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HIST 2100 (5)
Chapter 2

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University of Guelph
HIST 2100
Jason Wilson

Chapter 2: The First Nations of Canada 1. Writing Native History a. Ethnohistorians consider all available evidence to recreate the lives of the earliest inhabitants of Canada b. Documents created by European fur traders, priests and administrators describing Native society show a Eurocentric bias 2. First Nations Before 1500 a. Estimates vary from 30 to 100 million in the Americas around the time of continuous European contact b. Canada had around 500,000 to 2 million i. 150,000-200,000 on the pacific coast ii. 50,000-100,000 in the western interior iii. 100,000 to 150,000 in the great lakes-st. Lawrence lowlands iv. 30,000 in the atlantic region c. scholars generally argue the natives are of Asiatic origin and arrived in the Americas in various waves of migration between 30,000 and 10,000 years ago d. probably crossed through land bridges that connected Siberia to Alaska during the ice ages e. 50+ distinct cultures encompassing 12 language groupings have been identified f. in the 16 century the first nations lived in societies ranging from the egalitarian model of the subarctic Athapaskan tribes to the slave-owning, highly stratified societies on the west coast 3. Common Cultural Characteristics a. Believed that their communion with spirits was the secret to any successes that might have had in living and being happy b. Knowledge of the uses of a wide range of materials in the natural world c. Egalitarian belief—sexless divine, men and women are equal and as well as humans and animals d. The term berdache (male prostitute) was used by Europeans to describe Aboriginals who cross-dressed, working among members of the other gender or sought same sex partners i. Some cultures thought they belonged in a third gender category 4. The First Nations of the Atlantic and Gulf Region a. Algonkian speaking cultures inhabited much of the northern half of the North American continent in the 15 century i. Mi’kmaq was the largest group in atlantic Canada ii. Beothuk in newfoundlank iii. Maliseet (or wulstukwiuk) in southern newbrunwick b. In newfoundland, the harsh climate and rugged terrain limited the potential for population growth i. Beothuk depended on caribou for food and clothing ii. As well as other aboriginals in the atlantic region, they used marine resources like seal, seabirds, fish and shellfish for survival iii. Probably inspired the red indian c. Mi’kmaq lived in the favoured region, with populations around 3500 to 35000 before 1500 i. Occupied Gaspe Peninsula to Cape Breton Island (Novia Scotia, PEI, northern New Brunswick) ii. Egalitarian and self reliant and self confident tribe 5. The Canadian Shield First Nations
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