People have lived in the boreal forest almost as long as the boreal forest has existed. Some of these people, like the Dunne-za (Beaver) and Dene-tha (Slave), have lived off of the land for thousands of years. Their cultures and beliefs take root in the same earth that nourishes all life in the northwest. Other peoples, like the Cree, can only measure time in the northwest in the hundreds of years, starting in the 1700s with the advance of the European fur trade into the region.
When the fur trade arrived in the northwest, the traditional subsistence and trading lifestyle of the Aboriginal Peoples began to
shift to a lifestyle based on supporting the fur-trapping economy. Thus began the
Aboriginal People's struggle to keep their traditions alive in a world that was changing all around them. This struggle with change is reflected in the stories of some of the individual hunters, gatherers, and trappers that have made the northwest boreal forest their home all their lives. These individuals are witnesses to the changes that have come to the boreal forest, and to the traditional lifestyles of northern peoples.