Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
January 2005

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


The Indians of the Canadian North-West



[This text was written by John Maclean, M.A., Ph.D., in 1898. For the full citation, see the end of the document. Eskimos are now more appropriately know as Inuit.]



THE quest after a North-West passage brought the Arctic navigators into con­tact with the Eskimos and Indians, and in their journals we may read the story of hardship, relieved with notes on the customs and languages of the aborigines. French and English traders sought wealth in the Hudson 's Bay country before the Hudson 's Bay Company received its charter, by trading with the Indians for the furs of the animals which inhabited that region. In the middle of the eighteenth century La Vérendrye and his sons travelled through several portions of Manitoba, one of the sons being the first European to cross the continent to the Rocky Mountains, and half a century later Alexander Mackenzie explored the region north­ward to the Frozen Sea, and westward to the Pacific Ocean . These intrepid travellers found willing helpers in the Redmen amongst whom they dwelt for   a season, and bitter foes confronted them in the tribes they met for the first time. Alexander Henry, the younger, traversed a large portion of Manitoba and the yerritories, trading with Black­feet, Bloods, Piegans, Sarcees, Ojibiways, Atsinas, Crees, and other tribes, and from the journals of these traders and explorers, and the writings of the Arctic adventurers, our knowledge of the early history and condition of the aborigines is gained. The numerous tribes whose haunts were found in forest, mountain, and plain, had no means of making an accurate estimate of the strength of their tribal friends and foes, and the white men were unable to take a census, the tribes living in a state of perpetual warfare, and the distances of residence being so great. The Indian population of Rupert's Land and the territory east of the Rocky Mountains and west of Lake of the Woods was supposed, in 1857, to be fifty-six thou­sand souls, and at the present time the approxi­mate returns of the native population of Manitoba, the North-West Territories, Athabasca, Arctic, Coast, Eastern Rupert's Land, the Peace River and Mackenzie Districts amount to fifty thousand persons.

The Mound-builders have left traces of their existence in the parish of St. Andrews , near Winnipeg, and in the districts of Rainy River, Riding Mountain, and Souris River. The relics of this peaceful race of nomads may be seen in the museum of the Manitoba Historical Society, Winnipeg . Cairns of stones and figures of animals made of small stones having totemic signification were erected upon the prairie by the natives, and the observant traveller may see these evidences of the beliefs of another race as he rides over some localities where the farmer has not yet removed the stone monuments by his plough. Small circles of stones mark the places where the lodges have been pitched, as these were used to hold down the bottom of the lodge. The cairn of small stones marked the spot where a native hero fell, and the figures of animals the totems of the tribe. Concerning the erection of some of these prairie boulder monuments the natives say they were made by the spirit of the winds.


The tribes are widely scattered, each occupying its own territory, bearing its distinctive tribal characteristics produced through environment, and never intermingling with each other. The Cree Confederacy forms one of the largest bodies of Indians in the Dominion, and the tribes and sub-tribes inhabit sections of country from the eastern limit of Manitoba to the Rocky Mountains , and from the International Boundary Line on the south to the northern district of the Athabascan tribes. The Plain Crees reside chiefly on the prairies of Alberta and Assiniboia ; the Wood Crees inhabit Northern Alberta and Athabasca ; and the Swampy Crees, sometimes called Maskegon, dwell in Keewatin . There are between one and two thousand Sioux Indians, divided into small bands, widely scattered on reserves and as refugees, obtaining a precarious kind of living along the lines of railroad in the prairie region. The members of this tribe call themselves in general Dakota, meaning "our friends," or "associated as comrades," signifying their relationship as tribes. Sioux is a hated term given to them by the white people, signifying enemies or hated foes. In the sign language of the tribes they are designated cut-throats. The Ojibiways called them Nadowessi, a contemptuous term for rattlesnake, and after adding the plural form to the word, the trappers and voyageurs cut it down to Sioux.


In the seventeenth century the Ojibiways were living on the south-eastern shore of Lake Superior , chiefly in the vicinity of Sault Ste. Marie, whence they migrated at a later period westward, until in the last decade of the eighteenth century a large camp was found located on the present site of the city of Winnipeg. The name Ojibiway signifies tucker, which is derived from the peculiar pucker of the moccasin, or to roast till tuckered up, referring to the inhuman method of this tribe of burning captives taken in war. There are numerous small bands in this western part of the Dominion, but the greatest portion of the tribe resides eastward. There is a sub-tribe of the Ojibiways known as Saulteaux, living in small bands widely scattered throughout the country. The Blackfoot Confederacy, numbering more than three thousand souls, occupies three reserves in Alberta, the Bloods having a fine location lying between Belly River and the International Boundary Line, the Piegans situated on the Old Man River, at the foot of the Porcupine Hills and west of the town of Macleod, and the Blackfeet proper living about sixty miles east of Calgary, on both sides of the Bow River.


