this site last updated 25 October 2008
The following lecture was given by our wonderful friend, Ed Mentz Sr. Ed is also the author of some of the beautiful artwork on our pages. We (Kevin, Karen and I) express our gratitude and friendship to this wonderful human being.
My Grandpa married an Indian Princess...How Many of you have heard this story ? Many families have heard oral family histories that someone in their family had married a Native American or alleged Indian Princes. Not to burst anyones bubbles as Karen once said. But there is no such thing as an "Indian Princess" This title was given by their non-native ancestors for lack of a better description. Grandpa married a Squaw, was unacceptable because Squaw is a derogatory term given by the French for a loose woman. Princes denotes royalty and I believe thats why it was used instead. If you do not know her given Native American name, the proper way would be "Woman". For example; my grandfather married a MicMac Woman or Mohawk Woman, not princess. Again, our ancestors in error called daughters of a Chief, princesses for lack of a better term, a Chief was not a European King, although his authority may have reminded them of Royalty. Today we will give you clues and resources to help you trace your Oral Family History and help you discover your Native American roots, if indeed the stories are true and in most cases they are, but as you well know by now they are very hard to document. A little bit of history is necessary to help us understand and bring you up to date..
Tribal origins may have begun as far back as 40,000 B.C. due to recent discoveries of crude chipped stone implements. The first inhabitants were hunters using wooden lances with sharp stone heads. This big game mammoth hunting flourished in the Canadian plains and woodlands until about 8000 B.C. When the mammoth became extinct, the people hunted deer, bear, elk and smaller game. By 1000 B.C. the early woodland culture had developed in eastern North America. During this period, the population became more stable and individual cultures began to crystallize. New features such as pottery were gradually incorporated into Canadas prehistoric tribes.
The first Europeans encountered by North American Indians were Norse (Viking) seamen, on the northeast tip of Newfoundland. The earliest to come towards the North American continent were thought to be Naddod (865), Gunnfjorn (876), It is believed that the first European to see the coast of North America, was the Icelander Bjarni Herjulfsson about 985 when he strayed off course on his way to Greenland. Norwegian Eirik Raude, known as Erick the Red, founder of the first European settlement on Greenland in 900 is the father of : Lief Erickson who was one of the first Europeans to reach North America in 100l. Just recently a site was discovered in Newfoundland thought to be a Viking settlement dating back to this time period. Not until the voyage of Columbus in 1492 did Europeans come again in numbers to the shores of North America. In 1534 Jacques Cartier enter Chaleur Bay and was greeted by MicMac Indians and traded with them.. Cartier however captured two sons of a Iroquois Chief when he encountered a fishing party near their village of Stadocans (now Quebec City) and took them back to France. The next year Cartier visited the Iroquoian settlement of Hochelage (now Montreal) and read the goSpel to the Indians. Returning to Stadocana he built a small fort and became the first Europeans to spend an entire winter in North America (1535-1536). The harshness of the land soon took its toll and 25 of his men died of scurvy. In March, however, the Iroquois gave Cartier a potion made from the fronds of white cedar that cured those who had survived. Despite this fact he later captured their chief, Donnacona, and two sons and seven other Iroquois and took them back to France with the promise he would return in the spring. Six years latter when he did return, most of the captives had died, and this tragedy left a legacy of distrust among the Iroquois*. His attempts to establish a small colony were consistently thwarted by angry Indians and Cartier and his men returned to France in 1542*.
The Iroquois or Iroquoian-speaking people included, the Kanienkehaka (Mohawk), Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Valley regions, known as the Five Nations Confederacy. Also in this language group, were the: Huron, Wenro, Erie, Tobacco, the Cherokee of Southern Appalachia, the Susquehanna of the mid-Atlantic regions, and the Sixth Nation to join the Confederacy - the Tuscarora of the southeast. The Iroquoian democratic system was so impressive that Benjamin Franklin invited the Iroquois to Albany, New York, in the 1770s to explain their system to a delegation who then developed the "Albany Plan of Union". This document later served as a model for the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution of the United States. The Iroquoian society was based on descent through the maternal line, and women dominated in this Nation more then any other matrilineal society. In the Seneca tribe the clan mother and older women selected and had power to dismiss a tribal chief .
