The Algonquins usually call themselves, "Anishinabeg", which means "The People". Their language would be closely related to, amoung others, the Abenakis, Ojibwe, Saulteaux, Pequot etc. as it is known that the Algonkian language is the widest First Nation Language in the Americas.
Before being forced to permanently settle in the Outaouais region, the Algonquins lived a nomadic lifestyle through hunting and fishing that was in tune with nature. Before the arrival of the Europeans, a system of trade also existed between the Algonquins and other nations. An example is that they would trade meat, hides and other products in exchange for tobacco, corn, beans and squash with the Iroquois. The Algonquins also traded with the Hurons, exchanging pelts and game for corn and fishing nets. After the arrival of the Europeans, they traded for tools ustensils and clothes.
In the 19th century, forestry operations devastated the Algonquin's hunting grounds along the Ottawa and Gatineau rivers. This trend also resulted in the confiscation of what was left of their trap lines. This resulted in a number of communities moving farther north.
The acquisition of firearms and iron traps ushered in an era of prosperity among the Algonqins. Hunting became easier and the fur trade brought in considerable material wealth. Their lifestyle underwent profound changes: fabric replaced birch barks in tents
and pelts in clothing. The Algonquins became dependant on trade with the Europeans in spite of themselves.
In the 19th century, forestry operations devastated the Algonquin's hunting grounds along the Ottawa and Gatineau rivers. As a result, they moved farther north.
Today, some 4,500 of the 7,747 Algonquins live in nine communities in the Outaouais and Abitibi-Témiscamingue regions, of wich Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg is the largest. Many services are provided in these communities; such as education, health and social services and many small businesses are operating in the construction, forestry and transport sectors, among others. The band council administers police services for the community under an agreement signed with the Quebec and Canadian governments in 1992.
The Algonquin Council of Western Quebec, who was founded in 1980 to protect the interests of the Algonquin nation, is now represented by the "Algonquin Nation Programs and Services Secretariat", wich represents the communities of Wolf Lake, Barriere Lake and Timiskaming. The "Anishinabeg Algonquin Nation" serves the communities of Eagle Village-Kipawa, Lac Simon, Abitibiwinni, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg and Long Point.
Since 1991, the Algonquin Development Association provides financial support and advice to Algonquins who want to undertake business projects.
Two Algonquins have made their mark in the National Hockey league: John Chabot and Gino Odjick.