First Nation Cultures
There are nine cultural regions found within the borders of what is now Canada. Within each cultural region, there are additional First Nation Cultures based on linguistic divisions first defined by the ethnologist and linguist Edward Sapir in 1910.
Sapir’s geographical framework was adopted by the Smithsonian Institution’s 1978 Handbook of North American Indians, and continue to be used widely in scholarship.
The Handbook states that these categories are “used in organizing and referring to information about contiguous groups that are or were similar in culture and history,” but it is important to note that these delineations are not concrete, and neighbouring peoples always share some similarities and some differences.
These cultural groupings are fluid and often intermixed. In addition, contemporary Aboriginal peoples may live far from their ancestral homelands, and indeed may form new communities rooted in urban centers rather than traditional lands.
These cultural areas are massive and generalized; what is true of a part is not always true of the whole. The articles in this section are intended to give a brief, generalized overview of First Nations that share a common historical and linguistic background.
First Nation Cultures of Canada
- Algonquin (Ojibwa, Odawa, Nipissing, Algonquin, Abenaki, Maliseet, Mi'kmaq)
- Athapaskan (Athapascan, Kaska)
- Beothuk (Extinct)
- Coast Salish
- Dane-zaa (Beaver)
- Heiltsuk (Bella Bella)
- Interior Salish
- Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) (Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora)
- Ktunaxa (also known as Kutenai or Kootenay)
- Metis Culture
- Nahani (Nahanni, Nahane)
- Neutral (Extinct)
- Nuu-chah-nulth (Nootka)
- Sahtu Got'ine (Bearlake)
- Sioux (Assiniboine, Dakota, Lakota , Nakota, Stoney, and Stoney-Nakoda)
- Tagish (Carcross/Tagish )
- Tsilhqot’in (Chilcotin)
- Wendat (Huron)
The Baffin Island Inuit live on Baffin Island, the largest island in the Arctic Archipelago and in the territory of Nunavut.
The Caribou Inuit, also known as Kivallirmiut, live in the Kivalliq Region of Nunavut, which consists of the portion of the mainland to the west of Hudson Bay.
The Inuinnait, also known as the Copper Inuit because of their extensive use of artifacts made from the native copper deposits of the region, originally occupied Banks and Victoria islands and the adjacent mainland region of the central Canadian Arctic.