The Assiniboines or Stoney Indians, a branch of the Siouan Confederacy, are found in the Territories in small bands. Two centuries ago these people were known as Assiniboines and Assinipoualacs in their home on the north-west shore of Lake Superior, the present district of Algoma, whence they journeyed westward, roaming over a wide extent of country, from the Pembina mountains to the Saskatchewan. It is said that the tribe cooked their food on heated stones, and were consequently called stone people. The Sarcees, living south of Calgary, form an offshoot of the Beaver or Castor Indians of Athabasca, having left their northern home through an internal clan feud. Contact with the civilization of the white people has caused them to decrease, until a remnant of little more than two hundred remains as the full strength of the tribe. In the far north dwell the Athabaskan or Dené tribes, including the Loucheux or Kutchin, of Lower Mackenzie River; the Hare Indians, on the Mackenzie and Anderson Rivers; the Bad People, at Old Fort Halkett ; the Slave Indians, west of Great Slave Lake; the Dog Ribs, between Great Slave Lake and Great Bear Lake; the Yellow Knives, northeast of Great Slave Lake ; the Cariboo-Eaters, east of Lake Athabasca; the Montagnais or Chippewayans, of Lake Athabasca; and the Tsekehne, on both sides of the Rocky Mountains, under which term is included the Tsekehne proper, meaning the inhabitants of the rocks, the Beaver Indians, on the south side of Peace River, and the Sarcees, in Alberta. Beyond the northern limit of the Dené tribes, the Eskimo dwell in their ice-bound home, seeking companionship with none, and content to dwell in small settlements of less than one hundred souls.


In each of the tribes of Indians there are individuals of varied stature, tall men, well built, and dignified in manner, and diminutive persons, insignificant in appearance and of weakly constitution. The men are in general of medium height, thin and wiry, the dwellers in the mountains being smaller and hardier than the plain tribes, and the forest tribes contrasting favourably with those beyond the limit of vegetation. The women are below medium height, fleshy and healthy in appearance. Living in lodges and engagement in occupations out of doors induces a hardy constitution in both sexes, and they possess the power of physical endurance to a greater degree than the members of the white races. The colour of the skin varies from white to copper or reddish brown. The hair is smooth, straight, and black, men and women alike wearing it long. The tribes have their own peculiar methods of dressing the hair. The men in general have it longer, of heavier growth and finer in texture than the women, caused, no doubt, from the fact that in youth the men spend much of their time in trimming and arranging it, while the women are kept busy at their domestic duties. The Plain tribes tie the ends of their hair in small bunches with sinew, wire, or thread; the men fasten a top-knot in front with a pin, though sometimes it is simply parted in the middle and braided, but there is not a comb or brush used for toilet purposes. Having filled the mouth with water, the dressing begins by squirting the water into the hands while sitting on the floor of the lodge, washing the face, and then slapping the head with the hands full of water. The hair is stroked until thoroughly wet, and, holding the ends in the hand, the fingers of the other are brought down smartly upon it, until it is separated with the sound of a whip. Various kinds of ornaments are fastened in the hair by the men, the women usually contenting themselves to follow one of the male customs of rubbing paint into the parting in the middle. The Dené tribes have a primitive comb made by fastening wooden pins with sinew. Modern articles of toilet are being introduced into the lodges as the result of the march of civilization westward and northward. Every male Indian of mature years keeps hanging to a string from his neck a pair of tweezers, for the purpose of removing superfluous hair from the lip, chin, and cheeks, as the Redman does not permit any hair to grow on his face. The teeth of both sexes are pearly white, small, and pretty, which must be attributed to their plain mode of living. The finger nails are allowed to grow long, and sometimes look hideous to those unaccustomed to such fancies. .


