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Lecture 2 September 16, 2010
We Have Lived Here Since the World Began
Sense of optimism and pride by English speaking Canadians in Canadas
cultural and extensive links to the British Empire.
The British Empire was a vehicle of advancement or progress. Things are
moving onward and generally getting better. Implicit within that sense of pride
was the notion that other peoples including the indigenous people were not
progressive. They took for granted that the British empire was grand. The
indigenous people were outside of time and history itself. Indigenous societies
were primitive and unchanging.
They witnessed considerable change over time.
I. The lay of the land population; original settlement, impact of disease
II. Classifying Northern North Americas Aboriginals difficulty of classification
Population c. 1500 Americas as a whole 100 M. Northern North America:
500,000 2M (pacific coast). Various aboriginal communities had widely diverse
mythology. Lots of creation accounts, stories that explain where people came
from. One common denominator was that the people originated here in all the
creation stories. Creation stories are important. The people who originated
somewhere in asia arrived in the Americas and showed up between 60,000 and
5,000 years ago.
Original Settlement Beringia (bridge that linked Russia with Alaska): Bering
Strait. There was an ice age, as a result sea levels lowered and exposed land
that connected Russia with Alaska and allowed these peoples to migrate. There
was at least 50 different linguistic groups in what is now Canada. There were 12
groups. High populations in the pacific coast were also due to the fact that
harmful diseases that existed elsewhere in other parts of the world were entirely
unknown to north Americas aboriginal people. This would change with
European colonizers beginning in the late 15th century.
Disease measles; smallpox with which the aboriginals were unfamiliar ravaged
the population, so much so that by the early 20th century, 95% of the population
was wiped out.
Change happens overtime in north America before the European colonizers. The
small people due to the cold climates primarily rely on the hunting of caribou
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Lecture 2 September 16, 2010
which existed during the ice age in cold climates. At the end of the iceage,
temperatures began to warm. This warming brought about dramatic changes.
There were economic changes, and demographic change. Environmentally,
forests replaced the tundra (thin layer of treeless earth). Deer begin to replace
the caribou and fishing became common. As these environmental changes occur
and species begin to change the aboriginal communities were able to expand
their populations. More reliable sources of food which allowed for larger
populations to come into existence. In turn, these environmental and economic
changes brought about demographic changes. Populations expanded and
aboriginal groups in other areas were attracted to the region.
Indigenous societies perceived as timeless, never progressing, by Eurocentric
mentalities when European settlers arrived in the New World and up until the
20th century.
Circa 1500, the population of the Americas was more than 100 million. This was
larger than the entire population of Western Europe. 500,000-2 million located
in Northern North America, with as many as 200,000 along the Pacific Coast
due to arable land, and disease were unknown. There were 50 different
linguistic categories and groups.
Original settlement was described in various mythologies of the indigenous
populations, the Iroquois believed in a village in the sky with a large tree. A
woman in the village sought to see what was under the tree, so she dug and dug
until she fell into a hole and eventually landed in a pile of dirt which was North
America. A common denominator in all of these mythologies was that people
started in North America. These myths provided a sense of meaning, coherence
and societal connections.
The consensus amongst scholars is that people of Asiatic origin arrived in the
Americas between 50,000 10,000 years ago. It is probable that they arrived by
way of Beringia (Bering Strait), a land-bridge which linked Russia and Alaska
during the last ice age.
By the early 20th century, roughly 95% of the indigenous population of the
Americas was wiped out by various diseases brought over from European
settlers such as measles and smallpox.
Major change took place geographically before the arrival of Europeans. The
Southern Ontario region was sparsely populated due to the lingering ice age.
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