The Crees' civilization ability is Nîhithaw, which provides them with +1 Trade Route capacity and a free Trader after researching Pottery and gives them control of any unclaimed tiles within 3 tiles of their cities when a Trader passes through them. Their unique unit is the Okihtcitaw (which replaces the Scout), and their unique tile improvement is the Mekewap.
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Starting bias: None
The Cree is a strong Ancient Era civilization and should have no problem going into a Golden Age in the Classical Era. However, some of their bonuses wane just as quickly as they come, and their generalist approach requires adept and focused leadership. Otherwise, the Cree might find themselves disoriented when the game transitions into mid- and late game.
With very few exceptions, Pottery should always be your first technological research, regardless of your starting position and surroundings. Not only does it unlock the Mekewap, your incredibly powerful tile improvement, it also provides you with a Trade Route, and most importantly, a free Trader to go with it. Immediately send this Trader to a nearby civilization or City-state to earn at least 3 extra Gold per turn (since you do not have another city at this point to run an internal Trade Route). This Trader will also help you tremendously in expanding your territory by claiming at least 2 extra tiles. Since each Trade Route has a fixed and uncontrollable route from point A to point B, in order to claim more tiles with your Trader, prioritize Trade Routes that finish in a short amount of time, meaning send Trade Routes to the closest city you can find. When a Trade Route finishes, you can send it to another city to expand your own city in a different direction, or move the Trader to another city of yours to start expanding that one. Beware howerver, Traders are very vulnerable to Barbarians in the early game, so use your starting Warrior or your Okihtcitaw to clear the way for your Trader to make sure the path is safe.
When you have your second city so that you can send internal Trade Routes, it is advisable you settle cities about 6 tiles away from one another. That is to maximize the number of free tiles you can gain from this ability, also since the Mekewap is a brilliant tile improvement and your Victory vessel, you will want as much space as possible to put this improvement down. Since the Cree is a trade-focused civilization, it is quite obvious that you should prioritize Commercial Hubs and Harbors in every city. Internal Trade Routes are generally stronger in the early game, since they help build up your cities a lot faster. With Poundmaker's leader ability, internal Trade Routes become even stronger, giving you more incentives to settle cities at least 6 tiles apart and send Trade Routes among them.
In the later eras, it becomes possible to use your Traders for offensive purposes. Found some cities along a rival empire's borders, then send Traders to their cities to claim nearby tiles and block further expansion. Afterward, you can declare a War of Territorial Expansion to capture their border cities (and, if you managed to establish a religion and chose Defender of the Faith as one of your beliefs, potentially use it for offense as well as defense). Once they become available, use the Logistics policy card and Supply Convoys to move your troops into enemy territory and surround their cities faster.
Extra yields to Trade Routes based on Camps and Pastures
Since this ability benefits both ends of the Trade Routes (similar to how the University of Sankore works), it is hugely beneficial for the Cree to send internal Trade Routes. With this ability, the normal weakness of internal Trade Routes, which is a lower Gold output, is alleviated.
Under Poundmaker, Trade Routes grant 1 Food to the origin city and 1 Gold to the destination city for each Camp and Pasture present in the destination city. To maximize this ability, you can seek out a fertile piece of land with a lot of possible Camps and Pastures, settle down, and quickly improve all of those resources. This city should preferably be placed in the heart of your empire, meaning you should surround it with other cities later, first is to protect it, and second is to facilitate Trade Routes sent to this city, since the amount of extra yields depends only on the destination city, not the origin. For even better yields, you can promote Magnus to Surplus Logistics and have him stationed in this central city.
Later in the game, international Trade Routes will become more and more lucrative, thanks to Alliance bonuses (which you definitely want as Poundmaker). Your cities will still earn extra Food thanks to being the origins of the Trade Routes, and the Gold you send away to other civilizations will be more than made up for just by the nature of international Trade Routes.
The Cree's prowess at exploration is sustained well into mid-game thanks to this ability. The Civil Service civic allows you to form Alliances with your friends, and the Cartography technology allows your units to cross oceans to meet remaining empires that you have not encountered. Coincidentally, both of these dramatically improve your Mekewap, so these will be the two checkpoints you should aim to reach as soon as possible. Every time you form an Alliance, regardless of types and levels, both you and your Ally will have shared visibility of each other's empire. Providing that there are total 5 types of Alliances, you will have clear vision on huge parts on different corners of the map, a privilege no one else can have until they launch their Earth satellite. There are a lot of things you can do once you can see inside another empire: you can estimate the their power level, find cities with a lot of Camps and Pastures to send Trade Routes, identify targets for your Spies, discover new City-states and survey surrounding territories. The possibilities are endless.
Remember, your ally can see inside your territory as well, so you should consider the ramifications for this carefully in multiplayer games (in single player games, the AIs would not be able to take advantage of such information anyway). Furthermore, you will be sometimes involuntarily dragged into wars declared on your allies. This normally will not be a problem against distant empires, but if two of your next door neighbors decide to go to war and you are unprepared, that might be an issue to take into consideration when you agree to Alliances.
