Harry Pollard, a photographer, traveled on a cross-country journey in the early 1910s to capture some images of Canadian indigenous people. Native Canadians were among the earliest settlers in Western Canada and Alberta. Pollard’s photographs record this period.
People from Tsuu T’ina, Siksika, Kainai, and Piikani, among other places, can be seen in these images. Since the middle of the 20th century, the number of Sarcee people, also known as Tsuu T’ina, has increased to 2,000 from its previous low of 200. They are shown wearing their traditional dress, which includes headdresses made of feathers and hunting bison.
The names of the people shown in these historic photographs, which can be obtained through the Provincial Archives of Alberta, each have a unique story. Many of their names strongly emphasize the natural world, such as “Lone Walking Buffalo” and “Running Antelope.”
“Mrs. Thomas of Tsuu T’ina Nation.”
Before the arrival of Europeans, the Siksika (Blackfoot), Kainai (Blood), Piikani (Peigan), and Gros Ventre were some of the First Nations that lived in what is now Alberta (now in Montana).
Other groups, such as the Kootenay and the Crow, traveled on journeys into the wilderness to engage in buffalo hunting and war. The Tsuu T’ina, derived from the Beaver people, lived in the central and northern regions, while the Slavey lived in the land’s northern part.
According to one theory, people from England may have been in Newfoundland as early as the 1480s, much before Christopher Columbus’s journey in 1492. The only piece of credible proof suggests that the English voyage led by John Cabot in 1497 was the first known journey to reach the mainland of North America during the new era of overseas discovery.
In the year 1534, a French explorer by the name of Jacques Cartier arrived. Over eight years, he reached Canada three times. During his first journey, he sailed into the Gulf of St. Lawrence and began to explore it. On his second expedition, he traveled up the St. Lawrence River to the Iroquoian townships of Stadacona (now known as Québec) and Hochelaga (now known as Montréal).
“Big Belly, Tsuu T’ina chief.”
The Iroquois in this region believed the river could be followed to its westernmost point in three months. The vastness of the area was brought to the attention of Europeans for the first time.
Even though Cartier did not find the “great quantity of gold, and other precious things” mentioned in his instructions, he did find the plentiful fisheries in the gulf and the furs on the mainland, which sparked the interest of Europe’s commercial interests.
The French, British, and other Europeans who settled in the east would continue to prosper from the region’s fisheries and fur trade over the next three centuries. Settlers and explorers gradually started moving westward after many wars and battles that included land and the establishment of colonies. These conflicts were fought over the establishment of colonies.
Immigration from countries like England, Scotland, and Ireland, as well as the United States, significantly contributed to the fast evolution of Canada West. Many new settlers cut down trees, cleared agricultural land, and worked the rich soil. People were forced to look further west for settlement because there was an increasing demand for land.
As the fur trade grew less profitable, the British government and other prominent people in British North America began to focus on the agricultural possibilities of the prairies.
The Dominion of Canada was established in the year 1867. The Hudson’s Bay Company sold Rupert’s Land and the North West Company to Canada in 1870. Following this agreement, Canada renamed the entire western and Arctic regions the Northwest Territories.
“Martin Horses of the Kainai Nation.”
Fort Macleod, located today in Lethbridge, was founded in 1874 by the Northwest Mounted Police, who were sent from Canada to establish a presence in the area that would later become Alberta. This involved traveling over the prairies. In the year 1875, the Mounties built forts in what are now the cities of Calgary and Edmonton. 1883 was the year that Calgary was reached by the Canadian Pacific Railway.
The Numbered Treaties were a series of 11 treaties established between the Canadian government and various Indigenous peoples between 1871 and 1921.
The government believed that the treaties would promote the assimilation of indigenous populations into the society and culture of white settlers. The First Nations saw the treaties as a means to negotiate the sharing of their traditional areas, so they welcomed the opportunity to participate in the process.
As a result of the essential nature of the process of establishing agreements, opening and closing ceremonies were included in the procedures, and people traveled significant distances to be present at the negotiation locations.
Indigenous peoples were given a variety of promises by government negotiators in exchange for their traditional land, including special rights to land, the distribution of cash payments, hunting and fishing tools, and farming supplies. These promises were made in exchange for the Indigenous peoples’ traditional territory.
These agreement terms differ depending on the treaty and have been the subject of debate and contention. Treaties continue to have legal and economic effects on indigenous peoples’ communities that last long.
“Joe Big Plume of Tsuu T’ina Nation.”
“Wolfe Caller of Siksika Nation.”
“Wolfe Teeth of Nakoda Nation.”
“Peter Wesley, Nakoda Nation.”
“Wide Face Chief of Piikani Nation
“Old Tom, Tsuu T’ina Nation.”
“Martin Breaker, Nakoda Nation.”
“Jim Rabbit, Kainai Nation.”
“Betty Hunter, Nakoda Nation.”
“Lone Walking Buffalo, Nakoda Nation.”
“Running Antelope, Tsuu T’ina shaman.”
“Herbert Lawrence of Siksika Nation.”
“Raw Eater of Siksika Nation.”
“Woman smoking meat.”
“Chief White Head, Nakoda chief.”
“Savage Hunting Eagle, Nakoda Nation.”
“Walking Buffalo of Nakoda Nation.”
(Photo credit: Harry Pollard / Provincial Archives of Alberta / History of First Nation Peoples in Alberta – Alberta Regional Professional Development Consortium).
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