Prepared by: Victor P. Lytwyn, Ph.D.
For: Walpole Island First Nation
15 March 2008
In early October 2007, Walpole Island First Nation agreed to conduct a Traditional
Ecological Knowledge Study (TEK) of the area east of the St. Clair River as part of an
Environmental Assessment that was required for a proposed oil refinery proposal by
Shell Canada Products (Shell). The “Local Study Area” of the TEK study is shown in
Figure 1: Local Study Area
This report is divided into two parts. Part one provides a brief overview of the history of
Walpole Island First Nation. The focus is on the “Local Study Area,” or the St. Clair
River watershed east of the international boundary. Part two is a compilation of the TEK information taken from the transcripts of interviews with 25 people from Walpole Island.
That information is divided into TEK information by categories including hunting, fishing, plant gathering and spiritual sites. It also includes TEK information on perceived changes to the natural environment. A conclusion summarizes the major findings of the
TEK study at the end of this report.
This part of the report provides a brief overview of the history of Walpole Island First
Nation. It focuses on the area east of the St. Clair River, between Bkejwanong (Walpole
Island) and Aamjiwnaang (Sarnia), also know as the “Local Study Area” (see Figure 1).
This area is part of the traditional territory Walpole Island First Nation, Aamjiwnaang
First Nation, and Kettle and Stony Point First Nations. Originally, these nations were a single people known as Anishinabe, and later called the Chippewas of Chenail Ecarté and
St. Clair by the British colonial government. The Local Study Area was the subject of a number of treaties between the Chippewas of Chenail Ecarté and St. Clair and the British
Crown in the late 18 th
and early 19 th
centuries. This report will examine the relationship between Walpole Island First Nation and the Local Study Area. It will also review the treaties with the British Crown and how these treaties affected the traditional use of that territory.
Walpole Island First Nation currently occupies the delta islands on the Canadian side of
Lake St. Clair. That area is known in the Anishinabe language as Bkejwanong (where the waters divide), which describes the channels of the St. Clair River that empty into the lake. Although the Canadian government refers to these islands as an “Indian Reserve,” the lands, marshes and beds of waters from Lake Huron to Lake Erie have never been set apart as a reserve. No treaty or other agreement has affected the original ownership of this part of the traditional territory of Walpole Island First Nation.
The people of Walpole Island First Nation are Anishinabe, who have also been called by other names such as Ojibwa (or Chippewa), Odawa (or Ottawa) and Potawatomi. When
Europeans first arrived in the late 1600s, they found Ojibwa, Odawa and Potawatomi living in the area.
These three nations spoke similar dialects of the same (Algonquian) language and had common cultural and spiritual beliefs. According to traditional history, they were once one nation but subdivisions occurred as people migrated to different areas. They were also known as the Three Fires Confederacy, and acted together in political and military affairs during the 17 th
, 18 th
and 19 th
centuries. Under British colonial administration in the 19 th
century, the people became divided into separate bands. These bands were located in geographically separate areas known as reserves (or,
Walpole Island First Nation is currently in litigation against Canada and Ontario over the Aboriginal Title to this part of their traditional territory.
The Huron, or Wyandot, also lived in the area, but did so as guests of the Ojibwa, Odawa and
4 in the case of Walpole Island, unceded territory). In addition to Walpole Island, “Indian
Bands” were created at Aamjiwnaang (Sarnia), Kettle and Stony Point and Thames
The traditional territory of Walpole Island First Nation covered a vast area of present southwestern Ontario and eastern southeastern Michigan. Long before the arrival of
Europeans, the ancestors of Walpole Island First Nation occupied the area and used traditional resources such as animals, fish, plants and minerals for subsistence, commerce, social and ceremonial purposes. For most of the year, the people lived in small family groups that occupied traditional family hunting, fishing and gathering places. During certain seasons such as the spring and fall fishery, and maple sugar processing, larger groups came together and occupied seasonal village sites near productive fishing grounds. Traditional foods also included agricultural products such as corn, beans and squash that had been adopted before the Europeans arrived. Anishinabe society was based on complex webs of kinship connections and governed by traditional laws.
The arrival of Europeans to Walpole Island First Nation territory in the late 17 th
century did little initially to disrupt the traditional way of life. French fur trade posts and small military garrisons served as commercial outposts that enhanced the traditional economy focused on resources such as fur, game and fish. After the British defeated the French in
1760 changes began to occur in Walpole Island First Nation traditional territory. Unlike the French, the British were interested in acquiring Aboriginal lands and resources. The
Three Fires Confederacy and their allies led by Odawa War Chief Pontiac resisted the
British encroachments. That resistance was quelled by British assurances that no land would be taken by force. Instead, the British issued a Proclamation in 1763 that recognized Aboriginal Title and outlined a treaty-making process by which the British
Crown could purchase land.
The Caldwell Band was recognized by the Canadian government as an Indian Band belonging to the area included in the 1790 Treaty but no land base was set apart for them. Recently, Canada and the Caldwell
Band have negotiated an agreement to create a reserve in the area covered by the 1790 Treaty.
For more information on Anishinabe history see: Neil Ferris, “In Their Time: Archaeological Histories of
Native-Lived Contacts and Colonialisms, Southwestern Ontario A.D. 1400-1900,” unpublished Ph.D.
Dissertation, Hamilton: McMaster University, 2006.
The first treaty involving land was made on 19 May 1790 between the “Chiefs of the
Ottawas, Chippawa, Pottowatomy and Huron
Indian Nations of Detroit” and representatives of the British Crown.
