First Nations
Overview
First Nations is a term that collectively refers to various Aboriginal peoples in Canada
Aboriginal peoples in Canada
Aboriginal peoples in Canada comprise the First Nations, Inuit and Métis. The descriptors "Indian" and "Eskimo" have fallen into disuse in Canada and are commonly considered pejorative....

 who are neither Inuit
Inuit
The Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Canada , Denmark , Russia and the United States . Inuit means “the people” in the Inuktitut language...

 nor Métis
Métis people (Canada)
The Métis are one of the Aboriginal peoples in Canada who trace their descent to mixed First Nations parentage. The term was historically a catch-all describing the offspring of any such union, but within generations the culture syncretised into what is today a distinct aboriginal group, with...

. There are currently over 630 recognised First Nations governments or bands spread across Canada, roughly half of which are in the provinces of Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

 and British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

. The total population is nearly 700,000 people. Under the Employment Equity Act
Employment equity (Canada)
Employment equity, as defined in Canadian law by the Employment Equity Act, requires employers to engage in proactive employment practices to increase the representation of four designated groups: women, people with disabilities, Aboriginal peoples, and visible minorities...

, First Nations are a "designated group", along with women, visible minorities, and persons with physical or mental disabilities.
Encyclopedia
First Nations is a term that collectively refers to various Aboriginal peoples in Canada
Aboriginal peoples in Canada
Aboriginal peoples in Canada comprise the First Nations, Inuit and Métis. The descriptors "Indian" and "Eskimo" have fallen into disuse in Canada and are commonly considered pejorative....

 who are neither Inuit
Inuit
The Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Canada , Denmark , Russia and the United States . Inuit means “the people” in the Inuktitut language...

 nor Métis
Métis people (Canada)
The Métis are one of the Aboriginal peoples in Canada who trace their descent to mixed First Nations parentage. The term was historically a catch-all describing the offspring of any such union, but within generations the culture syncretised into what is today a distinct aboriginal group, with...

. There are currently over 630 recognised First Nations governments or bands spread across Canada, roughly half of which are in the provinces of Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

 and British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

. The total population is nearly 700,000 people. Under the Employment Equity Act
Employment equity (Canada)
Employment equity, as defined in Canadian law by the Employment Equity Act, requires employers to engage in proactive employment practices to increase the representation of four designated groups: women, people with disabilities, Aboriginal peoples, and visible minorities...

, First Nations are a "designated group", along with women, visible minorities, and persons with physical or mental disabilities. They are not defined as a visible minority
Visible minority
A visible minority is a person who is visibly not one of the majority race in a given population.The term is used as a demographic category by Statistics Canada in connection with that country's Employment Equity policies. The qualifier "visible" is important in the Canadian context where...

 under the Act or by the criteria of Statistics Canada
Statistics Canada
Statistics Canada is the Canadian federal government agency commissioned with producing statistics to help better understand Canada, its population, resources, economy, society, and culture. Its headquarters is in Ottawa....

.

The term First Nations (most often used in the plural) has come into general use for the indigenous peoples of the Americas
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 located in what is now Canada, except for the Arctic
Arctic
The Arctic is a region located at the northern-most part of the Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean and parts of Canada, Russia, Greenland, the United States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. The Arctic region consists of a vast, ice-covered ocean, surrounded by treeless permafrost...

-situated Inuit, and peoples of mixed European-First Nations ancestry called Métis
Métis people (Canada)
The Métis are one of the Aboriginal peoples in Canada who trace their descent to mixed First Nations parentage. The term was historically a catch-all describing the offspring of any such union, but within generations the culture syncretised into what is today a distinct aboriginal group, with...

. The singular, commonly used on culturally politicised reserves
Indian reserve
In Canada, an Indian reserve is specified by the Indian Act as a "tract of land, the legal title to which is vested in Her Majesty, that has been set apart by Her Majesty for the use and benefit of a band." The Act also specifies that land reserved for the use and benefit of a band which is not...

, is the term First Nations person (when gender-specific, First Nations man or First Nations woman). A more recent trend is for members of various nations to refer to themselves by their tribal
Indian tribe
In the United States, a Native American tribe is any extant or historical tribe, band, nation, or other group or community of Indigenous peoples in the United States...

 or national
Nationality
Nationality is membership of a nation or sovereign state, usually determined by their citizenship, but sometimes by ethnicity or place of residence, or based on their sense of national identity....

 identity only, e.g., "I'm Haida," or "We're Kwantlens
Kwantlen First Nation
The Kwantlen First Nation is the band government of the Kwantlen subgroup of the Stó:lō people in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, Canada, located primarily at Fort Langley. They traditionally speak the Downriver dialect of Halkomelem, one of the Salishan family of languages...

," in recognition of the distinctiveness of First Nations ethnicities.

North American indigenous peoples have cultures spanning thousands of years. Some of their oral tradition
Oral tradition
Oral tradition and oral lore is cultural material and traditions transmitted orally from one generation to another. The messages or testimony are verbally transmitted in speech or song and may take the form, for example, of folktales, sayings, ballads, songs, or chants...

s accurately describe historical events, such as the Cascadia Earthquake
Cascadia earthquake
The 1700 Cascadia earthquake was a magnitude 8.7 to 9.2 megathrust earthquake that occurred in the Cascadia subduction zone on January 26, 1700. The earthquake involved the Juan de Fuca Plate underlying the Pacific Ocean, from mid-Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, south along the...

 of 1700. Written records began with the arrival of European explorers
Exploration of North America
The exploration of North America by non-indigenous people was a continuing effort to map and explore the continent of North America. It spanned centuries, and consisted of efforts by numerous people and expeditions from various foreign countries to map the continent...

 and colonists
European colonization of the Americas
The start of the European colonization of the Americas is typically dated to 1492. The first Europeans to reach the Americas were the Vikings during the 11th century, who established several colonies in Greenland and one short-lived settlement in present day Newfoundland...

 during the Age of Discovery
Age of Discovery
The Age of Discovery, also known as the Age of Exploration and the Great Navigations , was a period in history starting in the early 15th century and continuing into the early 17th century during which Europeans engaged in intensive exploration of the world, establishing direct contacts with...

, beginning in the late 15th century. European accounts
History of Canada
The history of Canada covers the period from the arrival of Paleo-Indians thousands of years ago to the present day. Canada has been inhabited for millennia by distinctive groups of Aboriginal peoples, among whom evolved trade networks, spiritual beliefs, and social hierarchies...

 by trappers, traders
Merchant
A merchant is a businessperson who trades in commodities that were produced by others, in order to earn a profit.Merchants can be one of two types:# A wholesale merchant operates in the chain between producer and retail merchant...

, explorers
Exploration
Exploration is the act of searching or traveling around a terrain for the purpose of discovery of resources or information. Exploration occurs in all non-sessile animal species, including humans...

, and missionaries
Missionary
A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin...

 give important evidence of early contact culture. In addition, archeological and anthropological research, as well as linguistics
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

, have helped scholars piece together understanding of ancient cultures and historic peoples.

Although not without conflict or slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

, Euro-Canadian
Euro-Canadian
European Canadians are Canadian people of European origin, descent, birth, or ancestry. English Canadians , French Canadians and Scottish Canadians were the three largest self-reported ancestry groups in the Canada 2001 Census....

s' early interactions with First Nations and Inuit populations were relatively noncombative compared to the often violent battles between colonists and native peoples in the United States
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

. Combined with later economic development
Economic development
Economic development generally refers to the sustained, concerted actions of policymakers and communities that promote the standard of living and economic health of a specific area...

, this relatively noncombative history has allowed First Nations peoples to have a strong influence on the national culture
Culture of Canada
Canadian culture is a term that explains the artistic, musical, literary, culinary, political and social elements that are representative of Canada and Canadians, not only to its own population, but people all over the world. Canada's culture has historically been influenced by European culture and...

, while preserving their own identities.

Terminology

Collectively, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples constitute Aboriginal peoples in Canada
Aboriginal peoples in Canada
Aboriginal peoples in Canada comprise the First Nations, Inuit and Métis. The descriptors "Indian" and "Eskimo" have fallen into disuse in Canada and are commonly considered pejorative....

, Indigenous peoples of the Americas or first peoples. "First Nations"' is a legally defined term that came into common usage in the 1980s to replace the term "Indian band". Elder Sol Sanderson says that he coined the term in the early 1980s. A band is a legally recognized "body of Indians for whose collective use and benefit lands have been set apart or money is held by the Canadian Crown, or declared to be a band for the purposes of the Indian Act."

As individuals, First Nations people are officially recognized by the Government of Canada
Government of Canada
The Government of Canada, formally Her Majesty's Government, is the system whereby the federation of Canada is administered by a common authority; in Canadian English, the term can mean either the collective set of institutions or specifically the Queen-in-Council...

 by the terms "registered Indians" or "status Indians" only if they are listed on the Indian Register and are thus entitled to benefits under the Indian Act
Indian Act
The Indian Act , R.S., 1951, c. I-5, is a Canadian statute that concerns registered Indians, their bands, and the system of Indian reserves...

. They are considered "non-status Indian" if they are not so listed and thus not entitled to benefits, according to the Canadian state. Administration of the Indian Act and Indian Register is carried out by the federal government's Department of Indian and Northern Affairs.

While the word "Indian" is still a legal term, its use is erratic and in decline in Canada. Some First Nations people consider the term offensive, while others prefer it to "Aboriginal person/persons/people". According to the 2006 Census
Canada 2006 Census
The Canada 2006 Census was a detailed enumeration of the Canadian population. Census day was May 16, 2006. The next census following will be the 2011 Census. Canada's total population enumerated by the 2006 census was 31,612,897...

, today more Canadians identify as being of East Indian
Indo-Canadians
Indo-Canadians are Canadians whose origins trace back to India. The terms East Indian and South Asian are used to distinguish people of ancestral origin from India, from the First Nations peoples of Canada who are often referred to as Indian, and from the people of the Caribbean, who are sometimes...

 ethnicity than there are members of First Nations, reflecting demographic changes due to increased 20th-century immigration. The use of the term "Native Americans", which the United States government and others have adopted in that nation, is not common in Canada. It refers more specifically to the Aboriginal peoples residing within the boundaries of the United States. The parallel term "Native Canadian" is not commonly used, but "Natives"' and autochtones (from Canadian French) are. Under the Royal Proclamation of 1763
Royal Proclamation of 1763
The Royal Proclamation of 1763 was issued October 7, 1763, by King George III following Great Britain's acquisition of French territory in North America after the end of the French and Indian War/Seven Years' War...

, also known as the "Indian Magna Carta
Magna Carta
Magna Carta is an English charter, originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions, which included the most direct challenges to the monarch's authority to date. The charter first passed into law in 1225...

", the Crown
The Crown
The Crown is a corporation sole that in the Commonwealth realms and any provincial or state sub-divisions thereof represents the legal embodiment of governance, whether executive, legislative, or judicial...

 referred to indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples are ethnic groups that are defined as indigenous according to one of the various definitions of the term, there is no universally accepted definition but most of which carry connotations of being the "original inhabitants" of a territory....

 in British territory
British North America
British North America is a historical term. It consisted of the colonies and territories of the British Empire in continental North America after the end of the American Revolutionary War and the recognition of American independence in 1783.At the start of the Revolutionary War in 1775 the British...

 as tribes or nations. The term "First Nations" is capitalised, unlike alternative terms. Bands and nation
Nation
A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders. However, it can also refer to people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up...

s may have slightly different meanings.

History

For pre-history, see: Paleo-Indians and Archaic periods (Canada)

Nationhood

First Nations by linguistic-cultural area: List of First Nations peoples

First Nations had settled across Canada by 500 BC – 1000 AD. Hundreds of tribes had developed, each with its own culture, customs, legends, and character. In the northwest were the Athapaskan speaking
Athabaskan languages
Athabaskan or Athabascan is a large group of indigenous peoples of North America, located in two main Southern and Northern groups in western North America, and of their language family...

 peoples, Slavey
Slavey language
Slavey is an Athabaskan language spoken among the Slavey First Nations of Canada in the Northwest Territories where it also has official status....

, Tli Cho
Tli Cho
The Tłįchǫ or Tåîchô First Nation, formerly known as the Dogrib, are a Dene Aboriginal Canadian people living in the Northwest Territories , Canada....

, Tutchone speaking
Tutchone language
Tutchone is a threatened Athabaskan language spoken in the Yukon Territory in Canada. It has two varieties that are sometimes considered separate languages, Southern Tutchone and Northern Tutchone....

 peoples and Tlingit. Along the Pacific coast were the Haida, Salish, Kwakiutl
Kwakiutl
The term Kwakiutl, historically applied to the entire Kwakwaka'wakw ethno-linguistic group of originally 28 tribes, comes from one of the Kwakwaka'wakw tribes, the Kwagu'ł or Kwagyeulth, at Fort Rupert, with whom Franz Boas did most of his anthropological work and whose Indian Act Band government...

, Nuu-chah-nulth, Nisga'a
Nisga'a
The Nisga’a , often formerly spelled Nishga and spelled in the Nisga’a language as Nisga’a, are an Indigenous nation or First Nation in Canada. They live in the Nass River valley of northwestern British Columbia. Their name comes from a combination of two Nisga’a words: Nisk’-"top lip" and...

 and Gitxsan
Gitxsan
Gitxsan are an indigenous people whose home territory comprises most of the area known as the Skeena Country in English...

. In the plains were the Blackfoot, Kainai
Kainai Nation
The Kainai Nation is a First Nation in southern Alberta, Canada with a population of 7,437 members in 2005, and had a population of 9,035 members as of 9 February 2008...

, Sarcee
Tsuu T'ina Nation
The Tsuu T'ina Nation is a First Nation in Canada. Their territory is located on the Indian reserve Tsuu T'ina Nation 145, whose east side is adjacent to the southwest city limits of Calgary, Alberta...

 and Northern Peigan
Northern Peigan
The Northern Peigans or Aapátohsipikáni are a First Nation, part of the Niitsítapi . Known as Piikáni, "Pekuni" or Aapátohsipikáni , they are very closely related to the other members of the Blackfoot Confederacy: Aamsskáápipikani , Káínaa or...

. In the northern woodlands were the Cree
Cree
The Cree are one of the largest groups of First Nations / Native Americans in North America, with 200,000 members living in Canada. In Canada, the major proportion of Cree live north and west of Lake Superior, in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Northwest Territories, although...

 and Chipewyan
Chipewyan
The Chipewyan are a Dene Aboriginal people in Canada, whose ancestors were the Taltheilei...

. Around the Great Lakes were the Anishinaabe
Anishinaabe
Anishinaabe or Anishinabe—or more properly Anishinaabeg or Anishinabek, which is the plural form of the word—is the autonym often used by the Odawa, Ojibwe, and Algonquin peoples. They all speak closely related Anishinaabemowin/Anishinaabe languages, of the Algonquian language family.The meaning...

