Cree(redirected from Cree Tribe)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.
Cree, Native North Americans whose language belongs to the Algonquian branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). They formerly inhabited the area S of Hudson Bay and James Bay in what is now Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba S of the Churchill River. Members of one branch of the Cree, allying themselves with the Siouan Assiniboin, moved southwestward into buffalo territory and became the Plains Cree. It is probable that they introduced the method of hunting buffalo by driving them into enclosures, since the Woodland Cree used this method in hunting deer. The traditional culture and language of the Woodland Cree greatly resembles that of the Ojibwa.
A warlike tribe, the Cree were nevertheless friendly toward French and English fur traders, and their history is closely connected with the activities of the Hudson's Bay and the North West companies. They were powerful in the late 18th cent. until smallpox drastically reduced their population. In 1884 they were involved in the second Riel Rebellion (see Riel, Louis), in Saskatchewan.
About 200,000 Cree live in 135 bands in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. They have the largest population and are spread over the largest geographic area of any aboriginal group in Canada. In the 1990s, Cree living in N Quebec waged strong opposition to the province's planned massive James Bay hydroelectric project, but in 2002 they negotiated an agreement with Quebec that permitted partial hydroelectric development, mining, and logging in exchange for jobs and $3.5 billion in financing (over 50 years). The agreement also recognized the autonomy of the Cree as a native nation. In 2012 they signed an agreement with Quebec to establish the Eeyou Istchee James Bay territory (largely the former Baie-James municipality), 114,801 sq mi (297,333 sq km), to be jointly governed by Crees and non-Cree residents. In 1990 there were over 8,000 Cree in the United States, some of them sharing a reservation in Montana with the Ojibwa.
See L. Mason, The Swampy Cree (1967); E. T. Denig, Five Indians Tribes of the Upper Missouri (1975).
one of the Algonquian-speaking Indian tribes of North America.
In the 17th century they lived in the western part of the Labrador Peninsula; in the early 19th century they settled in the vast forest-plains territory of Canada. The Cree consisted of two culturally and historically different groups—the Plains Cree, who were mounted buffalo hunters, and the Forest Cree, who were hunting and fishing peoples. The Plains Cree were placed on reservations in the late 19th century, whereas the Forest Cree remained hunters and gradually changed to a settled way of life. Many of the modern Cree are employed as hired laborers. The Cree are formally Christians (Catholics), although they preserve elements of their ancient totemistic beliefs. The Cree population totaled more than 60,000 in 1967.
The Mistassini Cree are a sub-Arctic people living in northern Quebec who attempt to carry on a lifestyle and culture that was traditionally built around hunting and trapping. The Cree have made some partial compromises with Canadian society by spending the summers at government outposts, but in the winters they live much as they did more than three hundred years ago, when Europeans first entered the area.
Particularly during the winter, the Cree are most interested in divinatory dreams as they relate to the hunt. Such divinatory dreams are not straightforward, in the sense that they most often require interpretation. For example, one of the most common rules of interpretation is that meeting a stranger of the opposite sex in a dream indicates a game animal. Events in the dream then serve as metaphors for what will happen during the hunt. For instance, in a study of the Mistassini Cree, Adrian Tanner includes the account of a man who dreamed he met an Eskimo woman who invited him to live with her. The man refused the invitation and later while hunting sighted a caribou, which he shot at but missed, and it got away.
The Cree also regard dreams as sources of creative inspiration and spiritual guidance. Tanner observes, for instance, that “power. is sometimes thought to arrive in dreams, in the form of formulae for songs, or shamanistic techniques, or ideas for the decoration of clothing or other objects” (p. 126—see Sources).
Thus, according to Tanner, dreams serve to connect ordinary daily activities with a spirit realm, giving one’s life a larger significance in the cosmic view of things.