The Okihtcitaw has the same Combat Strength as a Warrior and greater maneuverability, making it ideal for both defense and scouting. What is even more important is that it starts with a free promotion, which will enable it to move freely over one difficult type of terrain from the moment it's trained! When chosen wisely, this Promotion alone will grant it a massive speed boost; explore the prevailing terrain with other units before you churn out your first Okihtcitaw and choose whether to have it move freely over Hills or in Woods and Rainforests. Then the Cree will be able to explore their surroundings much faster than other civilizations, and reap the benefits of early discoveries.
Don't rely too much on this unit, however - being a recon-class unit, the Okihtcitaw does not possess the Warrior's Bonus versus Anti-Cavalry and combat-oriented Promotions. Therefore, in the grand scheme of things, the Okihtcitaw is more resilient against damage in the early game but in no way exceptional as a military unit, even when dealing with Barbarians. Furthermore, a huge downside of this unit is that it is 33% more expensive than the standard Scout. On Standard speed, this will translate to at least 2 more turns of production. Considering the chief purpose of a Scout is to explore the surroundings and its role will quickly become less of a priority, and the fact that the Okihtcitaw can never fully replace melee units in your army, it is not recommended you invest too much into this unit. All in all, a unique Scout that is more expensive than the standard one is not all that impressive, and hardly any other bonuses can justify building an army of Okihtcitaws. One is the standard number, two if you are being very generous.
The Mekewap is a solid tile improvement, as it provides extra Housing, Food, Production, and Gold from the very beginning of the game yet still scales incredibly well into mid- and late game. As the Cree, it is vital that Pottery is the first technology they research, since it unlocks a free Trade Route and a Trader, altogether with this improvement. Afterwards, there are two main checkpoints that the Cree should aim for quickly, Civil Service and Cartography. With Civil Service, a Mekewap provides as much Housing as a Sewer, and with Cartography, each Mekewap also provides Gold for each adjacent Luxury Resource (both of these will also synergize incredibly well with Poundmaker's ability and the Cree's tendency towards exploration in general, so you would want them unlocked as quickly as possible anyway). Specifically, a Mekewap will provide 3 Gold if adjacent to 1 Luxury Resource, 5 Gold if adjacent to 2, 7 Gold if adjacent to 3, etc. Overall, since most of the Cree bonuses wane quickly in mid- and late game, the Mekewap stands out as an exception. This is the vessel of victory of the Cree, albeit not very obvious. High Population allows them to pursue a Scientific Victory while high Gold output makes a Diplomatic Victory possible. Cree players should seek out resource-rich areas in which to settle and put their Builders to work right away.
The most distinctive hallmark in the Cree's gameplay is that they do not have a significant skew towards any Victory; in other words, they are generalists, they have a lot of options but they do not specialize in any, but that also means you can spend the first few eras building up your infrastructure and then decide your Victory path later depending on your empire's current shape.
In a quick glance, Religious Victory is the weakest path, as they have no tool that helps with founding, defending and spreading a Religion. The only thing that can aid the Cree on this path is that they will most likely receive a Golden Classical Era, with which they can then choose Exodus of the Evangelists Dedication. Domination Victory is slightly better, but also unusual: Okihtcitaw is underwhelming, unless you manage to reach Ambush, which is totally impractical to earn on multiple units. The Cree has high Gold output that can support a large army to serve your conquests, but that is pretty much everything you have going for a Domination. They are equally good at Scientific and Cultural Victory, thanks to their populous cities, decent Production, intensive Trade Route network and high Gold output to purchase quickly important pieces of infrastructure. In Gathering Storm, they skew quite significantly towards a Diplomatic Victory, though they may struggle against civilizations with actual Diplomatic bonuses, like extra Diplomatic Favor or earning Envoy faster. Good exploration helps you discover City-states earlier, allowing a better diplomatic foothold with them, and you will meet other civilizations faster as well, maximizing the number of Emergencies and Aid Requests you can participate. Plenty of Gold and decent Production help a lot in Competitions and in building the Statue of Liberty, too. And of course, the Cree naturally wants to befriend and form Alliances with everyone, which generates Diplomatic Favor.
They call themselves Nehiyawak. The Cree (as they are called in English) are Canada’s largest First Nation today. Their traditional territory is primarily in the Subarctic and Plains regions of the modern provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario, following along the Southwestern shore of Hudson Bay, and extending into portions of Quebec. Divided into regional and dialectal subgroups, and composed of dozens of individual bands and joined by a common Algonquian language, the Cree are closely related to a number of other First Nations, blending with those people and with outsiders over the course of their history through a policy of welcoming outsiders.
Interconnected relationships between individuals and groups is a defining characteristic of Cree culture. This flexibility and welcoming of outsiders proved to be one of the Cree’s greatest strengths as a people. For most of their history, the Cree were organized into small, family-centered groups. Men were expected to hunt and defend the band, and women had the critical role of establishing the camp and its logistics. Members of the band could come and join and contribute, then leave and join another band if they wished. Outsiders could marry or be adopted into the group, cementing relationships between different Cree bands, bands of other indigenous people, or Metis and European individuals.
