Traditional fishing

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Fish, also, were harvested in huge quantities in Winisk. (Peawanuk) A long fishing net, with 2 inches square netting, about 10 feet tall, and 300 feet long. On the river, near the bay, where islands abound, many people collaborate to drag the fishing net. There are two people at each end of the fishing net, and about 3 to 4 persons with a canoe who place the net in the water. The fishing net is not far out, and the net is weighed down with rocks. The people at the end pull the net towards each other, and soon the fishing net forms a circle and it looks like boiling water as the fish are trying to get out. The fishing net is slowly pulled to shore, and finally the fish a pulled ashore. At this point, the fish are scooped out from the water, eh John? The fish are scooped in the canoe till the canoe is half full of fish. We used about two canoes with way. And so, the fishing net is put in the water once, sometimes twice if the catch was too small. Two canoes would be filled with whitefish. Some of the fish would be this big, and some were very small. And so, they were brought to shore, and placed inside a wooden box, and the fish would freeze solid. This store of fish would provide food for sled dogs and the larger fish were for the people. The fish was shared by all for free, nothing was for a fee, like asking for 50 cents for fish. A person would just be given 10 fish, or a family would get 10 fish, for that group that worked at catching the fish. This is for fish caught near James Bay. But as for harvesting fish far inland, “Michis-can” “maha-pani-wuk” (up river) there are many spots with fish. The fish swim upriver as the lakes start to freeze. And at this time, another contraption is made to catch these fish called “michis-kan”. A creek is blocked or dammed with rocks, and a small trickle is made onto a box. So, when the water rises in a tide, the fish swim up river. Huge quantities of fish are caught this way, “namepin-uk”. What are namepin-uk called? Do you know “Namepin-uk? I believe sucker fish. The larger ones, not the red sucker fish. Pike and whitefish. Some lakes are known to have plenty of whitefish and northern pike. And so these fish are harvested up there. Large quantities of fish are caught, about 100 to 200. And they are, again, placed in the forest. A storage is built for them, and they are frozen there. So, people just go to this storage, “chi-wiefac poko”. So no animal can get at them. So families go there or maybe a collection of 5 families who collaborated to making this fishing contraption. So, this harvest of fish provided nourishment for the families for the whole winter, where they stayed for the winter. That is it for the harvest of fish.


Traditional fishing by Emile Sutherland


Fish nets Peawanuk scooped whitefish shared michis-kan Namepin-uk sucker chi-wiefac poko storage

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