Along the Pacific coast were the Haida, Tsimshian, Salish, Kwakiutl, Nuu-chah-nulth, Nisga'a and Gitxsan. On the plains were Blackfoot, Kainai, Sarcee and Northern Peigan. The First Nation is one of three groups of indigenous peoples in Canada, the other two being the Mestizos and the Inuit. Unlike mixed-race and Inuit, most First Nations own reserve land, and members of a First Nation can live on and off these reservations.
While the term First Nation can describe a large ethnic group (for example, the Cree nation), in other cases it is synonymous with the term banda, a word originally chosen by the federal government and used in the Indian Act. The word band describes smaller communities. Many First Nations prefer the term First Nation over band. All of these activities contributed to the widespread dissemination of European products, especially iron items, knives and firearms, and to the dependence of First Nations on these products.
Other improvements for First Nations included the provision of better health services in the mid-1950s. In the former colonies of New France and Acadia, the British signed a series of treaties to guarantee the neutrality of the First Nations and establish peaceful relations. On the West Coast, the relationship between European settlers and the region's First Nations inhabitants developed much differently than that between settlers and First Nations in the Great Lakes basin. The First Nations of the Forests (and all the First Nations in the northern regions) hunted game animals with spears, bows and arrows.
To help compensate its First Nations allies for the losses suffered during the war with the Americans, the British Crown set aside two plots of land as reserves for the Six Nations, one in the Bay of Quinte and the other along the Rio Grande. All of the country's First Nations, with the exception of the Pacific coast, made their clothing, usually tunics, leggings and loafers from tanned animal skin. The Department of India had one main objective for the British administration throughout the Great Lakes Basin: to maintain peace between the small number of British soldiers and merchants stationed in distant trading posts and the much more numerous and well-armed First Nations. Excellent carpenters, these First Nations used chisels made of stone or shells and stone hammers to split soft, straight-grain cedar into wide planks.
This legislation also provided a definition of Indian, exempted First Nations from paying taxes, and protected them from creditors. The Cree and the Inuit also received extensions of community land with exclusive hunting and capture rights, the establishment of a new system of local government on land set aside for use, and the control of the First Nations over their education and health authorities. As for the principles that guided their daily conduct, many First Nations shared value systems similar to those in the Seven Teachings of the grandparents of the Anishnaabe peoples. The new Dominion was now responsible for addressing the needs and demands of the First Nations, from the Atlantic to the Rocky Mountains.
Article 35 of the Constitutional Act of 1982 states that the aboriginal peoples of Canada include Indian (First Nations), Inuit and mixed race peoples. However, a combination of military and diplomatic missions allowed Johnson and the Department of India to establish peaceful, if somewhat uncomfortable, relations with the various First Nations of the Interior.