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Aboriginal

The meaning of the word Aboriginal is hidden in the word itself. An Aboriginal is an “ORIGINAL” inhabitant of the land. If you found an island and you were the first person to ever live there, then you would be an Aboriginal. Aboriginal Canadians are also known as First Nations, Natives or Indians in addition to the name of their nation.



When the first European traders reached what would become Alberta, they met
many different First Nations, each of which had developed its own way of life
and distinctive culture. The main peoples in this area were the Woods and Plains
Cree, the Chipewyan
or Dene, the Beaver
or Tsatinne, the Dene Tha’ or Slavey,
the Tsuu T’ina or Sarcee,
the Assiniboine
also known as Stoneys or Nakota, the Blackfoot
or Siksika, the Peigan,
and the Blood
or Kainai. Fur traders also encountered other First Nations, including the Gros
Ventres
, the Kutenai,
and the Sekani, in what would become Alberta, although there are no reserve
communities for these peoples in Alberta today.



Different peoples tended to live in different regions of the province and each had
developed a way of life that was based on the specific natural and physical
characteristics of their home territories. Plains groups, such as the Blackfoot,
Peigan, and Blood First Nations relied heavily on buffalo as a source of food,
clothing and shelter. Although they also hunted other large animals and
collected other types of food, their lives were shaped by the seasonal
migrations of buffalo. These people followed bison out onto the plains in summer
and they migrated back with the herds into the foothills and parkland regions in
winter. Other plains groups including the Plains Cree, the Assiniboine, and the
Tsuu T’ina/Sarcee followed a similar subsistence pattern. Later many Métis
would become specialized buffalo hunters as well.



Further north other groups such as the Woods Cree and some Assiniboine/Stoney tended to
hunt and collect food in the Parkland areas in summer, before moving north and
west into the foothills and boreal forests to winter. They too hunted large
mammals, including buffalo, but their way of life required more attention to
fishing and trapping as well. Further north still many of the Athapaskan-speaking
peoples, such as the Chipewyan/Dene followed a different approach to
survival. Many hunted the herds of caribou that move between the boreal
forest in winter and the Barrens in summer. Most Athapaskan groups, including
the Beaver/Tsatinne and Slavey/Dene Tha’, also had to develop
techniques for fishing and hunting ducks, geese and other wild fowl.



The first fur traders to arrive in what we now call Alberta found it a
complex and often confusing world of different peoples with distinct languages,
beliefs, artistic traditions, histories, alliances, and even interest in the fur
trade. Much of this history remains unstudied, but bit by bit its richness and
variety is beginning to emerge.

Plains Cree

Plains Cree

Blackfoot Boys

Blackfoot Boys

Métis Family

Métis Family

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Iroquois In The Fur Trade


Metis Settlements