, Algonquin, Iroquois and Wyandot. Along the Atlantic coast were the Beothuk
Beothuk
The Beothuk were one of the aboriginal peoples in Canada. They lived on the island of Newfoundland at the time of European contact in the 15th and 16th centuries...

, Maliseet, Innu, Abenaki and Mi'kmaq.

The Blackfoot Indians – also known as the Blackfeet Indians – reside in the Great Plains
Great Plains
The Great Plains are a broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in prairie, steppe and grassland, which lies west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada. This area covers parts of the U.S...

 of Montana
Montana
Montana is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller, "island ranges" are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state's name,...

 and the Canadian provinces
Provinces and territories of Canada
The provinces and territories of Canada combine to make up the world's second-largest country by area. There are ten provinces and three territories...

 of Alberta
Alberta
Alberta is a province of Canada. It had an estimated population of 3.7 million in 2010 making it the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces...

 and Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan is a prairie province in Canada, which has an area of . Saskatchewan is bordered on the west by Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the east by Manitoba, and on the south by the U.S. states of Montana and North Dakota....

. The name 'Blackfoot' came from the colour of the peoples' leather footwear, known as moccasin
Moccasin
A Moccasin is a form of shoe worn by Native Americans, as well as by hunters, traders, and settlers in the frontier regions of North America.Moccasin may also refer to:* Moccasin , an American Thoroughbred racehorse-Places:...

s. They had dyed or painted the bottoms of their moccasins black, but one story claimed that the Blackfoot Indians walked through the ashes of prairie fires, which in turn coloured the bottoms of their moccasins black. They had not originally come from the Great Plains of the Midwest North America, but rather from the upper Northeastern area. The Blackfoot started as woodland Indians
Eastern Woodlands tribes
The Eastern Woodlands was a cultural area of the indigenous people of North America. The Eastern Woodlands extended roughly from the Atlantic Ocean to the eastern Great Plains, and from the Great Lakes region to the Gulf of Mexico, which is now the eastern United States and Canada...

 but as they made their way over to the Plains, they adapted to new ways of life and became accustomed to the land. They learned the new lands that they travelled to very well and established themselves as Plains Indians
Plains Indians
The Plains Indians are the Indigenous peoples who live on the plains and rolling hills of the Great Plains of North America. Their colorful equestrian culture and resistance to White domination have made the Plains Indians an archetype in literature and art for American Indians everywhere.Plains...

 in the late 18th century, earning themselves the name "The Lords of the Plains."
The Sḵwxwú7mesh history is a series of past events, both passed on through oral tradition
Oral tradition
Oral tradition and oral lore is cultural material and traditions transmitted orally from one generation to another. The messages or testimony are verbally transmitted in speech or song and may take the form, for example, of folktales, sayings, ballads, songs, or chants...

 and recent history, of the Sḵwxwú7mesh indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast
Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast
The Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Pacific Northwest Coast, their descendants, and many ethnic groups who identify with those historical peoples. They are now situated within the Canadian Province of British Columbia and the U.S...

. Prior to colonisation, they recorded their history through oral tradition as a way to transmit stories, law, and knowledge across generations. The writing system established in the 1970s used the Latin alphabet
Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...

 as a base. It was a respectable responsibility of knowledgeable elders to pass historical knowledge to the next generation. People lived and prospered for thousands of years until the Great Flood. In another story, after the Flood, they would repopulate from the villages of Schenks and Chekwelp
Schenks and Chekwelp
Schenks and Chekwelp are two villages of the Indigenous Sḵwxwú7mesh, located near what is now known as Gibsons, British Columbia. Although vacant for years, these villages are told in the oral history as the birth place of the Sḵwxwú7mesh, after what they call the Great Flood....

, located at Gibsons
Gibsons, British Columbia
Gibsons is a coastal community of 4,200 located in southwestern British Columbia, Canada on the Strait of Georgia. It is the main marine gateway to the Sunshine Coast....

. When the water lines receded, the first Sḵwxwú7mesh came to be. The first man, named Tsekánchten, built his longhouse in the village, and later on another man named Xelálten, appeared on his longhouse roof and sent by the Creator, or in the Sḵwxwú7mesh language keke7nex siyam. He called this man his brother. It was from these two men that the population began to rise and the Sḵwxwú7mesh spread back through their territory.
The Iroquois influence extended from northern New York into what are now southern Ontario and the Montreal area of modern Quebec. The Iroquois Confederacy is, from oral tradition, formed circa 1142. Adept at the Three Sisters
Three Sisters (agriculture)
The Three Sisters are the three main agricultural crops of various Native American groups in North America: squash, maize, and climbing beans ....

 (maize
Maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

/bean
Bean
Bean is a common name for large plant seeds of several genera of the family Fabaceae used for human food or animal feed....

s/squash), the Iroquois were able to spread at the expense of the Algonquians until they too adopted agricultural practises enabling larger populations to be sustained.

The Assiniboine were close allies and trading partners of the Cree, engaging in wars against the Gros Ventres
Gros Ventres
The Gros Ventre people , also known as the A'ani, A'aninin, Haaninin, and Atsina, are a historically Algonquian-speaking Native American tribe located in north central Montana...

 alongside them, and later fighting the Blackfeet
Blackfeet
The Piegan Blackfeet are a tribe of Native Americans of the Algonquian language family based in Montana, having lived in this area since around 6,500 BC. Many members of the tribe live as part of the Blackfeet Nation in northwestern Montana, with population centered in Browning...

. A Plains people, they went no further north than the North Saskatchewan River
North Saskatchewan River
The North Saskatchewan River is a glacier-fed river that flows east from the Canadian Rockies to central Saskatchewan. It is one of two major rivers that join to make up the Saskatchewan River....

 and purchased a great deal of European trade goods through Cree middlemen from the Hudson's Bay Company
Hudson's Bay Company
The Hudson's Bay Company , abbreviated HBC, or "The Bay" is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and one of the oldest in the world. A fur trading business for much of its existence, today Hudson's Bay Company owns and operates retail stores throughout Canada...

. The life style of this group was semi-nomadic, and they would follow the herds of bison
American Bison
The American bison , also commonly known as the American buffalo, is a North American species of bison that once roamed the grasslands of North America in massive herds...

 during the warmer months. They trade
Trade
Trade is the transfer of ownership of goods and services from one person or entity to another. Trade is sometimes loosely called commerce or financial transaction or barter. A network that allows trade is called a market. The original form of trade was barter, the direct exchange of goods and...

d with European traders, and worked with the Mandan, Hidatsa
Hidatsa
The Hidatsa are a Siouan people, a part of the Three Affiliated Tribes. The Hidatsa's autonym is Hiraacá. According to the tribal tradition, the word hiraacá derives from the word "willow"; however, the etymology is not transparent and the similarity to mirahací ‘willows’ inconclusive...

, and Arikara
Arikara
Arikara are a group of Native Americans in North Dakota...

 tribes, and that factor is attached to their life style.

In the earliest oral history
Oral history
Oral history is the collection and study of historical information about individuals, families, important events, or everyday life using audiotapes, videotapes, or transcriptions of planned interviews...

, the Algonquins were from the Atlantic
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 coast. Together with other Anicinàpek, they arrived at the "First Stopping Place" near Montreal. While the other Anicinàpe peoples continued their journey up the Saint Lawrence River
Saint Lawrence River
The Saint Lawrence is a large river flowing approximately from southwest to northeast in the middle latitudes of North America, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. It is the primary drainage conveyor of the Great Lakes Basin...

, the Algonquins settled along the Kitcisìpi (Ottawa River
Ottawa River
The Ottawa River is a river in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. For most of its length, it now defines the border between these two provinces.-Geography:...

), an important highway for commerce, cultural exchange, and transportation from time immemorial. A distinct Algonquin identity, though, was not realised until after the dividing of the Anicinàpek at the "Third Stopping Place", estimated at about 2,000 years ago near present day Detroit.
According to their tradition, and from recordings in wiigwaasabak (birch bark
Birch bark
Birch bark or birchbark is the bark of several Eurasian and North American birch trees of the genus Betula.The strong and water-resistant cardboard-like bark can be easily cut, bent, and sewn, which made it a valuable building, crafting, and writing material, since pre-historic times...

 scroll
Scroll
A scroll is a roll of parchment, papyrus, or paper, which has been drawn or written upon.Scroll may also refer to:*Scroll , the decoratively curved end of the pegbox of string instruments such as violins...

s), Ojibwe came from the eastern areas of North America, or Turtle Island
Turtle Island (North America)
Turtle Island is a term used by several Northeastern Woodland Native American tribes, especially the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois Confederacy, for the continent of North America.-Iroquois:...

, and from along the east coast. They traded widely across the continent for thousands of years and knew of the canoe routes west and a land route to the west coast. According to the oral history, seven great miigis (radiant/iridescent) beings appeared to the peoples in the Waabanakiing to teach the peoples of the mide way
Midewiwin
The Midewiwin or the Grand Medicine Society is a secretive religion of the aboriginal groups of the Maritimes, New England and Great Lakes regions in North America. Its practitioners are called Midew and the practices of Midewiwin referred to as Mide...

 of life. One of the seven great miigis beings was too spiritually powerful and killed the peoples in the Waabanakiing when the people were in its presence. The six great miigis beings remained to teach while the one returned into the ocean. The six great miigis beings then established doodem
Anishinaabe clan system
The Anishinaabe, like most Algonquian-speaking groups in North America, base their system of kinship on patrilineal clans or totems. The Anishinaabe word for clan was borrowed into English as totem. The clans, based mainly on animals, were instrumental in traditional occupations, inter-tribal...

(clans) for the peoples in the east. Of these doodem, the five original Anishinaabe doodem were the Wawaazisii (Bullhead
Brown bullhead
The brown bullhead, Ameiurus nebulosus, is a fish of the Ictaluridae family that is widely distributed in North America. It is a species of bullhead catfish and is similar to the black bullhead and yellow bullhead...

), Baswenaazhi (Echo-maker, i.e., Crane
Crane (bird)
Cranes are a family, Gruidae, of large, long-legged and long-necked birds in the order Gruiformes. There are fifteen species of crane in four genera. Unlike the similar-looking but unrelated herons, cranes fly with necks outstretched, not pulled back...

), Aan'aawenh (Pintail Duck
Northern Pintail
The Pintail or Northern Pintail is a widely occurring duck which breeds in the northern areas of Europe, Asia and North America. It is strongly migratory and winters south of its breeding range to the equator...

), Nooke (Tender, i.e., Bear
Bear
Bears are mammals of the family Ursidae. Bears are classified as caniforms, or doglike carnivorans, with the pinnipeds being their closest living relatives. Although there are only eight living species of bear, they are widespread, appearing in a wide variety of habitats throughout the Northern...

) and Moozoonsii (Little Moose
Moose
The moose or Eurasian elk is the largest extant species in the deer family. Moose are distinguished by the palmate antlers of the males; other members of the family have antlers with a dendritic configuration...

), then these six miigis beings returned into the ocean as well. If the seventh miigis being stayed, it would have established the Thunderbird
Thunderbird (mythology)
The Thunderbird is a legendary creature in certain North American indigenous peoples' history and culture. It is considered a "supernatural" bird of power and strength...

 doodem.
The Nuu-chah-nulth are one of the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. The term 'Nuu-chah-nulth' is used to describe fifteen separate but related First Nations, such as the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations
Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations
The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations , are a Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation in Canada. They live on ten reserves along the Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. They are part of the Nootka Confederacy and governed by the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council. There were 618 people...

, Ehattesaht First Nation
Ehattesaht First Nation
The Ehattesaht First Nation is a First Nations government based on the west coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. It is a member of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council....

 and Hesquiaht First Nation
Hesquiaht First Nation
The Hesquiaht First Nation is a Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations government based on the west coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. It is a member of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council.- Introduction :...

 whose traditional home is in the Pacific Northwest
Pacific Northwest
The Pacific Northwest is a region in northwestern North America, bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and, loosely, by the Rocky Mountains on the east. Definitions of the region vary and there is no commonly agreed upon boundary, even among Pacific Northwesterners. A common concept of the...

 on the west coast of Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island is a large island in British Columbia, Canada. It is one of several North American locations named after George Vancouver, the British Royal Navy officer who explored the Pacific Northwest coast of North America between 1791 and 1794...

. In pre-contact and early post-contact times, the number of nations was much greater, but smallpox and other consequences of contact resulted in the disappearance of groups, and the absorption of others into neighbouring groups. The Nuu-chah-nulth are relations of the Kwakwaka'wakw
Kwakwaka'wakw
The Kwakwaka'wakw are an Indigenous group of First Nations peoples, numbering about 5,500, who live in British Columbia on northern Vancouver Island and the adjoining mainland and islands.Kwakwaka'wakw translates as "Those who speak Kwak'wala", describing the collective nations within the area that...

, the Haisla, and the Ditidaht
Ditidaht First Nation
The Ditidaht First Nation is a First Nations government on southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.-See also:*Nitinaht language*Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council*Nuu-chah-nulth-External links:*...

. The Nuu-chah-nulth language
Nuu-chah-nulth language
Nuu-chah-nulth is a Wakashan language spoken in the Pacific Northwest of North America, on the west coast of Vancouver Island from Barkley Sound to Quatsino Sound in British Columbia, by the Nuu-chah-nulth people...

 is part of the Wakashan language
Wakashan languages
Wakashan is a family of languages spoken in British Columbia around and on Vancouver Island, and in the northwestern corner of the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state, on the south side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca....

 group.

A 1999 discovery of the body of Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi
Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi
Kwäday Dän Ts'ìnchi , or Canadian Ice Man, is a naturally mummified body found in Tatshenshini-Alsek Park in British Columbia, Canada, by a group of hunters in 1999. Radiocarbon dating of artifacts found with the body placed the age of the body at between 300 and 550 years old...

 has provided archaeologists with significant information on indigenous tribal life prior to extensive European contact. Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi (meaning Long Ago Person Found in Southern Tutchone
Southern Tutchone
The Southern Tutchone are a First Nations people living mainly in the southern Yukon in Canada. The Southern Tutchone language, originally spoken by the Southern Tutchone people is a variety of the Tutchone language, part of the Athabaskan language family, although it may be argued that Northern...

), or Canadian Ice Man, is a naturally mummified
Mummy
A mummy is a body, human or animal, whose skin and organs have been preserved by either intentional or incidental exposure to chemicals, extreme coldness , very low humidity, or lack of air when bodies are submerged in bogs, so that the recovered body will not decay further if kept in cool and dry...

 body found in Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park in British Columbia, by a group of hunters. Radiocarbon dating
Radiocarbon dating
Radiocarbon dating is a radiometric dating method that uses the naturally occurring radioisotope carbon-14 to estimate the age of carbon-bearing materials up to about 58,000 to 62,000 years. Raw, i.e. uncalibrated, radiocarbon ages are usually reported in radiocarbon years "Before Present" ,...

 of artifacts found with the body placed the age of the find between 1450 AD and 1700 AD. Genetic testing
Genetic testing
Genetic testing is among the newest and most sophisticated of techniques used to test for genetic disorders which involves direct examination of the DNA molecule itself. Other genetic tests include biochemical tests for such gene products as enzymes and other proteins and for microscopic...

 has shown he was a member of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations
Champagne and Aishihik First Nations
The Champagne and Aishihik First Nations is a First Nation in the Yukon Territory in Canada. Its original population centres were Champagne and Aishihik, but most of its citizens moved to Haines Junction to take advantage of services offered there such as schools. The First Nation government has...

