By Richard F. Salisbury
A place of origin for the Cree is a useful examine of ways the 1st James Bay venture used to be negotiated among the Cree and the Quebec govt. Richard Salisbury follows the negotiations which all started in 1971 and analyses the adjustments to Cree society over a ten-year interval in mild of the nearby improvement in James Bay.
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Additional info for A homeland for the Cree: Regional development in James Bay, 1971-1981
Once housed, with a food reserve, and with the ground frozen hard, attention could be switched to more predictable hunting - that of beaver, which provides both meat and furs. First, all the active beaver lodges in the hunting territory are located by systematic inspection of all lakes and streams over the area, which may range between 80 and 150 square miles. Routes are defined linking a number of lodges - each one is a "trapline" - so that the hunter can revisit the lodges systematically at intervals of three or four days, placing traps under the ice, and inspecting them to discover if beaver have been caught.
In short, Cree education was neither intolerably bad nor commendably good in 1971. It was improving rapidly from an earlier period of neglect; it had reached the standard of rural school systems in southern Canada of perhaps ten years earlier; it was provided by white officials, through white teachers, in village schools. Involvement of Cree in the provision of that education, and in a concern for its quality, was restricted to a very small number of individuals. None had yet become involved in the regional structures outside the villages that supplied the village school.
Eastward and westward the landscape also changes. To the east Lake Mistassini, over seventy-five miles long and ten miles wide, stretches north and east around the heights of the Otish Mountains like an inland sea. Westward the forest falls away to the depression of James Bay, where the rocks have been covered with glacial clays, swampy muskeg, and near the coast, alluvial sand that the ocean currents sweep and move in dunes and sand-flats. The divide between the plateau at about 900 feet, and 16 A Homeland for the Cree the lands sloping to the coast is a north-south line running irregularly between 50 and 100 miles inland from the east coast of James Bay.