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Aboriginal Peoples


Aboriginal People . Before European settlers arrived in Canada about 500 years ago, First Nations and Inuit peoples had the country pretty much to themselves. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Aboriginal Peoples

Aboriginal Peoples
  • Of Canada

The Importance of Words
  • The word Aboriginal includes all First Nation,
    Metis and Inuit people, according to the
    Constitution Act of 1982.
  • You may have heard other names, including
    Indian, Native, and Indigenous, but these
    have different meanings to different people.
  • To some, these words do not properly represent
    the huge variety of cultures found in Canadas
    aboriginal community.

Aboriginal People
  • Before European settlers arrived in Canada about
    500 years ago, First Nations and Inuit peoples
    had the country pretty much to themselves.
  • They lived in groups called tribes, with many
    different ways of life and traditions.
  • A tribe was usually subdivided into bands or
    villages of a few families.
  • As time passed the tribal community began to
    develop a national identity. Each community
    shared the same language and culture and it also
    developed its own political organization and
    power over its own territory. For this reason,
    the different groups of Aboriginal peoples are
    now called nations.

Aboriginal People
  • Some were nomadic, which means they moved from
    place to place while hunting and gathering food.
  • Others were farmers who settled down in a
    particular area.
  • The weather and the type of land where each tribe
    lived helped to shape their traditions and

Aboriginal People
  • There are 52 aboriginal languages spoken in
  • There are many different aboriginal languages in
    Canada, but some of them are related to each
    other by a common ancestral language.
  • In fact, different tribes across Canada can be
    grouped together into 11 language families
    based on how their languages are related.
  • Some examples of language families include
    Athapaskan, Algonquian and Iroquoian.
  • Video http//www.youtube.com/watch?vULyRPpYHxdo

Eastern Woodlands
Eastern Woodlands
  • Two main First Nations groups lived in the
    eastern woodlands the Iroquois, who were
    farmers, and the Algonquians, who were hunters.

The Algonquian
  • The woodlands were home to deer, bear, moose,
    caribou, fish and even seals and whales on the
    coast. The Algonquian tribes had developed great
    skills and tools to hunt them.
  • They also gathered food that grew wild, like wild
    rice and berries. You can imagine why they needed
    to move around a lot more than the Iroquois! They
    usually built smaller homes that could be taken
    down easily, like tipis and wigwams.

The Mikmaq Nation
  • Maritime Provinces
  • Algonquian
  • The were migratory, which means they moved from
    place to place according to the seasons.
  • In the spring, summer and fall, they lived near
    the seashore (salmon, eel, lobster, clams, seals)
  • In the winter, they moved closer inland to hunt
    larger animals (moose, caribou, bear)
  • The continuing search of food was a central part
    of their life. The main job of the chiefs was to
    assign hunting and gathering territories to each

  • 1.Homes are called wigwams2.Usually put together
    by women.3.Made using poles tied
    together.4.Birchbark was used for the
    covering.5.There was a hole in the top for smoke
    to escape.6.Floor was made of animal fur.7.The
    door was also animal hide.

Mikmaq nation
  • Glooscap Legend
  • Glooscap, the first human, was created out of a
    bolt of lightening in the sand and remains a
    figure that appears in many of the Mikmaq
    legends. These legends are stories that are
    passed down from generation to generation and
    tell of the Mikmawq culture.
  • Glooscap is also believed to have brought the
    Mi'kmaq stoneware, knowledge of good and evil,
    fire, tobacco fishing nets, and canoes, making
    him a cultural hero.

The Mikmaq NationGovernment
  • Basic unit in Mikmaw society was the extended
    family (30-200 people), which was led by a chief
    or sagamore (elected ruler among First Nations
    of Eastern Canada)
  • 2 fundamental principles
  • Respect for the rights of the people
  • Respect and preservation of the environment

The Mikmaq NationGovernment
  • System of self-government
  • Leaders were appointed by the people
  • Elders opinions were important
  • Disputes were settled through mediation
  • Contact and trade with Europeans eventually led
    to the expansion of their political structure.
  • Mikmaw territory was divided into 7 geographical

