CHAPTER 1: The First Warriors
A Continent Already Inhabited
Pehriska-Ruhpa, Moennitari (or Hidatsa) Warrior in the Costume of the Dog Dance
(Click image to enlarge)
When the Europeans "discovered" America, they were not stepping onto a continent devoid of all human habitation, but rather a continent where descendants of nomads from Asia had been living for some 12,000 years. The northern part of North America - the vast plains of the west, the mostly wooded regions of the centre and east, the rocky coast of Labrador from the mouth of the St. Lawrence to the Arctic, or in other words the entire area that would one day become Canada - was inhabited by various peoples constituting almost as many linguistic and cultural groups. The Inuit had arrived in the Arctic as early as the year 1000 A.D. The part of Quebec north of the St. Lawrence River, central and northern Ontario, and large areas of what is now Manitoba and Saskatchewan were occupied by the Algonquin group (Crees, Ojibwas, Algonquins, and Montagnais). The Beothuks inhabited the island of Newfoundland, while the Gaspé Peninsula, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island were the domain of the Micmacs, Malecites and Abenakis. The realm of the Plains Amerindians began west of Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba, where Ojibwas and Plains Cree eventually gave way to Assiniboines, Gros-Ventres, Blackfoot and Sarcees stretching all the way to the Rocky Mountains.