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First Nations - an Introduction

In the last ice age, 80 000 to 12 000 years ago, much of North America was covered by ice.

With so much of Earth's water frozen on land, the sea level went down. This exposed a small strip of land that joined North America and Asia -- a land bridge.

It is believed possible that the ancestors of many First Nations and Inuit people crossed this land to come to North America.

Many centuries before the Spanish, English and Europeans began exploring North America, First Nations people and Inuit had already settled.

There is an ancient copper mine at Mamainse Point, Ontario.

It was being mined by First Nations peoples 6000 years before the time of the Egyptian pharaohs.

Land Bridge

At the end of the ice age, more than 12 000 years ago, the ancestors of many First Nations peoples may have travelled across the Bering land bridge.

Over time they settled thrughout North and South America .

A few thousand years ago the glaciers retreated and some of the Native peoples were able to live in central Canada, around what is now Hudson Bay and James Bay.

Ancient Trade Routes

First Nations peoples traded with each other along routes that they had used for many many years -- long before the Europeans came to trade for furs.

Some of the things they used to trade with each other were:

Obsidian (from which the sharpest-known cutting tools are made) from Northern B.C., California and Wyoming Pottery from Iroquois country (Ontario and Quebec)
Spear points from Hudson Bay
Copper goods from Lake Superior and from Inuit and Dene lands on the shores of the Arctic Ocean
Decorative shells from the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico