Susan, Swampy Cree Woman.

December 4th, 2013, 9pm

It was -16°C with overcast. There was moderate breeze.

Ironically, my mom’s name is also Susan and she is also a Swampy Cree woman, although not the one in the picture. Growing up I remember my dad always calling my mom his “Swampy Cree woman”. She is Metis, he is not. I knew of Plains Cree Indians, but I thought that’s what all Cree were called. So I always thought that my dad was making fun of my mom and her heritage by adding in that ‘swampy’ part… Turns out there are Swampy Cree Indians, as well as Plains Cree and Woodlands Cree Indians. I have since found out that during the fur trading years in Western Canada from 1660-1870 that the Plains Cree, the Swampy Cree and Assiniboine First Nations had roles as trappers, hunters and middlemen in the Hudson’s Bay Company fur trade economy. The Western movement of the Cree and Assiniboine First Nations from Northern and Southern Manitoba into central and northern regions of Saskatchewan and Alberta during the 1820s did in some effect, through various epidemics from the Europeans, as well as inter-tribal warfare, redistribute the tribal land base of other First Nations. It was during this time that the Cree began to be referred to as three distinct groups: The Woodland Cree, the Plains Cree and the Swampy Cree. The locations these groups settled in were not ‘popular’ places for settlement. It was mainly forest and water logged uncommon areas. When they obtained horses, many of them left for the open plains to hunt buffalo. They were known as the Plains Cree. So I guess that clarifies it for me… I wonder if my dad knows all that?

Arthur J. Ray, Indians in the Fur Trade, University of Toronto Press: Canada, 1998. photo:

David Wade, Adrian and Barb said thanks.

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Ashleigh Skelton

Stay at home mom of 2 boys and 1 girl...busy, but fun times!

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