Did Inuit ever have First Nation slaves

First Nations history

The First Nations history, the ethnic groups living in Canada that are not quite appropriately referred to as Indians, dates back at least 12,000 years.[1] The term First Nations is relatively young[2] and denotes the Canadian natives, but without the Métis and Inuit.[3] The official name from the state is Indians, the self-designation of the well over 600 groups called tribes is overwhelming First Nation, less common nation or Indian band.

Its history is characterized, especially in the earlier phases, by strong adaptation to the natural environment. Accordingly (according to Alfred Kroeber) in North America ten cultural areas are distinguished, five of which are at least partially on the territory of today's Canada: The subarctic, which includes central Canada to the northwest coast and the coast of Labrador, the (north) west coast on the Pacific, then the plateau, i.e. above all the Fraser Plateau, finally prairies and plains, i.e. the dry grasslands east of the Rocky Mountains, as well as the north-eastern woodland around the Great Lakes to Newfoundland.

The history of Indian-European contacts begins in North America with the hunt for fish and whales and the trade in fur. The conflicts resulting from the exploitation of natural resources continue to this day. At first, forts were used[4] and settlements only to secure trade, so the number of settlers remained small. In addition, there were first mission attempts. Even if the French and British colonial policy was comparatively less violent than that of the USA, it has radically changed cultures. This is all the more true for Canada, which has been increasingly sovereign since 1867 and which has given up its policy of forced assimilation and cultural annihilation since the 1970s in order to give priority to an attitude of multiculturalism.


Introductory overview

Basic features up to around 1500

Archaeologically comprehensible and often culturally coherent groups that extend into the present were often identified as “peoples” or “tribes”, which were often traced back to a common ancestor, spoke a common dialect, and were primarily understood as genetically coherent. Above all, however, they were linked by a common way of life, which was less genetically determined than through trade networks, connecting cosmological views, through marriage contacts and thus the exchange of cultural elements, but also through relationships between the leading groups.

From the beginning of human settlement until the 19th century, a pronounced nomadism prevailed on the North American half-continent, which was only replaced by sedentarism in the south of the USA and on the Mississippi. In addition, there was an annual sequence of seasonal migrations along the coasts and some inland waters, followed by vegetation phases and animal migrations. Therefore, among the First Nations there was never a form of priestly rule, apparently linked to sedentarism, as can be demonstrated for the high cultures of South America and some areas of the USA. In the area of ​​today's Canada, shamanism prevailed among all peoples, which is mainly characterized by the establishment of contact with ancestors or other powers in exceptional psychological situations.

Myths determined the world order. Thus, the indigenous religions were not based on a history of salvation, but on the sanctity of places, rituals or associated objects, of beings, powers, knowledge and stories, dances and music that were in the possession of kinship groups. Religions were therefore site and kinship-specific and had no universal claim to validity. In addition, there was only a vague idea of ​​the belonging of a certain area to a certain tribe, especially since even the idea of ​​firmly established tribes was more likely to be brought up by Europeans. Instead, the relationship was by far in the foreground, which to this day ensures extensive, overarching relationships, so that an individual had ancestors from several “tribes”. Therefore, the idea of ​​collective rights dominates to this day (however, through long practice, increasingly based on the tribe) over individual rights.[6]

Fortified Iroquois village with long houses, squares and double palisade ring, around 1615. The Iroquois called themselves Haudenosaunee, People who build long houses

The typical productions of permanent sedentariness, including cattle breeding, were largely absent.[7] Men were probably associated with hunting from an early age, women with gathering and plucking, cutting and digging up nutritious parts of plants.[8] This also eliminated the need for irrigation and the regulation of rivers, which made larger organizational agglomerations unnecessary. These were rather triggered by joint rituals or campaigns for a limited period. But there were, for example at the Great Lakes, extensive and permanent alliance systems and settlements.

Rudimentary beginnings of a writing system can be shown[9] however, (works of art) that were loaded with symbols played a prominent role. Overarching languages ​​only emerged in the form of dealer languages, such as the Chinook, which only gained regional importance. In the Plains, a sign language was used to bridge the communication barriers between the numerous languages ​​and dialects.[10] The wheel, which is so important for other cultural areas, as in all of America, played no recognizable role. Metalworking can only be proven for copper (albeit very early), which is why the rare substance was of great value and very popular as a barter.

The wigwam made from a framework of curved branches that is covered with bark or plaited mats is a mobile dwelling adapted to the hunters' way of life, which is easy to dismantle and reassemble. The same applies to the tipi, the leather-covered pole tent used by bison hunters on the prairie. The peoples of the north-west coast built houses that were permanently inhabited in winter from wooden planks, in the eastern woodland mainly from wood and clay, covered with grass roofs.

European influence (16th to 19th centuries)

The colonial phase from the end of the 15th century began on the east coast with increasing trade, which soon turned into violent conflicts, especially when settlers claimed the land or when conflicts between tribes met those between European states. The result were real coalition wars, several times as sidelines of European wars. In addition, there were attempts by the indigenous peoples to monopolize trade contact, with new tribes constantly forming around the forts, some of which still bear the fort's name today. Serious epidemics (smallpox, measles, flu, tuberculosis) continued to occur throughout the epoch[11] etc.), against which the indigenous peoples had practically no immune defense. Once the Indians had become dependent, the conquerors tried to push them into areas that were unfavorable for settlers or - as is usually the case in Canada - to force them into reserves and to adapt them to their own ideas of a decent way of life.

