AskDefine | Define cree

Dictionary Definition



1 a member of an Algonquian people living in central Canada
2 the Algonquian language spoken by the Cree people

User Contributed Dictionary



Proper noun

  1. An aboriginal nation of North America.
  2. Any of a group of Algonquian languages spoken by this people.


  • German: Cree
  • Spanish: cri
  • Esperanto: Krio
  • French: cri

External links

Extensive Definition

Cree is an exonym applied to various peoples indigenous to North America, namely the Nehiyaw, Nehithaw, Nehilaw, Nehinaw, Ininiw, Ililiw, Iynu, and Iyyu. These peoples can be divided into two major groups, those that identify themselves using a derivative of their historical appellation Nehilâw and those identifying themselves using the word "person", historically Iliniw. Both groups share a common ancestry but are now divided mainly along linguistic lines. Those residing west of the Ontario border (except for one group residing in Quebec mistakenly called Attikamek but who self-identify as Nehiraw) all the way to the Rocky Mountains tend to refer to themselves using the first name, historically "Nehilaw". The second group includes all the groups east of James Bay use the historical term for man "Iliniw" are were mistakenly called Montagnais and Naskapi as well as Cree.
Both major groups speak languages of the Algonquin language family. There is a major division between both groups however, in that the Eastern group palatalizes the sound /k/ when it precedes front vowels. There is also a major difference in grammatical vocabulary (particles) between the groups. Within both groups however, there is variation around the pronunciation of the Proto-Algonquian phoneme *l, which can be realized as /l/, /r/, /y/, /n/, or /th/ by different groups.
The rest of the article will focus on the western group, the group usually referred to when the misnomer 'Cree' is used.
Skilled buffalo hunters and horsemen, the Cree were allied to the Assiniboine of the Sioux before encountering English, Scottish (especially Orcadian) and French settlers in the 16th century.
Presently, the remaining Cree in the United States live on the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation which is shared with the Chippewa.

In Canada

The Cree are the largest group of First Nations in Canada, with over 200,000 members and 135 registered bands. This large number may be due to the Cree's traditional openness to inter-tribal marriage. Together, their reserve lands are the largest of any First Nations group in the country. The largest Cree band and the second largest First Nations Band in Canada after the Six Nations Iroquois is the Lac La Ronge Band in northern Saskatchewan.
The Métis (from French Métis - any person of mixed ancestry.) are people of mixed ancestry such as Nehiyaw (or Anishinabe) and French, English, or Scottish heritage. According to the Canadian Government's Indian and Northern Affairs, the Metis were historically the children of French fur traders and Nehiyaw women or, from unions of English or Scottish traders and Northern Dene women (Anglo-Métis). It is now generally accepted though in academic circles that the term Métis can be used to refer to any combination of persons of mixed Native American and European heritage. Although, historical definitions for Metis remain. Canada's Indian and Northern Affairs specifically but broadly define Metis to be those persons of mixed First Nation and European ancestry.

Cree First Nations

Notable Cree


Sacred Legends of the Sandy Lake Cree. James R. Stevens, McClelland and Stewart Ltd, 1971
cree in Bosnian: Cree
cree in Catalan: Cree
cree in German: Cree
cree in Spanish: Cri
cree in Esperanto: Krioj
cree in French: Cris
cree in Croatian: Cree
cree in Dutch: Cree (volk)
cree in Cree: Cree
cree in Polish: Kri
cree in Portuguese: Cree
cree in Russian: Кри (племя)
cree in Serbo-Croatian: Kri
cree in Finnish: Creet
cree in Swedish: Cree
cree in Ukrainian: Крі
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