Gorgeous portraits of Cree Tribe, the largest group of First Nations in North America

Paul Pinkerton

With more than 200,000 members living in Canada, The Cree are one of the largest groups of First Nations in North America.

Big Bear Mistahimaskwa


Bobtail, (Keskayiwew), Head Chief of the Montana Cree, 1887. Brother of Ermineskin


Chief Duckhunter

The name Cree derives from te Alongikian language exonym Kirištino, which Ojibwa commonly used to describe tribes living around Hudson Bay.

Chief King of the Wind


Chief Thundercloud

French explorers and colonist when encountered tribes north and west of Lake Superior, spell the term  Kiristinon, KilistinonCristenaux, Knisteneaux, and Cristinaux.

These terms were used by the French to refer to several groups of peoples in Canda, some of which are now distinguished as Anishinaabe (Ojibwa), who speak different dialects from the Algonquin.

The Cree call themselves the nīhithawnēhilaw,nēhiyawak, and nēhinaw; or ininiw, ililiw, iynu (innu), or iyyu, depending on the community.

Cree Indian sun dancers


Cree Indian, taken by G. E. Fleming, 1903

Cree peoples were hunter-gatherers, and the basic unit of an organization were the lodge, a group formed of eight dozen people, most often the families of two separate but related married couple who lived in the same tipi or wigwam, and the band, group of two lodges who moved and hunted together.

Cree Woman


Cree Women Performing the Round Dance Waterhen River, Northern Saskatchewan


From the Paul Coze fonds,

The lodges could leave bands in case of disagreement. Although Cree-speaking bands work together and with neighbors against outside enemies,  usually each band remained independent of each other.

The Cree who migrated onto the Great Plain and started bison hunting were called the Plains Cree and allied with the Assiniboine and the Saulteaux, a major force in the North American fur trade from the 1730s to 1870s.

From the Paul Coze fonds.


Group of Cree people


Nehiyaw girl (1928)


Paul Coze fonds..


Paul Coze fonds


Cree Indian


Cree Indians in camp

The Cree generally can be divided into eight groups based on dialect and region: Naskapi( inhabitants of an area they refer to as Nitassinan, caribou hunters),Attikamekw (inhabitants of   Nitaskinan (Our Land), in the upper St. Maurice River valley of Quebec (about 300 km north of Montreal).Population around 4,500,James Bay Cree – Grand Council of the Crees (population of 18,000 Cree   of Eeyou Istchee and Nunavik regions of Northern Quebec), Plains Cree( 34,000 people in Alberta,  Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Montana.),Moose Cree – Moose Factory in the Cochrane District, Ontario, Swampy Cree – this group lives in northern Manitoba along the Hudson Bay and Woods Cree  in northern Alberta and Saskatchewan.


jack-beckett is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival