There was a wide range of lifestyles and languages among the Aboriginal peoples of North America. There were an estimated one thousand different languages in both North and South America at the time of first contact with Europeans. Today there are about fifty different Aboriginal languages belonging to ten language families. The linguistic regions of Canada are closely matched to the geographic regions with some overlap as shown below:
The sharing of culture by different linguistic groups, the adoption of more than one culture by a single linguistic group, and the existence of numerous dialects within the same group is explained by earlier movements of people throughout all regions. Early arrivals were followed by other groups of people speaking different languages and bringing different cultures into an area. As time went on, it appears that there was some borrowing of customs and cultural traits between two or more groups within the same geographic regions. The environment also exercised some influence in the culture of different groups engaged in the same types of daily survival activities.
*Indian and Inuit Affairs program, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Ottawa, 1980.
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