Before the non-native born people came to this area, it is found that there was a heritage of peoples dating back about 35,000 years. Before c 5,000 BC, there were mainly big game hunters, the Clovis, on the grasslands. At the end of the ice age, and south of Glacial Lake Agassiz, these hunters had huge wooly Mammoths, Mastodons, Bison antiquus and Bison occidentalis to hunt. After the end of the drought in c 3,000 BC, there was a change to hunting small game and gathering food such as berries, herbs, and food from native plants. The historic race Deneid was found in the Northern shield and tundra area similar to where the Athapaskan language group hunted in the 17th to 19th centuries. The Algonkian language group lived in the parklands of Saskatchewan from the 1600s through the 1800s where the Lanapid remains were excavated. Further south in the plains area, were tribes belonging to the more recent Siouan language group which corresponds to the Lakotids in excavation sites. Rock paintings, petrographs, and rock carvings called petroglyphs are both referred to as pictographs. In the Northern shield, there are many such pictographs that were drawn from canoe along the waterways which were the main routes of travel in the north. Some pictographs and medicine wheels are found in central and southern Saskatchewan which attest to the spiritual and sacred religious practices in the history of the first nations people which are still not fully understood today.
Source | Bibliography | Ethnic origins and History |
Resources | Sask Gen Web
To assist in locating further information, various naming patterns are included for the main linguistic first nations groups of Saskatchewan. Each tribe had its own name for itself, neighboring tribes had named other tribes in their own language. As well, the English and French when they arrived had a name of their own to identify the tribes in each region. It may be useful to follow up on all the various naming patterns when tracing historical or genealogical references.|
Northern Saskatchewan Caribou Hunters: Na-Dene or Athpaskan language group: Chipewyan, Chipewyan or Dene, Beaver or Tza Tinne or Dunne-za , Dene Dháa, Hare, Slave, Sarcee or Tsuu T'ina, Slave: Athpaskan First nations
In the northern area of Rupert's land were the Athpaskan language group of first nations people. This included the tribes of Beaver, Dene Dháa, Chipewyan or Dene, Hare, Sarcee or Tsuu T'ina, Slave, and Yellowknife. In 1760, the Chipewyan were forced to northern Saskatchewan and in 1775 the Hudson Bay Company encouraged peace between Cree and Chipewyan. The Chipewyan suffered from a smallpox epidemic in 1781 which killed most of them. In the subarctic woodland and northern boreal forest of Saskatchewan there were caribou and fish hunters of the Slave and Chipewyan tribes until the 1800s when only Chipewyan remained in the area now known as Saskatchewan. The Chipewyan are located in the northern sections of the Lloydminster Gen Web Region and the
Prince Albert Gen Web Region.
Central Forest area of Saskatchewan: Algonkian: Cree or Nehiyawak, Parklands Cree, Swampy Cree) and Saulteaux (Chippewa, Ojibwa, Plains Ojibwa, Anishinabe, Bungi, Ojibway: Algonkian First Nations
The central forested area of Saskatchewan was home to the parklands Cree of the Algonkian or Algonkin language group which encompasses the Battleford Gen Web Region, Saskatoon Gen Web Region and the Kamsack Gen Web Region. They occupied the southern portion of the Northern Boreal Forest, as well as the Southern Boreal Forest. The Assiniboine moved in from the east in the 1600s and then they moved south to the prairie region. The Saulteaux moved in from the east after 1750 and occupied the region now located in west central Saskatchewan. The Saulteaux are also known as the Chippewa, Ojibwa, Plains Ojibwa or Ojibway. The Saulteaux are mainly found in the Kamsack Gen Web Region today. The Swampy Cree (Algonkian) bands include those of Moose Mountain ( Swift Current Gen Web Region ), Qu'Appelle (Yorkton Gen Web Region) and Cypress Hills (Weyburn Gen Web Region
). The Siksika, Blackfoot of Northern Plains, or the Blackfoot Confederacy which were Siksika (Blackfoot proper) Blood (or Kainai), and Peigan ( or Pikani, Peeagan, Peekanow) tribes of the Algonkian language group would venture into the eastern portion of this region. The Blackfoot or the Gros Ventre may have been the peoples referred to in Henday's writings as Archithinue or Archithine. An 1830 outbreak of smallpox killed about 75% of the Blackfeet.
