FIRST NATIONS PEOPLES - Saskatchewan History


The traditional way of life of the First Nations peoples changed with the arrival of fur traders. Trading posts were built. The fur traders hunted and trapped animals for furs. The First Nations peoples shared their knowledge and survival skills with the fur traders and were involved in the fur trade. Soon there were fewer and fewer fur-bearing animals.

bison skull at clipartetc   bison skull at clipartetc   bison skull at clipartetc

The large herds of buffalo had disappeared. First Nations peoples had to change their way of life since they could no longer depend on the buffalo. They had to find other ways to survive. More and more settlers were arriving for land so they could farm. The Canadian government also needed land to build a railroad across the country


The First Nations peoples believed that land could not be owned or sold. It could only be shared with one another and with the newcomers. The Creator gave them the responsibility to care for Mother Earth. So the First Nations agreed to share the land in return for a new way of making a living. They signed treaties with the British Crown (now the Canadian government). Five treaties were signed in Saskatchewan. The Cree, Dene, Saulteaux and Nakota First Nations signed treaties with the British Crown between 1874 and 1906.

The British Crown wrote the agreements on legal documents and both parties signed them. They participated in a pipe ceremony. The sacred pipe ceremony was a sign that the promises were made, with the Creator as witness. These nations promised to live up to the agreements.

peace pipe from clipartetc

The newcomers received land for settlement, farming, railways, mining and development. They enjoyed many freedoms they did not have in their homelands.

The First Nations were given tracts of land called reserves where they were to become farmers. Their people would be able to live as before, with their languages, beliefs, traditions and values. But soon after the government began to ignore the treaty promises by creating the Indian Act in 1876. The First Nations peoples were forced to learn the language, culture and beliefs of the European culture.

When treaties were made between the British Crown and the First Nations (Cree, Dene, Saulteaux and Nakota nations) in Saskatchewan both sides promised to live in peace and friendship. They agreed to share the land. The promises are to be kept "as long as the sun shines, the grass grows and the river flows".

MAP of treaty areas in Saskatchewan (

All of Saskatchewan is covered by treaties.
We are all treaty people.

| index | introduction | words | beliefs | food | clothing | tipi | bison |
| decoration | family & daily life | tools | transportation | links |

Site Meter