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The Indians of Canada

The Indians of Canada

Copyright Date: 1977
Pages: 466
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  • Book Info
    The Indians of Canada
    Book Description:

    The Indians of Canadaremains the most comprehensive works available on Canada's Indians.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2365-1
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
    (pp. v-x)
    William E. Taylor Jr

    The telegraph read: ‘Will you join the Stefansson Arctic Expedition and study Eskimos for three years. Reply collect.’ It was signed ‘Edward Sapir.’ Young Diamond Jenness had never heard of Edward Sapir in the spring of 1913 nor of Vilhaljmur Stefansson — nor had he ever thought of work in Arctic Canada, then still a distant and little known wilderness. He had just completed his first anthropological field work, a year in the Goodenough Islands off the southeast coast of New Guinea and was at home in Wellington, New Zealand, recovering from yellow fever and working on his field notes....

  3. [Illustration]
    (pp. ii-iv)
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vii)
  5. Illustrations
    (pp. viii-xii)
  6. Part I

      (pp. 1-16)

      When Samuel Champlain in 1603 sailed up the St. Lawrence river and agreed to support the Algonkian Indians at Tadoussac against the aggression of the Iroquois, he could not foresee that the petty strife between those two apparently insignificant hordes of “savages” would one day decide the fate of New France and of the vast territory that stretched for an unknown distance to the west. At the time no other choice lay open to him. The migratory Algonkians and their allies, the Hurons, controlled most of the territory which he hoped to explore, possessed the best means—birch-bark canoes and...

      (pp. 17-27)

      The highway of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers, connecting with the Great Lakes, inevitably attracted the early settlers towards the vast expanse of the interior continental plain; and the Nelson river, flowing into Hudson bay, though of lesser importance, beckoned the early traders in the same direction. These rivers are neither unnavigable like the Fraser in British Columbia, nor do they rise in a high range of mountains that blocks man’s passage into the interior. Between their headwaters and the Atlantic they embrace a wooded upland stamped with a network of lakes and rivers, a stretch of country uniform...

    • [Illustration]
      (pp. None)
      (pp. 28-39)

      The difference between the immediate resources of a country and its potential resources is the measure of the limitations in man’s knowledge. Statisticians calculate for us the value of Canada’s minerals, its waterpowers, lumber, agricultural and pastoral land, fisheries, and fur-bearing animals; and their figures soar with every increase in our knowledge, whether it be the production of an earlierripening wheat or the invention of a cheaper process for refining low-grade ores. Just as we have no right to despise the early French-Canadian settlers because they did not realize the power that lay buried in the Nova Scotia coal-fields, or...

      (pp. 40-52)

      The basis of all modern civilization rests on agriculture, especially the cultivation of cereals, for without wheat, or a substitute cereal, the vast majority of the human race would perish within a few weeks. Old World archæologists have traced back the cradle of civilization to two great river valleys, the Nile and the Euphrates, one or other of which saw the first domestication of wheat and barley four or five millenia before the Christian era. The Old World, for some reason not at present understood, possessed a greater wealth of seed grasses than the New; it gave man not only...

      (pp. 53-66)

      A migratory, outdoor life, wherein man pits his wits against the habits and instincts of the game on which he preys, inevitably develops a close perception of the phenomena of nature, and calls for many ingenious methods of obtaining the daily supply of food. The Indians were keen naturalists within the limitations of their interests. They knew the life-histories of the animals they hunted, the different stages of their growth, their seasonal movements and hibernation haunts, and the various foods they sought for sustenance. Difficulties of observation naturally prevented them from gaining as complete a knowledge of the habits of...

      (pp. 67-83)

      The fur-bearing animals which the Indian hunted for his daily food provided him also with the clothing he required to withstand the rigours of a continental climate in a country of rather high latitudes. He might have survived without clothing on the Pacific coast, where the warm Japanese current, sweeping southward from the Aleutian islands and the Alaskan gulf, kept the temperature within moderate limits at every season of the year; but nowhere else in Canada could he have lived through a single winter without warm garments to shield his body and limbs. He knew neither cotton nor linen, which...

      (pp. 84-99)

      With primitive as with civilized peoples, the centre of social life is the home; but just as the home of an Italian peasant differs greatly from that of a Norwegian, so the homes of the Canadian aborigines varied greatly one from another, in shape and in size, in the materials of which they were constructed, in their internal arrangements, and in the number of families that occupied them. Climatic, physiographic, and biological conditions all played a part in producing these variations; but cultural and historical influences were equally active, so that a type of dwelling that seemed to be peculiarly...