That treaty involved a vast tract of land bounded by Lake Erie in the south, the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair in the west (the boundary ran to the first fork on the south side of the Chenail Ecarté then due east until it intersected the Thames River) and the Thames River in the north (the eastern boundary was a straight line running due north from the “mouth of Catfish Creek, commonly called
Riviere au Chaudiere” to the Thames River). The territory included in the 1790 Detroit
Treaty was south of the Local Study Area (see Figure 2; Treaty area shown in yellow,
Local Study Area shown in red)..
Figure 2: Map of 1790 Treaty
The Huron Chiefs were included, but contextual evidence indicates that they acted as witnesses to the treaty.
DOCUMENT 1790/05/19: Treaty at Detroit, National Archives of Canada (NAC), RG 10, vol. 16
(microfilm reel C-1,224); copies also in: NAC, RG 10, vol. 9: 9,110 (microfilm reel C-11,000); NAC, RG
10, vol. 13: 287-295 (microfilm reel C-1,223); NAC, RG 10, vol. 325: 217,959-217,963; NAC, RG 10, vol.
661: 192-198 (microfilm reel C-13,401); NAC, RG 10, vol. 787: 50-53 (microfilm reel C-13,499); NAC,
RG 10, vol. 13 (1832): 287-294 (microfilm reel C-1,223); NAC, RG 10, vol. 1,840: 2 (microfilm reel T-
9,938); NAC, MG 19, F35, Series 2, Lot 681, pp. 1-8; Archives of Ontario (AO), RG 1 A-I-1, vol. 50 (old no. 2): 346-49 (microfilm reel no. MS 626/1); AO, RG 1 A-I-1, Surveyor’s Letters Received, No. 18:
October 1816-December 1850, [MS 626/6], pp. 380-385; AO, Simcoe Papers, F 47-1-1-1, (microfilm reel
MS 1797); Public Record Office (PRO), CO 42, vol. 69: 292-295; copy also in: Register of Deeds, Wayne
County, Liber C [Typed transcript], 374-377; MS MacDonald Papers, Detroit Public Library, Burton
Historical Collection; George Ironside Papers, Box 1, Detroit Public Library, Burton Historical Collection;
Indian Treaties and Surrenders
, vol. 1: 1-3, Ottawa: The Queen’s Printer, 1891.
On 30 August 1796, Alexander McKee met with Ojibwa and Ottawa Chiefs at the
Chenail Ecarté, and explained the terms of a treaty he wanted them to sign. He assured them that the King had protected their rights in a recent treaty with the United States (the
Jay Treaty). McKee explained that they would have the right to cross the border with the
United States freely as they had done in the past. McKee said: “he [King George III] has notwithstanding taken the greatest care of the rights and independance [sic] of all the
Indian Nations who by the last Treaty with America [the Jay Treaty of 1794], are to be perfectly free and unmolested in their Trade and hunting grounds and to pass and repass freely and undisturbed to trade with whom they please.” McKee also promised that the treaty would protect a tract of land north and east of the Chenail Ecarté for their allies and their own use. McKee said: “I have been directed by the Commander in Chief to purchase from you a small piece on the North side of this River for that purpose. Four square Leagues is all that is required … You are not to consider this small strip of Land as bought for the Kings immediate use, but for the use of his Indian Children and you yourselves will be as welcome as any others to come and live thereon.”
On 7 September 1796, the treaty was signed by the following “Chippewa” Chiefs:
“Negig, Wapenousa, Kitchymughqua, Nawacissynabe, Ticomegasson, Kiashke
[Kiyoshk], Wasson, Wittaness, Peyshiky, Annamakance, Macounce, Nangee and
Camcommenanin and Nangee.” Also signing, as witnesses, were “Shemmendock, Negig and Mitchewas,” who were described as Chiefs of the Ottawas. Alexander McKee, who represented the British Crown during the treaty negotiations, had earlier explained that he had dealt only with the Chippewa Chiefs because: “The Chippaways are the only
Proprietors of these Lands.”
The same Chiefs signed two
treaties. One involved a tract of land bounded on the south by the 1790 Treaty line at the Chenail Ecarté, on the west by the bank of the St. Clair River, running due north 12 ½ miles to a straight-line northern boundary running 923 Gunters Chains
(about 2.88 miles), and then due south along a straight-line eastern boundary (see Figure 3; Treaty area shown in yellow). That tract, sometimes called the Chenail Ecarté Reserve, Shawnee Reserve, or Sombra
Reserve, was set aside for the exclusive use of the Chippewa and other Aboriginal
Nations. The second treaty involved land along the upper Thames River that would become known as the Township of London.
DOCUMENT 1795/08/30: Speech by Alexander McKee to the Chiefs of the Chippewa and Ottawa
Nations at Chenail Ecarté, NAC, RG 10, vol. 9: 9,166-9,172 (microfilm reel C-10,999); copy in: NAC, RG
10, vol. 39: 21,652-21,658 (microfilm reel C-11,012); copy also in: Samuel Peters Jarvis Papers,
Metropolitan Toronto Public Library, Baldwin Room, Toronto, “Indian Papers, Box 1, B 56-57” (Positive
DOCUMENT 1795/10/24: Letter from Alexander McKee, Detroit, to Joseph Chew, NAC, RG 10, Vol. 9,
C-10999; copy in: The Simcoe Papers. vol. 4: 1795-1796, E.A. Cruikshank, ed., Toronto: Ontario
Historical Society, 1926: 111).
