In both historic and precontact times the aboriginal peoples of the Saskatchewan River valley formed several regional bands. As witnessed by European traders and missionaries, the members of each band usually assembled once a year in the spring and sometimes also in the autumn. Known to the Europeans as the “rendezvous,” the gatherings involved days or weeks of intense social interaction, focused mainly on a series of religious ceremonies. On the basis of archaeological and historical evidence, six such aggregating centers have been identified in the Saskatchewan River valley. The fur traders recognized the centers’ importance; as a result, the majority of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century trading posts were built at these centers or, on occasion, between them, at the borders of regional bands. In the late i8oos reserves were established at several of the centers, and they continue to be prominent habitation sites even today.
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