      (pp. 100-117)

      The character and extent of a country’s roads mirror with some clearness its civilization and prosperity. The Romans, who were the greatest road-builders of antiquity, linked together their “provinces” with broad, well-graded highways that excite the admiration of our professional civil engineers. In South America, a thousand years later, the Peruvians constructed a splendid series of roads in the mountainous Andean region to unite the scattered towns and villages that acknowledged the rule of the Incas in Cuzco, although, unlike the Romans, who possessed wheeled vehicles, they made their roads too narrow and steep to meet our present-day needs. Both...

      (pp. 118-132)

      We have already seen how deeply the physiographic features of the country, its climate, fauna, and flora, stamped their impress on the lives of the aborigines. The geographical environment, however, influenced mainly the outward culture of the tribes or nations. Their inner culture, their social customs, political organizations, religious ideas and art, were all the products of a long evolution in which psychological and historical factors played the major rôle. Tribes shifted their homes during the centuries, came into contact with new neighbours from whom they borrowed new customs and new ideas, and at rare intervals produced great thinkers and...

      (pp. 133-148)

      In the last chapter we considered only the most migratory tribes of Canada, those that wandered continually from place to place in search of a hazardous food supply. We saw that the primitive economic conditions under which they lived reflected themselves in a primitive social organization, and that the amelioration of these conditions among the plains’ tribes through the introduction of the horse and firearms, combined with an increase of inter-tribal contacts, brought about a notable development in social and political life. We are prepared, therefore, to expect rather more complex types of society, and more intricate political organizations, among...

      (pp. 149-166)

      Among primitive, as among civilized, peoples, the form in which society is organized profoundly affects every man, woman, and child in the community at every period of their lives. Yet the ordinary individual gives little attention to it, but accepts the society in which the accident of birth has placed him and directs his thoughts to more visible matters, to the daily task and the daily food supply, the joys and trials of human companionship, and the little events in the everyday life that seem to count most for human happiness and unhappiness. Man may be a social being, as...

      (pp. 167-184)

      Europeans, realizing the brevity of man’s earthly career, regard it as a training-school for another life to come, and seek in religion a guide to the thought and conduct that offer apparently the best preparation for the hereafter. Christianity teaches them to weigh all earthly gains and losses, all seeming good and ill, in the balance of eternity, and to forego many things that appear desirable here and now for a greater good beyond the grave. The Indians pinned little hope to the uncertain hereafter. They sought from religion help and guidance in this present life alone, and with full...

      (pp. 185-199)

      Very few men in civilized or uncivilized communities have the gift of genuine creation. They can modify and improve on what is known already, but they cannot evolve an entirely new style of architecture, or a type of literature unlike any that has gone before. Similarly, when a people borrows folk-tales from surrounding peoples—and tales, or at least incidents in them, are transmitted more easily perhaps than anything else—it cannot assimilate them if they differ radically from its own folk-tales, but modifies them to conform to ideas and patterns that are already familiar and imposes on them the...

      (pp. 200-215)

      Among the tribes of the plains and eastern woodlands the reciting of folk-tales at family gatherings and the recounting of war deeds or tribal legends at public festivals provided the Indians with a “school of rhetoric” for the development of those oratorical talents that in democratic communities seem indispensable for public leadership. Eloquence ranked second only to skill and courage in hunting and in war. So essential was it to every leader for the maintenance of his prestige and power that it provoked the exclamation from an early Jesuit missionary, “There is no place in the world where Rhetoric is...

    • [Illustration]
      (pp. None)
      (pp. 216-232)

      Although the many diverse languages and customs of the aborigines suggest that the country was occupied for countless centuries before its discovery by Europeans, the remains of its prehistoric inhabitants are seldom conspicuous, and in many districts hardly discoverable even with careful research. There are no architectural ruins similar to the cliff dwellings in the southwest of the United States, the stone temples, walls, and highways of Central America and Peru, or the brick and stone monuments of the Old World. Stone entered into the construction of dwellings only on the Arctic and sub-Arctic coast-lines, where alone we find habitations,...

      (pp. 233-248)

      The archæological remains we have just considered carry us back only a short distance into the history of the occupation of Canada. They tell us neither who the Indians are, where they came from, nor how long they have been in possession of the country. The solutions of these problems cannot, in fact, be found in Canada alone, nor even in North America, because they are inseparably bound up with the history of man throughout the whole of the western hemisphere. In the ebb and flow of tribal movements during the long centuries before Columbus, few if any of our...

