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The Saulteaux Nation – Customs and Traditions

For much of Saulteaux history, their lifestyle embodied a mix of woodland trapping, fishing, and plains bison hunting culture which gave the Saulteaux a unique tradition among their contemporaries. Their basic needs developed to reflect this hybrid lifestyle.

drying meat Food
The Saulteaux lived in a territory that covered the open plains as well as the more northerly parkland regions, and their means of obtaining food reflected the diverse environment in which they lived. The summer months were spent in the north, trapping for furs such as beaver, and hunting for woodland game like moose, deer, and elk. Fishing was also a means of obtaining food during the summer, as was the gathering of berries and other edible plants. Some agriculture was practiced by the Saulteaux; European observers having recorded that they grew corn and potatoes.

In the fall and winter months, the Saulteaux would venture south and join the Cree and Nakoda hunting for bison, both for their meat and for their hides, which could be made into robes. They employed two bison hunting techniques: the surround technique which involved mounted riders surrounding a herd and attacking it, or the pound technique in which bison were penned in a narrow enclosure to be killed. In later years the Saulteaux hunted bison twice a year in large, organized hunts — once in the summer for food, and once in the winter for meat and hides.

Clothing
Buckskin clothing was the most common mode of dress for both Saulteaux men and women. Men wore breechcloths, while both men and women wore leggings. Moccassin were made of soft hide with a rawhide sole with puffy seams, done in a style that made the moccasins quite durable in the winter. Porcupine quillwork and moosehair tufting were sometimes incorporated into the clothing design.

Shelter
The woodland shelter of the Saulteaux consisted of a dome-shaped wigwam that was covered in birchbark. Later developments in shelter would see the adoption of tipis typical of nomadic plains dwellers.


Sources:
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).

Sultzman, Lee. “Ojibwe History.” First Nations Histories http://www.tolatsga.org/Compacts.html (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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