June is National Indigenous History Month here in Canada, and since this topic intrigues me, I'm going to try a series of posts leading up to National Indigenous Peoples Day on the spring equinox, June 21st.
First, I should point out up front that I have no known family indigenous history, and no right whatsoever to speak on behalf of any indigenous people. Still, we who represent 'white Canada' have to start someplace, and the first step for me is understanding. I have read numerous indigenous leaders saying the same thing. Corrections and advice is welcomed.
In pursuing my interest in Indigenous people, I have benefitted greatly from a book by A. J. Ray, entitled 'I have Lived Here Since The World Began'. Most books like this have chapters on each major native group across Canada. Typical is the book by McMillan and Yellowhorn entitled 'First Peoples in Canada', widely used in university courses. Anthropoloical research on aboriginal language groups is an important foundation, as is archeological research.
Ray takes a refreshingly different approach, discussing the history chronologically, starting with life before white interlopers arrived all the way up to the political organizing of the past few decades. They are both heavy duty textbooks, so I certainly would not recommend them as light reading! But my academic mind is enjoying them as long as I take them slowly.
Here's a map illustrating the Aboriginal peoples in Canada. As you can see, the individual tribe names on the map suggest a much more complex number of bands at the local level than the colours on the map do.