DOCUMENT 1796/09/06: Chenail Ecarté Treaty, NAC, RG 10, vol. 1840.
A Gunter’s Chain is equal to one pole, or 5 ½ yards (therefore 923 Gunter’s Chains is equal to 15,229.5 feet).
Figure 3: 1796 Treaty Map, showing Chenail Ecarté Reserve
The 1796 Chenail Ecarté Treaty area is also shown below with some modern features added (see Figure 4):
Figure 4: Map of Chenail Ecarté Reserve
The written treaty document did not mention the specific agreements that McKee had been careful to explain to the Chiefs a week earlier. On its face value, the document appears to be a full and complete release of any right or interest in the land from that point forward by the First Nation. This was, however, contrary to the verbal agreement and understanding of the Chiefs at the time. It should be noted that the document was written in English, but none of the Chiefs signed their names in English. Rather, as customary, they affixed their totem marks in the Aboriginal style of drawing clan emblems. Since the Chiefs could not read or write English, the written document could not have been understood by them.
By the Fall of 1797, it was estimated that there were upwards of 500 Aboriginal people residing at the Reserve at Chenail Ecarté.
When Abraham Iredell came to survey the area in 1800, he found the deserted remains of a “large Indian village.”
In 1804, a missionary, Christian Frederick Denke, visited Walpole Island. He observed that the
Walpole Island people continued to use the Chenail Ecarté Reserve. He expressed concern that a proposed settlement of Scottish immigrants under a plan by Lord Selkirk
DOCUMENT 1797/09/14: Letter from Frederick Fisher to Col McKee, River Thames, NAC, RG 10, vol. 26, microfilm reel C-11,006.
Document 1800/07/09: Map, “Sombra, formerly Shawanese W.D.” [Western District], A. Iredell, 9 July
1800, Archives of Ontario, RG 1-470-0-0-324 Shawanee (Sombra Tp) [N-2290]
9 would encroach on that Reserve.
The people of Walpole Island objected to the encroachments on their Reserve at Chenail Ecarté. For example, on May 24, 1804, Chief
Wetawninse wrote to Thomas McKee (Alexander McKee's son, and newly appointed
Indian Agent) and complained about squatters on their land. Chief Wetawninse said: “I went yesterday with Captain Harrow to Chenail Ecarté to see those people that are now settling there, and to observe whether they were encroaching on our Grant, which if you remember, you told me that it was allotted for us and our children, and to remain so. I found they had not encroached any as yet, but Captain Harrow then and there told me that we had not one inch of land in these parts, and that which belongs to us lies a great ways to the westward of this. Such language as that, held forth, is not very agreeable to us, and hope my Brother will take it into consideration and if possible put a stop to such proceedings.”
After the War of 1812, British military officers recommended that the Chenail Ecarté area be used as a settlement of Aboriginal warriors who had fought for the Crown. On 21
May 1815, Danial Claus, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, wrote to Colonel
Caldwell, and recommended that the Chenail Ecarté ane explained, “I am directed by the
DY Supt Gen [Deputy Superintendent General] to say that it is Lt General Sir Geo:
Murrays wish that the Western Indians should not immediately proceed towards Detroit-
He thinks they will be much better situated about the Chenaille Ecarte or that neighbourhood where they may plant, and benefit by Hunting and Fishing during the
Summer - It is Colonel Clauses request therefore that you will use your influence to that effect.”
However, Lieutenant General Murray’s plan failed to materialize, and instead local Crown officials soon sold the lands in the Chenail Ecarté Reserve, or pensioned off those lands to non-Aboriginal soldiers as a reward for their service to the Crown. No further consideration was given to the Aboriginal rights and interest in those lands, including the right of the people of Walpole Island First Nation to reside on those lands, which were established to be a Reserve for Indian Nations loyal to the Crown.
The area north of Lake St. Clair and east of the St. Clair River remained Aboriginal territory until 1827. The land on the west side of the St. Clair River had been settled since the French occupation of a trading post in the 17 th
century. Early travelers along the St. Clair River who left written accounts described non-Aboriginal settlement along the west bank of the river, near Fort St. Clair (near present Port Huron, Michigan)
DOCUMENT 1804/01/01: “A Short Report on the Scouting Trip to the River Jonquakamik in January
1804 as it has Been Submitted to the Mission Conference in Fairfield, by Brothers Schnall and Denke, translated by Irmgard Jamnik, Kewa, 90-5: 3-7.
DOCUMENT 1804/05/24: Letter from Wetawninse, a Chief of the Chippawa’s, River St. Clair, to
“Brother.” [Thomas McKee], NAC, MG 19, F1, Claus Papers, vol. 9: 25-26 (microfilm reel C-1,480).
DOCUMENT 1815/05/21: Letter from DC [Daniel Claus] Ass Secy IA to Colonel Caldwell, NAC, RG
10, vol. 30, C-11,009, p. 18,000.
Fort St. Clair, or Sinclair, was established by the British military in 1765 under the leadership of Patrick
Sinclair. It was occupied by the American military in 1807 under the direction of General William Hull.
When Hay visited in 1783 there were two sawmills operating near the fort.
10 example, on 17 July 1783, John Hay traveled up the St. Clair River and noted in his diary: “within 2 or three Leagues of Fort St. Clair, several houses along the River.”
