's: Epidemics of smallpox, typhus and measles together with inter-tribal warfare diminish the numbers of Pennacook

  • 1600's: Pennacook villages raided by the Iroquois

  • 1607-1615: The Tarrateen War (1607 - 1615) took place between the Micmac and the Abenaki and Pennacook over the fur trade with the French. The Micmac were the victors

  • 1609: Samuel de Champlain claimed Vermont as part of New France

  • 1614: The Pennacook begin trading beaver furs with the English and the French

  • 1620: Massachusetts Bay Colony founded by John Mason and Sir Ferdinando Gorges. Maine was originally part of the Massachusetts colony

  • 1620: The Great Migration of English colonists began

  • 1620: The Pennacook were ruled by Chief Passaconnaway from his capital of Naumkeag at the falls of the Merrimack River. Passaconnaway sided with the English and allied to the Abenaki

  • 1638: New Hampshire was settled by John Mason

  • 1642: The English send forces to arrest Pennacook sachems who are suspected of a plot. Passaconnaway's son, Wanalancet, was taken captive

  • 1644: Wanalancet was released after the Pennacook sign a peace treaty

  • 1650: Mohawk (English allies) began attacking Western Abenaki and other Algonquian tribes including the Pennacook

  • 1664: New Jersey was settled

  • 1675: The Pernnacook join in King Phillip's War (1675-1676) which was fought against the English in the colonies of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine during which time nearly one  third of America's white population was wiped out and thousands of Native Indians die

  • 1676: The Mohawk (English allies) attack the Western Abenaki and the Pennacook forcing them to retreat to Quebec on the Trois-Rivieres, and St. Francois River for French protection

  • 1688: The French and Indian Wars (1688-1763) begin, marking the outbreak of King William's War (1688-1699) between France and their allies in the Wabanaki Confederacy and England and their allies in the Iroquois Confederacy

  • 1702: Queen Anne's War (1702-1713)

  • 1713: The Pennacook had largely been absorbed into the Abenaki

Pennacook History Timeline


  • Interesting Facts and information about the way the Pennacook people lived
  • The clothes worn by Pennacook men and women
  • Description of the homes and the type of food the Pennacook would eat
  • Fast Facts and info about the Pennacook
  • Interesting Homework resource for kids on the history of the Pennacook Native American Indians

Pictures and Videos of Native American Indians and their Tribes
The Pennacook Tribe was one of the most famous tribes of Native American Indians. Discover the vast selection of pictures on the subject of the tribes of Famous Native Americans such as the Pennacook nation. The pictures show the clothing, war paint, weapons and decorations of various Native Indian tribes, such as the Pennacook tribe, that can be used as a really useful educational resource for kids and children of all ages. We hope you enjoy watching the video - just click and play - a great social studies homework resource for kids .


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