Topic – Indigenous Culture

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Indigenous Culture

There are many ways to learn about Indigenous peoples in Canada—their history, traditions, and culture.

Artifacts and Pictures

Indigenous Artifacts – Glenbow Museum, Alberta, Canada

Archaeologists and others who study ancient civilizations have found many artifacts and items that belonged to long-ago Indigenous peoples. Through archaeological digs to uncover Indigenous villages and dwellings, scientists have learned about how Indigenous peoples built their homes, what materials they used, and more.

By examining items such as tools and weapons found in the buried dwellings, experts can learn a lot about how these peoples lived. The patterns of wear on the items give clues about how they were used. Clothing made from animal skins might reveal what kinds of animals lived in various areas at different times in Canada’s history.

Indigenous peoples created wampum belts made of shell beads to record treaties and other historic events. The shell beads were also used as money. These artifacts tell scientists about the relationships that groups of Indigenous peoples had with each other and with Europeans.

Paintings and photographs can tell a lot about Indigenous peoples who lived long ago. For instance, the way they are dressed may indicate a special occasion. The decorations on clothes or moccasins can tell what was important.


Pictographs and Petroglyphs

Sometimes Indigenous peoples painted pictures on rock walls. These images are called pictographs. Usually, the pictures were drawn with red paint made from crushed rock. Sometimes the artists used black, white, or yellow paints made from other ingredients. Using brushes or their fingers, the Indigenous peoples drew human figures, animals, abstract designs, hunting scenes, and more.

Indigenous peoples also carved patterns and pictographs into cliff walls and boulders using stone tools. These are called petroglyphs.

Legends and Stories

Indigenous peoples have a strong tradition of passing along wisdom and knowledge in story form. The information and stories are passed down from generation to generation so they are not forgotten.

Elders tell legends to children and other members of their community. This keeps their history and culture alive and helps draw Indigenous peoples together. The stories tell of the beginnings of the First Nation, how they survived difficult times, or how big events changed their lives. These tales give the young people ideas about coping with similar situations now and in the future.

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