The Mikmaq Nation3 levels of Government
Local Council Chief
  • Presides over the Council of Elders
  • Council of Elders was usually made
  • up of the heads of families or
  • representatives
  • Responsibilities consisted of
  • Making decisions within local areas
  • Take care of supplies, dogs, canoes, hunting,
    emergencies (providing for villages)
  • Were teachers and role models for the young
  • Training hunters

Local Council Chief contd
  • The Local Chief was always male and came from a
    prominent family
  • They were of good character and they were very
    good hunters

District Council Chief
  • Total of 7, 1 for each of the 7 MiKmaq districts
  • Presides over council of local chiefs
  • Responsible for several villages/communities
    within his district
  • Met during spring, summer or fall to settle
    problems such as peace and war
  • Act as arbitrator - would listen to both parties
    and settle dispute

District Council Chief
  • The responsibilities of the Chief included
  • Attending Local Council meetings
  • Take care of problems among districts, villages,
  • District Chief was eldest male of large powerful
  • Good hunters

Grand Council Chief
  • Grand Chief is most important
  • When he speaks, everyone listens.
  • Presides over Grand Council
  • Responsibilities included
  • Defending territory
  • Taking care of any orphaned children
  • Help with providing food and supplies

Grand Council Chief
  • The Grand chief had to have an exceptional
  • Was an excellent hunter
  • 2 ways to become a Grand Chief
  • Hereditary (unless the father did not feel they
    were worthy of the position)
  • Survive in woods for several days without food or
    water. Must make a camp for 2 people and wait to
    see if another person arrives. If this occurs,
    he is capable of being Grand Chief

Mikmaq Government Pre Contact
Local Council Chief District Council Chief Grand Council Chief
Powers Presides over Council of Elders Presides over local chiefs Presides over Grand Council and local and district councils
Duties Made decisions for local areas, took care of supplies dogs, canoes, hunting. Took care of emergencies, acted as teachers and role models, trained hunters Acted as arbitrator, attend local council meetings, took care of problems among districts, villages Defend territory, took care of orphaned children, help with providing food and supplies for community.
Geographic Constituency Local area, village or community There is one for each of the 7 districts each made up of several villages, communities Responsible for all 7 Mikmaq districts
Leadership Characteristics Male from a prominent family, good character, good hunters Eldest male from a large powerful family, good hunters Exceptional character, excellent hunters, hereditary, survive in woods and create a new camp
The Iroquois
  • Southern Ontario
  • The Hurons lived north of Lake Ontario and the
    Iroquois confederacy lived south of the lake.
  • The name Canada comes from the Huron-Iroquois
    word Kanata, which means village or community.
  • Video http//www.youtube.com/watch?vO1jG58nghRo
  • Every Iroquois belonged to a clan, named after an
    animal for example, Bear, Turtle, Wolf.
  • The basic unit was the matrilineal family
    (combination of all the individual families
    descended from the oldest living woman)
  • If she was a member of the Bear clan, all
    daughters, grandsons/daughters belonged to the
    Bear clan. Husbands were from other clans or

The Iroquois
  • The Iroquois used the rich soil where they lived
    to grow corn, tobacco, squash and beans. In fact,
    they were so good at farming that they traded
    their extra corn and tobacco with tribes further
    north for animal pelts and porcupine quills.
  • Corn, beans and squash were called the Three
    Sisters, as they were grown together
  • They lived in towns of up to 2500 people and
    shared large longhouses made from elm or cedar

The Iroquois Confederacy
  • Founded by Dekanahwideh, who convinced the 5
    nations to stop the war amongst one another.
  • Their motto was one heart, one mind, one law.
  • The Confederacy originally consisted of 5
    nations the Mohawk, the Oneida, the Onondaga,
    the Cayuga, and the Seneca.
  • They were later joined by the Tuscaroras and the
    Confederacy became known as the Six Nations.
  • Known today as the Haudenosaunee

The Iroquois ConfederacyGovernment
  • Men became chiefs, but were chosen by the Clan
    Mother (oldest woman, who had the power to remove
    a chief and appoint another.
  • Village Council Looked after village matters.
    Council members were all men, headed by the
    village chief. All village council members
    represented various clans in a village and were
    appointed by their clan matrons.
  • Council of a Nation Dealt with affairs of the
    nation. Members were head chiefs from all the
    villages in a nation.
  • Confederacy or Grand Council Looked after
    issues affecting all the nations in the
    confederacy. Members were a delegation of chiefs
    from each of the nations (50 chiefs in all). All
    were men, but were chosen by women. All members
    were equal there was no council chief. They
    practiced a form of representative democracy in
    which votes were given to delegates from all
    Nations in annual meetings. Decisions required a

The Hurons
  • Lived north of Lake Ontario
  • They were successful traders who wanted to build
    a monopoly and discouraged other nations from
    trading with one another.
  • They used birch bark canoes to transport the
    produce from farms.
  • They were rivals with Iroquois confederacy and
    both groups often raided the other.

