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Working Effectively with Indigenous Peoples®

Learning Centre

Indigenous Trade Networks Thrived Long Before the Arrival of Europeans

“There used to be millions of us. Although there were no population counts, best estimates suggest that there were at least 40 million of us in the Western Hemisphere in 1491. In 1542, Las Casa, the first Spaniard to make a population guess said, “it looked as if God had placed all of or the greater part of humanity in these countries.”

 

Market economies are not foreign to us. We created them ourselves. We traded goods over hundreds of miles. The Mayan had a complex trade network. How could corn be used all throughout the Americas before contact, if we did not trade? How could pipestone end up in our territory before contact when it only comes from Pipestone, Minnesota, if we did not trade?

 

Trade cannot be financed without capital. We had to build transportation methods such as boats. We had to build large public buildings and maintain armies to provide order. These required community investments that were based on a future return to the community and to individuals.

 

We had to create institutions to facilitate trade. From Alaska to California we agreed to a common trade language, Chinook. We recorded transactions relating to labour and goods. We achieved this because we created a system that was supportive and encouraged individual initiative.” [1]

 

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Topics: Indigenous Peoples, Aboriginal History

National Aboriginal Day  21+ Important Indigenous People to Celebrate

To celebrate National Aboriginal Day on June 21 we have compiled a list of 21+ important Indigenous people from all walks of life. It is a random list of inspirational Indigenous leaders, artists, activists, journalists, veterans, musicians, comedians, authors, documentarians, athletes and “just plain folk” whose determination, and commitment to their passion and beliefs have, and continue to, improve Canada’s culture and social wellness. This is by no means a complete list - that would take a lifetime to compile - it is however a compilation of names that should, in this era of reconciliation, be familiar household names.

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Topics: Famous Aboriginal People, Aboriginal History

The Impact of Smallpox on First Nations on the West Coast

 

“The Bostonian Robert Kemp, on the brig Otter just north of the Queen Charlotte Islands in December 1810, reported that "the Natives are all infected with the Land Scurvy which Renders them Completely Incapable of Hunting[.] this Coast is as Silent and Solitary as the House of death and I wish that I was Clear from it." [1]


Throughout the Americas, Indigenous contact with Europeans was soon followed with drastic declines in Indigenous populations. With no natural immunity to diseases introduced by the Europeans, Indigenous Peoples were decimated by waves of epidemics of smallpox, tuberculosis, scarlet fever, influenza and measles. [2] The smallpox virus, which came not so much as waves but as tsunamis, decimated the coastal First Nation population not once, but at least twice. Smallpox devastated Indigenous populations in other regions of the country as well but here we focus on the impact of smallpox on First Nations on the West coast.

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Topics: Aboriginal History

Reflections in 2017 on the 1967 Centennial Speech of Chief Dan George

As Canadians from coast to coast to coast prepare to mark Canada’s 150th birthday on July 1, 2017 I wanted to revisit and reflect on the late Chief Dan George’s speech “Lament for Confederation” made on the occasion of Canada’s 100th birthday. I thought it would make a good measuring stick to see how things have changed for Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

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Topics: Famous Aboriginal People, Aboriginal History, Reconciliation

Why Are There Stereotypes About Indigenous Peoples

Following every training session we ask learners if they would kindly take the time to fill in a survey about the training. We find these surveys invaluable as they help us ensure the training fulfills our on-site and public workshop clients’ needs, provides insight to what learners are interested in, and provides ideas for new training modules, blog articles and ebooks. A survey from a recent training session included requests for more information regarding stereotypes about Indigenous Peoples.

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Topics: Aboriginal History, Indigenous relations

14 Facts You May Not Know About Contributions of Indigenous Veterans

Did you know November 8 is National Aboriginal Veterans Day? If you are new to the knowledge of the significant contributions of Indigenous veterans during the First and Second World Wars, and the Korean War, here are some facts to pique your interest and build your knowledge.

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Topics: Aboriginal History

The Constitution Express and Its Role in Entrenching Aboriginal Rights

 


"I would rather pass onto my grandchildren the legitimacy of the struggle than to leave them with a settlement they can't live with." Grand Chief George Manuel, President of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (1979-1981)


This is a brief look at an extraordinary, passionate, grassroots Aboriginal movement in Canadian history that altered the direction of the Constitution Act 1982 to ensure Aboriginal rights were included. This article is brief so if people are interested in learning the backstory to the Constitution Express I suggest they read Unsettling Canada A National Wake-Up Call by Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald M. Derrickson for the backstory of the Constitutional Express.

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Topics: Aboriginal History

Christopher Columbus and the Doctrine of Discovery - 5 Things to Know

The Doctrine of Discovery was used by European monarchies, beginning in the mid-fifteenth century, as a means of legitimizing the colonization of lands outside of Europe. It was issued in 1493, the year after Christopher Columbus arrived on the shores of what is now known as North America. The Doctrine of Discovery continues to impact Indigenous Peoples throughout the world.

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Topics: Aboriginal History

National Aboriginal Day or National Indigenous Day

 

The implications of choosing Indigenous are significant. In October 2015, Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau used the term Indigenous in his victory speech when he made reference to his government’s intention for a "renewed nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples that respects rights and honours treaties".

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Topics: Aboriginal History, Indigenous Awareness

Maps of traditional Indigenous territories

“I’ve noticed a trend that people maintain their own tribal name based on being in their traditional homeland. I think a lot of it is because the names they used for themselves usually are descriptive phrases. So, a lot of tribes call themselves, ‘we are the people at the mouth of the river’. If you have been removed from your territory through the trail of tears, or the long walk by like a thousand miles from where that mouth of the river is people no longer think of themselves as ‘the people at the mouth of the river’. When you get dispossessed of your traditional homeland, there is a cultural rift that happens. A loss that happens from being off of where you are supposed to be.” Aaron Carapella, Two Row Times, 2013


There are maps of reserves (reservations in the United States), maps of language groups, maps of treaty-making, regional maps of traditional territories but up until recently there weren’t any that showed the original Indigenous traditional territories with original Indigenous names.

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Topics: Indigenous Peoples, Aboriginal History

Toronto Working Effectively with Indigenous Peoples Training Week

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