Saskatchewan Parklands: Algonkian: Cree:(Killistinaux, Kristanaux, Christino, Cristinaux)Algonkian First Nations
The plains Cree also of the Algonkian language group occupied the the Aspen parklands of Saskatchewan are south of the treeline and northeast of the Missouri Coteau. This area approximates the areas of the Kindersley Gen Web Region , Regina Gen Web Region, and
Yorkton Gen Web Region. The plains Cree is the most common language of the Cree. The Cree were also called "Kristinaux" and Killistinaux". The Cree were hit by a smallpox epidemic from 1776-1777. Again in 1781-82 there was a small pox epidemic and the Plains Cree population of 4,000 diminished to 1,000. The Snake tribe (Shoshonean language group) would venture into the eastern portion of this region near the Saskatchewan forks, this area is in the Kindersley Gen Web Region . There were Shoshoni smallpox epidemics in 1781-1782.
Southern Saskatchewan Prairie Buffalo Hunters: Siouan: Assiniboine (Nakota, Hidsata, Stoneys, Nakoda, Warriors of Rock, Assinipour, Assinipöel, Assinipoulak, Assinipwatuk, Stoney Sioux).Siouan First Nation
Southern Saskatchewan, south of the Assiniboine River, an area of dry mixed prairie and mixed prairie was home to Gros Ventre or Atsina (an Algonkian Language Group which was originally part of the Arapho, or Fall Amerindians or Rapids Amerindians) in the 1600s who occupied land vacated by the Black Foot around Eagle Hills. The Assiniboine or Nakota and Hidsata (Siouan language group) moved south into this area in the 1700s. The area of the Siouan was South Saskatchewan: the Swift Current Gen Web Region , Moose Jaw Gen Web Region, and the Weyburn Gen Web Region. In the 1793 battle of South Branch House the Cree wiped out the Gros Ventre Band. The Assiniboine were also called the Stoneys, Warrior of Rock, "Assinipour", "Assinipoulak", and "Assinipwatuk" or Stoney Sioux. The Assiniboine left Yanktonai, Dakota, U.S.A. in between 1500 and 1600 A.D. Smallpox killed 66% of the Assiniboine in 1830. Such a huge smallpox outbreak hit this tribe in 1832, that they were unable to bury their dead. After the 1837 smallpox epidemic the Nakoda or Stoneys Assiniboine branch was started. Later, the Assiniboine at Cypress Hills were relocated to a new reserve South of Indian Head (Yorkton Gen Web Region). Indian Head was also called Winchapaghen, or Skull Mountainettes due to the smallpox epidemic of 1832.
Shoshonean, Shoshoni: Dakota, Sioux, Snake, Gens du Serpent, Kutenai, Coutonées :Shosoni First Nation
In the 1600s and 1700s The Snake occupied an area in south western Saskatchewan Swift Current Gen Web Region . All tribal movements are westerly and in the 1800s the Assiniboine reside in Southern Saskatchewan. There were a few Sioux in the province all escaping persecution in the U.S.A.
In 1882, Sioux settle at the Moose Woods Reserve near Dundurn led by Chief Whitecap Saskatoon Gen Web Region. They had escaped to Canada in 1860 following the Minnesota Massacre.
The Lakota (Teton Sioux) were engaged in a military resistance in the U.S. in 1876. After the Battle of Little Big Horn, Chief Sitting Bull and many Sioux refugees crossed the border, the medicine line, into Canada. They left Wood Mountain to apply for a reserve at Fort Qu'Appelle which was denied. There was a reserve in their name in the U.S. Many returned to the U.S.A. in 1879, although 5,000 were settled on various reserves in both the North West Territories and Manitoba.
Some Wahpaton Sioux migrated near Prince Albert, Prince Albert Gen Web Region, from Manitoba
The Fur Trade:......
The First Nations people were involved in the fur trade from 1750-1880. The horse was introduced to North America c1740. Guns brought the Cree to the plains and the Assiniboines to the Rocky Mountains. The Indian customs dominate trade before 1740. The aboriginal was valuable to the very existence of the early explorer. (Amérindian or autochtone is a Francophone translation of the word aboriginal.) The native was familiar with the weather, the country, and what plants to eat. Native women were wed by Europeans until around 1780, when immigration of European women began. Around the turn of the century, the fur trade merged into a combination of European and native customs.