  • The Iroquoians were farmers who did not need to
    move around so their houses could be much larger
    and sturdier. They built elm or cedar-bark
    longhouses which were big enough for several
    families to live in together.

Plains Tribes
Plains Tribes
  • One time, there were as many as sixty million
    bison (or buffalo) roaming the plains region!
    They thrived in the extreme weather of the
    Canadian prairies and were the single most
    important animal to the tribes living there
    (including the Blackfoot, the Plains Cree and the
  • The culture of these peoples had everything to do
    with the bison. They were used for food, tipis,
    clothing, containers and tools. Their traditions
    were also closely tied to these animals and to
    their natural surroundings.
  • Later on, horses became very important to their
    culture when Europeans brought them to Canada.
    Before horses, they walked on foot or used dogs
    to pull their packs.

Plains Tribes and the Travois
  • The travois was made from 2 long poles lashed
    together and contained netting to carry goods.
  • The Plains people developed it to easily
    transport children and belongings.

The Blackfoot
  • Plain Tribe in Alberta
  • Two examples of their religious beliefs were the
    medicine bundle and the Sun Dance

The Blackfoot
  • The Medicine Bundle
  • Protection against harm
  • A rawhide bag that contained medicine pipe,
    feathers from an eagle or owl, sweet grass,
    chokecherry wood, pieces of tobacco, stones etc
  • They were passed on to members of the nation
    during a ceremony or a young Blackfoot could go
    into the wilderness for days without food or
    sleep. He would pray to the spirits for advice.
    Eventually he would fall asleep and dream of the
    items that had special powers to him. He would
    then go and collect those items.

The Blackfoot
  • The Sun Dance
  • Held in early summer
  • People who suffered from bad luck during the past
    year, or hoped for special help in the year
    ahead, took part.
  • Young men who took part stayed in a tipi together
    for several days. They fasted and were prepared
    by the shaman (medicine man).
  • The shaman would make pairs of cuts in each
    persons chest or back. Under the skin he looped
    leather strips, which were connected to the
    center pole.
  • Each person then danced, gazing into the sun and
    seeking power there. He pulled on the ropes,
    until the flesh gave away and he was free.
  • The scars that formed after a few weeks were
    looked upon as a badge of courage.

The Sun Dance
  • On the Plains most tribes moved around a lot to
    hunt buffalo and gather plants for food. The most
    common home was a tipi, built with long poles
    that were tied together at the top and covered by
    buffalo hides.
  • Often they had to travel great distances to find
    tall straight trees that would make good tipi
    poles, so they brought them along whenever they
    moved camp. Tipis were built and set up very
    precisely so that they would stay dry, keep extra
    warm in the winter and stand up against strong

Plateau Tribes
Plateau Tribes
  • The tribes of the Plateau in British Columbia
    depended on two very important rivers, the Fraser
    and the Thomson, to support their life. These
    rivers were full of prized salmon which they ate
    and traded, as well as trout and whitefish.
  • Deer, caribou, elk, and mountain sheep living
    nearby were important for food too. The tribes
    also used the rivers for traveling by canoe and
    for transporting goods to trade with other
  • Since there were many trees on the land around
    the rivers, many tribes made log huts covered
    with bark for shelter. The major tribes from the
    Plateau include the Interior Salish, Kootenay,
    and Athapaskan.

  • Many of the Plateau tribes lived in log huts
    covered with bark or grass. In the winter, some
    lived in pit houses. These houses were holes
    dug into the ground, with a cone-shaped roof held
    up by wooden poles, and covered with branches and
    dirt. They used a ladder to enter and leave
    through an opening at the top.

