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A History of the Native People of Canada
By J.V. Wright


The purpose of this study is to provide a wide readership with information on the history of the Native peoples prior to the dislocating incursions of Europeans into the territory now known as Canada.

Unlike most history books that are drawn from written documentary evidence, the study is based upon archaeological evidence as there are no pre-European written records. It is a history built upon the minute fragments of evidence that have survived normal decay and other natural processes. It is, thus, a woefully incomplete history reliant upon such remains as broken stone tools, discarded food bones, and the vague traces of dwellings. The great innovators, healers, warriors, and leaders in this history are all unknown, as are the majority of the significant events which would have been of vital importance to the people at the time.

This admittedly inadequate archaeological history is, however, the only history that exists for the more than 12,000 years that the ancestors of the Native peoples occupied Canada prior to its colonization by Europeans. Even given the severe limitations of the archaeological record, evidence of human cultural ingenuity, perseverance, commerce, and religion still manages to express itself despite the passage of thousands of years. It is this human experience which this study attempts to outline.

Dr. Diamond Jenness - CMC 51236 Dr. Diamond Jenness when he was a member of the Canadian Arctic Expedition (1913-1916)

Noted for his ethnological and applied anthropological work, Dr. Jenness also made significant contributions to archaeology. For example, he was the first to recognize Palaeo-Eskimo culture from Arctic collections in the National Museum of Canada. His book "Indians of Canada", first published in 1932, is still a basic source of information on the Native people of Canada. Dr. Jenness received many honours during his lifetime including having a major peninsula on the west coast of Victoria Island in the Northwest Territories named in his honour by the Canadian Permanent Committee on Geographical Names.

Dr. Harlan I. Smith - CMC 55792 Dr. Harlan I. Smith carrying plaster of Paris casts of petroglyphs, probably in the Bella Coola region of British Columbia, 1922

Dr. Smith worked mainly in British Columbia. In addition to archaeological research, he was involved in programmes to preserve totem poles and to encourage the use of West Coast Native motifs in commercial design.

Mr. William J. Wintemberg - CMC 76087 Mr. William J. Wintemberg examining Roebuck site pottery, 1932

Self-trained, Mr. Wintemberg's research was largely carried out in eastern Canada. He is best known for his detailed archaeological reports on a number of Ontario Iroquoian village sites. These reports are still major reference sources many years after their publication.

The highest honour the Canadian Archaeological Association can bestow in recognition of contributions to Canadian archaeology is called the SMITH-WINTEMBERG AWARD. All three researchers spent most of their professional careers employed by the National Museum of Canada, now the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

(Canadian Museum of Civilization negative numbers 51236, 55792, and 76087, respectively).

Volume IVolume II

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