First Nations, first rights – Winnipeg Free Press

by aanationtalk on December 17, 2012609 Views

Some of the reaction to the Kapyong Barracks decision is downright bizarre

By: Bartley Kives
Posted: 12/16/2012

About 274 years ago, the first white guy set foot in Winnipeg. Some of his buddies have been acting like they’ve owned the place ever since.

On Sept. 24, 1738, a Quebec explorer named Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, better known as La Vérendrye, got off a boat at The Forks and established Fort Rouge along the Assiniboine River. Although the fort was just a short-lived trading post, this marked the beginning of a European presence in what’s now Winnipeg.

Before La Vérendrye showed up, this soggy corner of the continent had been home to one group of indigenous people or another for about 6,000 years. By the time the first European explorers and fur traders were inching their way into southern Manitoba, the Assiniboine, Cree, Dakota and Ojibwa were all established in the area.

But the first Europeans to actually see this place — and pretty much everywhere else in North America — made the mistake of assuming there were never that many people living here. That’s because smallpox and other European diseases were racing across the continent, wiping out people whose immune systems were unable to fight off foreign microbes.

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