. Local clans are considering a memorial potlatch
Potlatch
A potlatch is a gift-giving festival and primary economic system practiced by indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of Canada and United States. This includes Heiltsuk Nation, Haida, Nuxalk, Tlingit, Makah, Tsimshian, Nuu-chah-nulth, Kwakwaka'wakw, and Coast Salish cultures...

 to honour Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi.

European contact

Aboriginal people in Canada interacted with Europeans as far back as 1000 AD, but prolonged contact came only after Europeans established permanent settlements in the 17th and 18th centuries. European written accounts noted friendliness on the part of the First Nations, who profited in trade with Europeans. Such trade strengthened the more organised political entities such as the Iroquois Confederation. The Aboriginal population is estimated to have been between 200,000 and two million in the late 15th century. Repeated outbreaks of European infectious disease
Infectious disease
Infectious diseases, also known as communicable diseases, contagious diseases or transmissible diseases comprise clinically evident illness resulting from the infection, presence and growth of pathogenic biological agents in an individual host organism...

s such as influenza
Influenza
Influenza, commonly referred to as the flu, is an infectious disease caused by RNA viruses of the family Orthomyxoviridae , that affects birds and mammals...

, measles
Measles
Measles, also known as rubeola or morbilli, is an infection of the respiratory system caused by a virus, specifically a paramyxovirus of the genus Morbillivirus. Morbilliviruses, like other paramyxoviruses, are enveloped, single-stranded, negative-sense RNA viruses...

 and smallpox
Smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

 (to which they had no natural immunity), combined with other effects of European contact, resulted in a forty to eighty percent aboriginal population decrease post-contact. For example, during the late 1630s, smallpox killed over half of the Huron, who controlled most of the early fur trade
Fur trade
The fur trade is a worldwide industry dealing in the acquisition and sale of animal fur. Since the establishment of world market for in the early modern period furs of boreal, polar and cold temperate mammalian animals have been the most valued...

 in what became Canada. Reduced to fewer than 10,000 people, the Huron were attacked by the Iroquois
Iroquois
The Iroquois , also known as the Haudenosaunee or the "People of the Longhouse", are an association of several tribes of indigenous people of North America...

, their traditional enemies.

There are reports of contact made before Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

 between the first peoples and those from other continents.
Even in Columbus' time there was much speculation that other Europeans had made the trip in ancient or contemporary times; Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés records accounts of these in his General y natural historia de las Indias of 1526, which includes biographical information on Columbus. Aboriginal first contact period is not well defined. The earliest accounts of contact occurred in the late 10th century, between the Beothuk
Beothuk
The Beothuk were one of the aboriginal peoples in Canada. They lived on the island of Newfoundland at the time of European contact in the 15th and 16th centuries...

 and Norseman. According to the Sagas of Icelanders, the first European to see what is now Canada was Bjarni Herjólfsson
Bjarni Herjólfsson
Bjarni Herjólfsson was a Norwegian explorer who is the first known European discoverer of the mainland of the Americas, which he sighted in 985 or 986.-Life:...

, who was blown off course en route from Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

 to Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

 in the summer of 985 or 986 CE.
The first settler of what is now Canada relied on First Nations, for resources and trade to sustain a living. First written accounts of interaction is predominantly Old world bias. Although not without conflict, European/Canadian early interactions with First Nations and Inuit populations were relatively peaceful, compared to the experience of native peoples
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 in the United States. National Aboriginal Day
National Aboriginal Day
National Aboriginal Day is a day recognizing and celebrating the cultures and contributions of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada. The day was first celebrated in 1996, after it was proclaimed that year by then Governor General of Canada Roméo LeBlanc, to be celebrated on June 21...

 recognises the cultures and contributions of Aboriginal peoples of Canada. There are currently over 600 recognized First Nations governments or bands encompassing 1,172,790 2006 people spread across Canada with distinctive Aboriginal cultures, languages, art, and music.

16th–18th centuries

The Portuguese Crown claimed it had territorial rights in the area visited by Cabot. In 1493, the Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 – assuming international jurisdiction – had divided lands discovered in America between Spain and Portugal. The next year, in the Treaty of Tordesillas
Treaty of Tordesillas
The Treaty of Tordesillas , signed at Tordesillas , , divided the newly discovered lands outside Europe between Spain and Portugal along a meridian 370 leagueswest of the Cape Verde islands...

, these two kingdoms decided that the dividing line would be drawn north–south, 370 leagues
League (unit)
A league is a unit of length . It was long common in Europe and Latin America, but it is no longer an official unit in any nation. The league originally referred to the distance a person or a horse could walk in an hour...

 (from 1500 kilometre approximately depending on league used) west of the Cape Verde
Cape Verde
The Republic of Cape Verde is an island country, spanning an archipelago of 10 islands located in the central Atlantic Ocean, 570 kilometres off the coast of Western Africa...

 Islands. Land to the west would be Spanish, to the east Portuguese. Given the uncertain geography of the day, this seemed to give the "new founde isle" to Portugal. On the 1502 Cantino map
Cantino planisphere
The Cantino planisphere is the earliest surviving map showing Portuguese Discoveries in the east and west. It is named after Alberto Cantino, an agent for the Duke of Ferrara, who successfully smuggled it from Portugal to Italy in 1502...

, Newfoundland appears on the Portuguese side of the line (as does Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

). An expedition captured about 60 Aboriginal people as slaves who were said to "resemble gypsies in colour, features, stature and aspect; are clothed in the skins of various animals ...They are very shy and gentle, but well formed in arms and legs and shoulders beyond description ...." Only the captives, sent by Gaspar Corte-Real
Gaspar Corte-Real
Gaspar Corte-Real was a Portuguese explorer.He was the youngest of three sons of João Vaz Corte-Real, also a Portuguese explorer, and had accompanied his father on his expeditions to North America...

, reached Portugal. The others drowned, with Gaspar, on the return voyage. Gaspar's brother, Miguel Corte-Real
Miguel Corte-Real
Miguel Corte-Real was a Portuguese explorer who charted about 600 miles of the coast of Labrador. In 1501 he disappeared while on an expedition and was believed lost at sea.-Life:...

, went to look for him in 1502, but also failed to return. Scholars believe that Miguel Corte-Real carved inscriptions on the controversial Dighton Rock
Dighton Rock
The Dighton Rock is a 40-ton boulder, originally located in the riverbed of the Taunton River at Berkley, Massachusetts . The rock is noted for its petroglyphs, carved designs of ancient and uncertain origin, and the controversy about their creators...

.
In 1604, Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Mons received the fur trade monopoly. Dugua led his first colonisation expedition to an island located near to the mouth of the St. Croix River
St. Croix River (Maine-New Brunswick)
The St. Croix River is a river in northeastern North America, in length, that forms part of the Canada – United States border between Maine and New Brunswick . The river rises in the Chiputneticook Lakes and flows south and southeast, between Calais and St. Stephen...

. Samuel de Champlain
Samuel de Champlain
Samuel de Champlain , "The Father of New France", was a French navigator, cartographer, draughtsman, soldier, explorer, geographer, ethnologist, diplomat, and chronicler. He founded New France and Quebec City on July 3, 1608....

, his geographer, promptly carried out a major exploration of the northeastern coastline of what is now the United States. Under Samuel de Champlain, the Saint Croix settlement
Saint Croix Island, Maine
Saint Croix Island , long known to locals as Dochet Island, is a small uninhabited island in Maine near the mouth of the Saint Croix River that forms part of the International Boundary separating Maine from New Brunswick....

 was moved to Port Royal
Habitation at Port-Royal
The Habitation at Port-Royal was the first successful French settlement of New France in North America, and is presently known as Port-Royal National Historic Site, a National Historic Site located on the northern side of the Annapolis Basin, Nova Scotia, Canada...

 (today's Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia
Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia
Annapolis Royal is a town located in the western part of Annapolis County, Nova Scotia. Known as Port Royal until the Conquest of Acadia in 1710 by Britain, the town is the oldest continuous European settlement in North America, north of St...

), a new site across the Bay of Fundy
Bay of Fundy
The Bay of Fundy is a bay on the Atlantic coast of North America, on the northeast end of the Gulf of Maine between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, with a small portion touching the U.S. state of Maine...

, on the shore of the Annapolis Basin
Annapolis Basin
The Annapolis Basin is a sub-basin of the Bay of Fundy, located on the southwestern shores of the bay, along the northwestern shore of Nova Scotia and at the western end of the Annapolis Valley....

, an inlet in western Nova Scotia. Acadia
Acadia
Acadia was the name given to lands in a portion of the French colonial empire of New France, in northeastern North America that included parts of eastern Quebec, the Maritime provinces, and modern-day Maine. At the end of the 16th century, France claimed territory stretching as far south as...

 was France's most successful colony to date. The cancellation of Dugua's fur monopoly in 1607 ended the Port Royal settlement. Champlain was able to persuade First Nations to allow him to settle along the Saint Lawrence
Saint Lawrence
Lawrence of Rome was one of the seven deacons of ancient Rome who were martyred during the persecution of Valerian in 258.- Holy Chalice :...

, where in 1608 he would found France's first permanent colony in Canada at Quebec City. The colony of Acadia
Acadia
Acadia was the name given to lands in a portion of the French colonial empire of New France, in northeastern North America that included parts of eastern Quebec, the Maritime provinces, and modern-day Maine. At the end of the 16th century, France claimed territory stretching as far south as...

 grew slowly, reaching a population of about 5,000 by 1713. New France had cod
Cod
Cod is the common name for genus Gadus, belonging to the family Gadidae, and is also used in the common name for various other fishes. Cod is a popular food with a mild flavor, low fat content and a dense, flaky white flesh. Cod livers are processed to make cod liver oil, an important source of...

 fishery coastal communities and farm economies supported communities along Saint Lawrence River. French voyageurs
Voyageurs
The Voyageurs were the persons who engaged in the transportation of furs by canoe during the fur trade era. Voyageur is a French word which literally translates to "traveler"...

travelled deep into the hinterlands (of what is today Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba, as well as what is now the American Midwest and the Mississippi Valley
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

) trading with First Nations as they went – guns, gunpowder, cloth, knives, and kettles for beaver furs. The fur trade kept the interest in Frances overseas colonies alive, yet only encouraged a small population as minimal labour was required, and also discouraged the development of agriculture, the surest foundation of a colony in the New World.

The Métis

The Métis (from French métis – "mixed") are descended of marriages of Cree
Cree
The Cree are one of the largest groups of First Nations / Native Americans in North America, with 200,000 members living in Canada. In Canada, the major proportion of Cree live north and west of Lake Superior, in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Northwest Territories, although...

, Ojibwa
Ojibwa
The Ojibwe or Chippewa are among the largest groups of Native Americans–First Nations north of Mexico. They are divided between Canada and the United States. In Canada, they are the third-largest population among First Nations, surpassed only by Cree and Inuit...

y, Algonquin, Saulteaux
Saulteaux
The Saulteaux are a First Nation in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, Canada.-Ethnic classification:The Saulteaux are a branch of the Ojibwe nations. They are sometimes also called Anihšināpē . Saulteaux is a French term meaning "people of the rapids," referring to...

, Menominee
Menominee
Some placenames use other spellings, see also Menomonee and Menomonie.The Menominee are a nation of Native Americans living in Wisconsin. The Menominee, along with the Ho-Chunk, are the only tribes that are indigenous to what is now Wisconsin...

, Mi'kmaq, Maliseet, and other First Nations in the late 18th and 19th century to Europeans, mainly French. According to Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
The Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development is the department of the government of Canada with responsibility for policies relating to Aboriginal peoples...

, the Métis were historically the children of French fur traders and Nehiyaw women or, from unions of English or Scottish traders and Northern Dene women (Anglo-Métis
Anglo-Métis
A 19th-century community of the Métis people of Canada, the Anglo-Métis, more commonly known as Countryborn, were children of fur traders; they typically had Orcadian, Scottish, or English fathers and Aboriginal mothers. Their first languages were generally those of their mothers: Cree, Saulteaux,...

). The Métis spoke or still speak either Métis French
Métis French
Métis French, along with Michif and Bungi, is one of the traditional languages of the Métis people, and the French-dialect source of Michif.-Michif:...

 or a mixed language
Mixed language
A mixed language is a language that arises through the fusion of two source languages, normally in situations of thorough bilingualism, so that it is not possible to classify the resulting language as belonging to either of the language families that were its source...

 called Michif
Michif language
Michif is the language of the Métis people of Canada and the United States, who are the descendants of First Nations women and fur trade workers of European ancestry...

. Michif, Mechif or Métchif is a phonetic spelling
Pronunciation spelling
A pronunciation spelling of a word is a spelling different from the standard spelling, used to emphasize a particular pronunciation of the word. The spelling uses the regular spelling rules of the language. Most are nonce coinages, but some have become standardised, e.g...

 of the Métis pronunciation of Métif, a variant of Métis. The Métis today predominantly speak English
Canadian English
Canadian English is the variety of English spoken in Canada. English is the first language, or "mother tongue", of approximately 24 million Canadians , and more than 28 million are fluent in the language...

, with French
Canadian French
Canadian French is an umbrella term referring to the varieties of French spoken in Canada. French is the mother tongue of nearly seven million Canadians, a figure constituting roughly 22% of the national population. At the federal level it has co-official status alongside English...

 a strong second language, as well as numerous Aboriginal tongues. Métis French is best preserved in Canada, Michif in the United States, notably in the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation
Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation
Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation is an Indian Reservation located primarily in northern North Dakota. It is the land-base for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians ....

 of North Dakota
North Dakota
North Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States of America, along the Canadian border. The state is bordered by Canada to the north, Minnesota to the east, South Dakota to the south and Montana to the west. North Dakota is the 19th-largest state by area in the U.S....

, where Michif is the official language
Official language
An official language is a language that is given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a nation's official language will be the one used in that nation's courts, parliament and administration. However, official status can also be used to give a...

 of the Métis that reside on this Chippewa
Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians
The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians is a Native American tribe of Ojibwa and Métis peoples, based on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. The tribe has 30,000 enrolled members...

 reservation. The encouragement and use of Métis French and Michif is growing due to outreach within the provincial Métis councils after at least a generation of steep decline. Canada's Indian and Northern Affairs define Métis to be those persons of mixed First Nation and European ancestry.

