In the 14th century, the First Nations living on the vast territory of the estuary found an abundance and diversity of nature that met all their needs.
The Indigenous peoples of the estuary are hunter-gatherers. They are nomadic and travel with their families, mostly following the waterways. Since they are familiar with the cycles of nature, they adapt their lifestyle to the seasons.
During the summer, many families settle along the river. The abundant resources of the sea provide for many people. The First Nations fish for a variety of species, primarily salmon that run up the rivers.
Everyone helps to set up the camp. Some are busy erecting the wigwam, made of large wooden poles and birch bark strips. Others gather wood for the fire.
Subsistence activities require a lot of preparation. Harpoons must be attached to spears, bows calibrated, arrowheads tightened, canoes and nets prepared for fishing.
Women and children take part in the gathering of berries and medicinal plants. They also make use of the tidal cycle to collect a variety of shells.
Migratory birds are hunted in spring. The eggs are harvested afterward. Feathers and seashells play an important role in rituals and are used to make belts called wampum.
On the river, certain groups hunt porpoise and seals using different techniques. Sometimes a sail may be added to the canoe to allow the hunters to get closer to the animal faster. Their spear is fitted with a buoy that holds the animal at the surface. Stakes are driven into the bottom of the water to trap the captured animal.
When evening comes, after a good harvest, the Indigenous people gather around the fire to rejoice and thank the Great Spirits. Their practices and knowledge are perpetuated through rituals and oral transmission.
In the fall, many First Nations people leave the river and its high winds. The groups travel up a river and settle near a pit to fish for eels. The catch is dried and smoked to make reserves for the winter.