Canada's First Nation

The aboriginals of Canada

The aboriginals of Canada are believed to have crossed over into North America on the land bridge that is now the Bering Strait. They migrated in waves, settling over time into various parts of North America.Canada's first nation

By the time explorers arrived from Europe, what is now Canada had an indigenous population of approximately 200,000 people. Their various cultures had by that time evolved in ways that made each group unique because of environmental influences.

Huron

In the east were the Huron, also known as the Wyandot. They were the farmers who lived a stationary life in longhouses. They grew what became known as the three sisters: corn, beans, and squash. Tobacco farming came later.

Several groups formed confederations in an effort to promote peace or strength against common enemies. A representative was selected in each group and sent to Ossossane, their centre of government.

This is where disputes were settled and agreements were entered into regarding war with other groups. Policies were agreed upon regarding trade with the European fur trappers and other Indian groups.

The Blackfoot Nation

Indians of the Blackfoot Nation survived by following the migrating buffalo herds. They lived in teepees. Not having horses until the Europeans introduced them to the area, the Blackfoot used what was called a travois to carry their belongings. A travois is a small platform pulled by a dog in a harness.

Hunters and gatherers, the Blackfoot ate nuts and berries and the occasional small game that was killed with their bows and arrows. They were friendly to other tribes for the most part, but would also go to war on occasion. In war they counted coup, that is, they would consider it a victory to touch an opponent and get away unharmed.

Chippewah

The Objibwa, or Chippewah, lived in the middle plains between what later became Québec and British Columbia. Some were sedentary and some were migratory. They lived in homes called wiigiwaam or, as anglicised, wigwams. They farmed, hunted, and fished, and buried their dead in mounds.

Haida

Haida Indians who lived on the Pacific coast of Canada were fierce, warlike people who travelled across waters in very large canoes, each one sculpted from a single redwood tree. These vessels could hold over a dozen adults. They were hunters and gatherers and fishermen. They held celebrations called potlatches where there were exchanges of gifts. The Haida were known for their paintings and sculptures.

Inuit

The Arctic dwellers were the Inuit, formerly known as Eskimos. The Inuit of today are descendants of the Thule. They were hunters and fishermen. Whales, seals, and caribou provided much of their nutrition, as well as gathered berries and other naturally occurring vegetation.

Canada’s aboriginal population is classified into three basic legal groups: the Indians, the Metis and the Inuit. The Indians make up what is referred to as First Nation peoples. The Metis are the mixed-blood descendants of Indians and the European settlers. Inuit are descendants of the aboriginals who settled above the tree line in the Arctic areas of Canada.

 
 

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