      (pp. 249-264)

      Over and over again in the course of the world’s history great changes and occasionally advances in civilization have resulted from the clashes of peoples who previously had marched along separate roads. Such an advance occurred in Japan during the nineteenth century after she threw open her doors to European commerce, and a similar change is taking place in China to-day. In these countries the clash has perhaps benefited materially and mentally both the white race and the yellow, for no one can question their equality in mental endowment, or their ability to assimilate whatever most appeals to them in...

  7. Part II

      (pp. 265-287)

      In the first part of this work we outlined in bold relief the main features in the lives of our Indians and Eskimo, considereden masse, and discussed what little we know concerning their origins and earlier histories. In this second part we will briefly pass in review each physiographic region, sketch the chief characteristics of its principal tribes and summarize their histories since their contact with Europeans. We may logically open our account with the eastern woodlands, with the migratory tribes of Algonkiari speech that did not till the soil; and commence with the extinct Beothuk Indians of Newfoundland....

      (pp. 288-307)

      When Jacques Cartier sailed up the St. Lawrence river in 1535 he found Iroquoians cultivating the land and controlling the country around the present site of Montreal; but when Champlain followed him sixty-eight years later this region was occupied by Algonkins, and the only part of Canada controlled by Iroquoians was the peninsula of southern Ontario south and west of lake Simcoe.¹ In the early seventeenth century, “the Hurons (or Wyandots), allied in origin and language to the Iroquois, numbered about 16,000 souls, and dwelt in several large villages in a narrow district on the high ground between lake Simcoe...

    • [Illustration]
      (pp. None)
      (pp. 308-326)

      The plains’ tribe that lived nearest to the Iroquoians during the early seventeenth century was the Assiniboine (“the people that cook with hot stones”), who had probably separated off from the Dakota Sioux only a few generations before. They were then hunting in the country around the Lake of the Woods and lake Nipigon, and, though depending mainly on the chase, gathered large quantities of wild rice,¹ which they cooked, like their neighbours the Ojibwa, in clay pots and vessels of birch bark. By the eighteenth century, however, most of them had moved away to the northwest,² and divided into...

    • [Illustration]
      (pp. None)
      (pp. 327-350)

      From the plains we pass to the Pacific coast of Canada, neglecting for a time the inland tribes of British Columbia because most of them patterned their lives after their neighbours on the coast. The material culture of the coastal tribes¹ hinged on the shoals of salmon that annually ascended the creeks and rivers, and on the abundant stands of free-grained cedar trees; for the salmon provided them with an assured supply of food throughout the year, and the cedar furnished timber for dwellings, canoes, and household utensils, and bark for clothing and mats. While there were local differences in...

    • [Illustration]
      (pp. None)
      (pp. 351-376)

      The largest nation in the interior of British Columbia was the Interior Salish, who differed in customs, dialects, and even physical appearance from the Salishan-speaking Indians of the coast. They were divided into five tribes that were often hostile to one another.

      (1) Lilloet (“Wild Onion”) Indians, of the Lillooet River valley.

      (2) Thompson Indians, in the Fraser River valley from about Yale to Lillooet, and on the Thompson river as far up as. Ashcroft.

      (3) Okanagan¹ Indians, of the Okanagan lake and river.

      (4) Lake Indians, of the Arrow lakes and upper Columbia river.

      (5) Shuswap¹ Indians, controlling the...

    • CHAPTER XXIII Tribes of the Mackenzie and Yukon River Basins
      (pp. 377-404)

      If we omit from consideration the tribes dwelling along the coast, and a small group of Eskimo who occupied the northeast corner of the continent, all the inhabitants of North America beyond about the 56th parallel spoke dialects of that Athapaskan tongue which Sapir suggests may be remotely connected with the Tibeto-Chinese-Siamese group of languages in eastern Asia. They were essentially woodland peoples like the Algonkians of eastern Canada; the treeless seacoast of the Arctic repelled them, and the “barren lands” with their herds of caribou and musk-oxen drew from most tribes only brief and hurried incursions. Winter was long...

    • [Illustration]
      (pp. None)
      (pp. 405-422)

      The last of our physiographic regions was the Arctic and sub-Arctic coasts of Canada from the Alaskan boundary to the strait of Belle Isle, excluding only the southern and western shores of James bay. This was the home of the Eskimo (a Cree word meaning “Eaters of raw meat”), a people distinct in physical appearance, in language, and in customs from all the Indian tribes of America. Yet just as their peculiar physical appearance masked but did not debar their partial derivation from the same division of mankind as the Indians—from the great Mongolian stock that predominates throughout eastern...

  8. INDEX
    (pp. 423-432)