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Aboriginal Culture

Over 200 Years of History!

The pre-contact years for the City of Mississauga are divided into 3 distinct periods: Paleo-Indian (9000-8500 BC), Archaic (8000-1000 BC) and the Woodland Period (1000BC-AD 1650); each has its own features and characteristics which document the growth & development of Aboriginal society.

The Paleo-Indian and Archaic periods can be characterized as a steady growth in population and the gradual development of trade as Native groups followed an annual cycle, and moved around to take advantage of specific environmental factors such as the hunting of wild animals.  Yet although these groups had few material possessions and physical evidence is scarce, there are 23 known Archaic sites concentrated in the Credit River and Cooksville Creek drainage areas. 

In the Woodland period, the area that is today the City of Mississauga was situated in the middle of Iroquoian territory. In time, language groups developed among tribes that had little else in common, the largest being the Iroquoian and Algonkian which included the tribes that settled around Mississauga, although there was no formal written language until much later.

The introduction of agriculture had a dramatic effect on the population as people began to settle in large groups rather than remain totally nomadic. This had social implications as a tribal system developed and trade became increasingly important.  Iroquoian society was matriarchal; clan mothers wielded power by selecting chiefs and serving on a council of elders, thereby influencing daily life far more than their men folk.

Tobacco, shells, copper and other luxury goods made their way into Southern Ontario by trade routes, which enhanced daily life and led to increased contact between groups.  In addition, the introduction of corn from Mexico, and later beans and squash, known as the “Three Sisters”, enabled the limited cultivation of domesticated crops which became the responsibility of Native women as men went out to forage and hunt for food.

In 1990 a site was found in the Britannia area of the city from the late woodland period which anthropologists believe had flourished for over 20 years.  From the Antrex site, as it became known, scientists were able to reconstruct many areas of the village and they believed that by the 1300’s, local Natives inhabited larger fortified villages of Longhouses such as this, and were tending to settle in groups especially in the winter months, in areas close to water and which yielded good soil for crops.           

People have lived along the shores of Lake Ontario, in what is now the City of Mississauga, for over 10,000 years. Although there are scant records of pre-contact aboriginal peoples, archaeology has found evidence of Paleo-Indian, Archaic, Woodland and Iroquoian sites. Between 1650 and 1720 there was a transition between Iroquoian-speaking peoples and the Mississaugas, an Ojibwa tribe, who came to establish themselves throughout large portions of Southern Ontario, including along the Credit River in what is now the City of Mississauga.

 

The Mississaugas

The Mississaugas are part of the Ojibwa Nation, in the Algonquian language family. They established themselves on the north shore of Lake Ontario between 1700 and 1720. During the American Revolution, the British Crown began purchasing large tracts of land for the incoming Loyalists. The first land purchase involving the British Crown and the Mississauga Nation was in 1781. By 1800, all that remained of the Mississauga’s territory was the “Mississauga Tract” which covered the land, from Etobicoke Creek to Burlington Bay.

In 1805, the British began negotiations for that last tract of Mississauga land. On August 2, 1805, the Mississauga and the British Crown signed Treaty 13-A, commonly referred to as the First Purchase. The British acquired a strip of land, from the Etobicoke Creek west, to Burlington Bay north six miles to modern day Eglinton Avenue. This became the Township of Toronto (now the City of Mississauga).

The Mississauga kept one mile on either side of the Credit River, the land on either side of the Twelve and Sixteen Mile Creeks, and the interior of the “Mississauga Tract” north of Eglinton Avenue. The fact that they retained the interior of the “Tract” enabled them to preserve their traditional means of subsistence.

On October 28, 1818, the British Crown and the Mississauga First Nation signed Treaty 19. In this treaty, the British acquired the rest of the “Mississauga Tract” which was the land north of modern day Eglinton Avenue. This area included the “New Survey” in Township of Toronto (now the City of Mississauga) and would include the villages of Streetsville, Malton and Meadowvale. The Mississauga now only retained the three portions of land on the Credit River, and the Twelve Mile and Sixteen Mile Creeks.

