Browse "Indigenous People"

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Alexander Monkman

Alex Monkman was a constant advocate of roads to the Grande Prairie. In the early 1920s he and some companions discovered a pass lower than the Yellowhead Pass through the Rocky Mountains.

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Alikomiak and Tatimagana

Alikomiak (also spelled Alekámiaq) and Tatimagana, Inuit hunters from the central Arctic, were the first Inuit to be condemned and executed for murder under Canadian law on 1 February 1924. The trials of Alikomiak and Tatimagana have been described as demonstrations of federal authority over the Inuit as well as of Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic.

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Almighty Voice

Almighty Voice (or Kitchi-manito-waya, meaning “Voice of the Great Spirit,” also known as Jean-Baptiste), Cree, outlaw (born around 1875 near Duck Lake, SK; died 30 May 1897 at Batoche, SK).

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Anahareo

Anahareo, or Gertrude Philomen Bernard, CM, conservationist, prospector (born 18 June 1906 in Mattawa, ON; died 17 June 1986 in Kamloops, BC). An independent, forceful animal welfare advocate, Anahareo is credited with converting her well-known husband, Grey Owl, into a conservationist.

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Beothuk

Beothuk (meaning “the people” or “true people” in their language) were the now-extinct inhabitants of Newfoundland. At the time of European contact, they may have numbered no more than 500 to 1,000. Their population is difficult to estimate owing to a reduction in their territories in the early contact period and the absence of surviving documentation.

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Black Hawk

Black Hawk (Black Sparrow Hawk, Makataimeshekiakiak), Sauk War Chief (b at Saukenuk, near Rock Island, Ill, 1767; d near Des Moines, Iowa, 3 Oct 1838).

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Chanie Wenjack

Chanie “Charlie” Wenjack (born 19 January 1954; died 23 October 1966 near Redditt, ON). Chanie Wenjack, an Anishinaabe boy from Ontario, ran away from his residential school near Kenora at age 12, and subsequently died from hunger and exposure to the harsh weather. His death in 1966 sparked national attention and the first inquest into the treatment of Indigenous children in Canadian residential schools.

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Clovis (Llano)

These big-game hunters sought mammoths, mastodons, camels and horses that were native to North America at the time. Following the retreat of the Wisconsin glaciers, these animals became extinct, hastening the end of this stage of North American Prehistory.

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Cuthbert Grant

Cuthbert Grant, fur trader, Métis leader, captain of the Métis at Seven Oaks (b at Fort de la Rivière Tremblante [Sask] c 1793; d at White Horse Plains [St-François-Xavier, Man] 15 July 1854). Grant,

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Dekanahwideh

Dekanahwideh, "the Heavenly Messenger," reputed founder of the Five Nations Confederacy. He was said to have been born among the Huron of a virgin mother, and destined to bring peace and power to his people.

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Demasduwit

Demasduwit (also known as Shendoreth, Waunathoake, Mary March), one of the last of the Beothuk (born 1796; died 8 January 1820 at Bay of Exploits, Newfoundland). Demasduwit helped to preserve the Beothuk language and culture. In 2007, the Canadian government recognized her as a person of national historic significance.

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Deskaheh

Deskaheh (also known as Levi General), Cayuga chief and speaker of the Six Nations Hereditary Council (born on the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford, Ontario in 1873; died at the Tuscarora Reservation, New York, on 25 June 1925).

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Donnacona

Donnacona, St Lawrence Iroquoian leader (d in France probably in 1539), headman of the village of Stadacona [near Québec City] during Jacques Cartier's voyages of 1534-36, protested when Cartier raised his cross in Gaspé in July 1534.

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Eenoolooapik

Eenoolooapik, also known as Bobbie, Inuk traveller, guide (born at Qimisuk, Cumberland Sound, NWT 1820?; died at Cumberland Sound 1847), brother of Tookoolito. He travelled to Britain in 1839 with whaling captain William Penny, who had hoped to establish a wintering base for whalers in Cumberland Sound.

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Gabriel Dumont

Gabriel Dumont, Métis leader (born December 1837 at Red River Settlement; died 19 May 1906 at Bellevue, SK). Dumont rose to political prominence in an age of declining buffalo herds and was concerned about the ongoing economic prosperity and political independence of his people.

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Hiawatha

Hiawatha is an important figure in the precolonial history of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) of present-day southern Ontario and upper New York (ca. 1400-1450). He is known most famously for uniting the Five Nations—Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida and Mohawk—into a political confederacy. In 1722, the Tuscarora, a tribe from much farther south, joined the Confederacy, forming what we now know as the Six Nations. The story of Hiawatha should not be confused with the popular poem by Henry Wordsworth Longfellow, The Song of Hiawatha (1885). While Longfellow references Hiawatha, the poem’s focus is actually an Algonquian cultural hero, Nanabozho. Whether this was an intentional or accidental error, Longfellow’s poem confused the history of Hiawatha.

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James McKay

James McKay, Manitoba Métis politician, interpreter, guide, fur trader, Hudson’s Bay Company clerk and postmaster (born 5 February 1828 in Edmonton House, Alberta; died 2 December 1879 at St. James, Manitoba). A member of the Council of Assiniboia (1868–69), James McKay played a moderating role during the Red River Rebellion. He also served Manitoba as president of the Executive Council, Speaker of the Legislative Council and Minister of Agriculture, and was on the Council of the North-West Territories from 1873–75. Fluent in various Indigenous languages, McKay helped negotiate Treaties 1, 2 and 3 in the early 1870s. As a treaty commissioner for Treaties 5 and 6, he added provisions to help Indigenous peoples with medical supplies in the event of an epidemic, with famine relief and with their new life on reserves. McKay’s life and career exemplified attempts by Métis leaders, both in commerce and politics, to adapt to rapid changes after Confederation.  

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Jean-Louis Riel

Jean-Louis Riel (also known as Louis Riel Sr.), Métis leader, farmer, miller (born in 1817 in Île-à-la-Crosse, Saskatchewan; died in 1864 in Saint-Boniface, Manitoba). Riel rallied hundreds of Métis people in support of Métis defendants against the Hudson’s Bay Company in the 1849 Sayer trial. A landmark case in the history of the Canadian West, the Sayer verdict re-established free fur trade in the Red River Colony. By the 1850s, Jean-Louis Riel had become a leader of the French-Canadian community in the Red River. His role in having the French language used in the Assiniboia courts, and in gaining representation for the Métis on the Council of Assiniboia, helped to cement this status. Riel’s outspoken stance on Métis rights and autonomy significantly influenced his son, Louis Riel, who went on to become arguably the most significant historical Métis leader.