There were mainly seven European powers that appeared in this way: Spain (1769 to 1810 on the west coast), France (around 1604–1763), England and Great Britain (1607–1867 and 1931) and Russia (1741–1763). 1867, especially Alaska), to a lesser extent the Netherlands (1624–1664 around New York or Nieuw Amsterdam), Sweden (1638–1655 around Delaware) and - in Greenland - Denmark (from 1721). Ultimately, the conflict between the French and British erupted during the Seven Years' War, while possible conflicts between the colonial powers on the west coast were negotiated with the sale of Fort Ross in 1841 and Alaska in 1867, as was the "near war" of Great Britain Spain (1789-1794).

The USA played a special role, acquiring Louisiana in 1803 (Louisiana Purchase) and fighting a war with the British and French and their Indian allies in Canada from 1812 to 1814 (British-American War). The first demarcation was established, which cut the continent beyond the Great Lakes from 1846 along the 49th parallel (Oregon Compromise). The USA had already played a certain role in the Spanish-British conflict on the Pacific coast. In the north, the acquisition of Russian Alaska by the USA in 1867 separated the zones of very different Indian policies from one another.

While French colonial policy was primarily dominated by trade interests and the settlement served more to develop trade hubs, that of the British was initially more characterized by settlement interests and religious disputes between Protestant power groups.

In Canada, in contrast to the USA, land grabbing by settlers played a minor role, apart from the few metropolitan areas. In the north and west, for example, the crown took over administrative control of the indigenous peoples through the monopoly Hudson’s Bay Company, whose business interests suggested a more peaceful understanding with and between the Indians. It was only the immigration of numerous gold prospectors (especially from the USA) that caused Great Britain to promote its own immigration as a counterweight. Marrying into indigenous communities created new leadership layers within these tribes among matrilocal ethnic groups, i.e. groups in which the couple lived at the place of residence of the woman, who nevertheless had access to the world of the “whites”.

Canada, assimilation attempts

In the former French area, the French language dominates to this day, which has also produced its own mixed languages ​​such as the Innu (Montagnais-Naskapi Indians) Labradors. The Indians there speak it (often in addition to English) and are mostly Catholic. Further west, it depends on innumerable coincidences which creed the missionaries enforced. In addition, eclectic forms emerged, which sometimes became a means of resistance. There are special forms to this day, but they have to a certain extent only superimposed on a distinctly regional substrate and often appear as a reawakening of traditional spirituality.

The phase of missionary work and instruction in reservations (up to approx. 1840 or 1880) - in contrast to the USA, however, there were probably never any demands to physically destroy the indigenous peoples - followed an epoch spanning several generations in which economic marginalization forcibly enforced bans on central elements of culture and, finally, by forcing all children into specially set up boarding schools (see Residential Schools), the entire culture was to be wiped out.[12] The last attempts ended in the 1980s. It is not yet foreseeable whether the predominantly ongoing negotiations about treaties between Canada or the provinces and the tribes will ultimately only be a further step towards the dissolution of the independent identity, or, on the contrary, support it.[13]

Indigenous language groups in North America

The assimilation of the indigenous people is well advanced. Most of them no longer speak their original language, and many languages ​​are only spoken by a few people. Many indigenous people live in cities and have more or less lost access to their culture.[14] Nevertheless, there are strong efforts for economic recovery paired with approaches to revitalization - especially in the reserves, where there is still an enormous amount of cultural knowledge to be drawn upon. Language and rituals are cultivated again, in some tribes the restoration of their own social systems is discussed and the demand for self-government, as well as free access to the resources of the natural environment, which is only bound by tradition, is raised. There are also approaches to contact all indigenous peoples who have found themselves in a similar situation during the colonial era. Against the opposition of the Canadian government, but also that of the USA, Australia and New Zealand, the UN passed a resolution on September 13, 2007, which not only called for the elimination of all discrimination against indigenous peoples and the right to have a say in matters that affect them, but also the right to "stay different" (to remain distinct).[15] On 19./20. February 2008 organized the AFN and the British Columbia First Nations Leadership Council in the Chief Joe Mathias Center at the Squamish First Nation in North Vancouver a symposium entitled "Implementing The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples". The Justin Trudeau government announced in May 2016 that it would sign the declaration with immediate effect; its contents should be included in the constitution of the country.

