A History of Canada: Volume One: From its Origins to the Royal Regime, 1663 - Vol. 1

By Gustave Lanctot; Josephine Hambleton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
THE NATIVE POPULATION

Absence of aborigines. Peopling by Asiatic migrations crossing theBering Strait and scattering across to the Atlantic. Two hundred thousand souls. Physical characteristics. Names and distribution of the various nations. Their languages. Economic and political organization. Religion. Dwellings. Marriage. Games. Wars. The calumet and inter-tribal relations. The psychology of the Indian. The Eskimo. Characteristics, economic, political and social organization. Religion. The contribution made by the Indians towards the acclimatization of the Europeans.

No part of Canada has ever had an aboriginal population. For many thousands of centuries, long after the earth's crust had settled into those physical features which make up present-day Canada, there was not a soul anywhere in all that vast territory. Indeed, it was only some twenty thousand years before the Christian era that men first ventured onto Canadian soil. They came from neighbouring Asia to the extreme northern reaches of our Pacific shores, driven from the steppes of Siberia and northern China in search of new hunting-grounds, or perhaps in flight before enemies too mighty for their resistance. It is uncertain whether these travellers arrived overland at a time when an isthmus still linked the Asian and American continents, or whether they crossed the sea to America. If they came by sea directly across the Bering Strait or from island to island along the Aleutian chain the journey cannot have been a hazardous one, owing to the narrowness of the Strait. Their first acquaintance with the new land was with the precipitous Alaska shore, but they quickly left this inhospitable terrain and, over the course of several epochs, scattered in bands across the continent. Though descendants of peoples of different origins and tongues, all of these settlers were

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