French and Indian War

French and Indian War
French and Indian War
The French and Indian War is the common American name for the war between Great Britain and France in North America from 1754 to 1763. In 1756, the war erupted into the world-wide conflict known as the Seven Years' War and thus came to be regarded as the North American theater of that war...

 or referred as part of the larger conflict known as the Seven Years' War
Seven Years' War
The Seven Years' War was a global military war between 1756 and 1763, involving most of the great powers of the time and affecting Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines...

 (1756–1763). The name French and Indian War refers to the two main enemies of the British: the royal French forces
Military of France
The French Armed Forces encompass the French Army, the French Navy, the French Air Force and the National Gendarmerie. The President of the Republic heads the armed forces, with the title "chef des armées" . The President is the supreme authority for military matters and is the sole official who...

 and the various Native American forces allied with them. The conflict, the fourth such colonial war
French and Indian Wars
The French and Indian Wars is a name used in the United States for a series of conflicts lasting 74 years in North America that represented colonial events related to the European dynastic wars...

 between the nations of France
Ancien Régime in France
The Ancien Régime refers primarily to the aristocratic, social and political system established in France from the 15th century to the 18th century under the late Valois and Bourbon dynasties...

 and Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

, resulted in the British conquest of Canada
Canada, New France
Canada was the name of the French colony that once stretched along the St. Lawrence River; the other colonies of New France were Acadia, Louisiana and Newfoundland. Canada, the most developed colony of New France, was divided into three districts, each with its own government: Quebec,...

. In British America
British America
For American people of British descent, see British American.British America is the anachronistic term used to refer to the territories under the control of the Crown or Parliament in present day North America , Central America, the Caribbean, and Guyana...

 etymology, the sitting British monarch became the war's namesake, such as King William's War
King William's War
The first of the French and Indian Wars, King William's War was the name used in the English colonies in America to refer to the North American theater of the Nine Years' War...

 or Queen Anne's War
Queen Anne's War
Queen Anne's War , as the North American theater of the War of the Spanish Succession was known in the British colonies, was the second in a series of French and Indian Wars fought between France and England, later Great Britain, in North America for control of the continent. The War of the...

. Because there had already been a King George's War
King George's War
King George's War is the name given to the operations in North America that formed part of the War of the Austrian Succession . It was the third of the four French and Indian Wars. It took place primarily in the British provinces of New York, Massachusetts Bay, New Hampshire, and Nova Scotia...

 in the 1740s, British colonists named the second war in King George's
George II of Great Britain
George II was King of Great Britain and Ireland, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Archtreasurer and Prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire from 11 June 1727 until his death.George was the last British monarch born outside Great Britain. He was born and brought up in Northern Germany...

 reign after their opponents so it became the French and Indian War.

The Franco-Indian alliance
Franco-Indian alliance
The Franco-Indian alliance was an alliance between American Indians and the French, centered on the Great Lakes and the Illinois country during the French and Indian War . The alliance involved French settlers on the one side, and the Abenaki, Ottawa, Menominee, Winnebago, Mississauga, Illinois,...

 was an alliance between American and Canadian First Nations and the French, centred on the Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

 and the Illinois Country
Illinois Country
The Illinois Country , also known as Upper Louisiana, was a region in what is now the Midwestern United States that was explored and settled by the French during the 17th and 18th centuries. The terms referred to the entire Upper Mississippi River watershed, though settlement was concentrated in...

. The alliance involved French settlers on the one side, and on the other side were the Abenaki, Odawa, Menominee
Menominee
Some placenames use other spellings, see also Menomonee and Menomonie.The Menominee are a nation of Native Americans living in Wisconsin. The Menominee, along with the Ho-Chunk, are the only tribes that are indigenous to what is now Wisconsin...

, Ho-Chunk
Ho-Chunk
The Ho-Chunk, also known as Winnebago, are a tribe of Native Americans, native to what is now Wisconsin and Illinois. There are two federally recognized Ho-Chunk tribes, the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin and Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska....

 (Winnebago), Mississaugas
Mississaugas
The Mississaugas are a subtribe of the Anishinaabe-speaking First Nations people located in southern Ontario, Canada. They are closely related to the Ojibwa...

, Illiniwek, Huron-Petun
Petun
The Petún , or Tionontati in their language, were an Iroquoian-speaking First Nations people closely related to the Wendat Confederacy. Their homeland was located along the southwest edge of Georgian Bay, in the area immediately to the west of the Huron territory in Southern Ontario of...

, Potawatomi
Potawatomi
The Potawatomi are a Native American people of the upper Mississippi River region. They traditionally speak the Potawatomi language, a member of the Algonquian family. In the Potawatomi language, they generally call themselves Bodéwadmi, a name that means "keepers of the fire" and that was applied...

 etc. It allowed the French and the Indians to form a haven in the middle-Ohio valley
Ohio River
The Ohio River is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River. At the confluence, the Ohio is even bigger than the Mississippi and, thus, is hydrologically the main stream of the whole river system, including the Allegheny River further upstream...

 before the open conflict between the European powers erupted.

Slavery

First Nations routinely captured slaves from neighbouring tribes. The conditions under which such slaves lived were much more humane than the conditions endured by African people
African people
African people refers to natives, inhabitants, or citizen of Africa and to people of African descent.-Etymology:Many etymological hypotheses that have been postulated for the ancient name "Africa":...

s forcibly brought as chattel by Europeans to the Americas. Slave-owning tribes of the fishing societies, such as the Yurok and Haida lived along the coast from what is now Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

 to California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

. Fierce warrior indigenous slave-traders
History of slavery
The history of slavery covers slave systems in historical perspective in which one human being is legally the property of another, can be bought or sold, is not allowed to escape and must work for the owner without any choice involved...

 of the Pacific Northwest Coast raided as far as California. Slavery was hereditary, the slaves being prisoners of war
Prisoner of war
A prisoner of war or enemy prisoner of war is a person, whether civilian or combatant, who is held in custody by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict...

 and their descendants. Among Pacific Northwest tribes about a quarter of the population were slaves.

The citizens of New France received slaves as gifts from their allies among First Nations peoples. Slaves were prisoners taken in raids against the villages of the Fox nation, a tribe that was an ancient rival of the Miami people
Miami tribe
The Miami are a Native American nation originally found in what is now Indiana, southwest Michigan, and western Ohio. The Miami Tribe of Oklahoma is the only federally recognized tribe of Miami Indians in the United States...

 and their Algonquian
Algonquian peoples
The Algonquian are one of the most populous and widespread North American native language groups, with tribes originally numbering in the hundreds. Today hundreds of thousands of individuals identify with various Algonquian peoples...

 allies. Native (or "pani", a corruption of Pawnee) slaves were much easier to obtain and thus more numerous than African slaves in New France, but were less valued. The average native slave died at 18, and the average African slave died at 25 (the average European could expect to live until the age of 35). 1790, the abolition movement
Abolitionism
Abolitionism is a movement to end slavery.In western Europe and the Americas abolitionism was a movement to end the slave trade and set slaves free. At the behest of Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas who was shocked at the treatment of natives in the New World, Spain enacted the first...

 was gaining credence in Canada and the ill intent of slavery was evidenced by an incident involving a slave woman being violently abused by her slave owner on her way to being sold in the United States. The Act Against Slavery
Act Against Slavery
The Act Against Slavery was an anti-slavery law passed on July 9, 1793, in the first legislative session of Upper Canada, the colonial division of British North America that would eventually become Ontario....

 of 1793 legislated the gradual abolition of slavery: no slaves could be imported; slaves already in the province would remain enslaved until death, no new slaves could be brought into Upper Canada
Upper Canada
The Province of Upper Canada was a political division in British Canada established in 1791 by the British Empire to govern the central third of the lands in British North America and to accommodate Loyalist refugees from the United States of America after the American Revolution...

, and children born to female slaves would be slaves but must be freed at age 25. The Act remained in force
Coming into force
Coming into force or entry into force refers to the process by which legislation, regulations, treaties and other legal instruments come to have legal force and effect...

 until 1833 when the British Parliament's
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

 Slavery Abolition Act finally abolished slavery in all parts of the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

. Historian Marcel Trudel has documented 4,092 recorded slaves throughout Canadian history, of which 2,692 were Aboriginal people, owned by the French, and 1,400 blacks owned by the British, together owned by approximately 1,400 masters. Trudel also noted 31 marriages took place between French colonists and Aboriginal slaves.

1775–1815

British agents worked to make the first nations into military allies of the British, providing supplies, weapons, and encouragement. During the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

 most of the tribes supported the British. In 1779, the Americans launched a campaign
Sullivan Expedition
The Sullivan Expedition, also known as the Sullivan-Clinton Expedition, was an American campaign led by Major General John Sullivan and Brigadier General James Clinton against Loyalists and the four nations of the Iroquois who had sided with the British in the American Revolutionary War.The...

 to burn the villages of the Iroquois in New York State. The refugees fled to Fort Niagara and other British posts, and remained permanently in Canada. Although the British ceded the Old Northwest to the United States in the Treaty of Paris in 1783, it kept fortifications and trading posts in the region until 1795. The British then evacuated American territory, but operated trading posts in British territory, providing weapons and encouragement to tribes that were resisting American expansion into such areas as Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin. Officially, the British agents discouraged any warlike activities or raids on American settlements, but the Americans were increasingly angered, and this became one of the causes of the War of 1812
Origins of the War of 1812
The War of 1812, between the United States of America and the British Empire , and Britain's Indian allies, lasted from 1812 to 1815. It was fought chiefly on the Atlantic Ocean and on the land, coasts and waterways of North America.There were several immediate stated causes for the U.S...

.

In the war, the great majority of First Nations supported the British, and many fought under the aegis of Tecumseh
Tecumseh
Tecumseh was a Native American leader of the Shawnee and a large tribal confederacy which opposed the United States during Tecumseh's War and the War of 1812...

. But Tecumseh was killed in 1813 in battle, and the Indian coalition collapsed. The British have long wished to create a neutral Indian state in the American Old Northwest, and made this demand as late as 1814 at the peace negotiations at Ghent. The Americans rejected the idea, the British dropped it, and Britain's Indian allies lost British support. In addition, the Indians were no longer able to gather furs and American territory. Abandoned by their powerful sponsor, Great Lakes-area natives ultimately assumilated into American society, migrated to the west or to Canada, or were relocated onto reservations in Michigan and Wisconsin. Historians have unanimously agreed that the Indians were the major losers in the War of 1812.

19th century

Living conditions for Indigenous people in the prairie
Canadian Prairies
The Canadian Prairies is a region of Canada, specifically in western Canada, which may correspond to several different definitions, natural or political. Notably, the Prairie provinces or simply the Prairies comprise the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, as they are largely covered...

 regions deteriorated quickly. Between 1875 and 1885, settlers and hunters of European descent contributed to hunting the North American Bison almost to extinction; the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway
Canadian Pacific Railway
The Canadian Pacific Railway , formerly also known as CP Rail between 1968 and 1996, is a historic Canadian Class I railway founded in 1881 and now operated by Canadian Pacific Railway Limited, which began operations as legal owner in a corporate restructuring in 2001...

 brought large numbers of European settlers west who encroached on former Indigenous territory. European Canadians established governments, police forces, and courts of law
Court
A court is a form of tribunal, often a governmental institution, with the authority to adjudicate legal disputes between parties and carry out the administration of justice in civil, criminal, and administrative matters in accordance with the rule of law...

 with different foundations than indigenous practices. Various epidemics continued to devastate Indigenous communities. All of these factors had a profound effect on Indigenous people, particularly those from the plains who had relied heavily on bison for food and clothing. Most of those nations that agreed to treaties had negotiated for a guarantee of food and help to begin farming. Just as the bison disappeared (the last Canadian hunt was in 1879), Lieutenant-Governor
Lieutenant Governor (Canada)
In Canada, a lieutenant governor is the viceregal representative in a provincial jurisdiction of the Canadian monarch and head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, who resides predominantly in her oldest realm, the United Kingdom...

 Edgar Dewdney
Edgar Dewdney
Edgar Dewdney, PC was a Canadian politician born in Devonshire, England. He served as Lieutenant Governor of the North-West Territories and the fifth Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia.-Early life and career:...

 cut rations to indigenous people in an attempt to reduce government costs. Between 1880 and 1885, approximately 3,000 Indigenous people starved to death in the North-Western Territory
North-Western Territory
The North-Western Territory was a region of British North America until 1870. Named for where it lay in relation to Rupert's Land, the territory at its greatest extent covered what is now Yukon, mainland Northwest Territories, northwestern mainland Nunavut, northwestern Saskatchewan, northern...

/Northwest Territories
Northwest Territories
The Northwest Territories is a federal territory of Canada.Located in northern Canada, the territory borders Canada's two other territories, Yukon to the west and Nunavut to the east, and three provinces: British Columbia to the southwest, and Alberta and Saskatchewan to the south...

.
Offended by the concepts of the treaties, Cree chiefs resisted them. Big Bear
Big Bear
Big Bear or Mistahi-maskwa was a Cree leader notable for his involvement in the North-West Rebellion and his subsequent imprisonment.-Early life and leadership:...

 refused to sign Treaty 6
Treaty 6
Treaty 6 is an agreement between the Canadian monarch and the Plain and Wood Cree Indians and other tribes of Indians at Fort Carlton, Fort Pitt and Battle River. The area agreed upon by the Plain and Wood Cree represents most of the central area of the current provinces of Saskatchewan and...

 until starvation among his people forced his hand in 1882. His attempts to unite Indigenous nations made progress. In 1884 the Métis (including the Anglo-Métis
Anglo-Métis
A 19th-century community of the Métis people of Canada, the Anglo-Métis, more commonly known as Countryborn, were children of fur traders; they typically had Orcadian, Scottish, or English fathers and Aboriginal mothers. Their first languages were generally those of their mothers: Cree, Saulteaux,...

) asked Louis Riel
Louis Riel
Louis David Riel was a Canadian politician, a founder of the province of Manitoba, and a political and spiritual leader of the Métis people of the Canadian prairies. He led two resistance movements against the Canadian government and its first post-Confederation Prime Minister, Sir John A....

 to return from the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, where he had fled after the Red River Rebellion
Red River Rebellion
The Red River Rebellion or Red River Resistance was the sequence of events related to the 1869 establishment of a provisional government by the Métis leader Louis Riel and his followers at the Red River Settlement, in what is now the Canadian province of Manitoba.The Rebellion was the first crisis...

, to appeal to the government on their behalf. The government gave a vague response. In March 1885, Riel, Gabriel Dumont, Honoré Jackson
Honoré Jackson
William Henry Jackson , also known as Honoré Jackson or Jaxon, was a leader of the North-West Rebellion in Canada in 1885....

 (a.k.a. Will Jackson), Crowfoot
Crowfoot
Crowfoot or Isapo-Muxika was a chief of the Siksika First Nation. His parents, Istowun-eh'pata and Axkahp-say-pi , were Kainai. His brother Iron Shield became Chief Bull...

