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Native American Facts For Kids was written for young people learning about the Crees for school or home-schooling reports. We encourage students and teachers to look through our Cree language and culture pages for free in-depth information about the tribe, but here are our answers to the questions we are most often asked by children, with Cree pictures and links we believe are suitable for all ages. Photographs are the property of the sources we have credited.
Peguis Cree Flag
Each Cree community lives on its own reserve (or reservation, in the United States.)
Reserves are lands that belong to the Crees and are under their control.
Cree Indian bands are called First Nations in Canada and tribes in the United States.
Each Cree tribe or First Nation is politically independent and has its own government, laws, police, and services, just like a small country.
Some Cree nations have also formed coalitions to address common problems.
The political leader of a Cree band is called a chief (okimahkan in the Cree language.) In the past, Cree chiefs were men who had distinguished themselves in war. Today chiefs can be men or women, and they are elected in most Cree bands, just like mayors and governors.
Cree boys playing darts
|They do the same things all children do--play with each other, go to school and help around the house. Many Cree children like to go hunting and fishing with their fathers. In the past, Indian kids had more chores and less time to play, just like colonial children. But Cree kids did have dolls and toys to play with, and older boys liked to play games like lacrosse. Cree Indian mothers, like many Native Americans, traditionally carried their babies in cradleboards on their backs. Here is a website with Native American cradleboard pictures.|
|There were two types of dwellings used by the Crees. In the woodlands, Cree people lived in villages of birchbark buildings called wigwams. On the plain, Cree people pitched camp with large buffalo-hide tents called tipis (or teepees). The Plains Cree were nomadic people, and tipis were easier to move from place to place than wigwams. Here are some pictures of wigwam, tepee, and other Indian homes. Today, tipis and wigwams are only used for ceremonial purposes, not for shelter. Most Crees live in modern houses and apartment buildings, just like you.|
Cree Indian women wore long dresses with removable sleeves. Cree men wore breechcloths and leggings.
The Crees also wore moccasins on their feet and cloaks or ponchos in bad weather.
Later, Cree people adapted European costume like blouses and jackets into their own style using beadwork, embroidery, and ribbon appliques. Here is a photograph of a Cree
and some photos and links about Native American clothes in general.
By tradition, the Crees wore fur or leather caps decorated with feathers. Some Cree warriors wore a porcupine roach instead. (Roaches are made of porcupine hair, not their sharp quills!) In the 1800's, some Cree chiefs began wearing long feather headdresses like their neighbors the Sioux. Cree men and women both wore their hair in two long braids. The Crees painted their faces with bright colors for special occasions. They used different patterns for war paint, religious ceremonies, and festive decoration. Cree people also wore tribal tattoo art on their faces, hands, and bodies.
Today, some Cree people still use moccasins or a buckskin shirt, but they wear modern clothes like jeans instead of breechcloths... and they only wear feathers in their hair on special occasions like a dance.
Yes--the Cree Indian tribe was well-known for their birchbark canoes.
After Europeans came, Cree canoe builders began
using canvas rather than birchbark to cover their canoe frames. Canoeing is still popular within the Cree nation today.
Here is an article with pictures of Native canoes styles.
Over land, Cree people used dogs as pack animals. (There were no horses in North America
until colonists brought them over from Europe.) The Crees also used snowshoes and sleds to help them travel in the winter.
Today, of course, Cree people also use cars... and non-native people also use canoes.
|The Cree Indians were primarily hunting people. Northern Cree hunters pursued caribou, elk, and moose, as well as smaller game like beaver and rabbits. The Plains Cree followed the buffalo herds in a nomadic lifestyle. For the Eastern Cree, fishing and hunting seals from canoes were more important. Cree women gathered nuts and fruits, and in southern bands, they also grew some corn. The Cree Indian man in this photo is pounding pemmican, a traditional Cree food made from dried meat. Here is a website with more information about Native Canadian food.|
Cree moose call
|The most famous Cree weapon was the bow and arrow. The Crees used bows and arrows for both hunting and war. Other Cree weapons included spears, clubs, and knives. Here is a website with Native American weapon pictures and information. When Plains Cree men hunted buffalo, they sometimes used controlled fires to herd the animals into a trap or over a cliff. The Northern Cree hunter in this picture is using a special birchbark instrument to make sounds that attract moose. The East Crees used bone fishhooks and nets for fishing.|
|Cree artists are known for their quilling crafts, woodcarving, and colorful beadwork. Like other eastern American Indians, Crees in Quebec also crafted wampum out of white and purple shell beads. Wampum beads were traded as a kind of currency, but they were more culturally important as an art material. The designs and pictures on wampum belts often told a story or represented a person's family.|
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