The lodges or tents of the natives were made of the hides of the animals most abundant in the particular locality, the people on the prairies using the summer hides of the buffalo, the winter hides being sold for buffalo robes ; while those living beyond the range of the buffalo had recourse to the hide of the moose or other large animal. The sedentary native erects a house of logs, the nomad builds a lodge. With the advent of the white man, the buffalo has disappeared, and the larger kinds of game have retreated to the mountains or the recesses of the forests, so that the nomads are compelled to make the lodge covering of canvas or cotton. The lodge poles, ten or twelve in number and of varied length, according to the height of the lodge, having been fastened at the top, are stretched on the ground, assuming a conical shape, and the covering is placed on the outside of the poles, and fastened with pegs and stones to the ground. A hole, about a foot or so from the ground sufficient to allow an adult to pass through in a bent posture, serves as an entrance, and a flap of skin makes a door, the latter falling into position when let go, which explains the fact of an Indian never knocking at, and never closing a door until trained to do so. The women put up the lodges and take them down, which is done very quickly, especially in a time of excitement, and, when pitching the camp, the lodges are arranged beside the lodge of the chief, each band following the instructions of the minor chief. The chiefs direct the camping places while on a journey, the head-chief assuming control. Life in the camp is similar to life in a town or city, the rights of the individual and family being subservient to the rights of the community. Horses are extensively used by the southern Indians, who ride over the prairies, but farther north the boat displaces the horse to some extent in summer and the dog supplies his place in winter. Dogs in abundance are found in every camp; the mongrel types are the beasts of burden employed by the women in hauling firewood, the larger and better class being trained for winter use by the men.


Buffalo hunting and war were the sole serious occupations of the prairie tribes, until both disappeared through the westward advance of civilization, and agriculture on reserves has now become the chief means of support under the protection and direction of the Government. The mountain tribes, especially the Stoney Indians, hunted the buffalo, mountain sheep and goat, bear and various kinds of deer ; the natives of the forests and lakes lived by hunting and fishing. The members of the Blackfoot Confederacy would not eat fish or wild fowl, and the northern tribes relished them very much. Food, climate, occupations, and the character of the country have exerted such an influence on the tribes that each differs frown all the others in some phases of mythology and native religion, as in strength of intellect and physical energy. The native of the mountains is more energetic, courageous, and religious than the dweller on the prairies, and the men of the forest differ from those who live on the lakes and inland rivers.


The infant of the lodge is placed within a moss-bag, made of fine, clean moss, put in a small blanket, and an outer garment - formed in the shape of a bag, ornamented with beads, coloured porcupine quills, or fine silk thread, which is laced up in front, so that nothing is seen but the face of the child - is fastened around it. The male children are more highly esteemed than the female, and it is considered a domestic calamity to have twins. The boys run about without clothing in the summer, except a rare blanket, until they are eight or nine years of age ; but the girls, from infancy, are always dressed with a loose dress reaching to the feet. If they live in close proximity to water, the young folk spend a good part of their time in summer in swimming and diving, the movement of the hands in swimming being overhand, in dog fashion, so that they become quite expert in their action. Berries, cooked in grease, pounded and dried for future use; dried meat, and various kinds of roots and wild fruit ; serve as food for the natives living among the hills of the west, with the addition of flour, tea, sugar, and the common food of the white folk; while farther north the wild game, fish, and flour become the staple articles for daily support. Ever since the buffalo were exterminated, and pemmican became a thing of the past, and the deer and wild animals that roamed the prairies and forests fled as civilization advanced, the natives have been compelled to buy at the trading posts and stores the kinds of food used by the white people.


The savage folk delight in personal adornments. Finger-rings, bracelets, and earrings are worn by both sexes; the materials used in making them varying with their stages of contact with civilization. So long as game is abundant, the teeth of the deer, the claws of the bear, and other parts of wild animals are worn in profusion; but with the advent of the white man, and the disappearance of the animals, the people resort to the trinkets of the trader, and beads and brass wire are made by the skill of the native worker into numerous ornaments. Lip ornaments are worn by some of the natives in the far north. The tail feathers of the eagle are eagerly sought by the noble Redman as a welcome addition to his head-gear. In the days of aboriginal glory, the hides of the animals slaughtered in the chase were tanned by the women and made into beautiful garments for the men. The half-tanned hide, having the fur on, was simply thrown over the shoulders, then an advance was made by removing the fur, cutting the hide into the shape of a jacket, and decorating it with coloured beads, or silk or porcupine quills, so neatly arranged that the colours blended with the pattern. Cloth garments are now rapidly taking the place of the native kinds of dress. Headdresses are worn on special occasions, but generally the head is bare. A thin shirt, leggings, breech-cloth, and moccasins comprise the dress of the average Redman. The women wear a loose gown reaching to the feet, with wide flowing sleeves, the garment having no opening in back or front, the sleeves being used for nursing the children. A leather belt, eight or nine inches wide, is fastened around the waist, a pair of leggings and moccasins, neatly ornamented with the articles for personal adornment, constitute the dress of the women. Some of the tribes tattoo themselves, the Cree and Eskimo women having chin ornaments. All the tribes paint their faces, the peculiar marks bearing their own signification. The language of colour has its special meaning among the medicine-men, and the civil relationships of the tribe.