When Gother Mann made a survey of the St. Clair River in 1788 he did not identify settlements on the Canadian side, but did note “The whole of the east shore as well as the west of this river [St. Clair] seems very good land and very proper for settling on.”
Mann’s 1792 report elaborated: “From Lake St. Clair up to Lake Huron there is every where plenty of water: the current is very strong throughout, and the River is in general about three quarters of a mile wide except at the entrance of Lake Huron, where it is not so much. The land on both sides is good and therefore very proper for settlements, those already formed are chiefly on the Western Shore.”
The eat side of the St. Clair River, or Canadian side, remained unsettled by non-
Aboriginal people until the 19 th
century. In 1796, surveyor Patrick McNiff made a map that included the St. Clair River.
His map clearly shows that the land on the west side of the river was settled, but the eastern side was not. McNiff made the notation: “land not settled.” (see Figure 5)
DOCUMENT 1783/07/17: Diary of John Hay, NAC, MG 23, J 5, n.p.
DOCUMENT 1788/12/06: Letter from Mann to Lord Dorchester, dated at Quebec, Archives of Ontario,
Simcoe Papers, F 47-1-1-3, microfilm reel #MS 1797, pp. 23-25.
DOCUMENT 1792/10/29: Gother Mann, Report on Military Posts and Boundary Line of Upper Canada, by Gother Mann, PRO, CO 42, vol. 88: 251-273 (Microfilm copy of NAC in AO, B-54).
DOCUMENT 1796/12/01: “A Plan of the Settlements at Detroit and its vicinity from River Rouge upwards to Point au Ginglet on Lake St. Clair,” by Patrick McNiff. Exact date uncertain. The map is on a scale of 4 inches statute measure. Iintroduction and explanatory text by F. Cleve Bald. 5 sheets, 465 x 371.
University of Michigan Press, 1946. Reproduction in facsimile of the original manuscript map in the
Figure 5: Extract from 1796 McNiff Map
Land not settled
A sketch map, drawn by an anonymous cartographer about 1807, showed a similar pattern of settlement. On the U.S. side of the St. Clair River there were a number of non-
Aboriginal settlers. On the Canadian side there were none. The only notation was an
Aboriginal settlement marked: “Kiosg - the Gull, Ind'n, 4 or 5 huts.” (see Map 2)
The location of this settlement was south of an island named “Shebawskigan”
(Fawn Island) and near the mouth of a river or creek (probably present Marshy Creek; see Figure 6).
Figure 6: Extract from 1807 Map
DOCUMENT 1807/01/01: Undated map, NAC, MG 19, E1, vol. 55, bundle E, Selkirk Papers, microfilm reel C-14: 14,753-14,754. The undated map was included with the papers of Selkirk’s Baldoon
Settlement under the date of 1807.
The Aboriginal name for the island is “Keshebahahnelegoo menesha,” meaning Belle Rivière Island because of its location opposite to the mouth of the river of the same name. Various spellings of the same
Aboriginal have been recorded, for example: “Shebontigomeneshai,” “Shebonetegoomenashai,” “Keshebah-ah-ne-te-goo Menestra,” and “Keshebalmetagoon Menesha.” It was also known as Tick, Woodtick and Eagle Island.
The “Gull,” or Kiyoshk, was an Ojibwa (or Chippewa) leader who also signed a number of private land deeds and treaties with the British in the late 18 th
and early 19 th
The 1796 Treaty that set apart the Chenail Ecarté Reserve included the name “Keoske,” with a beaver totem marked beside it (see Figure 7).
Figure 7: Beaver Totem of "Keoske" (Kiyoshk), 1796 Chenail Ecarté Treaty
The map that was drawn to accompany the treaty included the name of “Kioshke” and a beaver totem (see Figure 8).
Figure 8: Beaver Totem of "Kioshke," 1796 Treaty Map
In addition, Kiyoshk signed a number of private land deeds, all in the vicinity of the St.
Clair River. For example, on 23 July 1785, Kiyoshk was one of the signatories to a deed to Francis Fontenoi, Jr. and Marie Graveral for land on the west side of the St. Clair
On 21 April 1788, he was a signatory to a deed to John Askin for land along the
Huron River, west of the St. Clair River.
On 4 May 1788, he signed a deed to William
Ancrum and John Askin, for the site of the Moravian Town on the Huron River.
May 1797, Kiyoshk signed a deed to John Marie Beaubien, George Meldrum and
DOCUMENT 1796/09/07: Treaty No. 7, Chenail Ecarté Reserve Treaty, NAC, RG 10, vol. 1,840, IT
027 (microfilm reel T-9,938).
DOCUMENT 1785/07/23: Deed to Francis Fontenoi, Jr. and Marie Graveral, Register of Deeds, Wayne
County, Liber 1 [microfilm reel no. P8], p. 185.
DOCUMENT 1788/04/21: Deed to John Askin, Register of Deeds, Wayne County, Liber 1 [microfilm reel no. P8], p. 106.
DOCUMENT 1788/05/04: Deed to William Ancrum and John Askin, Register of Deeds, Wayne
County, Liber 1 [microfilm reel no. P8], pp. 95-96.
William Park for land on the west side of Lake St. Clair.
On 28 August 1798, he was a signatory to a deed to William Thorn, Jr. for land on the east side of the St.Clair River.
Kiyoshk is also likely the same person who was said to have given a lease to a settler for land in what would later become known as the “Lower Reserve” (in Moore Township).
