THE DREAMCATCHERS: THE FIRST NATIONS
(MODULE 1 #3)
In The Beginning…..(origins)

First “Canadians” –the very first- arrived in prehistoric times (12 000 to 80 000 years ago) when
low sea levels created a temporary ISTHMUS, or land bridge (Berring Strait), between Asia and
Alaska.

Early hunters followed the woolly mammoth, caribou, and bison into North America crossing the
land bridge.

Rumor has it that the first European to arrive in North America was an old Irish monk by the name
of St. Brendan who arrived in a curragh (or big canoe!) circa 400 A.D.

There is evidence, however, that the first European settlement was established by the medieval
Norse (Vikings) circa 1000 A.D. Leif Eriksson led his hoard of Vikings to L’Anse aux Meadows,
Newfoundland on large open ships called Knarrs.

The Vikings stay was short lived as members of the First Nations drove them off their settlement.

By the time the Europeans arrived (including the Vikings), a wide variety of aboriginal societies
had long since evolved and spread across every region of North and South America.

In Canada, there were more than 50 separate Native languages. Today, only 3 of these (Cree,
Ojibwa, Inuktitut) are in a strong enough position to survive. Entire nations have vanished and
entire cultures have been lost.
In The Beginning…..(origins)

First “Canadians” –the very first- arrived in prehistoric
times (12 000 to 80 000 years ago) when low sea levels
created a temporary ISTHMUS, or land bridge (Berring
Strait), between Asia and Alaska.

Early hunters followed the woolly mammoth, caribou,
and bison into North America crossing the land bridge.

Rumor has it that the first European to arrive in North
America was an old Irish monk by the name of St.
Brendan who arrived in a curragh (or big canoe!) circa
400 A.D.

There is evidence, however, that the first European
settlement was established by the medieval Norse
(Vikings) circa 1000 A.D. Leif Eriksson led his hoard of
Vikings to L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland on
large open ships called Knarrs.

The Vikings stay was short lived as members of the First
Nations drove them off their settlement.

By the time the Europeans arrived (including the
Vikings), a wide variety of aboriginal societies had long
since evolved and spread across every region of North
and South America.

In Canada, there were more than 50 separate Native
languages. Today, only 3 of these (Cree, Ojibwa,
Inuktitut) are in a strong enough position to survive.
Entire nations have vanished and entire cultures have
been lost.
RIGHTFUL OWNERS: THE FIRST NATIONS
THE ALGONQUIANS
THE ALGONQUIANS: NOMADIC HUNTERS

Algonquian refers to the language, or the many tribes
who speak an Algonquian language.

Algonquian Tribes: Abenaki; Cree; Micmac; Montagnais;
Naskapi; Ojibway (located in Central & Eastern Canada,
and Eastern U.S.)
ALGONQUIAN CHARACTERISTICS &
WAY OF LIFE (P.A.W.N.)
 Way
of life: NOMADIC (i.e. hunting bands would
move their camp site from place to place following
wild game / source of food)
 Sources
of food: Men HUNTED and fished. Women
prepared food, made clothing, took care of children,
collected firewood, prepared hides, contributed to
food supply by gathering berries, roots, and seeds.
 Tools:
Men fabricated all equipment for hunting and
‘living’ – bows, arrows, stone axes, spears, fish
hooks, nets, snowshoes, and canoes.
ALGONQUIAN CHARACTERISTICS &
WAY OF LIFE (P.A.W.N.) cont’d
 Homes:
They lived in WIGWAMS (tents
covered in birch bark or animal skins). Easy
to put up and take down as the tribe moved
along.
 Clothing: Made from animal skins or furs.
Moccasins, beaver robes.
 Travel:
Traveled on foot. Used birch bark
canoes that were sturdy and light,
snowshoes and toboggans in the winter.
ALGONQUIAN CHARACTERISTICS &
WAY OF LIFE (P.A.W.N.) cont’d

Religion & Culture: Creation Myths. Believed in spirits
found in every living entity. Interpreted dreams through a
Shaman (medicine man) who contacted the spirit world.
Culture and traditions passed on orally through
storytelling. Fabricated elaborate designs on clothing,
wampum belts, charms, etc.

Social Structure: Structure centered around a
PATRIARCHY (men were the leaders and heads of
families. Traveled in small hunting groups (2 to 4
families). Groups of the band came together in the
summer. Bands with same dialect formed a tribe.
THE ALGONQUIANS
STORYTELLING
ON THE MOVE
THE ALGONQUIANS
FIRST NATIONS
THE IROQUOIS
THE IROQUOIS: SEDENTARY HUNTERS

Iroquoian refers to a family of First Nations languages. True
name is Haudenosaunee, meaning “people of the longhouse.”

Iroquoian Tribes/Nations: Hurons; Tobacco; Neutral
(settlements North of Lake Erie & Huron). League of 5 Nations
/ Iroquois Confederacy: Cayuga; Mohawk; Oneida; Onondaga;
Seneca) who settled in the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence
Lowlands.
IROQUOIAN CHARACTERISTICS & WAY
OF LIFE (F.I.L.M.S.)

Way of life: SENDENTARY (i.e. lived as ‘farmers’
in permanent villages. They only moved if soil was
depleted or for military purposes. Moved every 1015 years.

Sources of food: Men hunted in the fall and fished
in the spring. Women were main food producers;
grew maize, beans, squash, sunflowers, tobacco,
gathered plants and berries.

Tools: Women made clothing, pottery, straw
baskets, and mats. Men made stone axes,
bows/arrows, fishing nets, spoons, bowls, armour.
IROQUOIAN CHARACTERISTICS & WAY
OF LIFE (F.I.L.M.S.) cont’d
 Homes:
Men built several (30)
LONGHOUSES that were protected by a
palisade. Longhouses could be as long 200300 feet and were constructed from wooden
support beams covered with animal skins or
elm bark. Several families lived in each
longhouse.
 Clothing: Made from animal skins or furs.
Moccasins, beaver robes.
 Travel: Traveled on foot. Used birch bark
canoes, and snowshoes in the winter.
IROQUOIAN CHARACTERISTICS & WAY
OF LIFE (F.I.L.M.S.) cont’d

Religion & Culture: (similar to the Algonquians) Creation
Myths. Believed in spirits found in every living entity.
Interpreted dreams through a Shaman (medicine man) who
contacted the spirit world. Culture and traditions passed on
orally through storytelling. Fabricated elaborate designs on
clothing, wampum belts, charms, etc.

Social Structure: Structure centered around a MATRIARCH
(women were the heads of families, owned all property, free
to marry the man of their choice). Women made important
decisions about family life. Clan mothers selected the chiefs,
but men made political decisions. Married men lived with
wife’s family. League of Five Nations / Iroquois Confederacy
created sophisticated political system with division of powers
…inspired both Canadian and U.S. governments.
THE IROQUOIS
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