, Chief of the Blackfoot
Blackfoot
The Blackfoot Confederacy or Niitsítapi is the collective name of three First Nations in Alberta and one Native American tribe in Montana....

 First Nation and Chief Poundmaker, who after the 1876 negotiations of Treaty 6
Treaty 6
Treaty 6 is an agreement between the Canadian monarch and the Plain and Wood Cree Indians and other tribes of Indians at Fort Carlton, Fort Pitt and Battle River. The area agreed upon by the Plain and Wood Cree represents most of the central area of the current provinces of Saskatchewan and...

 split off to form his band. Together, they set up the Provisional Government of Saskatchewan
Provisional Government of Saskatchewan
The Provisional Government of Saskatchewan was the name given by Louis Riel to the independent state he declared during the Northwest Rebellion of 1885 in what is today the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. Although Riel initially hoped to rally the Countryborn, Cree and European settlers of the...

, believing that they could influence the federal government in the same way as they had in 1869. The North-West Rebellion
North-West Rebellion
The North-West Rebellion of 1885 was a brief and unsuccessful uprising by the Métis people of the District of Saskatchewan under Louis Riel against the Dominion of Canada...

 of 1885 was a brief and unsuccessful uprising
Rebellion
Rebellion, uprising or insurrection, is a refusal of obedience or order. It may, therefore, be seen as encompassing a range of behaviors aimed at destroying or replacing an established authority such as a government or a head of state...

 by the Métis
Métis people (Canada)
The Métis are one of the Aboriginal peoples in Canada who trace their descent to mixed First Nations parentage. The term was historically a catch-all describing the offspring of any such union, but within generations the culture syncretised into what is today a distinct aboriginal group, with...

 people of the District of Saskatchewan
District of Saskatchewan
The District of Saskatchewan was a regional administrative district of Canada's Northwest Territories. Much of the area was incorporated into the province of Saskatchewan. The western part became part of Alberta, and the eastern part is now part of Manitoba. Its capital was Prince Albert...

 under Louis Riel
Louis Riel
Louis David Riel was a Canadian politician, a founder of the province of Manitoba, and a political and spiritual leader of the Métis people of the Canadian prairies. He led two resistance movements against the Canadian government and its first post-Confederation Prime Minister, Sir John A....

 against the Dominion of Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, which they believed had failed to address their concerns for the survival of their people. In 1884, 2,000 Cree from reserves met near Battleford to organise into a large, cohesive resistance. Discouraged by the lack of government response but encouraged by the efforts of the Métis at armed rebellion
North-West Rebellion
The North-West Rebellion of 1885 was a brief and unsuccessful uprising by the Métis people of the District of Saskatchewan under Louis Riel against the Dominion of Canada...

, Wandering Spirit and other young militant Cree attacked the small town of Frog Lake
Frog Lake Massacre
The Frog Lake Massacre was a Cree uprising during the North-West Rebellion in western Canada. Led by Wandering Spirit, young Cree warriors attacked the village of Frog Lake, North-West Territories on 2 April 1885, where they killed nine settlers.- Causes :Angered by what seemed to be unfair...

, killing Thomas Quinn, the hated Indian Agent
Indian Agent (Canada)
Indian Agent is the title of a position in Canada mandated by the Indian Act of that country. An Indian Agent was the chief administrator for Indian affairs in their respective districts, although the title now is largely in disuse in preference to Government Agent. The powers of the Indian...

 and eight others. Although Big Bear actively opposed the attacks, he was charged and tried for treason and sentenced to three years in prison. After the Red River Rebellion
Red River Rebellion
The Red River Rebellion or Red River Resistance was the sequence of events related to the 1869 establishment of a provisional government by the Métis leader Louis Riel and his followers at the Red River Settlement, in what is now the Canadian province of Manitoba.The Rebellion was the first crisis...

 of 1869–1870, Métis moved from Manitoba
Manitoba
Manitoba is a Canadian prairie province with an area of . The province has over 110,000 lakes and has a largely continental climate because of its flat topography. Agriculture, mostly concentrated in the fertile southern and western parts of the province, is vital to the province's economy; other...

 to the District of Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan is a prairie province in Canada, which has an area of . Saskatchewan is bordered on the west by Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the east by Manitoba, and on the south by the U.S. states of Montana and North Dakota....

, where they founded a settlement at Batoche on the South Saskatchewan River
South Saskatchewan River
The South Saskatchewan River is a major river in Canada that flows through the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan....

. In Manitoba settlers from Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

 began to arrive. They pushed for land to be allotted in the square concession system of English Canada
English Canada
English Canada is a term used to describe one of the following:# English-speaking Canadians, as opposed to French-speaking Canadians. It is employed when comparing English- and French-language literature, media, or art...

, rather than the seigneurial system
Seigneurial system of New France
The seigneurial system of New France was the semi-feudal system of land distribution used in the North American colonies of New France.-Introduction to New France:...

 of strips reaching back from a river which the Métis were familiar with in their French-Canadian culture. The buffalo were being hunted to extinction by the Hudson's Bay Company
Hudson's Bay Company
The Hudson's Bay Company , abbreviated HBC, or "The Bay" is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and one of the oldest in the world. A fur trading business for much of its existence, today Hudson's Bay Company owns and operates retail stores throughout Canada...

 and other hunters, as for generations the Métis had depended on them as a chief source of food.

Colonisation and Integration

From the late 18th century, European Canadians encouraged First Nations to assimilate
Cultural imperialism
Cultural imperialism is the domination of one culture over another. Cultural imperialism can take the form of a general attitude or an active, formal and deliberate policy, including military action. Economic or technological factors may also play a role...

 into their own culture, referred to as "Canadian culture". The assumption was that it was the correct one because the Canadians of European descent saw themselves as dominant, and technologically, politically and culturally more advanced. These attempts reached a climax in the late 19th and early 20th centuries

Founded in the 19th century, the Canadian Indian residential school system was intended to force the assimilation of Canadian Aboriginal and First Nations people into European-Canadian society. The purpose of the schools, which separated children from their families, has been described by commentators as "killing the Indian in the child."

Funded under the Indian Act
Indian Act
The Indian Act , R.S., 1951, c. I-5, is a Canadian statute that concerns registered Indians, their bands, and the system of Indian reserves...

 by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, a branch of the federal government, the schools were run by churches of various denominations – about 60% by Roman Catholics, and 30% by the Anglican Church of Canada
Anglican Church of Canada
The Anglican Church of Canada is the Province of the Anglican Communion in Canada. The official French name is l'Église Anglicane du Canada. The ACC is the third largest church in Canada after the Roman Catholic Church and the United Church of Canada, consisting of 800,000 registered members...

 and the United Church of Canada
United Church of Canada
The United Church of Canada is a Protestant Christian denomination in Canada. It is the largest Protestant church and, after the Roman Catholic Church, the second-largest Christian church in Canada...

, along with its pre-1925 predecessors, Presbyterian
Presbyterian Church in Canada
The Presbyterian Church in Canada is the name of a Protestant Christian church, of presbyterian and reformed theology and polity, serving in Canada under this name since 1875, although the United Church of Canada claimed the right to the name from 1925 to 1939...

, Congregationalist
Congregational church
Congregational churches are Protestant Christian churches practicing Congregationalist church governance, in which each congregation independently and autonomously runs its own affairs....

 and Methodist
Methodism
Methodism is a movement of Protestant Christianity represented by a number of denominations and organizations, claiming a total of approximately seventy million adherents worldwide. The movement traces its roots to John Wesley's evangelistic revival movement within Anglicanism. His younger brother...

 churches.

The attempt to force assimilation
Forced assimilation
Forced assimilation is a process of forced cultural assimilation of religious or ethnic minority groups, into an established and generally larger community...

 involved punishing children for speaking their own languages or practicing their own faiths, leading to allegations in the 20th century of cultural genocide
Cultural genocide
Cultural genocide is a term that lawyer Raphael Lemkin proposed in 1933 as a component to genocide. The term was considered in the 1948 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples juxtaposed next to the term ethnocide, but it was removed in the final document, replaced with...

 and ethnocide. There was widespread physical and sexual abuse
Sexual abuse
Sexual abuse, also referred to as molestation, is the forcing of undesired sexual behavior by one person upon another. When that force is immediate, of short duration, or infrequent, it is called sexual assault. The offender is referred to as a sexual abuser or molester...

. Overcrowding, poor sanitation, and a lack of medical care led to high rates of tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

, and death rates of up to 69%. Details of the mistreatment of students had been published numerous times throughout the 20th century, but following the closure of the schools in the 1960s, the work of indigenous activists and historians led to a change in the public perception of the residential school system, as well as official government apologies, and a (controversial) legal settlement.

20th century

As Canadian ideas of progress
Progressivism
Progressivism is an umbrella term for a political ideology advocating or favoring social, political, and economic reform or changes. Progressivism is often viewed by some conservatives, constitutionalists, and libertarians to be in opposition to conservative or reactionary ideologies.The...

 evolved at the turn of the century, the federal Indian policy was directed at removing Indigenous people from their communal lands and encouraging assimilation. Amendments to the Indian Act in 1905 and 1911 made it easier for the government to expropriate reserve lands from First Nations. The government sold nearly half of the Blackfoot reserve in Alberta to settlers.

When the Kainai (Blood) Nation refused to accept the sale of their lands in 1916 and 1917, the Department of Indian Affairs held back funding necessary for farming until they relented. In British Columbia, the McKenna-McBride
McKenna-McBride Royal Commission
The Royal Commission on Indian Affairs for the Province of British Columbia was a Royal Commission established in 1912 to resolve the "Indian reserve question" in British Columbia....

 Royal Commission
Royal Commission
In Commonwealth realms and other monarchies a Royal Commission is a major ad-hoc formal public inquiry into a defined issue. They have been held in various countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Saudi Arabia...

 was created in 1912 to settle disputes over reserve lands in the province. The claims of Indigenous people were ignored, and the commission allocated new, less valuable lands (reserves) for First Nations.

Those nations who managed to maintain their ownership of good lands often farmed successfully. Indigenous people living near the Cowichan
Cowichan River
The Cowichan River is a moderately sized river in British Columbia, Canada. It originates in Cowichan Lake, flowing east towards its end at Cowichan Bay. Its drainage basin is in size....

 and Fraser
Fraser River
The Fraser River is the longest river within British Columbia, Canada, rising at Fraser Pass near Mount Robson in the Rocky Mountains and flowing for , into the Strait of Georgia at the city of Vancouver. It is the tenth longest river in Canada...

 rivers, and those from Saskatchewan managed to produce good harvests. Since 1881, those First Nations people living in the prairie provinces required permits from Indian Agents to sell any of their produce. Later the government created a pass system in the old Northwest Territories that required indigenous people to seek written permission from an Indian Agent before leaving their reserves for any length of time. Indigenous people regularly defied those laws, as well as bans on Sun Dance
Sun Dance
The Sun Dance is a religious ceremony practiced by a number of Native American and First Nations peoples, primarily those of the Plains Nations. Each tribe has its own distinct practices and ceremonial protocols...

s and potlatches, in an attempt to practice their culture.

The 1930 Constitution Act or Natural Resources Transfer Acts
Natural Resources Transfer Acts
The Natural Resources Transfer Acts were passed by the Parliament of Canada in 1930 in order to give the Prairie provinces jurisdiction over their crown lands and natural resources, a right they were not given when they entered Confederation...

 was part of a shift acknowledging indigenous rights
Indigenous rights
Indigenous rights are those rights that exist in recognition of the specific condition of the indigenous peoples. This includes not only the most basic human rights of physical survival and integrity, but also the preservation of their land, language, religion and other elements of cultural...

. It enabled provincial control of Crown land
Crown land
In Commonwealth realms, Crown land is an area belonging to the monarch , the equivalent of an entailed estate that passed with the monarchy and could not be alienated from it....

 and allowed Provincial laws regulating game to apply to Indians, but it also ensured that "Indians shall have the right ... of hunting, trapping and fishing game and fish for food at all seasons of the year on all unoccupied Crown lands and on any other lands to which the said Indians may have a right of access."

First and Second World Wars

More than 6,000 Canadian First Nations, Inuit and Métis served with British forces
British Armed Forces
The British Armed Forces are the armed forces of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.Also known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces and sometimes legally the Armed Forces of the Crown, the British Armed Forces encompasses three professional uniformed services, the Royal Navy, the...

 during First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 and Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. A generation of young native Canadian men fought on the battlefields of Europe during the Great War and approximately 300 of them died there. When Canada declared war on Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 on September 10, 1939, the native community quickly responded to volunteer. Four years later, in May 1943, the government declared that, as British subject
British subject
In British nationality law, the term British subject has at different times had different meanings. The current definition of the term British subject is contained in the British Nationality Act 1981.- Prior to 1949 :...

s, all able Indian men of military age could be called up for training and service in Canada or overseas.

Late 20th century

Following the end of the Second World War, laws concerning First Nations in Canada began to change, albeit slowly. The federal prohibition of potlatch and Sun Dance ceremonies ended in 1951. Provincial governments began to accept the right of Indigenous people to vote. In June 1956, section 9 of the Citizenship Act
Canadian Citizenship Act 1946
The Canadian Citizenship Act is an Act of the Parliament of Canada, which was enacted June 27, 1946, and came into effect on January 1, 1947, recognizing the definition of a Canadian, including reference to them being British subjects....

 was amended to grant formal citizenship to Status Indians and Inuit, retroactively as of January 1947.

In 1960, First Nations people received the right to vote in federal elections without forfeiting their Indian status. By comparison, Native Americans in the United States had been allowed to vote since the 1920s.

1969 White Paper

In his 1969 White Paper
1969 White Paper
The 1969 White Paper was a Canadian policy document in which then Minister of Indian Affairs, Jean Chrétien, proposed the abolition of the Indian Act, the rejection of land claims, and the assimilation of First Nations people into the Canadian population with the status of other ethnic minorities...

, then-Minister of Indian Affairs
Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (Canada)
The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development is the Minister of the Crown in the Canadian Cabinet who heads two different departments...

, Jean Chrétien
Jean Chrétien
Joseph Jacques Jean Chrétien , known commonly as Jean Chrétien is a former Canadian politician who was the 20th Prime Minister of Canada. He served in the position for over ten years, from November 4, 1993 to December 12, 2003....

, proposed the abolition of the Indian Act of Canada, the rejection of Aboriginal land claims, and the assimilation of First Nations people into the Canadian population with the status of "other ethnic minorities" rather than as a distinct group.

Harold Cardinal
Harold Cardinal
Dr. Harold Cardinal was a Cree writer, political leader, teacher, negotiator and lawyer.Dr. Harold Cardinal was a Cree writer, political leader, teacher, negotiator and lawyer.Dr...

 and the Indian Chiefs of Alberta responded with a document entitled "Citizens Plus" but commonly known as the "Red Paper". In it, they explained Status Indians' widespread opposition to Chrétien's proposal. Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Canada
The Prime Minister of Canada is the primary minister of the Crown, chairman of the Cabinet, and thus head of government for Canada, charged with advising the Canadian monarch or viceroy on the exercise of the executive powers vested in them by the constitution...

