Cree Tribe Facts – Native American History
The Cree are one of the largest groups of Indigenous Americans in North America. 350,000 people in Canada have some Cree origins.
96,575 people speak the Cree language.
The Cree live all over modern-day Canada, from Alberta to Quebec.
Like many names of Native American peoples, the word Cree is not really what the Cree call themselves. They call themselves Nehiyawak.
The word Cree itself comes from a name French people gave the Cree.
When the French explorers encountered the Cree people for the first time, they called them was Kiristinon. This was then shortened to Cri, which the English spelt “Cree”.
A history of the Cree
The Cree and their ancestors have lived in the woodland areas of present-day Canada for thousands of years.
The Cree were excellent hunters and followed the seasons of animals as they migrated in order to hunt different animals. They hunted moose, caribou and rabbit.
The Cree had some very cool ways of travelling to suit both the winter and summer climates of their lands in Canada.
In summer, they traveled along the big lakes in canoes, and in winter they traveled across the deep snow on toboggans.
To walk on the snow, they used special shoes called snowshoes. These are big flat attachments for boots that let you walk across the snow more easily. They are used today in Canada in winter.
When the Europeans arrived in the 1600s, the Cree people traded furs (from the animals they hunted) for European goods, like metal tools and twine.
The Cree also exchanged Canoes for horses. Before the Europeans, the Cree had traded with other Algonquian-speaking nations, like the Innu, Algonquin and Ojibwa.
Sun Dance is a festival celebrated by the Cree. This is where the Cree people gathered to pray in order to heal.
During the Sun Dance, those Cree who celebrated would use it as a chance to reconnect with the earth and the spirits.
In 1885 a terrible thing happened when Indigenous festivals, including the Sun Dance, were banned.
Some Cree carried on performing their festival in secret because it was extremely important to them.
Young Cree people had to go on vision quests. It was a very important turning point in a young man’s life and a way to grow up.
You would get put in the forest by your elders to connect with nature and seek wisdom from the environment.
The idea was you would find your own spirit guide, which was normally an animal/human creature.
How many people speak the Cree language?
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What was the Sun Dance Ceremony for?
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