Northwest Coast
Northwest Coast
  • Known as the salmon people
  • The Haida, Tlingit and the other groups from that
  • There was plenty of food everywhere, from deer
    and bear to ducks, seals and fish, not to mention
    all kinds of fruits and edible plants.
  • Thousands of pacific salmon would swim up the
    rivers each year, a main source of food for the
    peoples of the coast.
  • Their way of life revolved around their natural
    surroundings the towering cedar trees were used
    to make boats, totem poles, houses, fish nets,
    baskets and clothing, which meant that most
    tribes were skilled at carpentry, spinning and
  • And since different foods were found in specific
    areas during certain times of the year, tribes
    would often move from their winter villages to
    other sites throughout the seasons, then back
    again to their home base.

Northwest Coast
  • The Totem Pole
  • Examples of artwork
  • Each part of the pole reveals something about an
    important person, spirit or event in a familys
    past history.
  • They were carved out of cedar trees with stones
  • Video http//www.youtube.com/watch?v648gwElcPzU

Northwest Coast
  • The community was divided into two groups
    nobles and commoners.
  • A person was born into one group or the other.
  • The nobles had more rights for example, they had
    the right to fish in the best locations.
  • Within each group, the members were ranked in
    order of importance.
  • The chief ranking nobleman was the chief

Northwest Coast The Potlatch
  • The word potlatch means giving
  • Property was shared among the members of the
    community and was a means of dealing with
    economic inequalities within a village
  • It is a ceremony given by a family for another
  • The host gave presents to each of the guests.
  • The most valuable gift went to the
    highest-ranking guest and so on down the line.
    Presents could include huge amounts of food,
    cedar canoes other goods.
  • The guest receiving the gifts were like witnesses
    to a contract confirming the host hosts step up
    the ladder of success.
  • It was usually held to mark a major event, such
    as a marriage, a birth or the naming of a new
  • All important guests were bound to respond by
    holding their own potlatch

Modern Day Potlatch
  • This part of Canada covers a huge area and
    includes many different tribes, including the
    Gwichin up in the Yukon, the Dene in the
    northwest, The Cree and Ojibwa in the East, to
    name a few.
  • Even though there were a wide variety of tribes
    in this region, there werent that many people
    altogether living there.
  • Thats partly because the weather is extreme and
    harsh and partly because many of the larger
    animals for hunting would migrate south during
    the winter.

  • Many bands would live by following the herds
    wherever they went, so they were always moving
    from place to place.
  • Since life was harder in this part of Canada,
    different bands worked together a lot to help
    each other survive. People would form groups to
    do certain tasks, like trapping, gathering
    berries and fishing. They would also trade food
    and medicine.

The Arctic Inuit
  • Its not surprising that the Inuit culture is
    quite different from other groups, when you
    consider the cold, harsh environment of the
  • There are no trees, lots of deep snow and thick
    ice, and unique animals, such as seals, walrus,
    whales and caribou
  • To get around on the snow and ice, hunt and stay
    warm, the Inuit people developed a very unique
    way of life. They created different kinds of
    hunting gear, like harpoons they had dog sleds
    and kayaks to get around and built temporary
    igloos for shelter when on hunting expeditions.
  • The Inuit people knew a great deal about their
    natural surroundings and passed this knowledge on
    to their children through storytelling and other
    important traditions.

Inuit Technology
  • Sunglasses Made of ivory or wood, these goggles
    would have thin slits through which a person
    could look without being blinded by sun
    reflecting off the snow
  • Cheap Energy They made lamps of stone or
    whalebone, with moss for a wick and seal blubber
    for fuel
  • Transportation Dog sleds, kayaks
  • Harpoons the head was made from stone and was
    attached with walrus-hide line to a shaft of
    walrus tusk

video http//www.youtube.com/watch?v6UIrgAFW3
aQVideo of where I lived (Tuktoyaktuk)
  • While hunting out on the sea ice, they would
    build igloos only as a temporary shelter from the
    wind and cold. However some Inuit groups began to
    use igloos for the entire winter.
  • Other winter houses were built with stones and
    covered with sod. The coastal Inuit sometimes
    built larger homes that were partly dug into the
    ground and covered by seal skin or sod roofs. To
    make summer homes, animal hides were sewn
    together and held up with sticks or whale ribs.