...... Tecumseh, in 1812 defended the beliefs of his people, that no Indian could sell land nor any Government own lands. Land belonged to the Great Spirit, and not to people. After 1820, European customs were dominant in the fur trade. In the U.S. President Jackson signs an Indian Removal Act which caused migration Northward. By the 1830's teepees were larger than usual and could now hold 100 people. Women prepared hides and pemmican for trade. Native American custom tended towards marriage in the late teens with women breast feeding till the child was approximately 5 years old. Families tended to be very small using this natural method of birth control. By the mid 1800's younger women are being married, and natives may have more than one wife to keep up with the demands of the fur trade. Buffalo Jumps are no longer used c1840. The Buffalo are now surrounded by horses and shot. The first nations religious beliefs had taught them to respect the buffalo in the hunt as they and the buffalo spirit were one. The fur trade increased demand for furs, and the buffalo were hunted by Americans, Europeans, and native tribes. The aboriginal felt that the small pox epidemic and diminishing buffalo numbers was brought upon them for the disrespect for the buffalo. Buffalo hunting was a community affair for the whole tribe and took place on the plains and later on the parklands as the buffalo migrated north. With the diminishing buffalo, the fur trade turned to smaller fur bearing animals. Trapping in the northern forests changed the aboriginal's life style as trapping was more of a family affair and didn't involve the whole tribe.
......Whereas the Hudson Bay Company did not approve of trading alcohol in the fur trade, Americans did and drew a lot of fur trade south. And whereas the Hudson Bay Company traded guns in the fur trade, this the Americans did not approve of.
From 1869 to 1879, the first nations people face a great famine due to the declining buffalo population. The buffalo were also experiencing disease introduced to the herds by the introduction of horses and their diseases. There was an attempt to clear U.S.A. lands of the indian population as President Lincoln's U.S. Homestead Act was passed in 1862 and immigrants were moving in and claiming land in the plains area. In 1867 the Canadian Indians were wards of the crown, and were to live on reserves not homesteads. In 1870, with the formation of the province of Manitoba, many métis leave Manitoba and settle in the North West Territoy provisional district of Saskatchewan. Many immigrants arrived with the homestead grants offered by the Dominion Land Act of 1872. Confederacy terms of 1867 promised British Columbia a transcontinental railway joining eastern and western Canada, and Treaty Number 2 in 1872 settled land titles in Manitoba and eastern portion of the provisional district of Assiniboia, NWT (now south eastern Saskatchewan ). Treaty number 4 in 1874 released land title to land in most of southern Saskatchewan. Water routes from Lake Winnipeg were anticipated to be the main form of travel for incoming immigrants and settlers, so in 1875, Treaty number 5 was signed. The majority of arable farm land was released in 1876 with the signing of Treaty number 6. Starving Indians also face closure of winter hunting season in Canada as of 1877. In 1880-1881, 5,000 go to Fort Walsh desperately in search of food. By 1883, the buffalo are virtually extinct.
The end of the fur trade: The largest influx of European immigrants was in the early 1900s. The newly arriving Europeans coming to homestead and farm the land did not understand the aboriginal customs and were fearful of what they did not know. At the same time it was very difficult for the aboriginals to go from the fur trade to agriculture. Those who did not reside on reserves, helped lay rail. In the late 1800s Canadian tribes went to the U.S. looking for the diminishing buffalo herds, U.S. tribes were migrating north for the same reason. In 1885, the Métis rebel in the North West Rebellion at Batoche. In 1885-1886 a gun law forbade the use of firearms even in hunting. Homesteaders were afraid to settle from fear of Indian reprisals, and enforcement by the Royal Mounted Police is increased. In the mid 1880's 30% to 50% of the population on reserves diminish due to crowd diseases of tuberculosis, whooping cough, measles, bubonic plague, malaria, and diptheria. Gold! Gold was discovered in the Klondike, and Treaty number 8 and an attachment to Treaty number 6 in 1889 released title to lands in north west Saskatchewan to enable a route for gold seekers to travel to the Yukon. The North West Territory provisional districts of Assinboia, Saskatchewan and Athabaska became known as the province of Saskatchewan in 1905 with the boundaries in use today. Treaty number 10 affected mainly north east Saskatchewan and effectively completed the provincial land title claims bringing the whole province under treaty.
Source | Bibliography | Ethnic origins and History |
Resources | Sask Gen Web