Adaptation for Survival

Most Canadians have no knowledge of our sub-Arctic aboriginal cultures. These were nomadic hunter societies, compelled to intersect swift-moving herds of caribou over broad ranges, and left few signs of their presence. And yet these uncovered and surface remains have become keys to our understanding of how they survived this harsh environment.

Let us look first at their Chronology, through 8000 years of adaption to biophysical change.

From Past to Present

Barrenlands Cultures

Select from any era on our Chart a description of Barrenlands culture. Anecdotal records are few, and only begin with the arrival of European explorers and fur-traders. With the introduction of metal for tools and weapons, hunting methods changed radically, but did not initially displace the caribou’s importance to human survival. The artist drawings on this page are broad representations of these ancestral cultures, based upon the range and features of artifacts we can date to their presence.

Culture Years Ago
Dene Chipewyan Present-200
Late Taltheilei 200-1300
Middle Taltheilei 1300-1800
Early Taltheilei 1800-2450
Earliest Taltheilei 2450-2600
Pre-Dorset ASTt 2650-3540
Shield Archaic 3500-6500
Northern Plano 7000-8000
 For a Description of each Culture, select its Name

Ethnographic Observations

Band-herd Affiliation and Herd Following

Human Seasonal Nutrition and Birth Spacing

Read Samuel Hearne’s account of a “deer pound”

Images are courtesy of Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism; artist: Larry Jamieson