Canadian First Peoples
- Paula J. Conlon
In the Canadian repatriated constitution in 1982, three indigenous groups were identified and recognized as Canada’s “Aboriginal” people: First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. There are approximately one hundred First Nations groups, four Inuit groups, and Métis of mixed indigenous and (generally) European descent. The term “nation” is the norm in Canada in reference to its First Peoples, reflecting the long-term goal of parity of governments. In this article representative nations are designated using spellings chosen by the cultures in question, with common names used in the past in brackets.
Northwest Coast nations along coastal British Columbia include the Kwakwaka’wakw [Kwakiutl], whose dance societies were responsible for theatrical presentations at winter ceremonials (potlatches). Dancers were accompanied by chants and drumming on planks and logs, along with wooden whistles and rattles, often elaborately carved.
The Tłicho [Dogrib] of the Western Subarctic led a nomadic existence between Great Slave and Great Bear Lakes. Male singers played round, single-headed snare drums with unpadded sticks for hand games, where vigorous drumming accompanied songs aimed at distracting the person guessing the location of hidden object(s)....