Champlain sailed up the St. Lawrence in 1603 and traded with the Algonkin, Montagnais and Malecite. In 1608 he founded the settlement called Quebec. In 1609 Champlain assisted the Algonkin and their Huron allies and routed a band of 200 Iroquois warriors. This enmity added to Cartiers had historical consequences lasting nearly a hundred years. The establishment of Quebec brought about changes in the various native cultures, who were these people ?
There are eight principal nations who speak the Algonkian family language. The now extinct Beothuk lived in Newfoundland, while the MicMac occupied Nova Scotia, northeastern New Brunswick, Gaspe in Quebec, and Prince Edward Island. South-western New Brunswick and the neighboring part of Quebec was the home of the Malecite. The Montagnais and Naskapi lived in what is now Quebec and Labrador.
The Ojibwe (Chippewa) occupied a large territory encompassing all the northern shores of Lake Huron and Lake Superior from Georgian Bay to the edge of the prairies. The Algonkin lived in the Ottawa valley.
Flanking the Ojibwe on the north and west were the Cree who also occupied an immense area. They lived on the southern perimeter of Hudson Bay living as far north as Churchill. Their territory was bounded on the east by Lake Mistassini and extended all the way west to the prairie frontier.
For the most part each of these Natives were divided into numerous bands that possessed their own hunting territory and were politically independent of each other with a leader for each band. Their mode of transportation was the birch bark canoe, and during the winter toboggans and snowshoes were used by travelers. They were also classified as the Woodland Indians.
The plains Indians of Canada shared a common culture and spoke three different family languages-Souian located along the present day boarders of Saskatchewan and Manitoba with the U.S. The one exception were the Blackfoot of the plains who spoke the same language family (Algonkian) as the MicMac of the Maritimes yet their cultures were traditionally different. Athapaskan was the third language group of the plains, and so mobile were the skilled horsemen of the plains, that they developed 800 signs to communicate between the various tribes. There were eight principal tribes of the plains, the Blackfoot, Blood, Piegan, Gros Ventre, Assiniboine, Sarcree, Sioux and Plains Cree. The Dakota were scattered over the American plains and Canada, some present day descendants are from refugees who came to Canada under the leadership of Sitting Bull after their victory at the Little Bighorn in 1876.
Canadian Native Americans sometimes called Amerindians by the French have certain rights not available to those in the U.S. Due in part, that the American Revolution, voided the Royal Proclamation of 1763 establishing a framework for settlement of Native lands. In Canada the policy wAs that the title to the land mass was vested in the Crown, however; the indigenous peoples maintained an underlying title to use and occupy the land. No settlement of land could be undertaken, until the Indian rights had been surrendered in negotiations between the Crown and First Nations who occupied the land. Treaties were initiated between 1763 and 1800 to objectively clear the land for development as acknowledged in the Royal Proclamation. However; to this day this principle is followed with many restrictions added by the government of Canada..
In addition, Jesuit missionaries who followed Champlian to the New World lived among the various nations seeing Christian converts and recording their experience and impressions. They compiled these records into reports which they sent to France and were eventually consolidated in 73 volumes called the Jesuit Relations. This has become a primary source for researchers examining the early history of Canadas native people. The Jesuits and latter Sulpicians undertook the first full scale assimilation of the Indian into the French culture. In the late 17th and 18th centuries they successfully established Christian Villages among Indian people. The present day Quebec reserves of Caughnawaga, St. Regis and Lorette all had their origins in these Jesuit missionaries. Which brings to a point, Canada has a lot of records that can be traced, and some were lost during the revolutions and wars of the new country. The key is knowing where to look.
