First Peoples > An Ancient Bond with the Land > Trade Fairs > Meeting Distant Peoples

An Ancient Bond with the Land

Trade Fairs

Meeting Distant Peoples

Trade was based on the fact that different groups of people had access to different resources. Transporting goods over land was done mainly on foot. To carry heavy burdens, Aboriginal peoples used baskets, bags, bundles and tumplines - carrying straps placed around a person's head or chest. Dogs carried packs and pulled sleds, toboggans or travois. Travois consisted of two long poles hitched to the dog's sides, with a webbed frame for holding baggage. For water travel, people used canoes and rafts.

Aboriginal people on the Plains spoke many different languages. They also developed a special sign language to communicate with strangers. Through hand and finger gestures, they were able to transmit complex ideas quickly and reliably. Spoken languages with limited vocabularies - or trade jargons - were used in some regions. Having solved transportation and communication problems, First Peoples established trade networks that spanned the continent.

Great Plains sign language
Drawings: Susan Laurie-Bourque
© Canadian Museum of Civilization
Arrow - Drawing: Susan Laurie-Bourque Awl - Drawing: Susan Laurie-Bourque

Angry - Drawing: Susan Laurie-Bourque Among - Drawing: Susan Laurie-Bourque

Arrive here - Drawing: Susan Laurie-Bourque Arrive there - Drawing: Susan Laurie-Bourque
Arrive here
Arrive there

Major historic trade centres and travel routes

Map - Trade centres and travel routes - Canadian Geographic
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