Independent development

From the first traces to the archaic phase

The oldest traces of human life in the north of the continent can be found in Alaska. They go back around 12,000 to 14,000 years and are culturally related to Northeast Asian cultures. The cold phase that lasted for more than ten millennia probably did not allow any residence. In addition, the huge block of ice that blocked Alaska and the Yukon to the south may have prevented the residents from spreading in that direction. In addition, it can be proven that the so-called ice-free corridor between the Rocky Mountains and Hudson Bay only began around 13,000 BC. BC gradually emerged from south to north.[16]

Genetic investigations seem to show, on the one hand, that all Indian peoples descend from one root, and on the other hand, that they spread relatively quickly along the coast and only migrated from there into the inland.[17] This is supported by studies of the history of the climate.[18] Other research suggests that the continent was settled almost simultaneously by two different groups from Beringia, who lived between 15,000 and 13,000 BC. Took place. The authors suspect that one group followed the west coast route, the other the ice-free corridor.[19] Genetic studies on 92 individuals from the period 8,600 to 500 years ago in South America and Mexico showed in 2016 that the coastal group grew from 14,000 BC. Spread to Chile within 1400 years. It could also be shown that the ancestors of the immigrants maintained contact with the Siberian population between 23,000 and 16,400 BC. Chr. Lost.[20]

Some of the oldest artifacts were discovered in the Yukon area, in the two Bluefish caves.[21] This early Arctic culture - depending on the focus as a Siberian-American Paleo-Arctic tradition, as Beringian tradition or as Denali complex - was isolated for several millennia and only spread further southwards along the coast under more favorable conditions, possibly also along the Yukon, probably along the said ice-free zone. Tools from around 10,500 BC were found in Charlie Lake Cave, a cave near Fort St. John in northern British Columbia. At this time bison herds migrated from the south (B. bison antiquus) into the resulting grassland, with them hunters who used spearheads of the Clovis type, which are similar to those from Indian Creek or Mill Iron in Montana. These findings suggest a south-north migration.[22] Two buried ravens were also found in Charlie Lake Cave - one with grave goods - that were buried 9,000 and 10,000 years ago, respectively.[23] Also at the Vermilion Lakes near Banff in the upper Bow Valley (8900 BC) and at the Niska Site - with site sites are referred to - in southwestern Saskatchewan (8000 to 9000 BC) pre-archaic remains, also known as Paleo-Indian remains. Similar old finds could only be made in Québec in 2003[24], in Nova Scotia 1996 with Debert[25]. The oldest human remains in the north were discovered in 1996 and date back to around 7800 BC. Dated. They date from the three years previously discovered On Your Knees Cave on Prince of Wales Island.[26]

North American reindeer, engl. Caribou or Reindeer (in German ren, reindeer or caribou) called

The time after this early phase is often called archaic phase and divided into two sections. These are the early (approx. 8000 to 6000 BC) and the middle archaic phase (approx. 6000 to 4000 BC). Then one differentiates archaic in the west and Plano phase in the East. These include cultures around the Ohio, around Niagara, and in southern Ontario. The number of finds is small, however, as the landscape was still subject to major changes, which mostly destroyed cultural relics. Presumably the Plano people followed herds of caribou east, always along the icing line. Without them, no human life was possible in the Northwest.[27]Esker sometimes offered excellent paths through the impassable landscape. Around 7500 BC BC Archaic people from the west also reached southern Ontario.Spear throwers were found there, a technological innovation that probably dates back to around 8000 BC. Started in the southern USA.[28]

A projectile tip from New England is dated 6000-5000 BC. Dated. It probably belongs to the same culture as that in Vermont (John's Bridge Site, approx. 6000 BC), where drills and especially house tracks appeared. The coastal cultures are not easy to distinguish archaeologically. The focus was on the lower St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes. The first larger monuments are burial mounds, the Burial Mounds.[29] Apparently a more or less stable hierarchy had developed within these societies along Lake Erie, the southern Lake Huron, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River above what is now Québec. Whether this was a contiguous cultural region (also Proto-Laurentian called), can only be assumed. Their artifacts range from around 5500 BC. Until 1000 BC Chr.

The group of the Plano cultures, whose name is derived from the Great Plains, was clearly distinguishable and exposed to a completely different environment. The name is too narrow, because the cultures encompass the vast space between the coastal areas of British Columbia and the Northwest Territories and the Gulf of Mexico. Shortly before 8000 BC BC shows a change in the weapon system that is characteristic of these cultures. The tips of the projectiles are no longer clamped in split shafts, but sunk into the shaft. It was also the phase in which extensive forests gave way to grasslands in places. The raw material for some stone tools and weapons came from areas far to the south.

The early Plano cultures comprised the area between the North Saskatchewan River and the foot of the Rocky Mountains, as far as British Columbia to the Peace River. Manitoba was still under a huge ice lake, but first settlement chambers similar to that developed Refugia and habitable elevations that protruded above the ice line (Nunatuks or Nunataker), such as in southern Alberta(Agate Basin culture). In one of these Refugia small horses were found south of Calgary in 2001, apparently around 8000 BC. Chr. Were hunted.

New techniques came west through a narrow corridor south of the ice line. It was only later that the huge cultural area was clearly divided into two large rooms, the Early Shield and the Early Plains Culture. Copper discoveries were made at South Fowl Lake on the border between Ontario and Minnesota, which indicate metalworking as early as 4800 BC. Indicate. Only that offers richer finds Medium shield culture (4000 to 1000 BC).

In the west it was probably at least until 9000 BC Settlement by the Early plateau culture superimposed. It is controversial whether it was immigration over the Fraser River or from inland - a corpse from Gore Creek, about 8,500 years old, suggests. The possible immigration from the coast is thought to have been around 4250 BC. Have started. But there does not seem to be any connection with the increasing salmon migration on the west coast.

Piles in Skedans, located in Cumshewa Inlet in Haida Gwaii, George M. Dawson (1849–1901) 1878

The coastal cultures (Southwestern and Northwestern Coastal culture) on the west coast can be traced back to at least 8000 BC. Prove. It is unclear from which direction the settlement took place, although they could also come from a common root. Linguistics tends more towards immigration from the north. The oldest find on Vancouver Island, the Bear Cove, indicates a very strong orientation towards hunting marine mammals such as dolphins and seals.[30] What is striking is the division into more seaward-oriented groups with ocean-going vehicles and those who prefer to hunt for salmon in a relatively comfortable manner. However, many coastal remains have been swallowed up by the sea, which has existed since 6000 BC. Has risen by 10 to 15 m. This flooding of settlement chambers is likely to have increased the pressure to migrate inland. The northwest coast took a slightly different development. Here, too, the rising sea level has destroyed traces, apart from Haida Gwaii. This archipelago was founded around 7500 BC at the latest. Settled in BC, and with the Haida has one of the oldest localized populations in the world. Dundas Island, east of the coast near the coast, shows even older traces of settlement with the Far West Point site, which has dated finds of 9690 ± 30 BP, and thus the oldest on the British-Colombian coast.

The oldest detectable trade, that of obsidian, dates back over 10,000 years and was based on a deposit on Mount Edziza (2787 m) in northern British Columbia.[31]

In the north-west the found situation is so contradicting that all attempts to identify different cultures have failed. The extreme north, including Greenland, is only around 2500 BC. Was populated selectively, the north of Ontario only around 2000 BC. Chr.

From about 4000 to 1000 BC Chr.

From 2500 BC In the west, settlements can be identified by means of numerous shell mounds (shell middens), as well as the first signs of social differentiation. Traces of settlement indicate house associations that seasonally formed tribal groups for hunting. Houses and villages can be captured in the plains. Apparently bow and arrow hunting was spread in the north from Asia. It made its way swiftly from the northwest, where it paused for a long time, to the east coast, before reaching the extreme west in an arc.[32]

Burial sites can also be found on the east coast, such as a cemetery in northwest Newfoundland (Port au Choix), which dates from 2400 to 1300 BC. Was in use and contained 56 dead. The burial mounds there are the earliest monumental structures in Canada. The groups assigned to this culture are called Maritime Archaic People (A distinction is made between an early - 6000 to 4000 BC - and a middle period - 4000 to 1000 BC) or as Red Paint People denotes what goes back to the use of red ocher. Between 2000 and 1500 BC In BC Labrador cooled considerably, which affected the northern coastal cultures in what is now Canada. The before 4000 BC Groups resident in central Labrador evacuated the area. Around 2250 BC Inuit, who moved around 3000 BC. B.C. from Asia had reached North America as far south as these regions, and hunters from inland also reached the coasts. The area north of the St. Lawrence River appears to have been abandoned. Around 2000 to 1700 BC In addition, peoples seem to have moved north from the south to New Brunswick (Susquehanna Archaic People), but maybe only techniques were passed on northwards.

At the Great Lakes the water levels rose and the conditions for the fish improved. Dogs can now be found there that were buried, as shown, for example, by a find on Lake Huron.[33] The Middle Great Lakes-St. Lawrence culture (or Laurentian Archaic) had its center around what is now Québec and Ontario, and reached until 4000, perhaps until about 5500 BC. BC back. The Ottawa Valley is considered a center of copper production, a metal that was used for arrowheads, awls, etc. Apparently, holy places, initially burial places, were also cared for, and cremation can be proven. Periodontal disease, arthritis in the elderly, and broken bones were the most common diseases. Peoples were probably advancing from the south, but it is Laurentian, similar to the Middle Archaic complex archaeologically difficult to grasp at first. Here's something like a crescent-shaped knife that Ulu, characterizing. Denser populations and more complex cultures, however, result in an increase in the number of finds and greater clarity in the assignment. On the other hand, the region is used for agriculture, so that numerous finds that come from plowed earth cannot be assigned to a specific time, such as around Niagara Falls.

The cultures of the Canadian shield did not develop until around 6000 BC. From the Plano cultures of the southwestern Keewatin district and the east of Manitoba, with a subsequent expansion process that lasted around four millennia. The Cree, Ojibwa, Algonkin, Innu and Beothuk, which can be grasped in the early European written sources, probably refer to these groups of the Shield culture back. Around 2000 BC Complex burial rituals with copper additions, tools and ocher already existed here, and trade relations reached as far as Dakota. Since the settlements were not of great continuity, find layers are very rare. However, seasonal migration cycles of millennia-long continuity are recognizable.