While these land deeds may have been speculative at the time they were signed and were of essentially no value as title documents, squatters began to locate on lands along the east bank of the St. Clair River about the time of the War of 1812. The British colonial government supported settlement in this area as a potential buffer against American encroachments. Political scientist Allan McDougall and anthropologist Lisa Valentine observed: “
The elite undertook to attract settlers from Britain – especially if they were former military or socially acceptable members of British society – to increase their confidence in the loyalty of the population on the western frontier.” 30
By 1813, two non-Aboriginal settlers occupied land along the east bank of the St. Clair River (in an area that would later become the
Lower Reserve; or lots 1, 2, 3, 6 and 7 in Moore Township).
On 22 September 1818, Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs William Claus wrote to John Askin, Superintendent of Indian Affairs at Amherstburg, and instructed him to find out if the land north of the Thames River, west to the St. Clair River and north to Lake Huron could be purchased from the Chippewa Nation.
On 16 October
1818, John Askin convened a council meeting for that purpose at Amherstburg with the
“Chippewa Chiefs & Leaders of Chenaill Ecarte, Rivers St. Clair & Thames and Bear
The Thames River Chiefs did not attend, but the others agreed to sell the land to the Crown except for the following reserves.
. Four miles square at some distance below the Rapids of the River St. Clair.
. One mile in front by four deep bordering on the said
River and adjoining to the Shawanoe Reserve.
. Two miles at Kettle Point, Lake Huron.
DOCUMENT 1797/05/15: Deed to John Marie Beaubien, George Meldrum and William Park, Register of Deeds, Wayne County, Liber 1 [Microfilm reel no. P8], p. 200.
DOCUMENT 1798/08/28: Deed to William Thorn, Jr., Deed from the Chiefs and Principal Leaders of the Chippawa Nation of Detroit to William Thorn, Jr. for land on the east side of the St.Clair River. AO,
RG 1 A-1-7, vol. 8, env. 1 (Indian Lands, n.d., 1784-1820) MS 892, reel # 4, pp. 03533-35.
DOCUMENT 1844/01/01: Petition from Soyer to the Governor General, NAC, RG 10, vol. 121,
Petitions sent to the Governor General Re. Indian Problems, pp. 4,891-4,892. Quoted in Rhonda M.
Telford, “Draft Historical Report on the Lower Reserve,” 20 November 1993, p. 88.
DOCUMENT 2003/01/01: Allan K. McDougall and Lisa Philips Valentine, “Treaty 29: Why Moore
Became Less,” pp. 241-260, in: Papers of the Thirty-Fourth Algonquian Conference, H.C. Wolfart, ed.,
Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press (p. 249).
DOCUMENT 1818/09/22: Letter from Claus to Askin, NAC, RG 10, vol. 35: 20,531 (microfilm reel C-
One of the Chiefs and Leaders was identified as “Kayash” (likely the same as Kiyoshk).
. Two miles square at the River au Sable
. Two miles square at Bear Creek, also a Reserve for
Tomago and his Band up the Thames, which he will point out when he arrives.
The Chiefs also demanded that the reserves be enlarged if they were found to be too small. They also asked that payments be made half in cash and half in goods, and that payment to be separate from the annual gifts they received in return for their loyalty and past services in war. Finally, they asked for a blacksmith to repair their axes, traps and guns, and a farming instructor to teach them agriculture.
On 30 October 1818, Askin wrote to Claus and advised him that Chief Tomago and his band from the Thames River had met with him and agreed to the same terms as the agreement made on 16 October
Despite these preliminary agreements, the treaty-making process was slow to develop.
The colonial government sought many concessions and revisions to the articles of the proposed treaty, and the Chiefs became dissatisfied with the negotiating tactics.
On the advice of Indian Agent John Askin the government negotiated two treaties. One covered the area along the Thames River, known as the Longwoods Tract and the other included the remaining area to Lake Huron and the St. Clair River, known as the Huron Tract.
The final Longwoods Treaty was signed on 8 July 1822. The final written agreement failed to mention a reserve, however a perpetual annuity was promised amounting to two pounds ten shilling per person (up to a maximum of 240 people).
The final Huron Tract
Treaty was signed on 10 July 1827: A perpetual annuity of two pounds and ten shillings per person (to a maximum of 440 people), and four reserves were set apart. Two reserves were set apart along the St. Clair River; one below the rapids known as the Upper
Reserve (present Aamjiwnaang) containing 2,650 acres, and the other north of the boundary of Sombra Township (Chenail Ecarté Reserve) containing 2,446 acres known as the Lower Reserve (in present Moore Township).
Figure 9 shows the Huron Tract
Treaty area as well as the others within Walpole Island First Nation traditional territory.
DOCUMENT 1818/10/16: Minutes of an Indian Council held at Amherstburgh, NAC, MG 19, vol. 11:
95-96 (microfilm reel C-1,480).
DOCUMENT 1818/10/31: Letter from Askin to Claus, NAC, RG 10, vol. 441: 794 (microfilm reel C-
Historian Rhonda M. Telford explained, “Multiple agreements cover every tract reflecting the shoddy, unfair, manipulative and likely fraudulent practices of the government of the day.” (DOCUMENT
1999/01/01: “How the West was Won: Land Transactions between the Anishinabe, the Huron and the
Crown in Southwestern Ontario,” pp. 328-351, in:
Papers of the Twenty-Ninth Algonquian Conference
David H. Pentland, ed., Winnipeg: University of Manitoba (extract pp. 328-329).
