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The Saulteaux Nation

Saulteaux lodge The Saulteaux First Peoples speak a dialect of the Algonquian language, a language also spoken by the Cree. In their own language, the Saulteaux called themselves Anishinabeg, meaning original people. They have been known by various names at various times, depending on geographical location. In the east, they have been called Bungi, Chippewa or Ojibwa, while in the west they have been called the Western or Plains Ojibwa or Saulteaux. The term Saulteaux originated with French fur traders roughly around the 19th century. In Canada, the Saulteaux are not the most populous First People (that distinction is held by the Cree), but they are part of one of the most populous First Nations in North America, having once controlled an extensive territory that covered areas of present-day Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan in Canada, and the states of Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio in the United States.

The Saulteaux have an ancient history in the land now called Canada, and can trace their earliest origins in Canada to the Canadian Shield, around the area of Hudson’s Bay in the eastern part of the country. Their geographic location in the Canadian interior meant the Saulteaux were in early contact with European fur traders, and their ongoing relationship with the fur trade spurred the Saulteaux to eventually expand further west. They arrived in the plains of east central Saskatchewan sometime between the late 1700s and early 1800s.

Originally a people who lived the life of the northern woodlands, the Saulteaux adapted to life on the plains and divided their time between bison hunting on the southern plains and fishing and hunting for other wild game in the parklands further north. Saulteaux social and spiritual life reflected customs and traditions that had emerged from life spent on either the plains, or in the woodlands.

Albers, Patricia C. “Plains Ojibwa,” in DeMallie, Raymond J. Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 3, part 1 of 2. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 2001.

The Applied History Research Group. “European Contact – Canadian Shield: Ojibwa and Cree.” Canada’s First Nations. University of Calgary. http://www.ucalgary.ca/applied_history/tutor/firstnations/ (accessed July, 2006).

Zitzmann, Tara Rose. “Saulteaux.” E-Museum @ Minnesota State University, Mankato. http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/index.shtml (accessed July, 2006).

Canada’s Digital Collections. “The Saulteaux: Historical Background of the Saulteaux People.” A Saskatchewan Experience in a Traditional Tipi Camp. http://collections.ic.gc.ca/tipicamp/ (accessed July, 2006).

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