The plains cultures are elusive and so one has to refer to weapon types. However, the information they can provide is often vague. Changes in the projectile tips may indicate that the forests are being displaced by grasslands and corresponding prey. At the Cactus Flower archaeological site in Alberta, a tubular whistle was found that is approximately 4,700 years old. Many arrowheads come from chalcedony sites on the Knife River in North Dakota. In total, between about 6000 BC. Chr. And the turn of the ages in their entirety determine five serious changes: The dry phases became milder, the bison species that still exists today prevailed, dogs were used as carrying and draft animals and thus increased mobility, the tipi prevailed, and finally allowed the cooking technique with hot stones the production of pemmican, which in turn made it easier to survive phases of deficiency.[34]

The Middle plateau culture between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Coastal Mountains developed around 2500 BC. The so-called Pit housethat has been partially buried in the earth. At the same time, the diet was increasingly based on salmon, although the entire spectrum from mussels to skunks was not spurned. Today's Salish tribes can be closely associated with this culture. Exceptions in this area are the Nicola as Eyak Athapaskan speakers and the Kootenay. The most important cultural change is the transition from being sedentary to being semi-sedentary with fixed winter villages and summer hiking cycles, according to hunting and collecting requirements, as well as visiting places with high ritual relevance around 2000 BC. Chr.

A similar development took place on the west coast, whose cultures increasingly varied regionally (cf. Coastal Salish).[35] The social hierarchy became clearer, some groups had better access to resources, wealth was amassed and trade increased. Salmon, candle fish, and shellfish were the main foods, accordingly numerous pop up as shell middens designated mounds, in which less permanent artifacts survived. Towards the end of the era, plank houses can be identified for the first time. However, the Salish were not just hunters and gatherers, but at the latest since 1600 BC. Also farmers - as we know about the katzie since 2007.[36]

In contrast, the Yukon and Mackenzie, with their huge catchment areas, maintained a culture of long-range hunting with the extreme mobility of small groups. Therefore the archaeological source situation is very thin. The often found conjecture about invaders from the Plains around 4000 BC. BC can be easier with the advance of the spear thrower (Atlatl) explain that required other projectile tips. Between 5000 and 2000 BC There was a southern migration of the Inuit cultures. The Athabasque languages ​​probably go back to the regional culture.

Until the first contact with Europeans (around 1500)

The three most noticeable changes in the period from around 1000 BC The climatic stabilization is about at today's level, as well as the introduction of two new technologies. One, the manufacture of clay pots, reached what is now Canada probably on the long way from South America via Florida. The other, bow and arrow, came from Europe or Asia and was probably first used by the Paleo-Eskimos. With the advent of these two techniques, there are also other ways of gaining knowledge about this period from archaeological finds.

The East: Woodland Periods

Mi'kmaq in Labrador (Le Monde illustré, n ° 53, 1858, Mac Vernoll: "Les Mic-Macs (tribus indigène du Labrador)")
Mi'kmaq from Nova Scotia, about 1865, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.

The ethnic groups behind the artifacts of the later cultural phases are believed to be the ancestors of today's Mi'kmaq, Maliseet (in Canada Welastekwíyek, people of the Saint Lawrence River) and Passamaquoddy (who are not recognized as First Nation in Canada) . From an archaeological perspective, numerous ceramic vessels date back to before 500 BC. A considerable increase in features and finds. This ends the archaic phase on the east coast, which the Woodland periods is replaced. A distinction is made between vessels on the basis of their decorations between those that were applied by a kind of stamp in the north and those that were created by pressing a ribbon in the south (e.g. between Trois-Rivières and Québec). In New Brunswick, which has been better researched, it shows that sedentariness in the cold season (in the shell midden sites) had prevailed, some villages were probably inhabited all year round. The importance of shellfish increased significantly, although some finds show that they were of great importance much earlier. The region took over some of the burial practices from the Adena culture, which is around 1700 km away, but also participated in its development itself, as the Miramichi River where it was found shows, which was considered sacred to the Mi'kmaq until historical times. This would mean that their oral tradition would go back 2500 years.

The 20 m high Taber Hill in Toronto, an Iroquois mound. The remains of 472 people from around 1250 were found there.[37]

The Early or Initial Woodland Period extends also to the Great Lakes and the Saint Lawrence River from about 1000 BC. BC to AD 500. The term refers to the spread of pottery, a previously unknown technique. The Iroquois go back to this culture, but also some of the Algonquin tribes. For a long time the transition from a hunter-gatherer society to a horticultural society was emphasized too much. Nevertheless, the importance of the pumpkin increased more and more. It turned out, however, that pumpkins were already around 4000 BC. Were planted in Maine. Nevertheless, there are aspects of fundamental changes. Between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie and New York, individual groups brought the flint sites under their control. They acted very widely with specially made basic forms. These Onondaga flints were from 1000 to 500 BC Mainly used for the new weapon, which consisted of a bow and arrow. In addition, those coming from the Ohio Valley spread Burial Mounds, numerous mounds of earth that the deceased found. Finally, a fish trap technique was developed that could also be used to catch fish in rapids.

The Canadian shield

The cultures on the Canadian shield are divided into a western and an eastern cultural group, both of which refer to the Medium shield culture go back. The two groups differed only in their tools and less in their way of life, even if the eastern branch took over clay vessels very late. However, this can also be attributed to the fact that the soundless areas were more like tail areas for groups of hunters. Here, too, the influences of the Adena culture can be seen as far as central Labrador. Their typical mounds also appear in the western shield culture (Laurel), for example on the Rainy River in southern Ontario, which is part of the Manitou Mounds Provincial Park Reserve is now a listed building. So far, the hills piled up from river debris, which may have served as shamans as retreats, remain a mystery. Since rock paintings, which are assumed to be similar, cannot yet be dated, questions about their function can hardly be answered.