DOCUMENT 1822/07/08: Final Deed for the Longwoods Tract, Indian Treaties and Surrenders, vol. 1:
DOCUMENT 1827/07/10: Treaty No. 29, Huron Tract Treaty, NAC, RG 10, vol. 1,840, IT 091
(microfilm reel T-9,938).
Figure 9: Map of Treaty Areas
While treaty negotiations dragged on for almost a decade, settlers continued to squat on lands that had not yet been sold to the Crown. Squatters also encroached on the land that had been set aside as a reserve in the 1796 Chenail Ecarté Treaty. McDougall and
Valentine calculated that: “
By 1826, 16 settler families were farming on the shore of the
St. Clair River and squatters occupied three of the eight inland lots of the future Moore
After the Huron Tract Treaty (Treaty 29) was signed in 1827 squatting and other encroachments continued unabated on the Upper and Lower
Reserves. By 1835, two roads had been built through the Lower Reserve and complaints were made about timber depredations.
The Huron Tract Treaty (also known as Treaty 29) was signed on 10 July 1827. The written document listed 18 “Chiefs and Principal Men of the Chippewa Nation.” This list did not include Kiyoshk, who had been central to previous agreements involving land along the St. Clair River. Many years later, in 1879, his descendants explained this omission. Charles Kiyoshk, who was the youngest son of Jacob Kiyoshk signed an affidavit stating: “My father was one of the four hundred and forty persons who ceded their lands to the crown in the year of 1827 - I heard my father say that he knew
Kichnosway when he was appointed messenger by Chief Ma-ku-la-i-kejega one of the
Chiefs who signed the Treaty of 1827. My father was not Chief nor did not sign the
Treaty of 1827. But he was numbered with the four hundred and forty Treaty Indians.
He was a respected Warrior among them.”
The 1827 Treaty was silent about the rights of Aboriginal people to use the territory that had been surrendered to the Crown. However, British colonial government officials and land administrators encouraged access to the territory for traditional resource harvesting activities. This is evident by examining the goods that were supplied to Aboriginal people in the form of gifts and annuity payments. For example the list of goods paid to the “Chippewas of River St. Clair and Chenail Ecarte” included hunting equipment such as ball, shot and guns and gunpowder.
In the summer of 1827, William Dunlop described a journey of 72 miles through the woods of the Huron Tract. He noted that it was a hunting ground and met a number of
Aboriginal families hunting in the area. Dunlop wrote: “On my route I fell in with many
Indian winter settlements w. [which] are deserted now the inmates being on hunting excursions & this is the country of all others for game - in sailing along in our canoe three days ago we saw on the banks no less than ten deer & the Indians sold us two haunches for three pints of flour value 2 1/2 d. so that food is not very scarce in these parts as for fish one man with a spear catches as many in two hours as thirty five men can eat in a day.”
DOCUMENT 2003/01/01: Allan K. McDougall and Lisa Philips Valentine, “Treaty 29: Why Moore
Became Less,” pp. 241-260, in: Papers of the Thirty-Fourth Algonquian Conference, H.C. Wolfart, ed.,
Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press (p. 250).
Document 1879/12/01: “Minutes of Investigation as to communication with 1827 Treaty of the Walpole
Island & Sarnia Indians. Nov & Dec 1879,” NAC, RG 10, vol. 2022, file 8520 (microfilm reel C-13600),
22pp & title pg.
DOCUMENT 1828/01/01: List of goods paid to the Chippewas of River St. Clair and Chenail Ecarte.
Detroit Public Library, Burton Historical Collection, MS/Ironside, George, Box # 4, file 1828 - July-
DOCUMENT 1827/06/02: Letter from Dunlop to his sister, AO, MU 2,104, Miscellaneous Collection.
In the winter of 1832, missionary Thomas Farmer visited the Upper Reserve on the St.
Clair River (present Aamjiwnaang) and noted the importance of hunting in the area outside of the reserve. He wrote: “most of the Indians are now gone to their hunting grounds for the winter. This I find is their constant practice, and is at present, not only a matter of choice but also of necessity.”
In 1833, T.W. McGrath published an account of a hunting expedition along the shore of Lake Huron. He described an encounter with a large group of Aboriginal people hunting and fishing in the area. McGrath wrote:
“One night when encamped on the shore of Lake Huron …
[we were] interrupted by the sound of many paddles, and we soon discovered that some new arrival had taken place.
On going out, I perceived eleven canoes discharging their crews opposite our encampment. In less than twenty minutes there were fires blazing in all directions and the cooking going on as if they had been there as many weeks.
Shortly after, two chiefs came forward, shook hands with me in the free and friendly manner and Indian generally does, and, at my request supped with me. They had come to that part of the lake to take white fish, which is the best fish; and there, most abundant.
Next morning, I had a noble dish sent me as a present, by the Chief Wagna; and on his signifying that they would take to the fishing ground at noon, I purchased one of their bark canoes and paddles, for five dollars and joined the
Would you believe it? I never passed a more agreeable time in my life than when surrounded by this party, at times
150 in number; nearly one hundred miles from any settlement, and I myself the only white man (not very white either) in the entire camp. My tent was pitched on a green bank about twenty yards from the wigwams, with its door to the lake into which I plunged every morning from my bed, and either joined my companions during ht the day, in hauling the net; or, taking my rifle to a deer pass, never failed of sport, as some obliging Indians were always ready to surround a portion of the Bush, and drive the game in the direction where I stood. ...With what pleasure I look forward to another such excursion! At night the shore was brilliant with the fishing lights in the canoes; and I had to
DOCUMENT 1832/12/27: Petition from Thomas Farmer, missionary St. Clair to John Colborne, LG
(Lieutenant Governor), UC (Upper Canada), NAC, RG 10, vol. 52: 56,993-56,996 (microfilm reel C-
19 walk but twenty paces into mine, to enjoy as fine sport as the most enthusiastic fisherman could desire.”
