Where We Come From
The forefathers of Split Lake Cree
were hunters and gatherers who
lived off the rich resources of the
lands and waters. Their way of life
centred around the lakes and rivers
where wildlife and plant resources
could be harvested. Fish were a
particularly important source of
food and were abundant.
The Cree were a water people.
Living along the shores of the lakes
and rivers, they hunted and fished,
and gathered herbs and berries from
along the shoreline. The lakes and
rivers were the roads by which they
travelled. The waters, the shorelines,
the shallows, the marshes, the
riverbanks and willow thickets
supported the fish, plants and
animals that fed and sheltered them.
Centuries of occupation and use of
the lands and waters enabled the
identification and selection of the
most useful and fruitful areas for
residence and harvesting, in keeping
with the rhythms of the seasons.
Prior to European contact,
Cree people were living in and
around Split Lake – which in Cree is
called Tataskweyak, meaning ‘the
place of tall trees’.
A Brief Timeline
In the 1920's, Split Lake was still
not a permanent settlement for most
First Nation members, many of
whom continued to live in the bush
and return to the community only
during Christian holiday seasons and
the summer. About 100 people lived
year-round at Split Lake.
The period up to 1950 brought
many changes for the Split Lake
Cree, however, life continued
within the known, respected and
loved environment of the permanent
The way of life may
have been changing, but the
underlying Aboriginal values
Our traditional values and customs came
under increasing pressure during
the 1970s, as the consequences of
increased modernization and contact
with the outside world were felt.
From the Split Lake Cree
development was by far the most
profound agent of change, causing
both major physical impacts on the
lands and waters, as well as the
resulting undermining of the essence
of Aboriginal practices and customs.
The 1980s were a defining
moment for the Split Lake Cree.
We as a First Nation showed remarkable
resilience and by the mid-1980s
there was already practical evidence
that this was beginning to change.
By the end of the decade, the
practical groundwork had been
successfully laid, based on the
decisions of the people to create a
new and different basis for future
The Split Lake Cree have chosen
the path of blending the old and
new in order to gain control of their
lives and destiny with confidence
and determination. The people,
faced with new challenges, are
continuing, as their forefathers did,
to exercise their inherent right to
govern themselves, across a wide
spectrum of governmental functions.