- Discuss the development of the “three sisters” and the benefits of growing these three plants together. Be specific and include dates.
Answer: The cultivation of squash was introduced in the Northeastern Woodlands c. 4,300 years ago. Corn, the first cultivated food crop, reached southern Ontario around 500 CE. Beans followed sometime after 1000.
The triad of corn, beans, and squash were being grown throughout North America by the sixteenth century. The combination of the three being grown together provided permanence and sustainability by reinforcing each other in both their production and nutritional value. Specifically, beans provide nitrogen to her sisters, squash roots prevent soil erosion, and corn provides protection from the elements namely hail, wind, and sunlight. These three vegetables also provide a more balanced nutritional diet when eaten together.
- Identify three environmental biomes and explain which Indigenous Peoples adapted their lifestyles to these specific biomes and how.
Examples can include any of the following:
Far North: tundra: Inuit adaptations
Hudson Bay Lowland (biotic province): Dene/Cree/Inuit/Innu adaptations
Boreal Forest: taiga: Ojibwe/Odaawak/Wendat adaptations
Grasslands: Prairie ecozone : Siksikawa/Nakoda/Dakhóta adaptations
moderate Pacific maritime region: Haida adaptations
- Interaction based on “exchange” was a key factor in various types of relationships among Indigenous Peoples. Access to natural resources played major roles in trade, political strength, and warfare. Discuss the nature of these interactions and their association with access to natural resources.
Answer: As an economic relationship, interactions based on trade became a natural occurrence due to the uneven distribution of resources. In eastern Canada, trading dates back to around 6000 years ago. There was much variation between hunting and gathering societies and those who picked up aspects of agricultural cultures. This created notable differences in resource strengths and needs, which in turn, contributed to trade and cooperative interaction between various groups. For example, the domestication of the “three sisters” in eastern Canada allowed groups such as the Wendat Confederacy to trade with Northern bands, supplying them with corn, beans, squash and twine for fish nets. In return, they received meat, hides and furs, which were especially plentiful in the areas of Boreal Forest and Plains.
In addition to food and related material goods, other popular items such as obsidian rock for tools, and various kinds of shells for personal adornment also became important trade items between more distant groups, with these products travelling far from the geographic regions in which their raw materials were found. Little is known about the trade of perishable goods, although new ways to detect residual DNA is beginning to change this. Oolichan oil was another item which facilitated a long-distance trading relationship. It originated from the Pacific Coast, therefore travelling along thousands of miles of trade routes into the interior of the continent.
Politically, the strength of the Wendat Confederacy was also a direct result of its geographical location along major trade routes which facilitated the exchange of goods between different cultural groups, thereby giving them the ability to trade extensively with allied communities surrounding the rival Haudenosaunee Confederacy. However, it appears that the political strength of the Wendat would have been bolstered by the fact that their extensive cornfields formed a surrounding belt around several villages in Wendake territory. This led all Wendat people to understand each other through use of the same language which was also utilized throughout the northern trade networks.
The significance of natural resources also played a role in conflicts and their resolution. Conflicts between groups such as the Haudenosaunee and other peoples of the Great Lakes were always resolved via the re-establishment of a trading relationship. Conversely, in this region, wars also began when a great scarcity of game animals forced rival groups to trespass into another’s hunting territory, as occurred as a result of European settlement and trade. Overall, organized warfare was more characteristic within sedentary communities, and it took place to avenge fallen members of a group, but also to protect natural resources. The centrality of natural resources to these relationships continued, even after contact with Europeans, to be an underlying cause of conflict for some time.