Origin and History
The Cree people are a nomadic Cree-speaking group of Native Americans. They are divided in several groups:
- the Innu (aka Naskapi and Montagnais) inhabited present-day eastern Province of Québec and Labrador
- the Atikamekw inhabited the Upper Saint-Maurice River in present-day Province of Québec
- the East Cree inhabited present-day northern Province of Québec
- the Moose Cree inhabited the southern end of James Bay
- the Swampy Cree inhabited present-day northern Manitoba along the Hudson Bay
- the Woods Cree inhabited present-day northern Alberta and Saskatchewan
- the Plains Cree inhabited present-day Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Montana
There were no high-level formal structure and each band acted independently. When a band went to war, a okimahkan (war chief) was appointed.
In 1608, the French established a settlement at Québec in Innu territory.
From 1682, English traders of the Hudson Bay Company established contact with the Cree inhabiting in Manitoba. The Cree acquired firearms from these traders.
From the 1730s, the Cree people, thanks to their firearms, played an important role as middlemen in the fur trade.
In 1732, the French explorer La Vérendrye met an assembled group of 200 Cree warriors in present-day northwestern Ontario. They were preparing to attack the Dakota and a Chippewa band.
Role during the War
On March 13, 1758, a party of 61 Cree, Nipissing and Mission Iroquois took part in the Skirmish of Snow Shoes near Fort Carillon (present-day Ticonderoga).
We have been unable to find specific characteristics about the dress of this Native American people that would distinguish them from other peoples. If you can suggest sources documenting such characteristics, please do not hesitate to contact us with your suggestions.
Bows and arrows with flint tips were the traditional weapons of Cree warriors. However, while trading with the Hudson Bay Company, they soon acquired muskets.
Waldman, Carl: Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes, Revised Edition, pp. 73-74
Wikipedia – Cree
N.B.: the section Role during the War is derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.