First Nations

In North America, the Paleoindians, the first migrants from the Asian continent, arrive 12 thousand years ago or perhaps much earlier. Subsequently, several waves of immigration to the North America gave rise to a number of Amerindian and Inuit nations which had highly developed cultures, although they centred on oral rather than written traditions.

The Paleoindian period is characterised as well by the melting glaciers, when the land became unsuitable for human occupation, but later, - roughly 6 thousand years ago, - the global warming created the local environment with vegetation comparable to what we know now. Later comes the Archaic period, a lengthy span between 6 thousand BC and 1000 BC during which societies in North America adopt solid cultural traditions.

The peoples of the First Nations, sustained by hunting and fishing, occupy a vast territory and the inhabitants become experts at surviving in the hardwood forests on whose wildlife and plants they subsist.

During the centuries Iroquoians lived along the St. Lawrence river, from it mouth to Lake Ontario. These groups spoke a language similar of the Huron living on the shores of Georgian Bay and that of the Iroquois of northern New York State.

To tell the truth, we call these groups Iroquoians, although we do not know what name they gave themselves or what other tribes called them. Nevertheless, archaeological evidence and historical documents enable us to understand the environmental conditions that shaped the existence of those peoples.

Beginning from about one thousand AD, corn cultivation brought important changes in the St. Lawrence Valley. Major villages rose up along the river, but they moved every ten or so years. In addition a series of summer camps and a number of fishing sites founded.

Groups continue to hunt game and gather fruits and vegetables necessary for subsistence, but their mobility is reduced. Horticulture is being developed, affecting the social structure.

Roughly, this was the society the French discover in Canada, when they come here for the first time, in 1535.

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