In 1838, Indian Agent William Jones reported on the livelihood of the Chippewas of the
Upper St. Clair (St. Clair Rapids), Chenail Ecarté, and River Aux Sables.” He wrote, they “employ their time in cultivating small fields of Indian Corn, Potatoes, and various kinds of Pulse, and at particular periods in summer when their Crops do not require their attendance, they follow hunting and fishing. In winter the greater part of them retire to the most favourable situations for hunting and making sugar and there remain until the season again returns for planting and sowing their Spring Crops. … The Hunting
Grounds of the Upper Reserve are the unsettled parts of the Township of Sarnia and
Moore, but they depend much upon fishing. The Hunting Grounds of the Walpole &
Chenail Ecarté Indians are the unsettled parts of the Township of Sombra and Dover, and in the marshes of the Islands. The channels of the River at this place abound with fish.
The Hunting Grounds of the Indians, settled at the mouth of the River aux Sables, are the unsettled parts of the Canada Company Tract.”
In 1839, Indian Agent J.W. Keating provided a similar account of the hunting and fishing activities in the traditional territory outside of the reserves. Keating wrote that traditional activities took place in “the vast marshes where he seeks the muskrat or otter, or through the dense woods where he hunts the deer or martin. …Their patience, perseverance, and endurance, are well known, and they will daily scan the woods, often in vain, rather than submit to an exertion far less in its fatigue, but different in its form. I have heard many an Indian boast of his hunting exploits, of his unerring aim, of the meat and furs which had hung in his lodge.”
In 1848, Indian Agent J.B. Clench complained that the people of Walpole Island were often away on hunting and fishing excursions. He reported, “the Indians of the Island being in a wild state and absent at the issue of Presents on hunting and fishing excursions, sometimes in the American territory in and about Saginaw Bay and in the unsettled part of the country near Lake Huron in this Province.”
In 1850, Clench reported that 62 people from Walpole had “removed to the neighbourhood of Saginaw Bay for the purpose of hunting.”
The pattern of moving to traditional hunting, fishing and gathering areas continued throughout the 19 th
century. In 1865, missionary Andrew Jamieson noted, “At the
DOCUMENT 1833/01/01: T. W. MaGrath, Esq. Authentic Letter from Upper Canada: with an account of Canadian Filed Sports Dublin, 1833. Copy in William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan,
Ann Arbor, Michigan [Clements Library call no. C2 1833 MaGrath].
DOCUMENT 1838/07/20: Memorandum on the Chippewas of the Upper St. Clair (by William Jones),
NAC, RG 10, vol. 124: 69,829-69,840.
DOCUMENT 1839/11/18: Letter from Keating to S.P. Jarvis, Toronto, NAC, RG 10, vol. 71, C-11,025, pp. 66,443 to 66,445.
DOCUMENT 1848/06/02: Numerical Return of the Chippewas, Pottawatamies and Ottawas residing at
Walpole Island, NAC, RG 10, vol. 647 (microfilm reel C-13,399).
DOCUMENT 1850/04/20: Numerical Return of the Wyandottes, Chippewas and Ottawas of
Amherstburg, NAC, RG 10, vol. 647 (microfilm reel C-13,399).
20 present time there are but few Indians on the Island, as the most of them have gone away to their hunting grounds, from which they will not return till within a few days before
Christmas when they will remain with me for two months and then move off again to their sugar camps. Game indeed is becoming scarcer every year with the influx of emigrants and the clearing up of the forest. But the Indian is willing to go further in search of it. At the present moment some of my people are away to the wilder parts of this part of Canada. Some have gone to the Miami River, Ohio. Others have crossed over into Michigan and are not far away from the shores of Lake Huron. The Indian, as is well known, has become accustomed to a roving life, from childhood, he is therefore at home while wandering in the woods and as he finds for his furs a good and ready market, it would be too much to expect him to change his course of life and remain quiet in one spot.”
On 1 January 1882, Jamieson wrote: “At this season of the year the Absentees return (meaning hunters and others return for Christmas; some have been cutting cordwood, others hunting, others making brooms, baskets, mats and axe handles which they sell in Detroit). This has been the custom for years.”
On 1 December 1885, Alex McKelvey, Indian Agent on Walpole Island, reported that
“many of the Indians are away hunting, and others are away working in the woods, and will not be home before Christmas.”
The increase of settlement in the traditional territory of Walpole Island First Nation made their livelihood from hunting and fishing more precarious. Missionary Andrew Jamieson noted this in 1873 when he wrote, “They are becoming more and more aware that a livelihood and support for their families must be obtained by tilling their land instead of hunting and fishing as in the olden time.”
Shortly after the 1827 Treaty, the government made efforts to reduce the number of reserves that had been set apart. The plan was to convince the people to move to the reserve at the River aux Sables on Lake Huron.
