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

  • Abenaki
  • Ahousaht
  • Algonquin (Ojibwa, Odawa, Nipissing, Algonquin, Abenaki, Maliseet, Mi'kmaq)
  • Anishinaabe
  • Athapaskan (Athapascan, Kaska)
  • Atikamekw
  • Attikamek
  • Beothuk (Extinct)
  • Blackfoot
  • Cayuga
  • Chippewa
  • Coast Salish
  • Cree
  • Dane-zaa (Beaver)
  • Delaware
  • Ditidaht
  • Haida
  • Haisla
  • Heiltsuk (Bella Bella) 
  • Hesquiaht
  • Innu
  • Interior Salish
  • Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) (Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora) 
  • Kaska
  • Ktunaxa (also known as Kutenai or Kootenay)
  • Kwakwaka’wakw
  • Makah
  • Maliseet
  • Metis Culture
  • Mi’kmaq
  • Mohawk
  • Nahani (Nahanni, Nahane)
  • Neutral (Extinct)
  • Nipissing
  • Nlaka’pamux
  • Nuu-chah-nulth (Nootka) 
  • Nuxalk
  • Odawa
  • Oneida
  • Onondaga
  • Opetchesaht
  • Pacheenaht
  • Petun
  • Sahtu Got'ine (Bearlake)
  • Secwepemc
  • Seneca
  • Sioux (Assiniboine, Dakota, Lakota , Nakota, Stoney, and Stoney-Nakoda)
  • Stl’atl’imc
  • Tagish (Carcross/Tagish )
  • Tlingit
  • Tsilhqot’in (Chilcotin)
  • Tsimshian
  • Tuscarora
  • Wendat (Huron)


Article Index:

What is the Protocol for Eagle feathers?

The Eagle feather is the most sacred and honoured gift given to an individual. Respect is key in relation to Eagle feathers. Only certain people are able to take Eagle feathers from the Eagle.