Leadership of these groups hinged largely on the qualities of individuals, rather than strict heredity (a chief’s son, for example, was not guaranteed to assume leadership after his father). Chiefs were expected to demonstrate physical bravery, political savvy, wisdom, flexible thinking, and oratorical skills. Chiefs needed to demonstrate generosity both within and between groups, through gift-giving and mediation. They were expected to listen to counsel from all quarters in evaluating their decisions. Warrior and dancer societies provided opportunities for the next generation of prospective leaders to gain experience in war and politics to prove their worth.
With this decentralized leadership style, talking about “the Cree” as a unified group is tricky, especially as the Cree come into contact with the governments of western civilizations. Different leaders could choose to negotiate or fight, and still ostensibly speak as members of the Cree, as we shall see.
Like many Native American groups, the Cree rely on oral tradition as a record of their history, including a rich store of creation myths often varying from band to band. In one, the ancestors of modern people were walking along in the clouds, and seeing the green and verdant world below, interlaced with creeks and rivers, and wished to live there. They ask a greater spirit to descend to this world below, and he fashions a giant bowl made from clouds, asks them to climb in, and lowers them to the world below. But the bowl comes to rest in a tree. Animals pass by, but most refuse to help, except for Fisher, who climbs the tree and carries the people down.
The first record of the Cree in the west comes from reports in the early 17th century, shortly after Henry Hudson surveyed the James and Hudson Bays. Shortly afterwards, the fur trade with Europe began in earnest, and this exchange fundamentally transformed the Cree, just as it transformed the cultures and economies of North America.
The Cree at this time lived primarily in the area around the Hudson Bay, south into modern Ontario and Quebec. They became integrally involved with the fur trade, both as trappers and traders, bringing in furs, and exchanging them for European-manufactured goods. Bands could establish a strong relationship with a Metis or European, and parlay that into ongoing trade. Often the Cree would trade Western goods along to their allies.
Eventually the Cree, the Saulteaux, and the Assiniboine nations formed a military and political alliance known as the Iron Confederacy, which would last for over 150 years as a power in central Canada. The foundation of the Confederacy was trade with the European fur market. During this time, many Cree bands continued to move west out from the woodland and into the prairie, and their society underwent a rapid evolution from forest trappers and hunters to horse-mounted warriors and bison hunters. The Cree’s westward expansion brought them into conflict with other First Nations, and led to a series of intermittent conflicts between tribes such as the Blackfoot and the Snake.
These intertribal conflicts emerged as fights over the resources of the plains: Horses, bison, and territory. Raiding, counter-raiding, and retributive violence between groups did eventually slow through negotiation, inter-adoption (see Poundmaker’s entry), and a rising need to confront a looming crisis on the plains.
But by the mid-19th century, overhunting of the great bison herds for fur and meat had led to precipitous collapse of their numbers. The Cree’s home territory in the aspen parkland suffered declining herds faster than the prairies to the south, but to the same effect. A Tragedy of the Commons situation developed, with depletion accelerating until Cree bands, their livelihood gone, began to turn to the Canadian government for help.
Bands of Cree were signatories of the Numbered Treaties with the government of Canada, under the belief that this would secure aid and developmental opportunities to create a new way of life, as well as restrict the influx of white settlers into the region. Frequently the First Nations bands would sign on behalf of themselves, while the government would assume they were speaking on behalf of the entire nation, leading to later accusations that the First Nations were reneging on their treaty obligations. These accusations served as government justification to not meet their terms, compounding the misery of the treaty signatories.
Some Cree leaders refused to sign (or signed only reluctantly), notably Mistahimaskwa (or Big Bear) and Pihtokahanapiwiyin (or Poundmaker), resisting what they saw as an effort to end their traditional way of life.
Some Assiniboine and Cree bands participated in an uprising that occurred at the same time as the North-West Rebellion by the Metis people. This rebellion was precipitated by the Canadian government’s failure to live up to the terms of existing treaties, as well as the desperate poverty of life both on reservations and for free First Nations with the vanishing bison. The superior numbers, equipment, and logistics of the Canadian government, and the disjointed nature of the uprisings led to the First Nations’ defeat. The Iron Confederacy came to an end as a power in Canada.
In the aftermath the Cree were relocated to reservations, stripped of their rights to the resources of their lands, and forced to subordinate their traditional culture to governmental oversight. Their children were forced into the residential school system, which was explicitly set up to prevent the transmission of both native language and traditional culture through forced assimilation. This had permanent, tragic consequences for the continuation of Cree culture. There is a total loss of some traditional knowledge, and the effects will continue to be felt for generations.
But the Cree have never stopped advocating for their own rights and the right to participate in the direction of their country. In the latter half of the 20th century, the number of Cree speakers has grown, and as the largest of Canada’s First Nations, they are instrumental in advocating for the rights of indigenous minorities around the world, environmental protection of their lands, and preserving traditional indigenous culture.
- Main article: Cree cities (Civ6)
|Males||Females||Modern males||Modern females|
- The Cree civilization's symbol is a traditional Cree Eagle Mask.
- The Cree's civilization ability is the name that the Woodland Cree call themselves in their own language.
Justice and Lasting Peace
Win a regular game as Poundmaker
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