What Did the Woodlands Cree Eat?

During the early part of the Woodland Period the Woodlands Cree relied on hunting and eating meat from animals like moose, beaver, caribou and bear. During the Late Woodland period the first signs of agriculture appeared.

The Woodland Cree hunted wild animals, but because of scarcity they relied chiefly on hunting hare. When hare became scarce too it caused famine and led to occasional cannibalism, as reported by European tribal tales.A variety of taboos, customs and fear of witchcraft relating to spirits of game animals caused the Woodland Cree to seek out different kinds of fowl to supplement their diets.

An important occurrence during the later period was the appearance of agriculture, which included intensive cultivation of crops such as squash and corn. The Cree lived near the Great Lakes and were excellent hunters and gatherers. Wild rice from the lakes became one of their staple foods and a substitute for corn, which did not grow well in the lake areas.

When the Cree obtained horses, many left to hunt buffalo on the open plains and became known as the “Plains Cree”. Another occurrence of importance during the Late Woodland period is the appearance of bows and arrows for hunting and later the use of pottery and ceramic vessels for food preparation.