The 18th century western Cree and their neighbours : identity and territory
Russell, Dale Ronald
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The eighteenth century historical documents fail to support the accepted view, advanced by David Mandelbaum and others, that the Cree and Assiniboin invaded the west after 1690 as a result of the introduction of the fur trade. This view, seemingly supported by nineteenth century authorities, has its only source in several brief ambiguous statements published in 1801 by Alexander Mackenzie. The western limits of the Cree and Assiniboin in the early 1700s remain unclear. Their marauding activities against members of the Blackfoot Confederacy occurred only in the late 1700s, almost fifty years after they were documented as peacefully living in central Alberta. In the mid-1700s, six major Cree groups inhabited the western parklands, plains and boreal forest: the Susuhana, Sturgeon, Pegogamaw, Keskachewan/Beaver, Athabasca and Missinipi. These groups were all obliterated by the smallpox epidemic of 1781, and it was the resultant population shifts which were noted by nineteenth century observers.