The Mississauga fought to keep their land on the Credit River, and the Sixteen and Twelve Mile Creeks but two years later, the Government negotiated for those lands as well. The recent settlers in the area wanted access to the creeks and river to establish mills in the area. On February 28th, 1820, Treaties 22 and 23 were signed.  The Mississauga retained only two hundred acres on the east side of the Credit River. The ‘two hundred acres’ was never surrendered and became a land claim in the 1980s, for which the Mississauga received twelve or thirteen million dollars.

In the early 1820s, both the government and the Mississauga themselves, believed they would soon be extinct. In 1825, the Mississauga living on the Credit River gained support in their dealings with the government, when Peter Jones arrived at the Credit River. In late 1825, the Government agreed to build the Mississaugas a village near the Credit River. The site of the village would have been on Mississauga Road where the Mississaugua Golf and Country Club is today and became known as the Credit Mission.  As early as 1840, the Mississauga decided to leave the Credit River. In 1847, the Mississauga of the Credit River left for the Six Nations Reserve and established the New Credit Reserve in Hagersville.

Today the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation celebrate a vibrant and resurgent culture with strong ties to their ancestral home along the Credit River and what is today the City of Mississauga.

 

The Treaty Years

The Mississauga First Nation, is part of the Ojibwa Nation, in the Algonquian language family. They established themselves on the north shore of Lake Ontario between 1700 and 1720. During the American Revolution, the British Crown began purchasing large tracts of land for the incoming Loyalists. The first land purchase involving the British Crown and the Mississauga Nation was in 1781. By 1800, all that remained of the Mississauga’s territory was the “Mississauga Tract” which covered the land, from Etobicoke Creek to Burlington Bay.

In 1805, the British began negotiations for that last tract of Mississauga land. On August 2, 1805, the Mississauga and the British Crown signed Treaty 13a, commonly referred to as the First Purchase. The British acquired a strip of land, from the Etobicoke Creek west, to Burlington Bay north six miles to modern day Eglinton Avenue. This became the Township of Toronto (now the City of Mississauga).

The Mississauga kept one mile on either side of the Credit River, the land on either side of the Twelve and Sixteen Mile Creeks, and the interior of the “Mississauga Tract” north of Eglinton Avenue. The fact that they retained the interior of the “Tract” enabled them to preserve their traditional means of subsistence.

On October 28, 1818, the British Crown and the Mississauga First Nation signed Treaty 19. In this treaty, the British acquired the rest of the “Mississauga Tract” which was the land north of modern day Eglinton Avenue. This area included the “New Survey” in Township of Toronto (now the City of Mississauga) and would include the villages of Streetsville, Malton and Meadowvale. The Mississauga now only retained the three portions of land on the Credit River, and the Twelve Mile and Sixteen Mile Creeks.

The Mississauga fought to keep their land on the Credit River, and the Sixteen and Twelve Mile Creeks but two years later, the Government negotiated for those lands as well. The recent settlers in the area wanted access to the creeks and river to establish mills in the area. On February 28th, 1820, Treaties 22 and 23 were signed.  The Mississauga retained only two hundred acres on the east side of the Credit River. The ‘two hundred acres’ was never surrendered and became a land claim in the 1980s, for which the Mississauga received twelve or thirteen million dollars.

In the early 1820s, both the government and the Mississauga themselves, believed they would soon be extinct. In 1825, the Mississauga living on the Credit River gained support in their dealings with the government, when Peter Jones arrived at the Credit River. In late 1825, the Government agreed to build the Mississaugas a village near the Credit River. The site of the village would have been on Mississauga Road where the Mississaugua Golf and Country Club is today and became known as the Credit Mission.  As early as 1840, the Mississauga decided to leave the Credit River. In 1847, the Mississauga of the Credit River left for the Six Nations Reserve and established the New Credit Reserve in Hagersville.

© Mississauga Heritage 2009