Quebecs Native People as well as the non-Quebec Metis have many books about their history, yet few on the genealogy of the Amerindians. You should be able to find marriages between the French and Natives in Jette for the period before 1731, just like other marriages for that period. However; more then likely the Christian name was used in acts of baptism and marriages between 1600 to about 1800. In some cases, the Native name was included. In cases of adoption, be they White or Native, it was very rare if the admption was mentioned in parish registers before 1930. "The Canadian Metis History" page states that their cultural evolution commenced in the mid 1600s and reached its height in the late 1800s. Who are the Metis, They are of mixed blood and are one of three groups of aboriginal people recognized in Canada, along with the Status Indians and Inuits. They have always played a crucial role in the formation of CAnada and to-day there are over a million Metis and Indian people living in Canada.
The early provinces of Quebec and Ontario included a vast triangle between the Rivers Mississippi and the Ohio, including now the American States of eastern Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio, until about 1783 when eastern Minnesota was ceded by England to the United States.
In 1857 an act for "Gradual Civilization" was passed aimed specifically at assimilating Indian people into the mainstream of colonial life. The concept was of "enfranchisement". By forsaking his Indian heritage, an Indian male over 21, literate in English or French, educated to an elementary level, good moral character and free of debt could be declared to be enfranchised or "no longer deemed to be an Indian" and therefore free of distinction between himself and other citizens. To encourage such a move, they would be granted "fee simple title" to as much as 20 hectares of reserve land, plus an amount of money equal to the annuities received on his behalf by the band. This legislation was to be inherited by the new nation of Canada when it gained its independence from Britain in 1867 uniting the four provinces of Nova ScoTia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario. Canada as we know it to-day with the exception of Newfoundland which became the tenth province in 1949 was not created until 1912. Then it was not until 1947 that Canadian citizenship was established separate from British citizenship.
In 1876 the Canadian Parliament passed its first Indian Act incorporating gradual civilization and, defining a Status Indian as one who had registered with the government as Indian, non-status are those who were not registered. This Act is another obstacle for researchers, for Native Women who married non-natives, list their tribal status and heritage automatically, along with their children. However, a non-native Woman who married a Status Indian gained actual Indian status. This injustice was not overturned until 1985 by the Canadian Parliament.
In 1880 the act was amended to enfranchise automatically any Indian obtaining a university degree. The celebration of the potlatch was outlawed in an 1884 amendment on the grounds that it was a corrupt and destructive ceremony. Many Indians went to jail for violating this amendment. The potlatch is a social and cultural celebration which is the heart of the Pacific Coast Indians and it was not taken off the books until 1951.
In response to the Nishga Indians pursuit of a land claim, the act was amended in 1927 which forbade raising money among the Indians for the purpose of pursuing any claim with out the Superintendent General for Indian Affairs expressed approval in writing. Thus in many ways the Indian act deprived the people of power and kept them locked in a state of dependency upon the government.
The 1985 amendment to the Indian Act of Canada restored the status and band
membership of Women who had married non-natives, another 8,000 Indians who
had been enfranchised when they joined the clergy, completed university,
joined the armed forces or voted in federal elections, had their status
restored.. The amendment also took into account the right of the Indian First
Nations to control their own membership by accepting applications from the
first-generation of descendants whose status had been restored.
CREDITS for the above information were taken from the following sources: NOW TO HELP YOU IN YOUR SEARCH Here are more URLs for your Native American Ancestry
Directory of Indian and Related Organizations in Canada This address will give you the name, address, & phone numbers for all the Indian and Native Associations in Canada
Canadian Publications -You Wanted to Know Department of Indian Affairs page.
DIAND=Dept of Indian Affairs & Northern Development with regional offices in Canada. Plus, the Dept. Of Canadian Heritage.
Canadian National Archives main menu
Lethbridge Alberta Family History Center
Grand Council of the Crees
The Other Metis
Last but not least is our very own AOL Native American home page with links to many interesting Native American sites and some graphics by yours truly, Ed.
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