Birch canoes were the main means of transport for goods and people. On them, the groups extended their tail areas into former plain areas west and south-west, which between 1500 and 500 BC. Were considerably wetter and more wooded. With that, the bison herds disappeared there. Long-distance trade in chalcedony from Oregon and obsidian from Wyoming also depended on river transport. The only known human remains are from 39 individuals from two burial mounds known as mounds, Smith Mound 3 and 4, in northern Minnesota. It could be that the tribes of the northern Algonquin culture in southern Manitoba, Minnesota, and adjacent Ontario are genetically derived from them. The domestication of water rice probably resulted in a prominent class of landowners who also culturally set themselves apart from the rest of the population. Southern Ontario was involved in the long-distance trade relations of the Hopewell culture.High-purity copper was found in the vicinity of Lake Ontario and was used as a material for jewelry throughout eastern North America.

Plains and prairies

Buffalo hunting Assiniboines, painting by Paul Kane, 46 * 73.7 cm, created between 1851 and 1856, today in the National Gallery of Canada in Toronto
Distribution area of ​​the buffalo in the 18th and 19th centuries, map of the zoologist and president of the American Bison Society William Temple Hornaday (1854-1937)

The late one Plains culture lived to a large extent on buffalo (American bison), with pemmican becoming increasingly important. Place names such as Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump or Old Women’s Buffalo Jump indicate the driving technique used in buffalo hunting, but such places are rare. The prairies appear to be around 650 BC. To have shrunk in favor of forests. During this time, at the latest approx. 500 BC. BC, the bow replaced the spear thrower, which, however, existed side by side for a long time. In addition to buffalo meat, as a find at Pelican Lake shows, elk, beaver, pike, pikeperch, but also roots, were of great importance. Come here Mounds only in the two Dakotas. In Montana, tented villages of considerable dimensions (100 hectares) and a useful life of around a thousand years have been found that used stone rings around the tipis. Long-distance trade in obsidian, flint, and other materials was widespread, reaching westward to the Fraser River and the Pacific. Apparently there were sacred places where shamans invoked metaphysical powers. There is evidence that at least some of the deceased were dried on scaffolding before being buried. The dead were also left in tents. Some finds show relatively tall people, who, however, often suffered from arthritis and other diseases.


The late plateau culture was characterized by its small size - according to the landscape. Nothing had changed about the change between winter villages and summer camps. Supplies were made in holes in the ground, hot stones were used for baking and cooking, and the salmon provided the lion's share of the nutritional value. Animal carvings appear to have increased, as does trade with the coastal peoples, but mainly on the Middle Fraser and Thompson. The villages became significantly larger and the population increased, but some of these large villages were only inhabited for a short time, others for over a thousand years (e.g. Keatly Creek Site). The pit house is characteristic, although this has been questioned by the Kootenay. With them the influence of the plains cultures only became stronger with the introduction of the horse.[38] This type of house enabled more extensive stockpiling and thus better food security (from approx. 2000 BC). Eyak Athapaskan speakers, such as Chilcotin and Dakelh, may not have migrated southwards until around 500.

The late plateau phase is in turn divided into three phases, the Shuswap horizon (2500 to 500 BC); Plateau horizon (500 BC to 800 AD) and Kamloops horizon (800 to 1800). The bow and arrow appeared very late. The containers with human heads were probably ceremonial works of art. A society also developed that was based on family associations, cross-tribal relationships and hierarchization. Access to resources depended on reputation, which was becoming increasingly hereditary.

West Coast

Great Fraser Midden, 1908

The coastal culture on the Pacific was approaching what the Europeans found at the end of the 18th century. It was already used between 500 BC. and approximately reached 500 AD. The hereditary hierarchy was stricter from south to north, the hierarchy steeper. A stratum of leading families dominated trade, access to resources, and political and spiritual power. The simple tribesmen by no means had to make up the bulk of the people, just like the slaves, who were mostly prisoners of war.[39]

In many places it is extremely likely that local finds can be assigned to certain tribes in the same region, such as the Tsimshian, who died no later than 2000 BC. Around the later Prince Rupert Harbor. Regional differentiations exist for the groups around the Strait of Georgia and the Frasertal. There you can Locarno Beach Complex and Marpole complexthat are based on salmon fishing (see coastal salish) or yuquot, which indicates a culture of deep sea hunting, especially whales. In the north, Namu, Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii are key sites, and there are sites on the Fraser River that point even more to salmon fishing. Burial mounds also appear here for the first time. The arch did not reach this region until around AD 400.

