Canadian History/The People of the Lands/First Nations

The "First Nations" is the name given to the peoples descended from those who inhabited Canada at the time of its discovery by European explorers. The First Nations are organised into a number of different tribes, each with its own unique social structure and beliefs. It is believed that they arrived in North America via an ice bridge between Alaska and eastern Russia during the last ice age. Differences in geography have divided the First Nations into five major groups, each of them having different resources, technologies, and spiritual stories. Within those major groups, there are multiple tribes. The five major groups are as follows:



The Inuit people live the farthest north of all the First Nations. Inuit ancestry goes back hundreds of thousands of years in the Canadian Arctic. Staying alive while living in the Arctic was difficult, and people lived on every last resource they could find.

Northwest Coast


The People of the Northwest Coast were very "spoiled" as far as natural resources go. They had plenty of food that could easily be stored and preserved. This allowed them to develop a complex social structure and gave them the ability to live in either their winter or summer houses.



The people of the plains moved from place to place following buffalo, their main source of food and tools. Obviously, they lived on the great plains of Canada and the United States.



The people of the plateau lived in western Canada, but not as far west as the Pacific Ocean. They had winter pit houses and relied on hunting, gathering and fishing for food.



The Iroquois were located in present day southern Ontario and around the Great Lakes. They used agriculture as a primary source of food and lived in large towns sometimes containing as many as 1000 people.