History of the Reindeer and Nejanilini Lake district to 1820
Hill, David Norman William
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The early history of what is now Manitoba's high north has in general received much less attention than districts centered on the Nelson-Hayes river system, the interior plains and the Mackenzie River basin. This neglect has given rise to the misconception of the northern taiga lands as empty and desolate. It has also led to a certain disregard of the historical continuity of the eastern bands of Chipewyan who were the primary inhabitants of this area. To address these issues this study first explores the district's land resources and their use by aboriginal people with special attention to the richness of caribou resources and the northern subsistence fisheries. The utilization and stability of the resource base had important implications in the trade relationship with early Europeans and was an important factor in maintaining aboriginal identity. In order to better understand the earlier Chipewyan, the study discusses ancient Dene movement, Dene relations with the Cree at the Churchill River and Chipewyan interactions with fur traders in the 1790-1820 period. The final section deals with the European view of the Reindeer Lake District and the strategies of early commercial development which linked the zone, in a larger way, to the external European-based economy. The thesis attempts to show that the eastern Chipewyan were not easily overwhelmed by European conmercial activities nor as highly dependent or acculturated as so much fur trade literature has suggested.
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