Here, too, the villages became more numerous, and apparently larger, except for those on the Strait of Georgia. Today's coastal Salish can be traced back to the Marpole culture, but presumably much further back. It was already characterized by the same social differentiation, by plank houses in which several families lived, by salmon fishing and conservation, rich carvings of sometimes monumental dimensions, complex ceremonies and probably even potlatches. The forms of winter storage described later by Europeans can be seen on the Hoko River in Washington. In Namu, as early as 7000 B.C. A variety of cultural elements of the later coastal Salish and their northern neighbors, such as the Nuu-chah-nulth. On the Hoko River in particular, in contrast to Musqueam Northeast, which is not very far away, the cultural differences between groups living relatively close to one another are more reflected in the area of ​​ephemeral "arts" such as basket weaving than in the area of ​​the much earlier traditional ones (Stone) weapon technology, which tends to react comparatively monotonously and sluggishly to always the same needs - but it is by far the bulk of the finds.

Burial of a dead Assiniboin in a tree, Karl Bodmer, approx. 1840–1843

Between 500 and 1000 AD, funeral customs changed again. The dead were now more and more often given their final resting place in trees, stakes, burial houses and caves. Fortified villages appeared more and more around 500 to 700 AD - especially in the south with dug moats, further to the north with palisades. This warlike phase extended into the time of the first contact with Europeans, through which it was further intensified.

The northwest

The early history of the northwestern interior, where the Athabasque language group dominated, has been particularly poorly researched. Some sites in the drainage area of ​​the Mackenzie are connected to them from approx. 700 BC. Chr. The Taye Lake Complex can be found between 4000 and 1000 BC Take during the Taltheilei complex probably due to immigration from British Columbia and the Yukon region, a migration that reached beyond Hudson Bay and possibly displaced the predecessors of the Inuit there.

Sites in the drainage area of ​​the Mackenzie from 1000 BC are connected with the athabasques. Until approx. 700 AD Taye Lake Complex in the Yukon region dated to 4000 to 1000 BC It is assumed that the as Old Chief Creek designated phase on the northern Yukon this was close and produced the later Gwich'in, the Taye Lake phase on the southern Yukon, however, the Tutchone. Characteristic are lance-shaped projectile tips, double-edged knives, as well as the absence of microblades called tiny blades. Whether the two main archaeological groups represent more than thought constructs, however, is uncertain in view of the extremely poor evidence.

European influence

Around 1000 AD, Icelandic settlers from Greenland settled on Newfoundland, but this was short-lived. Further north, on Baffin Island, contacts apparently came about several centuries earlier that could not be traced back to mere trade. Everyday objects indicate longer stays.[40] The Icelanders called the residents Skraelinger, although it is unclear whether it was Beothuk or Inuit of the Dorset culture. In the springs, the areas discovered are called Helluland, Markland and Vinland, probably areas on the Clyde River, in South Labrador and on Newfoundland. Apparently, Vikings and the regional groups were already trading furs for metal goods and fabrics at that time.[41]

Contacts without colonies in the east (1497–1604)

Mi'kmaq and Beothuk were probably the first to have contact with Europeans,[42] the latter being considered extinct since 1829. In all likelihood, fishermen from the Basque Country and England started fishing around Newfoundland as early as the 15th century, and between 1530 and 1600 Basques were still cutting whales in Red Bay on the coast of Labrador.[43] The first European whose landing in North America is tangible in the sources was Giovanni Caboto (known as John Cabot). He landed in 1497 at a point on the east coast that could not be determined with certainty and took three Mi'kmaq to England. No later than 1501, when the Portuguese Gaspar Corte-Real kidnapped 59 Beothuk who drowned with the sinking ship[44], In addition to the said Beothuk, the Mi'kmaq had frequent contact with Spanish, French, British and Irish fishermen who visited the coast every summer. By 1578, nearly 400 fishing boats were counted on Canada's east coast every summer.

Map of the Iroquois village of Hochelaga, near present-day Montreal, drawn by Giovan Battista Ramusio, Venice 1556, according to Cartier's information

The fur trade began in 1519 and the coastal tribes exchanged fur for European products, especially metal goods such as knives, axes, hatchets and kettles. The report by Jacques Cartiers, who anchored in Chaleur Bay in 1541, where his ship was surrounded by a large number of Mi'kmaq canoes, whose crew waved beaver pelts, is indicative of this interest in exchange. This tribe was afflicted by diseases unknown to them in 1564, 1570 and 1586. The tribes of the east coast began to change, soon they were to be at war among themselves because of the trade contacts. Cartier had also exchanged furs with the Iroquois on the upper St. Lorenz (1534/35) and for a long time trade flourished despite the lack of infrastructure in the sense of trading bases. A network of rivers and paths on which Indians traded had existed for a very long time. They traded in copper, walrus ivory, various types of stone for tools, weapons and jewelry, on spacious paths with the buttery fat of the candle fish, dog hair blankets, etc.

