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History of the Cree

“The Cree are Canada's largest native group, with 200,000 registered members and dozens of self-governed nations. ‘Cree’ comes from the French name for the tribe, ‘Kristenaux,’ variously said to be a corruption of the French word for ‘Christian’ or an Algonquian word for ‘first people.’”

“Cree history is very hard to synopsise because the Cree tribe spans such a broad territory, from the Rocky Mountains all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. Though their common culture and language bind them together as a people, the James Bay Cree and Woodland Cree tribes do not necessarily have any more shared history than the white people in Quebec and Alberta do. With that caveat, though, the Cree Indians as a whole have weathered European colonization better than perhaps any other group of Native Americans. Their sheer numbers and broad range helped keep them from being too decimated by European diseases to maintain stability, as happened to many smaller nations, and their particular cultural affinity for intertribal marriage (remarked upon in the oral histories of their Indian neighbours) meshed well with the intent of the French, the primary Europeans to have dealings with them. Where the English tended to try to move Indian groups further away from their civilization, the French tried to engulf them. The Cree, who had held a similar attitude towards colonization before the French ever got there, engulfed back. The result was the Métis, a race of primarily French-Cree mixed-bloods, and distinct French and Cree populations who generally got along pretty well. Since Canadian nationhood, the Cree people have faced the same problems of self-determination and land control that every aboriginal group has, but they remain better equipped to face them than most, and the Cree language is one of the few North American languages likely to survive into the next century.”

Source is http://www.native-languages.org/cree.htm

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