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A History of the Native People of Canada
By J.V. Wright


A History of the Native People of Canada

Over 12,000 years of Native history preceded the arrival of Europeans in the land today known as Canada. As there were no literate societies in Canada during that period, their history must be revealed by archaeological evidence. Such history is admittedly limited and lacking in the human personalities that provide the texture of history based on written documents. But archaeology-based history is nonetheless rich and the only one available to us for most of the time humans have lived on this planet. Both approaches share a common goal: the greater understanding of past human behaviour.

An in-depth three volume work by Dr. James Wright, totalling some 1,800 printed pages, is being published by the Canadian Museum of Civilization on the history of the Native peoples of Canada. It is hoped that these volumes will contribute to a greater appreciation of Native history prior to the devastating events initiated by the European occupation of Canada. At this time, the first two volumes have been issued, and are available in print. This Web module presents extracts from those volumes.

VOLUME I (10,000 to 1,000 B.C.)

The first volume begins with the spread of Ice Age hunters out of a land mass called Beringia that once joined Asia and North America. Most of the country was covered by glacial ice, and animals such as mammoth and sabre-toothed cats occupied the tundra and lichen woodlands. People of the first and subsequent migrations from Asia gradually adapted to the changing environment. Eventually, distinct cultures occupied all of Canada's major environmental zones.

Mercury Series
Archaeological Survey of Canada, Paper 152
17.8 x 24 cm, 588 pp.
35 black and white photos, 60 line illustrations, 1995

Book, paper ISBN 0-660-15951-1, $45.00

VOLUME II (1,000 B.C. to A.D. 500)

The second volume examines developments across Canada such as the gradual replacement of the earlier spearthrower by the bow and arrow. Pottery was introduced from the south 3,000 years ago; a thousand years later silver was being fashioned into ornaments. Burial mound ritual spread from the south to eastern Canada, the communal hunting of bison became increasingly important on the Plains, and large pit house villages occupied the salmon rivers of the Canadian Plateau. In addition, during this period the first evidence of ranked societies composed of slaves, commoners, and nobles appeared on the West Coast, and Palaeo-Eskimo art approached its pinnacle.

Mercury Series
Archaeological Survey of Canada, Paper 152
17.8 x 24 cm, 640 pp.
31 black & white photos, 50 line illustrations, 1999

Book, paper ISBN 0-660-15952-X, $45.00

Volume III (A.D. 500 - European Contact)

Part 1 of the final volume of A History of the Native People of Canada treats eastern Canada and the southern Subarctic regions of the Prairies from A.D. 500 to European contact. It examines the association of archaeological sites with the Native peoples recorded in European documents and particularly the agricultural revolution of the Iroquoian people of the Lower Great Lakes and Upper St. Lawrence River.

It is hoped that, with the merging of archaeologically based and documentary based human history, the impressive cultural heritage of the original occupants of this land will receive the respect and attention it deserves.

Part 1: Maritime Algonquian, St. Lawrence Iroquois, Ontario Iroquois, Glen Meyer/Western Basin, And Northern Algonquian Cultures
By J.V. Wright

Mercury Series, Archaeology 152
507 pages, 7 tables, 33 figures, 26 plates, 9 in colour, 0.98 kg
ISBN 0-660-19175-X
April 2004
$45.00 (paper)

How To Order

These publications are available only in English.

Price does not include shipping & handling or GST

Five ways to order:
All orders must be prepaid.
Make cheque or money order payable to the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

  • Fax your order to (819) 776-8300
  • Phone your order to 1-800-555-5621 ( Toll-free, North America only )
  • E-Mail:
  • Mail Order Services:
    Canadian Museum of Civilization
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    Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0M8

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