 Pierre Trudeau
Pierre Trudeau
Joseph Philippe Pierre Yves Elliott Trudeau, , usually known as Pierre Trudeau or Pierre Elliott Trudeau, was the 15th Prime Minister of Canada from April 20, 1968 to June 4, 1979, and again from March 3, 1980 to June 30, 1984.Trudeau began his political career campaigning for socialist ideals,...

 and the Liberals
Liberal Party of Canada
The Liberal Party of Canada , colloquially known as the Grits, is the oldest federally registered party in Canada. In the conventional political spectrum, the party sits between the centre and the centre-left. Historically the Liberal Party has positioned itself to the left of the Conservative...

 began to back away from the 1969 White Paper, particularly after the Calder case
Calder v. British Columbia (Attorney General)
Calder v. British Columbia [1973] S.C.R. 313, [1973] 4 W.W.R. 1 was a decision by the Supreme Court of Canada. It was the first time that Canadian law acknowledged that aboriginal title to land existed prior to the colonization of the continent and was not merely derived from statutory law.In...

 decision in 1973.

Health Transfer Policy

In 1970, severe mercury poisoning
Mercury poisoning
Mercury poisoning is a disease caused by exposure to mercury or its compounds. Mercury is a heavy metal occurring in several forms, all of which can produce toxic effects in high enough doses...

, called Ontario Minamata disease
Ontario Minamata disease
Ontario Minamata disease is a neurological syndrome caused by severe mercury poisoning. It occurred in the Canadian province of Ontario in 1970 and severely affected two First Nation communities located in Northwestern Ontario following consumption of local fish that were contaminated with mercury...

, was discovered among Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nation and Wabaseemoong Independent Nations
Wabaseemoong Independent Nations
Wabaseemoong Independent Nations or more fully as the Wabaseemoong Independent Nations of One Man Lake, Swan Lake and Whitedog, is a Ojibway First Nation located 120 km northwest of Kenora, Ontario and east of the Ontario-Manitoba border of northwestern Ontario, Canada...

 people, who lived near Dryden, Ontario
Dryden, Ontario
Dryden is the second-largest city in the Kenora District of Northwestern Ontario, Canada, located on Wabigoon Lake. It is the smallest community in the province of Ontario designated as a city...

. There was extensive mercury pollution caused by Dryden Chemicals Company's waste water effluent in the Wabigoon
Wabigoon River
The Wabigoon River is a river in Kenora District in northwestern Ontario, Canada. It flows from Raleigh Lake past Dryden, Ontario on Wabigoon Lake to join the English River...

-English River
English River (Ontario)
The English River flows through Lac Seul to join the Winnipeg River. The river is 615 km in length. There are several hydroelectric plants on this river.Tributaries of this river include the Vermilion River and the Wabigoon River...

 system. Because local fish were no longer safe to eat, the Ontario provincial government closed the commercial fisheries run by the First Nation people and ordered them to stop eating local fish. Previously it had made up the majority of their diet. In addition to the acute mercury poisoning in northwestern Ontario
Northwestern Ontario
Northwestern Ontario is the region within the Canadian province of Ontario which lies north and west of Lake Superior, and west of Hudson Bay and James Bay. It includes most of subarctic Ontario. Its western boundary is the Canadian province of Manitoba, which disputed Ontario's claim to the...

, Aamjiwnaang First Nation
Aamjiwnaang First Nation
The Aamjiwnaang First Nation is a First Nations community of about 850 Chippewa Aboriginal peoples. They live on the Sarnia 45 Indian Reserve, located on the shores of the St...

 people near Sarnia, Ontario
Sarnia, Ontario
Sarnia is a city in Southern Ontario, Canada . It is the largest city on Lake Huron and is located where the upper Great Lakes empty into the St. Clair River....

 experienced a wide range of chemical effects, including severe mercury poisoning. They suffered low birth rates, skewed birth-gender ratio, and health effects among the population. This led to legislation and eventually the Indian Health Transfer Policy
Indian Health Transfer Policy (Canada)
The Indian Health Transfer Policy of Canada, provided a framework for the assumption of control of health services by Aboriginal Canadians and set forth a developmental approach to transfer centred on the concept of self-determination in health. Through this process, the decision to enter into...

 that provided a framework for the assumption of control of health services by First Nations people, and set forth a developmental approach to transfer centred on the concept of self-determination in health. Through this process, the decision to enter into transfer discussions with Health Canada
Health Canada
Health Canada is the department of the government of Canada with responsibility for national public health.The current Minister of Health is Leona Aglukkaq, a Conservative Member of Parliament appointed to the position by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.-Branches, regions and agencies:Health Canada...

 rests with each community. Once involved in transfer, communities are able to take control of health programme responsibilities at a pace determined by their individual circumstances and health management capabilities.

Elijah Harper and the Meech Lake Accord

In 1981, Elijah Harper
Elijah Harper
Elijah Harper is an Aboriginal Cree Canadian politician and band chief. He was a key player in the rejection of the Meech Lake Accord, an attempt at Canadian constitutional reform.- Early life :...

, a Cree from Red Sucker Lake, Manitoba
Manitoba
Manitoba is a Canadian prairie province with an area of . The province has over 110,000 lakes and has a largely continental climate because of its flat topography. Agriculture, mostly concentrated in the fertile southern and western parts of the province, is vital to the province's economy; other...

, became the first "Treaty Indian" in Manitoba to be elected as a member
Member of the Legislative Assembly
A Member of the Legislative Assembly or a Member of the Legislature , is a representative elected by the voters of a constituency to the legislature or legislative assembly of a sub-national jurisdiction....

 of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba
Legislative Assembly of Manitoba
The Legislative Assembly of Manitoba and the lieutenant governor form the Legislature of Manitoba, the legislature of the Canadian province of Manitoba. Fifty-seven members are elected to this assembly in provincial general elections, all in single-member constituencies with first-past-the-post...

. In 1990, Harper achieved national fame by holding an eagle feather as he refused to accept the Meech Lake Accord
Meech Lake Accord
The Meech Lake Accord was a package of proposed amendments to the Constitution of Canada negotiated in 1987 by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and ten provincial premiers. It was intended to persuade the government of the Province of Quebec to endorse the 1982 Canadian Constitution and increase...

, a constitutional amendment
Constitutional amendment
A constitutional amendment is a formal change to the text of the written constitution of a nation or state.Most constitutions require that amendments cannot be enacted unless they have passed a special procedure that is more stringent than that required of ordinary legislation...

 package negotiated to gain Quebec's acceptance of the Constitution Act, 1982
Constitution Act, 1982
The Constitution Act, 1982 is a part of the Constitution of Canada. The Act was introduced as part of Canada's process of "patriating" the constitution, introducing several amendments to the British North America Act, 1867, and changing the latter's name in Canada to the Constitution Act, 1867...

, but also one that did not address any First Nations grievances. The accord was negotiated in 1987 without the input of Canada's Aboriginal peoples
Indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples are ethnic groups that are defined as indigenous according to one of the various definitions of the term, there is no universally accepted definition but most of which carry connotations of being the "original inhabitants" of a territory....

. The third, final constitutional conference on Aboriginal peoples was also unsuccessful. The Manitoba assembly was required to unanimously consent to a motion allowing it to hold a vote on the accord, because of a procedural rule. Twelve days before the ratification deadline for the Accord, Harper began a filibuster
Filibuster
A filibuster is a type of parliamentary procedure. Specifically, it is the right of an individual to extend debate, allowing a lone member to delay or entirely prevent a vote on a given proposal...

 that prevented the assembly from ratifying the accord. Because Meech Lake failed in Manitoba, the proposed constitutional amendment failed. Harper also opposed the Charlottetown Accord
Charlottetown Accord
The Charlottetown Accord was a package of proposed amendments to the Constitution of Canada, proposed by the Canadian federal and provincial governments in 1992. It was submitted to a public referendum on October 26 of that year, and was defeated.-Background:...

 in 1992, even though Assembly of First Nations
Assembly of First Nations
The Assembly of First Nations , formerly known as the National Indian Brotherhood, is a body of First Nations leaders in Canada...

 Chief Ovide Mercredi
Ovide Mercredi
Ovide William Mercredi, OM is an Aboriginal Canadian politician. He is Cree and a former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations....

 supported it.

Women's status and Bill C-31

According to the Indian Act, indigenous women who married white men lost their treaty status
Indian Register
The Indian Register is the official record of Status Indians or Registered Indians in Canada. Status Indians have rights and benefits that are not granted to unregistered Indians, Inuit, or Métis, the chief benefits of which include the granting of reserves and of rights associated with them, an...

, and their children would not get status. In the reverse situation (indigenous men married to white women), men could keep their status, and their children would get treaty status. In the 1970s, the Indian Rights for Indian Women and Native Women's Association of Canada
Native Women's Association of Canada
The Native Women's Association of Canada, or NWAC, is one of Canada's National Aboriginal Organizations, and represents Aboriginal women, particularly First Nations and Métis women. Inuit women are represented by the separate organization, Pauktuutit...

 groups campaigned against this policy because it discriminated against women and failed to fulfill treaty promises. They successfully convinced the federal government to change the section of the act with the adoption of Bill C-31 on June 28, 1985. Women who had lost their status and children who had been excluded were then able to register and gain official Indian status. Despite these changes, First Nations women who married white men could only pass their status on one generation, their children would gain status, but (without a marriage to a full status Indian) their grandchildren would not. A First Nations male who married a white woman retained status as did his children, but his wife did not gain status, nor did his grandchildren.

Bill C-31 also gave elected bands the power to regulate who was allowed to reside on their reserves and to control development on their reserves. It abolished the concept of "enfranchisement
Gradual Civilization Act
The Act to Encourage the Gradual Civilization of Indian Tribes in this Province, and to Amend the Laws Relating to Indians was a bill passed by the 5th Parliament of the Province of Canada in 1857....

" by which First Nations people could gain certain rights by renouncing their Indian status.

Erasmus-Dussault commission

In 1991, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney
Brian Mulroney
Martin Brian Mulroney, was the 18th Prime Minister of Canada from September 17, 1984, to June 25, 1993 and was leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada from 1983 to 1993. His tenure as Prime Minister was marked by the introduction of major economic reforms, such as the Canada-U.S...

 created the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples
Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples
The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples was a Canadian Royal Commission established in 1991 to address many issues of aboriginal status that had come to light with recent events such as the Oka Crisis and the Meech Lake Accord. The commission culminated in a final report of 4000 pages,...

 chaired by René Dussault and Georges Erasmus
Georges Erasmus
Georges Henry Erasmus, OC is a Canadian Aboriginal politician. He was the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations from 1985 to 1991....

. Their 1996 report proposed the creation of a government for (and by) the First Nations that would be responsible within its own jurisdiction, and with which the federal government would speak on a "Nation-to-Nation" basis. This proposal offered a far different way of doing politics than the traditional policy of assigning First Nations matters under the jurisdiction of the Indian and Northern Affairs, managed by one minister of the federal cabinet. The report also recommended providing the governments of the First Nations with up to $2 billion every year until 2010, in order to reduce the economic gap between the First Nations and the rest of the Canadian citizenry. The money would represent an increase of at least 50% to the budget of Indian and Northern Affairs. The report engaged First Nations leaders to think of ways to cope with the challenging issues their people were facing, so the First Nations could take their destiny into their own hands.

The federal government, then headed by Jean Chrétien, responded to the report a year later by officially presenting its apologies for the forced acculturation the federal government had imposed on the First Nations, and by offering an "initial" provision of $350 million.

In the spirit of the Eramus-Dussault commission, tripartite (federal, provincial, and First Nations) accords have been signed since the report was issued. Several political crises between different provincial governments and different bands of the First Nations also occurred in the late 20th century, notably the Oka Crisis
Oka Crisis
The Oka Crisis was a land dispute between a group of Mohawk people and the town of Oka, Quebec, Canada which began on July 11, 1990 and lasted until September 26, 1990. At least one person died as a result...

, Ipperwash Crisis
Ipperwash Crisis
The Ipperwash Crisis was an Indigenous land dispute that took place in Ipperwash Provincial Park, Ontario in 1995. Several members of the Stoney Point Ojibway band occupied the park in order to assert their claim to nearby land which had been expropriated from them during World War II...

, Burnt Church Crisis
Burnt Church Crisis
The Burnt Church Crisis was a conflict in Canada between the Mi'kmaq people of the Burnt Church First Nation and non-Aboriginal New Brunswick fisheries, from 1999 to 2001. Natives and non-Natives of the area prior to this crisis had a long history of living peacefully together and helping each other...

, and the Gustafsen Lake Standoff
Gustafsen Lake Standoff
The Gustafsen Lake Standoff was an indigenous land dispute involving members of the Secwepemc nation and members of other indigenous groups in British Columbia, Canada which began on June 15, 1995, and lasted until September 17, 1995.-The Standoff begins:...

.

Early 21st century

In 2001, the Quebec government
Politics of Quebec
The politics of Quebec are centred on a provincial government resembling that of the other Canadian provinces, namely a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. The capital of the province is Quebec City, where the Lieutenant Governor, Premier, the legislature, and cabinet reside.The...

, the federal government, and the Cree Nation signed "La Paix des Braves
Agreement Respecting a New Relationship Between the Cree Nation and the Government of Quebec
The Agreement Respecting a New Relationship Between the Cree Nation and the Government of Quebec is an agreement between the Government of Quebec, Canada, and the Grand Council of the Crees...

" (The Peace of the Braves, a reference to the 1701 peace treaty between the French and the Iroquois League). The agreement allowed Hydro-Québec
Hydro-Québec
Hydro-Québec is a government-owned public utility established in 1944 by the Government of Quebec. Based in Montreal, the company is in charge of the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity across Quebec....

 to exploit the province's hydroelectric
Hydroelectricity
Hydroelectricity is the term referring to electricity generated by hydropower; the production of electrical power through the use of the gravitational force of falling or flowing water. It is the most widely used form of renewable energy...

 resources in exchange for an allocation of $3.5 billion to be given to the government of the Cree Nation. Later, the Inuit of northern Quebec
Nord-du-Québec
Nord-du-Québec is the largest of the seventeen administrative regions of Quebec, Canada. With , of which are lakes and rivers, it covers much of the Labrador Peninsula and about 55% of the total land surface area of Quebec....

 (Nunavik
Nunavik
Nunavik comprises the northern third of the province of Quebec, Canada. Covering a land area of 443,684.71 km² north of the 55th parallel, it is the homeland of the Inuit of Quebec...