Unusually hard is the lot of the native women. They are, however, contented and happy, and prefer their own style of living to that of the white people. The men and women have their own respective divisions of labour. The male division of labour consisted in hunting and fishing - the life of a nomad ; while the women pursued the work of the agriculturist and the sedentary life - caring for the small piece of land which was home, getting wood and water, and attending to her domestic duties. Because of this division of labour, the male members of the tribes naturally feel that they are degraded when they engage in the occupation of farming, as they are doing the work of women. Regularity in cooking and eating is not to be expected in such an unsettled condition of life. Three pieces of wood, broken from the branches of a tree and tied together, form a tripod, and a part of a branch, with a crook on each end, makes a primitive hook upon which to hang vessels for cooking. A piece of wood, with a sharp crutch on one end, is stuck in the ground near the fire, and this serves as a spit for roasting meat. There are usually three meals a day, morning, noon , and night, but the times for partaking are not very exact, the native eating when he is hungry, and spending little time over his meals. The husband is first served, and all the members of the family, seated on the ground, each in his accustomed place, dine with him. The dishes are wiped with a bunch of prairie-grass either before eating or after the meal and before the utensils are put aside. Civilization has quietly been working changes, and the aborigines are slowly imitating the ways of the white folks. The women dress the hides, make moccasins and garments for their husbands and families, arid some of these dusky wives and mothers tan the hides soft as chamois, and with coloured silk thread sew beautiful patterns on the soft leather.


When the maiden has reached the age of puberty she is married, according to the custom of the tribe, which is generally a paternal transaction, with the consideration of that which constitutes the wealth of the tribe, as a certain number of horses, for the bride. Courtship is not unknown, but it belongs to the young couple, the young man wooing the young woman. When the amount to be given by the young man or his friends to the father of the young woman has been agreed upon, and handed over, the young couple begin housekeeping. Such a simple ceremony made divorce easy, and whenever the wife or husband became tired of each other, the partnership was dissolved by seeking another mate. Polygamy has always prevailed among the tribes; and amongst some polyandry existed. After marriage the son-in-law has no dealings with his wife's parents. The children are beloved by their parents, and should the marriage relation be severed, the father takes possession of the children. Seldom is a child punished for any misdemeanour, and yet the children are obedient to their parents.


Blindness, induced by the smoke of the lodges and the paint on the face, is prevalent ; diseases of the lungs carry off many of the young men ; and diseases, begotten through immorality, have made havoc among the people. Smallpox swept away some thousands about 1870. Cases of insanity are found, the subjects being treated by their own families according to their knowledge. The medicine-men are the doctors and priests who heal the people of their bodily ills and intercede for them in matters spiritual. The medical priesthood has its forms of initiation by fasting, prayer, and a vision, with the ceremonies of fraternity, and in its grades power increases as the members rise in the scale of the priesthood. A medicine-man of the fourth degree is able to break the curse or spell thrown over the individual by one of the first degree. The medicine-bag of each of the members of the fraternity contains the infection-tube, the herbs in common use, with a few rare specimens known only to the possessor of the bag, and some amulets for warding off disease and imparting wisdom from the gods. The native practitioner indulges in incantations when treating his patient, the persons in the lodge helping him by singing songs to the gods to drive the disease out of the body of the sick one, and frequently he resorts to bleeding. A piece of glass serves for a lance, which he extracts with his teeth, and having sucked the blood with his mouth and performed some incantations, he pronounces the sick one healed. Some of the medicine-men are expert hypnotists and clever conjurors, excelling in tricks of sleight-of-hand. Medicine-women are sometimes found who are skillful medical practitioners, without being initiated as members of the medical priesthood. The sweat-bath is frequently resorted to as a means of curing disease. Strong and supple boughs of the willow are sharpened at the thick end and inserted in the ground in the form of a circle, and braided at the top, making a small but from four to six feet in diameter and about three feet high, with an opening for the patient to crawl inside. Blankets and hides are placed over this sweat-house, and when the sick person has entered, heated stones are placed within, and a vessel of water is given to him. When he has removed all his clothing and every aperture is closed, he pours the water on the hot stones, and the steam enveloping him causes the perspiration to run from every pore. The operation is continued until he is satisfied that the bath has been complete. All cases of midwifery are performed by the women.