Aboriginal Clothing
  • It took a lot of patience and skill, and an
    understanding of natures cycles, to be able to
    get enough food to survive all year in Canada.
    First Nation and Inuit peoples used many
    different strategies hunting, gathering wild
    plants, farming, and trading food between tribes.
    One thing was for certain nothing was ever
    wasted, especially the animals.
  • Go to the following web site to see how every
    part of the Bison was used
  • http//www.ecokids.ca/pub/eco_info/topics/first_na

  • Over 500 drugs in use day originated in
    Aboriginal societies.
  • For example, they used a drink made from cedar
    bark and needles to cure scurvy. (vitamin C)
  • James Lind took this information and used lime
    juice, which led to the discovery of vitamins.
  • They also used willow and poplar bark for aches
    and pains, which is now in aspirin.
  • Picture is a Blackfoot Shaman

  • Trade in aboriginal communities was based, partly
    on the need for goods found in other areas and
    partly on establishing and maintaining friendly
    relations with neighbouring peoples.
  • The exchange of gifts and kindness reinforced
    alliances and brought prestige to the giver.

  • The most frequently traded items were arrowheads,
    tools, and shells.
  • Aboriginal peoples traded shell beads known as
  • Wampum was threaded on a string or woven into

  • Wampum were threaded onto a string or woven into
    belts. The patterns represented events or
  • Many Aboriginal people in the northeastern part
    of North America used the wampum as a way of
    recording and sending messages.

World View and Economic Structures
  • Aboriginal Peoples spiritual philosophy reflects
    a close relationship between their economies and
    the natural world.
  • Aboriginal peoples believed that nature was a
    continuous web in which humans were equal, but
    not superior, to the land, plants, animals, and
  • Most Aboriginal societies practised a lifestyle
    of sustainable development in which they took
    from the environment only what they needed in
    order to survive.
  • This philosophy enabled them to use their
    resources efficiently and with little waste.

Property Ownership
  • Aboriginal people did not belief that they owned
    the land, but rather were entrusted to preserve
    the land for future generations.
  • When the Europeans arrived, they considered North
    America as new lands and claimed them as their
    own territories and the resources located on
  • As Europeans expanded, the Aboriginal nations
    began to claim title (a legitimate claim to
    land)to the lands they traditionally occupied.
  • Violence and wars often broke out between
    Aboriginals and Europeans, which led to treaties.

  • Aboriginals used treaties with one another to
    determine who would use the land and how it would
    be used. They honoured and respected these
  • Treaties between the Dominion of Canada and the
    British relocated Aboriginals to plots of land
    called reserves. As part of the agreement, the
    Aboriginals received money and annual payments
    afterwards. The government was to recognize
    traditional hunting and fishing rights.
  • The government believed the treaties to be a bill
    of sale of the land.
  • The Aboriginals believed the treaties to be
    agreements about the ways the land would be used.

Mikmaq Treaties
  • In the 1700s, the Mikmaq signed a series of
    treaties with the British.
  • In exchange for their loyalty to the crown, the
    Mikmaq would continue to have hunting and
    fishing rights in their territory.
  • 1763, British government stated that no European
    settlement would be allowed west of the
    Appalachian Mountains because the lands were
    reserved for the Mikmaq.
  • Nova Scotia did not honour this and sold off much
    of the land.
  • The Mikmaq petitioned for more land, but
    colonial squatters took much of it.
  • In the 20th century, the Mikmaq had strict
    limitations placed on their hunting and fishing
  • In 1999, the Supreme Court ruled that the Mikmaq
    had the right to catch enough fish to earn a
    moderate livelihood

  • The Indian Act of 1876 stated that decisions
    affecting Aboriginal peoples in Canada were made
    by the federal government.
  • In the 1980s, a major goal of Aboriginal
    communities was the right for them to be able to
    govern matters affecting their culture,
    languages, traditions, and institutions.

The Nisgaa Agreement
  • The Nisgaa of BC never signed any treaties with
    the British or the Canadian government.
  • Within a 100 years, their land was taken away for
    forestry and minerals.
  • In 1973, the Supreme Court rules that they had
    title to the land before colonization.
  • A landmark agreement was reached in 1999. The
    Nisgaa achieved self-government, 253 million in
    compensation, and rights to forest and mineral
    resources and hunting and fishing rights. They
    has to give up their claims to 80 of their
    traditional land.
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