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Saskatchewan was settled by Athabaskan, Algonquan, and Sioux tribes; it is named for the Saskatchewan River, from its Cree designation kisiskaciwani-sipiy, meaning "swift flowing river".
The first European to enter Saskatchewan was Henry Kelsey in 1690, who travelled up the Saskatchewan River in hopes of trading fur with the indigenous people. After 1763 trade in the area was controlled by the Hudson's Bay Company, until its territory was sold to Canada in 1870.
Between 1895 and 1914 much of the prairies was turned into farmland, principally for cultivation of wheat. As more settlers - British, European and from other parts of Canada and the US - came to the prairies on the railway, the population grew and Saskatchewan and Alberta became provinces in 1905.