The taboo of the native consists of certain kinds of food which must never be eaten, or is forbidden at special seasons. The source of this prohibition is found in their mythology - a belief that they are descended from the animal whose flesh must not be eaten, or that their ancestors or sex suffered pain, loss, or degradation through one of the animals.


Cremation was once practised among some of the tribes, with a potlach as one of the customs attending burials. The prairie tribes wrapped the corpse in blankets or hides and placed it in the crotch of a tree, or a scaffold was erected about ten feet high on the prairie or in the bush and the corpse was laid upon it. A chief was buried on an eminence or in a secluded spot, selected apparently for beauty and impressiveness, and the body being placed on the ground a lodge was placed over it and securely fastened. Since the advent of the white man, small log houses are erected as a receptacle for the dead, or interment in the ground is practised. The northern tribes have similar practices, and hollow trees are sometimes used as coffins. When a person dies the lodge is removed, and the camp departs for a season to some more favoured spot, the people being afraid that the spirits of the dead might do them harm. Houses are sometimes torn down when some of the members of the families die. Believing in future life there are placed beside the dead various articles of food, tobacco and pipe, ornaments, bow and arrows, and some of the treasures of the deceased, as well as gifts from friends. In earlier years the favourite horse was shot, but the people are now contented by cutting a part of the mane, forelock, and tail off the animal. It is firmly believed that the souls of these articles accompany the deceased to the spirit land, where there is no substance, and all the spirits must live on spiritual things. The Redman's passion is gambling. Night and day he will sing and play as he throws the wheel and arrows, plays at odd and even, or some other native game ; or plays cards, indulges in horse racing, or drinks tea for a wager.


Singing is a favourite form of amusement. Sitting on the ground in a circle a group of men or of women, accompanied by two or three performers of the same sex beating vigourously on a drum, will sing harmoniously the native songs of love, until the weird notes borne upon the prairie breezes arouse the emotions of the listener. The social dance, with its queer manoeuvres, consists of a series of jumps, contortions of the body, and shouts. The sexes do not intermingle in this amusement, the men and women having their own dances. A small band of performers beat upon drums with their sticks, and each dancer, indulges in dancing to his heart's content, independent of the others, sitting down when tired, and dancing when rested. Musical instruments are made of hoops with pieces of tanned hide stretched over them to form drums or tambourines. Aboriginal music is of a primitive character, consisting of a few musical phrases repeated ad infinitum.


The western tribes are united in confederacies such as the Blackfoot confederacy, consisting of the Bloods, Piegans, and Blackfeet ; the Siouan confederacy, embracing the Stoney or Assiniboine and the branches of Sioux tribes scattered through the country ; the Cree confederacy, including the Plain Crees, the Wood Crees, and the Muskegon or Swampy Crees ; and the Ojibiway confederacy. These might appropriately be termed sub-tribes, but as they occupy a position of apparent equality and there is no parent tribe in existence, it is better to name them as a united confederacy. The tribes are again divided into clans, gentes, bands, or septs, each having its own distinctive name. The native name belongs to the band and not to the chief. Among the Blood Indians clans are known as the Tall Men, the Fish-Eaters, Camping in a Bunch, and the Sweaty People. There were two head chiefs over the tribe; the peace chief, who was the civil officer, and exercised authority in time of peace ; and the war chief, who was at the head of affairs in times of war. Each clan had a minor chief, and the chiefs met in council to decide all matters affecting the welfare of the people, individual and collective. Chiefs were elected partially on account of their hereditary relationship, but chiefly for their ability and military prowess. Criers went through the camp sounding the praises of the candidates for office. Political organization is almost unknown among some of the tribes in the north, the tribes acting independently of each other, and the clans being united by social rather than political ties. Prominent persons, of hereditary rank, somewhat resembling chiefs, now exercise authority in the clan, and perform the duties of civil officers, as maintaining peace in the settlement of disputes, guarding the interests of the people in the hunting grounds, and looking after the general welfare of the clan and tribe.


