Curve Lake First Nation people are the Michi Saagig or Mississaugas of the great Anishinaabe (uhnishi-nahbe) nation. The name Anishinaabe is derived from an-ish-aw, meaning “without cause” or “spontaneous”, and the word in-au-a-we-se, meaning “human-body”. This translates to mean “spontaneous man”. The Anishinaabe did not have a written alphabet, but they did have a set of picture symbols or pictographs which were used to educate through stories. Traditional teachings have taught us that before contact we shared the land with the Odawa and Huron nations. We are the traditional people of the North shore of Lake Ontario and its tributaries; this has been Mississauga territory since time immemorial.
When Europeans first arrived, their primary concern was survival in an environment much different. With the help of First Nations peoples, they were able to find food sources, learn of medicines, navigate waterways and travel dense woodlands. In the beginning, First Nations and European settlers enjoyed a peaceful co-existence. However, increasing populations of British and French newcomers began to overpopulate the Mississauga territory.
In the mid 1600’s, due to the fur trade and competition between the British and French over control of land, there came a time that our people had to temporarily leave our traditional territory, and travel further inland to avoid disease and conflict. It was during this time that the Jesuits came in contact with our people, at the mouth of the Mississauga River at the North shore of Lake Huron. They assumed this was our traditional territory and they referred to our people as the Mississauga, however we were only there temporarily. Our people returned back to the Southern Ontario traditional territory around 1680. After the American Revolution, the British began signing treaties on a Nation-to-Nation basis to allow for settlement in Ontario.
Over the course of the next century the Mississauga Nation would participate in eighteen treaties from 1781 to 1923 to allow the growing number of European settlers to establish themselves in Ontario. Pressures from increased settlement forced the Mississaugas to slowly move into small family groups around our present day reservation.
In 1829, the Crown worked with the New England Company, a missionary group, to encourage farming and education for the First Nations people. A peninsula along Mud Lake was chosen by the Crown and New England Company to establish what is now known as Curve Lake First Nation.
The surrounding area was abundant in wild rice, various fish, birds, animals and plants for harvesting; there was everything our people needed to survive. The Mud Lake settlement officially became a reserve in 1889, with approximately 200 members living in Mud Lake Reserve #35 in the late 1800s. It has currently grown to over 2000 with over 900 living on reserve and the remaining majority of members living off reserve. The community officially changed its name to Curve Lake First Nation #35 in 1964.
Over the years, with a push for integration of First Nations people into western society, some of our spiritual traditions were almost lost. Luckily, some families continued to practice ceremonies and the traditional way of life, and there has been a big movement to revitalize the spiritual traditions within our community. Today, hunting, fishing and gathering are still an integral part of who we are as a people and we continue to deeply value our culture, language and traditions.