hide You are viewing an archived web page, collected at the request of University of Alberta using Archive-It. This page was captured on 16:16:14 Dec 08, 2010, and is part of the HCF Alberta Online Encyclopedia collection. The information on this web page may be out of date. See All versions of this archived page. Loading media information

Heritage Community Foundation Presents
Alberta Online Encyclopedia and Edukits

Heritage Community Foundation Presents
Alberta Online Encyclopedia

First Nations and The Environment

Generalization: Canadians modify and adapt to natural settings in ways that affect their lifestyle and environment.

Rationale: It is important that students understand how environment and geography have an effect on culture and lifestyle. Students must also appreciate that Aboriginal People are not homogenous, and there are significant differences between Aboriginal People of the East and West coasts


  • Increase understanding of the differences and similarities between Canada's First Nations
  • Make connections between natural resources and occupations
  • Understand the relationship between natural environment, geography and diversity amongst Aboriginal groups
  • Appreciate the relationship between Aboriginal People, the land and animals
  • Recognize how art represents and reflects Aboriginal culture


  • Advance map reading and processing skills
  • Express opinions in a confidant and self assured manner
  • Continue to develop memory and recall skills
  • Distinguish between important facts and fiction
  • Express themselves creatively through an art project


  • Develop understanding of Aboriginal People across Canada
  • Work well with others in a group setting
  • Share opinions in a group setting in a positive manner
  • Develop confidence in expressing ideas artistically

Teacher Information

The following lesson is intended to help students develop a comprehensive perspective on Aboriginal groups across Canada. Students must be able to recognize that there are significant differences between Aboriginal groups that are related to geography. For example, West Coast Aboriginal People do not draw pictures of buffalo, just as the Plains Aboriginal People do not carve totem poles. Geography and the natural environment also play important roles in deciding what occupations people within that region hold. Obviously, fishing rights are central to West Coast Aboriginal People's political mandate, while hunting rights are equally important to Plains Aboriginal People.

Intro Activity

Divide students into groups of four, representing EAST, WEST, NORTH and SOUTH. Once in groups the students will be given a time limit (e.g. 10-15 minutes depending on overall class period length). During the allotted time they must uncover as much information as they can about their area (direction). Students will use the Internet, atlas, and textbooks to answer some of the following questions

  1. What Aboriginal groups live in your region?
  2. What provinces or territories does your region cover?
  3. What Aboriginal languages are spoken?
  4. Describe the geography of the region.
  5. What is the population of the region?
  6. What are some natural resources?

Encourage students to work as a team. The information should be written on large pieces of paper. Some students can be retrieving information from the various sources while others record it. Once the time is up, each group should select one or two spokespeople to share their findings with the class. Initiate a discussion that allows students to focus on the similarities and differences between the four regions.

Main Lesson

Divide students into pairs numbered one through four. Group one will represent the NORTH (Inuit and Dene), number two EAST (Huron, Ojibwa, Iroquois), three WEST (Haida, Nuxalt, Coast Salish, Tlingit), and four SOUTH (plains and woodland Cree, Blackfoot, Blood and Sarcee). Each pair will conduct a research project on an Aboriginal group from their assigned area. A written component is required as well as a presentation. Students will share the information they gathered in the form of a television show. They may want to act out their information in a talk show or news broadcast format or another creative 'made for television' format. Students must include a map of their area with their Aboriginal group's location clearly marked. The research project should focus on the following:

  1. What is the name of your Aboriginal group and why did you select it?
  2. What was their traditional way of life like (i.e. hunters and gatherers, fishing)?
  3. What is the relationship between the Aboriginal People in your area to the natural environment? Is there a story that reflects this?
  4. What kinds of occupations do Aboriginal People have in this region?
  5. What language do they speak? What is unique about this language?
  6. How is the Aboriginal art from your group different from others?
  7. How many Aboriginal People live in your area? How does this compare to non-Aboriginal People?
  8. Do most Aboriginal People in your area live in cities or on reserves? How many reserves are in your area?
  9. What was the principal mode of transportation in the early days?
  10. What is an important concern for this group today?

Students will want to use the Internet, atlases and textbooks to aid them in gathering relevant information. Encourage students to be creative and share their findings in a fun way.

Albertasource.ca | Contact Us | Partnerships
††††††††††† For more on Aboriginal hunters and trappers in Canadaís northwest Boreal forest, visit Peelís Prairie Provinces.

Copyright © Heritage Community Foundation All Rights Reserved