Tribal wars and individual wars were of frequent occurrence in the old buffalo days among the prairie tribes. Tribal wars arose from an invasion of the territory claimed by the tribe, the slaying of any member of the tribe, or the capture of any one, or a raid upon the horses which comprised their chief wealth. Individual wars consisted chiefly of small war parties making raids upon a camp to secure horses, women, or scalps. When it was decided to go to war the days were spent in preparing the arms and garments, and the evenings in dancing and feasting to propitiate the gods to give them success, and with great boasting of their valour and victories to beget courage. Although the party acted under the direction of a war chief or head warrior, each warrior fought independently. With the body painted in a hideous fashion, and the horses likewise painted, a belt of cartridges around the waist, a pair of moccasins on the feet, and a breech cloth around the loins, each warrior waited for the early dawn to rush, shouting the war-whoop, upon the foe. There was no order in the mode of attack save that of reaching the weakest point of the defence of the enemy by stratagem, and then each one fought for himself. The slain, and sometimes the wounded, were scalped, and the scalps borne aloft on poles at the scalp-dance, and then placed on the outside of the victor's lodge as a medal to show his valour.


The elaborate system of totems of the Iroquoian and Siouan families is not in existence among the western and northern tribes. The personal and clan totem is not so well defined, but the totemic relationship is maintained. The tribes have a native police, known as "black soldiers," for the maintenance of the laws and the support of civil government in the camp. By means of signals, using fires to convey intelligence by the smoke, a system of telegraphy is elaborated. By various methods of riding on horseback, motions by a blanket when on foot, and by the system of heliography, important information is conveyed speedily a long distance.


Native books are made by means of picture writing on rocks and trees, birch bark, hides of animals tanned, and on the outside of the lodges. Notable events have thus been preserved in relation to the tribes, and autobiographies have been written with a stick and paint. Unable, sometimes, to converse together on account of difference of language, the people of different tribes can still talk together through their sign language. There are several stocks of languages : the Algonquin, including the Ojibiway; Saulteaux, Cree, and Blackfoot, with their dialects; the Siouan, embracing the Assiniboine ; the Santee, and other dialects; the Eskimauan; and the Athabascan, known under the terms Dené and Tinné, and comprising the Chippewayan or Montagnais, the Loucheux or Kutchin, the Slave, Hare, Dog-Rib, Bad People, Yellow Knife, Cariboo Eaters, Beaver, and Sarcee languages. By means of syllabaries the Cree, Eskimo, and some of the Athabascan tribes can learn in a few days to read any book published in their own tongue. There is quite an extensive native literature in use among the tribes, consisting chiefly of religious books translated by missionaries. Grammars and dictionaries of nearly all the languages are also in existence.


The native religious belief includes the idea of a Great Spirit, Great Sun, or a Supreme Being under another term ; a secondary creator, who makes the earth, man, and the animals, with all things necessary to their subsistence ; a flood, which, however, precedes the creation of the world; the existence of sin, with the need of fasting and sacrifices ; a future state, and the immortality of the soul. Myths, beautiful and suggestive, are found among all the tribes,. including the Two Brothers. Religious festivals, as the Sun dance among the Blackfeet ; and the Thirst dance among the Crees, indicate a religious spirit. The prairie tribes are located on reservations, under the care of agents and farm instructors appointed by the Government. Industrial and boarding schools have been erected, and are maintained for the instructing of the young of both sexes in use­ful trades, and day schools are open on the reservations. Missionaries have gone even with­in the Arctic Circle to bear the message of love to the aborigines. Protestant and Roman Catholic teachers and missionaries, scholarly men who would dignify any office in the gift of civilized so­ciety, are thus to be found studying the languages, preparing books for the use of the natives, com­piling grammars and dictionaries, preaching in the native tongue, dispensing medicine, doing all descriptions of manual labour, living in the humblest habitations, and partaking of the simp­lest fare.


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Source : Rev. John MACLEAN, "The Indians of the Canadian North-West", in Canada. An Encyclopaedia of the Country, Vol. 1, Toronto, The Linscott Publishing Company, 1898, 540p., pp. 228-235. Minor typographical errors have been corrected. Proper French spelling and accents have been restored.

© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College