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This food, once referred to by the Indigenous Plains people of Central Canada and Northern Central United States as pimikan or pemigan (which roughly translated as “he makes grease”), is made up of dehydrated meat, rendered tallow, and occasionally berries.

Although attributed as an invention of the Plains peoples, this food was created and used in a similar form, by many different Indigenous groups throughout Canada. 


Without a doubt, pemmican played a significant role in the establishment of governments and the survival of people.




Without pemmican …


  • Pre-contact Indigenous peoples would have had a greater likelihood of hard times.

  •  Fur traders looking for new rivers to exploit would have suffered greatly and possibly would have had to retreat from their adventurous ways and return to more comfortable areas.


  •  European settlers in central Canada would have most likely perished in lean times.


  •  Exploration in the northern parts of Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan would never had happened when it did.

  • Arctic exploration from a southern route would never have happened.


  •  The Metis would most likely not have risen to their economic, political and cultural strength when they did.


  •  English engagement with the French during the Napoleonic wars could have had a significantly different outcome.


  • The decreased pressure on the buffalo herds would have been considerably less resulting in a possible postponing in their very near extinction.  


  •  World War 1 and World War 2 soldiers may have gone hungry as well as soldiers from the Korean Conflict (War) and the Vietnam War.


This is why I am so shocked when people ask, “What is pemmican?”

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