The East - First Colonies, Wars, Epidemics, Furs (1604–1763)

A quarter of a century before the first permanent colony, the Breton Troilus de Mesgouez, Marquis de la Roche (1540-1606) received a corresponding order in 1578, but his ship failed in 1584 in a storm. In 1598–1603, convicts established a short-lived colony on Sable Island, where they found the remains of an older colony.[45] In 1604, a naval expedition, in which Samuel de Champlain also took part, built the first settlement on Saint Croix Island at the mouth of the St. Croix River. However, it was relocated to Port Royal a year later. Other fortified structures soon followed, such as Fort La Tour on the Saint John River, where the Maliseet now also exchanged European goods. But the relocation of the colony to Port Royal in the Mi'kmaq area had consequences. As early as 1607 there was a war between the Penobscot under their SagamoreBashabes, who had gained great power through French weapons, and the Mi'kmaq. This Tarrantine War, which was an expression of their rivalry in the fur trade, lasted eight years. The victorious Mi'kmaq moved on to Massachusetts, but became infected with a devastating epidemic that killed around 4,000 of the 10,000 Mi'kmaq between 1616 and 1619. Other tribes were hit even harder. As the Pequot War of 1637 showed, the southern colonies were also a serious threat to bare existence, because for the first time an entire tribe was deliberately wiped out here.[46]

Map by the Abbé Claude Bernou, circa 1681, showing the French discoveries[47]

In 1608, Champlain founded the city of Québec. In 1613 the traders from Port Royal had to retreat to the more northerly Tadoussac because the English had burned their colony. In the same year there was a bloody confrontation with the Beothuk, who were defeated by the Mi'kmaq, who were allied with the French and were equipped with rifles by them.

Soon they were sent Coureurs des bois (Rangers) who lived among the Indians while the trading agents turned their forts into trading centers. The few navigable rivers, such as the Ottawa, played an important role in this. Tribes like the Kichesipirini claimed a monopoly on them as early as 1630.[48] In addition, as early as 1660, large quantities of furs came from the Upper Lake area and from the Lakota. In 1669, a station on James Bay delivered the first furs to London, a trade that gave rise to the Hudson’s Bay Company. The rivalry between the French and the English escalated. In 1686 the French tried to burn down the trading post. A few years later, the French advanced as far as the Gulf of Mexico and founded the Louisiana colony. Although the search for the western border of the continent failed, contacts were made with Indians as far as the upper Mississippi, and for a short time even as far as Santa Fe in the Spanish region. The trading companies continued to dominate the events, but the Seven Years' War in North America (1754–1763) brought about the end of the French era. The French remaining in Canada successfully demanded to be allowed to keep their denomination, which means that many Indians converted by Catholic missionaries also remained Catholic. In addition, the competition continued unreservedly at the mission level and still contributes to a denominational patchwork quilt among many First Nations. The links between French men and Native American women were so numerous that their descendants formed a nation of their own, the Métis.

Remote effects

Meanwhile, horses (mustangs), which came from European, especially Spanish, herds, radically changed the culture of the prairie. The ability to hunt buffalo on horseback and thus comparatively comfortably ensured, on the one hand, that more Indians moved into the prairie, and on the other hand, the horse allowed colonization and crossing of previously inhuman areas. To do this, they used special carrying frames, so-called travois, that the horses could pull. Large-scale migrations became possible, as did wars.

Mighty tribes of the east initiated entire migrations that drove tribes like the Dakota westward. The fur trade with the French led to a confederation with the Anishinabe that existed from 1679 to 1736. After that, the Dakota were driven out of the northern areas by their former allies and some found a new home in what is now southern Minnesota by 1780. Part of it split into Lakota and Nakota. Thanks to French rifles and horses from the south, the Lakota in particular rose to form a powerful tribe that conquered the Black Hills in 1765.

Fur traders and Indians, William Faden, Cartouche 1777[49]
V-shaped wild trap of the Hurons, drawing by Samuel de Champlains

The fur trade also caused rivalries around the Great Lakes and weapons with which to carry them out. But the Iroquois, who united in a tribal league around 1570, became enemies of the Wyandot and the Algonquin, who were allied with the French, even earlier. Missionaries maintained the Sainte-Marie-au-pays-des-Hurons mission station there from 1639 to 1649. Between 1640 and 1701 the five, later six, tribes of the Iroquois League destroyed the Wyandot, Tionontati and Erie with arquebuses that they had received from the Dutch fur trade. Only when the Dutch, represented by a fur trading station called Fort Orange since 1623, withdrew - probably because the beaver populations south of the Great Lakes collapsed after 1640 - the conflict subsided. Nevertheless, the Iroquois continued to migrate westwards and the French settlements were in serious danger. As a result, all French between 16 and 65 had to do arms service from now on, Montreal was at times completely isolated. In 1682 St. Louis was founded. It was not until 1701 that the English and French as well as 39 chiefs signed a peace treaty (Great Peace of Montreal).

With the Ohio-based Fox, too, the French, who wanted to control their fur trade route towards the Mississippi, were drawn into local hostilities that they used to their advantage. In 1701 they founded Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit. In 1722 the Fox besieged the fort, but the French allied tribes such as Wyandot and Ottawa almost completely destroyed the Fox and the Mascouten.

With the French and Indian War (1754–1763), which both the French and the English waged with numerous Indian allies, France lost control of North America, first in 1758 in Ohio, then in 1761 in Québec. The short-lived rule over Louisiana from 1800 to 1803 did not change that.

English colonial rule (from 1756/63)

Pontiac attacks on British forts south of the Great Lakes in 1763

After Britain became sole colonial rule[50] in Canada, the entire east of North America was British territory for a few decades. However, in the Royal Proclamation of 1763, the colonists were given the settlement beyond the