) joined in the agreement.
In 2005, the leaders of the First Nations, various provincial governments, and the federal government produced an agreement called the Kelowna Accord
Kelowna Accord
The Kelowna Accord is a series of agreements between the Government of Canada, First Ministers of the Provinces, Territorial Leaders, and the leaders of five national aboriginal organizations in Canada. The Accord sought to improve the education, employment, and living conditions for Aboriginal...

, which would have yielded $5 billion over 10 years, but the new federal government of Stephen Harper
Stephen Harper
Stephen Joseph Harper is the 22nd and current Prime Minister of Canada and leader of the Conservative Party. Harper became prime minister when his party formed a minority government after the 2006 federal election...

 (2006) did not follow through on the working paper.
First Nations, along with the Métis and the Inuit, have claimed to receive inadequate funding for education, and allege their rights have been overlooked. James Bartleman, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
The Lieutenant Governor of Ontario is the viceregal representative in Ontario of the Canadian monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, who operates distinctly within the province but is also shared equally with the ten other jurisdictions of Canada and resides predominantly in her oldest realm, the United...

, listed the encouragement of indigenous young people as one of his key priorities. During his term that began in 2002, he has launched initiatives to promote literacy and bridge building. Bartleman himself is the first Aboriginal person to hold the Lieutenant Governor's position in Ontario.

As of 2006, over 75 First Nations communities exist in boil-water advisory conditions.
In late 2005, the drinking water crisis
Water crisis
Water crisis is a general term used to describe a situation where the available water within a region is less than the region's demand. The term has been used to describe the availability of potable water in a variety of regions by the United Nations and other world organizations...

 of the Kashechewan First Nation
Kashechewan First Nation
The Kashechewan First Nation is a Cree First Nation located near James Bay in Northern Ontario, Canada. The community is located on the northern shore of the Albany River. Kashechewan First Nation is one of two communities that were established from Old Fort Albany in the 1950s...

 received national media attention when E. coli
Escherichia coli
Escherichia coli is a Gram-negative, rod-shaped bacterium that is commonly found in the lower intestine of warm-blooded organisms . Most E. coli strains are harmless, but some serotypes can cause serious food poisoning in humans, and are occasionally responsible for product recalls...

was discovered in their water supply system
Water supply network
A water supply system or water supply network is a system of engineered hydrologic and hydraulic components which provide water supply. A water supply system typically includes:# A drainage basin ;...

, following two years of living under a boil-water advisory. The drinking water
Drinking water
Drinking water or potable water is water pure enough to be consumed or used with low risk of immediate or long term harm. In most developed countries, the water supplied to households, commerce and industry is all of drinking water standard, even though only a very small proportion is actually...

 was supplied by a new treatment plant
Water treatment
Water treatment describes those processes used to make water more acceptable for a desired end-use. These can include use as drinking water, industrial processes, medical and many other uses. The goal of all water treatment process is to remove existing contaminants in the water, or reduce the...

 built in March 1998. The cause of the tainted water was a plugged chlorine injector that was not discovered by local operators, who were not qualified to be running the treatment plant. When officials arrived and fixed the problem, chlorine
Chlorine
Chlorine is the chemical element with atomic number 17 and symbol Cl. It is the second lightest halogen, found in the periodic table in group 17. The element forms diatomic molecules under standard conditions, called dichlorine...

 levels were around 1.7 mg/l
Gram per litre
A gram per liter or litre is a unit of measurement of mass concentration that shows how many grams of a certain substance are present in one litre of a usually liquid or gaseous mixture. It is not an SI unit because it contains the non-SI unit litre...

, which was blamed for skin disorders such as impetigo
Impetigo
Impetigo is a highly contagious bacterial skin infection most common among pre-school children. People who play close contact sports such as rugby, American football and wrestling are also susceptible, regardless of age. Impetigo is not as common in adults. The name derives from the Latin impetere...

 and scabies
Scabies
Scabies , known colloquially as the seven-year itch, is a contagious skin infection that occurs among humans and other animals. It is caused by a tiny and usually not directly visible parasite, the mite Sarcoptes scabiei, which burrows under the host's skin, causing intense allergic itching...

. An investigation led by Health Canada
Health Canada
Health Canada is the department of the government of Canada with responsibility for national public health.The current Minister of Health is Leona Aglukkaq, a Conservative Member of Parliament appointed to the position by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.-Branches, regions and agencies:Health Canada...

 revealed that the skin disorders were likely due to living in squalor. The evacuation of Kashechewan is largely viewed by Canadians as a cry for help for other underlying social and economic issues which Aboriginal people in Canada face.

On June 29, 2007, Canadian Aboriginal groups held countrywide protests aimed at ending First Nations poverty, dubbed the Aboriginal Day of Action
Aboriginal Day of Action
The Aboriginal Day of Action was a day of organized protest and demonstration by Canadian First Nations groups on June 29, 2007...

. The demonstrations were largely peaceful, although groups disrupted transportation with blockades or bonfires; a stretch of the Highway 401
Highway 401 (Ontario)
King's Highway 401, also known by its official name as the Macdonald–Cartier Freeway and colloquially as the four-oh-one, is a 400-Series Highway in the Canadian province of Ontario stretching from Windsor to the Quebec border...

 was shut down, as was the Canadian National Railway
Canadian National Railway
The Canadian National Railway Company is a Canadian Class I railway headquartered in Montreal, Quebec. CN's slogan is "North America's Railroad"....

's line between Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

 and Montreal.

Canadian Crown and First Nations relations

The relationship between the Canadian Crown and the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples of Canada stretches back to the first interactions
Timeline of colonization of North America
This is a chronology of the colonization of North America, with founding dates of European settlements. See also European colonization of the Americas.-Before Columbus:* 6th Century: Brendan The Navigator possibly reaches North America.* 874: Norse reach Iceland...

 between European colonialists and North American indigenous people. Over centuries of interaction, treaties
Treaty
A treaty is an express agreement under international law entered into by actors in international law, namely sovereign states and international organizations. A treaty may also be known as an agreement, protocol, covenant, convention or exchange of letters, among other terms...

 were established, and Canada's First Nations have, like the Māori and the Treaty of Waitangi
Treaty of Waitangi
The Treaty of Waitangi is a treaty first signed on 6 February 1840 by representatives of the British Crown and various Māori chiefs from the North Island of New Zealand....

 in New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, come to generally view these agreements as being between them and the Crown of Canada, and not the ever-changing governments.

The associations exist between the Aboriginal peoples of Canada and the reigning monarch of Canada; as was stated in the proposed First Nations Federal Crown Political Accord: "cooperation will be a cornerstone for partnership between Canada and First Nations, wherein Canada is the short-form reference to Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada. These relations are governed by the established treaties; the Supreme Court
Supreme Court of Canada
The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court of Canada and is the final court of appeals in the Canadian justice system. The court grants permission to between 40 and 75 litigants each year to appeal decisions rendered by provincial, territorial and federal appellate courts, and its decisions...

 stated that treaties "served to reconcile pre-existing Aboriginal sovereignty with assumed Crown sovereignty, and to define Aboriginal rights," and the First Nations saw these agreements as meant to last "as long as the sun shines, grass grows and rivers flow."

Political organisation

At contact, First Nations organisations ranged in size from band societies
Band society
A band society is the simplest form of human society. A band generally consists of a small kin group, no larger than an extended family or clan; it has been defined as consisting of no more than 30 to 50 individuals.Bands have a loose organization...

 of a few people to multi-nation confederacies like the Iroquois. First Nations leaders from across the country formed the Assembly of First Nations, which began as the National Indian Brotherhood in 1968.

Today's political organisations are largely the by-product of interaction with European-style methods of government. First Nations political organisations throughout Canada vary in political standing, viewpoints, and reasons for forming. First Nations political organisations arise to have a united voice and express their opinions. First Nations negotiate with the Canadian Government
Politics of Canada
The politics of Canada function within a framework of parliamentary democracy and a federal system of parliamentary government with strong democratic traditions. Canada is a constitutional monarchy, in which the Monarch is head of state...

 through Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
The Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development is the department of the government of Canada with responsibility for policies relating to Aboriginal peoples...

 in affairs concerning land, entitlement, and rights. Independent First Nation groups do not belong to these groups.

Assembly of First Nations / National Indian Brotherhood


The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is a body of First Nations leaders in Canada. The aims of the organisation are to protect the rights, treaty obligations, ceremonies, and claims of citizens of the First Nations in Canada.

After the failures of the League of Indians in Canada in the Interwar period
Interwar period
Interwar period can refer to any period between two wars. The Interbellum is understood to be the period between the end of the Great War or First World War and the beginning of the Second World War in Europe....

 and the North American Indian Brotherhood in two decades following the Second World War, the Aboriginal peoples of Canada organised themselves once again in the early 1960s. The National Indian Council was created in 1961 to represent Indigenous people, including Treaty/Status Indians, non-status people, the Métis people, though not the Inuit. This organisation also collapsed in 1968 as the three groups failed to act as one, so the non-status and Métis groups formed the Native Council of Canada and Treaty/Status groups formed the National Indian Brotherhood (NIB), an umbrella group
Umbrella organization
An umbrella organization is an association of institutions, who work together formally to coordinate activities or pool resources. In business, political, or other environments, one group, the umbrella organization, provides resources and often an identity to the smaller organizations...

 for provincial and territorial First Nations organisations.

Culture

Languages

Main articles: First Nations Aboriginal languages

Today, there are over thirty different languages spoken by indigenous people, most of which are spoken only in Canada. Many are in decline. Those with the most speakers include Anishinaabe and Cree
Cree language
Cree is an Algonquian language spoken by approximately 117,000 people across Canada, from the Northwest Territories and Alberta to Labrador, making it the aboriginal language with the highest number of speakers in Canada. It is also spoken in the U.S. state of Montana...

 (together totalling up to 150,000 speakers); Inuktitut
Inuktitut
Inuktitut or Eastern Canadian Inuktitut, Eastern Canadian Inuit language is the name of some of the Inuit languages spoken in Canada...

 with about 29,000 speakers in the Northwest Territories
Northwest Territories
The Northwest Territories is a federal territory of Canada.Located in northern Canada, the territory borders Canada's two other territories, Yukon to the west and Nunavut to the east, and three provinces: British Columbia to the southwest, and Alberta and Saskatchewan to the south...

, Nunavut
Nunavut
Nunavut is the largest and newest federal territory of Canada; it was separated officially from the Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999, via the Nunavut Act and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act, though the actual boundaries had been established in 1993...

, Nunavik (Northern Quebec), and Nunatsiavut
Nunatsiavut
Nunatsiavut is an autonomous area claimed by the Inuit in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. The settlement area includes territory in Labrador extending to the Quebec border. In 2002, the Labrador Inuit Association submitted a proposal for limited autonomy to the government of Newfoundland and...

 (Northern Labrador); and Mi'kmaq
Mi'kmaq language
The Mi'kmaq language is an Eastern Algonquian language spoken by nearly 9,100 Mi'kmaq in Canada and the United States out of a total ethnic Mi'kmaq population of roughly 20,000. The word Mi'kmaq is a plural word meaning 'my friends' ; the adjectival form is Míkmaw...

, with around 8,500 speakers, mostly in Eastern Canada. Aboriginal peoples have lost their native languages and often all but surviving elders speak English or French as their first language.

Two of Canada's territories give official status to native languages. In Nunavut, Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun
Inuinnaqtun
Inuinnaqtun , is an indigenous Inuit language of Canada and a dialect of Inuvialuktun. It is related very closely to Inuktitut, and some scholars, such as Richard Condon, believe that Inuinnaqtun is more appropriately classified as a dialect of Inuktitut...

 are official languages alongside English and French, and Inuktitut is a common vehicular language in government. In the Northwest Territories, the Official Languages Act declares that there are eleven different languages: Chipewyan
Dene Suline language
Dene Suline or Chipewyan is the language spoken by the Chipewyan people of central Canada. It is a part of the Athabaskan family...

, Cree, English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

, Gwich’in
Gwich’in language
The Gwich’in language is the Athabaskan language of the Gwich’in indigenous people. It is also known in older or dialect-specific publications as Kutchin, Takudh, Tukudh, or Loucheux. In the Northwest Territories and Yukon of Canada, it is used principally in the towns of Inuvik, Aklavik, Fort...

, Inuinnaqtun
Inuinnaqtun
Inuinnaqtun , is an indigenous Inuit language of Canada and a dialect of Inuvialuktun. It is related very closely to Inuktitut, and some scholars, such as Richard Condon, believe that Inuinnaqtun is more appropriately classified as a dialect of Inuktitut...

, Inuktitut
Inuktitut
Inuktitut or Eastern Canadian Inuktitut, Eastern Canadian Inuit language is the name of some of the Inuit languages spoken in Canada...

, Inuvialuktun
Inuvialuktun
Inuvialuktun, or Western Canadian Inuit language, Western Canadian Inuktitut, Western Canadian Inuktun comprises three Inuit dialects spoken in the northern Northwest Territories by those Canadian Inuit who call themselves Inuvialuk .Inuvialuktun is spoken by the Inuit of the Mackenzie River delta...

, North Slavey
Slavey language
Slavey is an Athabaskan language spoken among the Slavey First Nations of Canada in the Northwest Territories where it also has official status....

, South Slavey
Slavey language
Slavey is an Athabaskan language spoken among the Slavey First Nations of Canada in the Northwest Territories where it also has official status....

 and Tłįchǫ
Dogrib language
Dogrib, the English translation of the indigenous name ' , is a Northern Athabaskan language spoken by the First Nations Tłı̨chǫ people of the Canadian territory Northwest Territories...

. Besides English and French, these languages are not vehicular in government; official status entitles citizens to receive services in them on request and to deal with the government in them.

Art

One characteristic of Indigenous art that distinguishes it from European traditions is its being portable and made for the body rather than for architecture, though even this is only a general tendency and not an absolute rule. Indigenous visual art is also often made to be used in conjunction with other arts, for example shaman's
Shamanism among Eskimo peoples
Shamanism among Eskimo peoples refers to those aspects of the various Eskimo cultures that are related to the shamans’ role as a mediator between people and spirits, souls, and mythological beings...

 masks
Masks among Eskimo peoples
Masks among Eskimo peoples served a variety of functions. Masks were made out of driftwood, animal skins, bones and feathers. They were often painted using bright colors...

 and rattles play an important role in ceremonialism that also involves dance, storytelling and music.

Artworks preserved in museum collections date from the period after European contact and show evidence of the creative adoption and adaptation of European trade goods such as metal and glass beads. The distinct Métis cultures from inter-cultural relationships with Europeans contribute new culturally hybrid art forms. During the 19th and the first half of the 20th century the Canadian government pursued an active policy of assimilation, both forced and cultural
Cultural assimilation
Cultural assimilation is a socio-political response to demographic multi-ethnicity that supports or promotes the assimilation of ethnic minorities into the dominant culture. The term assimilation is often used with regard to immigrants and various ethnic groups who have settled in a new land. New...

