When the explorers and fur traders came to the area that is now Saskatchewan, they found different First Nations living in the northern region, on the plains and in the southern region.
The First Nations and Metis people helped the explorers and fur traders by sharing their knowledge of the land.
They helped by --
telling them where the best hunting and trapping areas were acting as guides and showing them the best travel routes being interpreters providing canoes, toboggans and Red River carts for hauling furs and goods showing how to use birchbark to make canoes and mend canoes showing how to use birchbark for drawing maps and making messages teaching them how to build shelters sharing knowledge about food preparation (making pemmican) teaching them which plants could be used as medicine providing food and clothing
Immigrants arrived and brought their own beliefs, languages, traditions, values and lifestyles that were quite different from those of the First Nations People. When the immigrants first came to the prairies the First Nations and the Métis people taught them how to live off the land, showed them which wild plants and berries were safe to eat and which plants could be used for medicines. The immigrants learned how useful the bison could be:
- Grease (fat) was used for cooking and as a substitute for butter.
- Bison chips were a substitute fuel when wood was not available.
- Hides were made into winter coats or used for blankets.
- The meat could be prepared in many ways.
- The fat was used for making candles and soap.
The homesteaders learned many things from the First Nations and Métis people that helped them to farm on the prairies. They also helped each other with farming activites such as threshing (harvesting).
First Nations and Métis people and homesteaders bartered for goods (traded things). The settlers had milk, butter, and eggs to trade for wild meat and berries.
updated March 2012