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Topic – Indigenous Peoples and the Environment

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Indigenous Peoples and the Environment

Long ago, Indigenous Peoples depended on the land around them for everything they needed. They made food, building supplies, clothing, medicine, and more from the resources they found around them.

Gifts of the Creator


Indigenous Peoples believe that the land where they live and its animals, plants, and other resources are gifts from the Creator. They respect these gifts and teach their children to take only what they need. Treating nature with respect is the Indigenous People’s way of life. It is part of their traditions and spiritual beliefs. This respect affects how they work and play together, and is a part of who they are.

To survive, Indigenous Peoples had to understand how all parts of the environment were connected to other parts and to their own lives. They still believe that humans are part of the environment, not separate from it. Indigenous Peoples also feel that all living creatures are equal to humans and deserve respect.

A nest of  wild bird eggs

Food from the Land

Tree bark

Long ago, Indigenous Peoples were able to survive because they used the gifts of the Creator that they found around them. They tapped maple trees to make maple syrup, and gathered berries, nuts, fruit, mushrooms, wild rice, herbs, and edible roots.

Indigenous Peoples who were farmers appreciated rich soil, quenching rains, and warm sun for their crops.

Porcupine quills

Indigenous men fished, and hunted animals such as moose, deer, and buffalo. The women snared rabbits, fished, and gathered the eggs of wild birds. Medicine men healed their people using medicines and treatments made from plant leaves, bark, berries, and roots.

Snowshoes from the Iroquoian Village, Ontario, Canada

Shirt and leggings made from hide, weasel tails, feathers, glass beads, and brass.

More Gifts

Indigenous Peoples built their homes from wood and bark. They also made sleds and canoes from wood and bark. To form snowshoes, they used wood and leather lacing they made from animal hides and guts.

When an Indigenous hunter killed an animal, he used every part of it out of respect for that animal. Indigenous women made needles out of the bones and used them with thread made from dried animal guts to sew hides together to make clothing. They made warm coats, mittens, and leggings from furs, and sewed hides into moccasins and other clothing.

Women crushed berries, flowers, and fruits to make dyes for colourful designs. They decorated clothing with porcupine quills, shells, beads, and feathers.

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