, toward indigenous peoples and one of the instruments of this policy was the Indian Act, which banned manifestations of traditional religion and governance, such as the Sun Dance and the Potlatch, including the works of art associated with them. While First Nations illegally continued their practices in secret, their art was continuously confiscated, stolen, and sold to museums. Ironically, there was an overwhelming demand from Northwest Coast art at this time in Europe and other non-aboriginal markets. This awkward double standard was common. First Nations people had no political rights or freedoms, but their heritage of totem pole sculptures were used to symbolise British Columbia on tourism brochures. The authorities allowed souvenirs of totem poles to be sold in gift shops and use the "exoticism" of aboriginal culture for their own capitalist gain but the actual practice of First Nations art remained against the law.

In another case in 1924, during the height of potlatch ban enforcement, BC luminaries held a mock "Royal Tyee Potlatch" to celebrate the visit of the British Royal Navy. This just three years after the police disbanded Dan Cranmer’s potlatch on Village Island, with 45 attendees arrested, with 22 given suspended sentences.

When the potlatch ban disappeared from the revised Indian Act in 1951, the whole culture was able to come to life once more. As Doreen Jensen writes, "For our painting and sculpture, our performance, oratory and song are our history, law political and philosophical discourse, sacred ceremony and land registry." Art was and continues to be deeply embedded in the sense of aboriginal identity.

It was not until the 1950s and 1960s that indigenous artists such as Mungo Martin
Mungo Martin
Chief Mungo Martin or Nakapenkem , Datsa , was an important figure in Northwest Coast style art, specifically that of the Kwakwaka'wakw peoples. He was a major contributor to Kwakwaka'wakw art, especially in the realm of wood sculpture and painting...

, Bill Reid
Bill Reid
William Ronald Reid, OBC was a Canadian artist whose works included jewelry, sculpture, screen-printing, and painting. His work is featured on the Canadian $20 banknote.-Biography:...

 and Norval Morrisseau
Norval Morrisseau
Norval Morrisseau, CM , also known as Copper Thunderbird, was an Aboriginal Canadian artist. Known as the "Picasso of the North", Morrisseau created works depicting the legends of his people, the cultural and political tensions between native Canadian and European traditions, his existential...

 began to publicly renew and re-invent indigenous art traditions. There are now indigenous artists practicing in media across Canada and indigenous artists have represented Canada at the prestigious Venice Biennale
Venice Biennale
The Venice Biennale is a major contemporary art exhibition that takes place once every two years in Venice, Italy. The Venice Film Festival is part of it. So too is the Venice Biennale of Architecture, which is held in even years...

 (Edward Poitras in 1995 and Rebecca Belmore
Rebecca Belmore
Rebecca Belmore is a Anishinaabe-Canadian artist based in Vancouver. Her work addresses history, voice and voicelessness, place, and identity through the media of sculpture, installation, video and performance.-Life:...

 in 2005).

Music

The First Nations peoples of Canada comprise diverse ethnic groups, each with their own musical traditions. There are general similarities in the music, but is usually social (public) or ceremonial (private). Public, social music may be dance music
Dance music
Dance music is music composed specifically to facilitate or accompany dancing. It can be either a whole musical piece or part of a larger musical arrangement...

 accompanied by rattles
Rattle (percussion)
A rattle is a percussion instrument. It consists of a hollow body filled with small uniform solid objects, like sand or nuts. Rhythmical shaking of this instrument produces repetitive, rather dry timbre noises. In some kinds of music, a rattle assumes the role of the metronome, as an alternative to...

 and drum
Drum
The drum is a member of the percussion group of musical instruments, which is technically classified as the membranophones. Drums consist of at least one membrane, called a drumhead or drum skin, that is stretched over a shell and struck, either directly with the player's hands, or with a...

s. Private, ceremonial music includes vocal songs with accompaniment on percussion
Percussion instrument
A percussion instrument is any object which produces a sound when hit with an implement or when it is shaken, rubbed, scraped, or otherwise acted upon in a way that sets the object into vibration...

, used to mark occasions like Midewiwin ceremonies and Sun Dances.

Traditionally, Aboriginal peoples used the materials at hand to make their instruments for centuries before Europeans immigrated to Canada. First Nations people made gourd
Gourd
A gourd is a plant of the family Cucurbitaceae. Gourd is occasionally used to describe crops like cucumbers, squash, luffas, and melons. The term 'gourd' however, can more specifically, refer to the plants of the two Cucurbitaceae genera Lagenaria and Cucurbita or also to their hollow dried out shell...

s and animal horns
Horn (anatomy)
A horn is a pointed projection of the skin on the head of various animals, consisting of a covering of horn surrounding a core of living bone. True horns are found mainly among the ruminant artiodactyls, in the families Antilocapridae and Bovidae...

 into rattles, which were elaborately carved and beautifully painted. In woodland areas, they made horns of birch bark
Birch bark
Birch bark or birchbark is the bark of several Eurasian and North American birch trees of the genus Betula.The strong and water-resistant cardboard-like bark can be easily cut, bent, and sewn, which made it a valuable building, crafting, and writing material, since pre-historic times...

 and drumsticks of carved antler
Antler
Antlers are the usually large, branching bony appendages on the heads of most deer species.-Etymology:Antler originally meant the lowest tine, the "brow tine"...

s and wood. Traditional percussion instruments such as drums were generally made of carved wood and animal hides
Hides
A hide is an animal skin treated for human use. Hides include leather from cattle and other livestock animals, alligator skins, snake skins for shoes and fashion accessories and furs from wild cats, mink and bears. In some areas, leather is produced on a domestic or small industrial scale, but most...

. These musical instrument
Musical instrument
A musical instrument is a device created or adapted for the purpose of making musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can serve as a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. The history of musical instruments dates back to the...

s provide the background for songs, and songs are the background for dances. Traditional First Nations people consider song and dance to be sacred. For years after Europeans came to Canada, First Nations people were forbidden to practice their ceremonies.

Demographics

In the 20th century, the First Nations population of Canada increased tenfold. Between 1900 and 1950 the population grew only by 29% but after the 1960s the infant mortality
Infant mortality
Infant mortality is defined as the number of infant deaths per 1000 live births. Traditionally, the most common cause worldwide was dehydration from diarrhea. However, the spreading information about Oral Re-hydration Solution to mothers around the world has decreased the rate of children dying...

 level on reserves dropped and the population grew by 161%. Since the 1980s, the number of First Nations babies more than doubled and currently almost half of the First Nations population is under the age of 25. As a result, the First Nations population of Canada is expected to increase in the coming decades.

The 2006 census counted a total Aboriginal population of 1,172,790 (3.75%) which includes 698,025 North American Indians (2.23%).

There are distinct First Nations in Canada, originating across the country. Indian reserve
Indian reserve
In Canada, an Indian reserve is specified by the Indian Act as a "tract of land, the legal title to which is vested in Her Majesty, that has been set apart by Her Majesty for the use and benefit of a band." The Act also specifies that land reserved for the use and benefit of a band which is not...

s, established in Canadian law
Law of Canada
The Canadian legal system has its foundation in the British common law system, inherited from being a former colony of the United Kingdom and later a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Quebec, however, still retains a civil system for issues of private law...

 by treaties such as Treaty 7
Treaty 7
Treaty 7 was an agreement between Queen Victoria and several mainly Blackfoot First Nations tribes in what is today the southern portion of Alberta. It was concluded on September 22, 1877. The agreement was signed at the Blackfoot Crossing of the Bow River, at the present-day Siksika Nation...

, are the very limited contemporary lands of First Nations recognized by the non-indigenous governments. Reserves exist within cities, such as the Opawikoscikan Reserve in Prince Albert
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
Prince Albert is the third-largest city in Saskatchewan, Canada. It is situated in the centre of the province on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River. The city is known as the "Gateway to the North" because it is the last major centre along the route to the resources of northern Saskatchewan...

, Wendake
Wendake, Quebec
Wendake is the current name for the Huron-Wendat reserve, an enclave within Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. One of the Seven Nations of Canada, this was formerly known as Village-des-Hurons , and also as -Lorette....

 in Quebec City or Stony Plain 135 in the Edmonton Capital Region
Edmonton Capital Region
The Edmonton Capital Region , also commonly referred to as the Alberta Capital Region, Greater Edmonton or Metro Edmonton, is a conglomeration of municipalities centred around Edmonton – Alberta's provincial capital....

. There are more reserves in Canada than there are First Nations, as First Nations were ceded multiple reserves by treaty.
First Nations can be grouped into cultural areas
Classification of indigenous peoples of the Americas
Classification of indigenous peoples of the Americas is based upon cultural regions, geography, and linguistics. Anthropologists have named various cultural regions, with fluid boundaries, that are generally agreed upon with some variation...

 based on their ancestors' primary lifeway, or occupation, at the time of European contact. These culture areas correspond closely with physical and ecological
Geography of Canada
The geography of Canada is vast and diverse. Occupying most of the northern portion of North America , Canada is the world's second largest country in total area....

 regions of Canada.

Ethnographers
Ethnography
Ethnography is a qualitative method aimed to learn and understand cultural phenomena which reflect the knowledge and system of meanings guiding the life of a cultural group...

 commonly classify indigenous peoples of the Americas in the United States and Canada into ten geographical regions with shared cultural traits (called cultural area
Cultural area
A cultural area or culture area is a region with one relatively homogeneous human activity or complex of activities . These areas are primarily geographical, not historical , and they are not considered equivalent to Kulturkreis .-Development:A culture area is a concept in cultural anthropology...

s
). The following list groups peoples by their region of origin, followed by the current location. See the individual article on each tribe
Tribe
A tribe, viewed historically or developmentally, consists of a social group existing before the development of, or outside of, states.Many anthropologists use the term tribal society to refer to societies organized largely on the basis of kinship, especially corporate descent groups .Some theorists...

, band society
Band society
A band society is the simplest form of human society. A band generally consists of a small kin group, no larger than an extended family or clan; it has been defined as consisting of no more than 30 to 50 individuals.Bands have a loose organization...

 or First Nation
First Nations Government (Canada)
The fundamental legal unit of government for Canadian First Nations is the band.-Band:A band is typically, but not always, composed of a single community. Many bands, especially in British Columbia, control multiple Indian reserves, that is, multiple parcels of land...

 for a history of their movements. See the Federally recognized tribes for the United States' official list of recognized Native American tribes. The Canadian (in whole or in part) regions are Arctic
Arctic
The Arctic is a region located at the northern-most part of the Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean and parts of Canada, Russia, Greenland, the United States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. The Arctic region consists of a vast, ice-covered ocean, surrounded by treeless permafrost...

, Subarctic
Subarctic
The Subarctic is a region in the Northern Hemisphere immediately south of the true Arctic and covering much of Alaska, Canada, the north of Scandinavia, Siberia, and northern Mongolia...

, Northeast Woodlands
Eastern Woodlands tribes
The Eastern Woodlands was a cultural area of the indigenous people of North America. The Eastern Woodlands extended roughly from the Atlantic Ocean to the eastern Great Plains, and from the Great Lakes region to the Gulf of Mexico, which is now the eastern United States and Canada...

, Plain
Plain
In geography, a plain is land with relatively low relief, that is flat or gently rolling. Prairies and steppes are types of plains, and the archetype for a plain is often thought of as a grassland, but plains in their natural state may also be covered in shrublands, woodland and forest, or...

s, and Plateau
Plateau
In geology and earth science, a plateau , also called a high plain or tableland, is an area of highland, usually consisting of relatively flat terrain. A highly eroded plateau is called a dissected plateau...

.

The Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast communities centred around ocean and river fishing; in the interior of British Columbia
British Columbia Interior
The British Columbia Interior or BC Interior or Interior of British Columbia, usually referred to only as the Interior, is one of the three main regions of the Canadian province of British Columbia, the other two being the Lower Mainland, which comprises the overlapping areas of Greater Vancouver...

, hunting and gathering and river fishing. In both of these areas, salmon was of chief importance. For the people of the plains, bison
Bison
Members of the genus Bison are large, even-toed ungulates within the subfamily Bovinae. Two extant and four extinct species are recognized...

 hunting was the primary activity. In the subarctic forest
Taiga
Taiga , also known as the boreal forest, is a biome characterized by coniferous forests.Taiga is the world's largest terrestrial biome. In North America it covers most of inland Canada and Alaska as well as parts of the extreme northern continental United States and is known as the Northwoods...

, other species such as the moose were more important. For peoples near the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence river, shifting agriculture was practised, including the raising of maize, beans, and squash.

Today, Aboriginal people work in a variety of occupations and live outside their ancestral homes. The traditional cultures of their ancestors, shaped by nature, still exert a strong influence on their culture, from spirituality to political attitudes.

Issues

First Nations peoples face a number of problems to a greater degree than Canadians overall. They have higher unemployment, rates of incarceration, substance abuse
Substance abuse
A substance-related disorder is an umbrella term used to describe several different conditions associated with several different substances .A substance related disorder is a condition in which an individual uses or abuses a...

, health problems, fetal alcohol syndrome
Fetal alcohol syndrome
Fetal alcohol syndrome is a pattern of mental and physical defects that can develop in a fetus in association with high levels of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Current research also implicates other lifestyle choices made by the prospective mother...

, lower levels of education and higher levels of poverty
Poverty in Canada
Poverty in Canada remains prevalent with some segments of society. The measurement of poverty has been a challenge as there is no official government measure. There is an ongoing debate in Canada about whether a relative measure of poverty, or absolute measure of poverty, is more valid...

. Suicide rates are more than twice the sex-specific rate and also three times the age-specific rates of non-Aboriginal Canadians.

Life expectancy
Life expectancy
Life expectancy is the expected number of years of life remaining at a given age. It is denoted by ex, which means the average number of subsequent years of life for someone now aged x, according to a particular mortality experience...

 at birth is significantly lower for First Nations babies than for babies in the Canadian population as a whole. , Indian and Northern Affairs Canada estimates First Nations life expectancy to be 8.1 years shorter for males and 5.5 years shorter for females.

Self-government has given chiefs and their councils powers which combine those of a province, school board, health board and municipality. Councils are also largely self-regulating regarding utilities, environmental protection, natural resources, building codes, etc. There is concern that this wide-ranging authority, concentrated in a single council
Separation of powers
The separation of powers, often imprecisely used interchangeably with the trias politica principle, is a model for the governance of a state. The model was first developed in ancient Greece and came into widespread use by the Roman Republic as part of the unmodified Constitution of the Roman Republic...

, might be a cause of the dysfunctional governments experienced by many First Nations.

Gangs
Gangs in Canada
Gangs in Canada are mostly present in the major urban areas of Canada, although their activities are not confined to large cities.-Types:The most prevalent gangs in Canada include:* Street gangs* Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs...

 consisting of Aboriginals are becoming an increasing problem, across Canada, due to the poor living conditions. Most are found in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

See also

Further reading

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External links

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