The Cree Indians range extended from Canada to the United States. They are considered “First Nations People” in Canada and are referred to as Native Americans or American Indians in the United States. It should be noted that the Cree language was once the most widely spoken language in North America. Sadly, today’s Cree Indians are not fluent in their native language and speak either French or English.
The Cree Indians living near the Great Lakes had access to wild rice. As the land around the lakes was not suitable for growing corn, the Cree Indians found the rice to be a suitable substitute. Working with the rice was as arduous a job as growing corn. The Cree Indians had to guard the crop, gather it, hull it, dry it and smoke it. The Cree women did most of the rice work. Fish was a mainstay to the Cree Indians, along with moose and deer. The Cree Indians also manufactured maple sugar when they could.
The Cree Indians used the birch trees in their region in astounding ways. They used birch bark for canoes, housing, containers and dishes. Birth bark was even occasionally used as paper. They even used birch as a pot for boiling water over a fire.
The Cree Indians rarely had trouble with the whites. The reason is not because they were less formidable or warlike then other American Indian tribes. It is thought that the Cree Indians were living in a region were there were no vast settlements. Even today the area inhabited by the Cree is mainly forest and water. When horses were introduced to the Cree Indians, some of them left for the open plains to hunt buffalo. These Indians became known as the Plains Cree.