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A People of Opportunity

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1 A People of Opportunity
The Cree A People of Opportunity An Investigation By: Thomas Hunter And Brett Israel

2 Schedule of Events Brief Introduction to the Cree
What groups make up the Cree? Plains Cree Description of Appearance Description of Homes Explanation of Lifestyle Relations with other groups Food Spirituality Oral Tradition Modern History Q and A

3 The Cree One of largest Aboriginal Tribes in North America
Extremely expansive Tribe Estimated population in year ,000+ The Cree belong to the Algonkian Language family Tribe originated in the James Bay area, first made contact with the French around this location

4 Reason for Separation Upon initial contact with the European’s, the Cree where thrust into a world of trade European traders wanted Cree animal hides and furs Due to demand, the central Woodland Cree separated into a number of Sub tribes (7) Sub tribes can be categorized into 3 main groups defined by geographic region Woods Cree(Saskatchewan and Manitoba) Plains Cree (Saskatchewan and Alberta) Swampy Cree (Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec)

5 Cree Tribe Location in Canada

6 Plains Cree

7 Appearance Many of the men would shave off their head hair except for a small patch, however those who didn’t would braid their hair. Their clothes were animal skin with a breech cloth and leggings which were worn in the summer and a more complete buckskin dress in the winter. Their shoes were traditional moccasins and they wore leather and fur mittens in the winter. Cree woman wore long dresses with removable sleeves, along with traditional moccasins and the leather and fur mittens in the winter. Much of their clothing was made from different hides of the animals they hunted and later skinned.


9 Homes Cree people pitched camp with large buffalo-hide tents called teepees. Teepees are tents traditionally made of animal skins and wooden poles. Teepees were durable, provided warmth and comfort in the winter, stayed dry during heavy rains, and stayed cool in the heat of summer. Teepees could be disassembled and packed away quickly which was perfect for the Cree Natives because they were nomadic people and were constantly on the move. Cree people would also build ridge pole lodges when settling in for extended periods of time (i.e. Winter)



12 Lifestyle Cree Natives were strongly associated with the Europeans as traders and hunters in the North American fur trade The lived in small nomadic groups for a majority of the summer, and would come back together into larger groups for the winter They trapped and hunter, deer, beaver, mink, fish, moose, and of course buffalo when present. The Cree were a peaceful people for the most part and can be characterized as hunters for they lived on the Canadian Shield full of abundant wildlife. Cree men were hunters and fisherman, and sometimes went to war to protect their families. Cree woman took care of the children, built their families house and gathered plants to eat and herbs to use for medicine.

13 Trade with Europeans The trade with the Europeans was one of factors that caused the Cree to be nomadic (French were not interested in Corn) Trade brought Cree greater wealth and tools While Europeans were new authority figure, few ventured father inland past trading posts The Cree remained politically sovereign well into their trade with the Europeans

14 Introduction to the Horse
The domesticated horse was first introduced to the Cree people in the early 1700’s They would trade pelts and hides for them Horses not only improved the quality of life for the Cree, but also their efficiency in hunting It allowed people to cover a far greater area of land faster

15 Relations With other Tribes
Cree were very peaceful people as they saw Warfare as a road block in the path to progress They protected their trade with the Europeans through being extremely efficient with their hunting However, certain Cree groups would quarrel with other tribes such as the Blackfoot Cree aligned themselves with the Assiniboine to help fight the Blackfoot Warfare would typically consist of camp raids, introduction of horses added to this

16 Assiniboine Assiniboine

17 Hunting Methods Buffalo was the largest game for the Cree
While other animals were killed more for their furs, Buffalo was killed for its meat and other body parts (to be used by Cree) Cree would work in a team to chase buffalo off of a cliff until the fall to their death The Cree also created corals (pounds) which they would chase wild Buffalo into in order to kill the Buffalo at a time that suited them Teamwork was critical


19 Food The Cree depended on Buffalo for most of their food
Buffalo are very large, weighing over 1000 kg Tongue, shoulder, heart and kidneys were all eaten directly after killing The remaining meat was made into Pemican by the women Pemican is a dried mixture of meat, berries and animal fat It was a staple for those living on the plains as it was very nutritious and didn’t go bad prairie chickens, rabbits, elk, ducks, fish, turnips, blueberries, cranberries and other berries were also all eaten

20 Spirituality Cree had a very complex spiritual view
It was a mixture of historical Cree teachings, but it evolved as the people moved into the plains region Atayohkan are the spirits (also know as Manito) that look after all of the living things that were created i.e. a Manito looks after the buffalo Similar to other tribes, the Cree practiced the Vision Quest The Cree also used conjuring lodges (building where shaman could connect with the Manito

21 Oral Tradition Similar to other tribes, oral tradition was a key element of the Cree’s culture Please listen to Thomas and Brett as they pass on the tradition to you

22 Modern History As European influence continued to grow, the Cree could no longer remain sovereign Soon like other first nation groups, they were forced onto reserves, Buffalo were killed, and the nomadic people were forced to settle down The missionaries came as well Cree started intermarying with the Europeans The conquering of the West was not however without one last stand

23 Red River Rebellion The Red River Rebellion was the sequence of events related to the 1869 establishment of a provisional government by Louis Riel and his followers at the Red River Colony, in what is now Manitoba. Riel and his followers prevented an English speaking governor, William McDougall, from controlling or even entering the Red River Colony. Two of his fellow Cree Native allies included Chief Poundmaker, the chief of the Plains Cree who sent a letter to Louis Riel calling for war. He was later convicted of treason and sent to prison. The other, Chief Big Bear, who did not participate in the conflict led by Riel. Instead he led a series of smaller battles in Saskatchewan, unfortunately Big Bear’s efforts to stop the massacre failed. He was brought to trial in Regina and found guilty of treason.


25 Cree Today There are over 200,ooo Cree in North America today with a majority still living in Canada Many haven given up the nomadic life to settle down in city life Aboriginal self government and economic development are goals close of the Cree today t

26 Sources

27 Q and A

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