The proposal to remove to River aux
Sables did not meet with approval by the Chiefs. A speech made on 30 April 1830 by
“Charlos, Principal Speaker of the Ottawa Nation of Indians, in behalf of the Chippewas of Chenal Ecarte, River St. Clair,” explained: “When our Great Father who sits on the other side of the great waters purchased our lands from us, we were promised, through
DOCUMENT 1865/11/28: Report by Andrew Jamieson, Walpole Island, to the Society for the
Propogation of the Gospel (Anglican Church), copy in the Huron College Archives, University of Western
Ontario (copy also in Walpole Island Heritage Centre).
DOCUMENT 1882/01/01: Report by Andrew Jamieson, Walpole Island, to the Society for the
Propogation of the Gospel (Anglican Church), copy in the Huron College Archives, University of Western
Ontario (copy also in Walpole Island Heritage Centre).
DOCUMENT 1885/12/01: Letter from Alex McKelvey, Indian Agent, Walpole Island to SGIA, Ottawa,
1pp, NAC, RG 10, Vol. 2118, File 22,610, pt 1.
DOCUMENT 1873/12/09: Letter from Andrew Jamieson, Walpole Island, to the Rev. W. Bullock
(Anglican Church), copy in the Huron College Archives, University of Western Ontario (copy also in
Walpole Island Heritage Centre).
DOCUMENT 1830/04/12: Letter from J. Givins, Chief Superintendent of Indian Affairs, York, to
George Ironside, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Amherstburg, Detroit Public Library, Burton Historical
Collection, MS/Ironside, George, Box # 4.
21 his Chiefs, that the red man’s fire should always be allowed to smoke on his own land and never be disturbed. …We wish to live after the manner of those who have gone before us. We now will tell you plainly that we will not remove from this place where the bones of our forefathers are lying.”
Some of the Chiefs were apparently in favour of moving from Walpole Island to the
Lower Reserve. On 13 August 1830, William Jones reported that he met with Shaney-
Penincy, the “principal or senior Chief of the (Walpole) Islands,” who was in favour of moving to the Lower Reserve in Moore and sugar groves in Sombra.
The problem with squatters on the Lower Reserve continued, and the local Indian Agent sought to ameliorate the situation by arranging leases between the Chiefs and the squatters. On 23 November 1833, Indian Agent William Jones reported that he had authorized a lease from the Chiefs to Alexander McMartin.
The lease to McMartin of the entire front lots of the Lower Reserve (also called the Red Pole) was initially rejected by the Executive Council on 10 March 1834
, but approved one week later.
. McMartin then sub-let some of the land to others. There is some evidence to suggest that some of the tenants arranged their own leases with the Chippewa Chiefs. For example, on 27
April 1835, William Jones learned that Chief Kayashk (Kiyoshk), who was said to be the
Chief of the “Red Pole,” was unhappy with the payments received from some of the squatters. An affidavit signed by Claude Gouin, a Justice of the Peace, stated: “Kayashk the Indian Chief at the Red Pole (Lower Reserve) informed me yesterday through Mr.
Codotte the Interpreter that all he had received from the Reynolds last fall was 30 quarts whisky at 4/s Hx [Halifac] Cy [Currency], 3/ds [yards?] coarse Calico at 1/10 ½ [one shilling, six and a half pence?], 1 small shawl at 1/10 ½[one shilling, six and a half pence?], a sow £L1.5 [one pound, five shillings], which he sold for 12/6 [twelve shillings, six pence?]: that for several years this man paid him only one third of the rent annually & that mostly in whisky. Kayashk also remarked that Rufus Henderson had not paid any thing since he moved to the American side - Three years ago.”
Leases between Chiefs and squatters had been going on for some time. In 1835, some St.
Clair River Chiefs forwarded a petition requesting that three lots in the Lower Reserve be sold to John Reynolds for $300. Their petition explained that they had leased the land to
Reynolds since 1824, and had decided to sell it to him because he had always paid his rent.
One of the signatories to that petition was “Gay ask,” who was likely Kiyoshk.
DOCUMENT 1830/04/30: Copy of a Speech made by Charlos, Principal Speaker of the Ottawa Nation of Indians, in behalf of the Chippewas of Chenal Ecarte, River St. Clair, recorder not signed, but may be
George Ironside, Detroit Public Library, Burton Historical Collection, MS/Ironside, George, Box # 4, file
DOCUMENT 1830/08/13: Letter from William Jones, Baldoon, to Z. Mudge, Lieutenant Governor’s
Secretary, G.M. Matheson Collection, Department of Indian and Northern Development, p. 79-81.
Alexander McMartin was a member of the Provincial parliament for Glengarry.
1834/03/10: Upper Canada, Land Book, NAC, RG 1, L1, Land Book, vol. Q (microfilm reel # C-105) p.
DOCUMENT 1834/03/17: NAC, RG 1, L1, Land Book, vol. Q: 330; 334.
DOCUMENT 1835/04/27: Extracts from letters of Claude Gouin Esquire J.P. W.D. respect’g the
Reynolds family & directed to William Jones Esquire S.I.A., NAC, RG 10, vol. 73, C-11,026, p. 67,424
DOCUMENT 1835/11/30: Petition, NAC, RG 10, vol. 60, C-11,020, pp. 60,489 to 60,517.
Two years later, a second petition asked that their permission be revoked because several signatures had been procured when they were drunk. The Executive Council rejected the petition from the Chiefs.
By 1836, the Chippewa people were fed up with the squatters on the Lower Reserve and commenced to dig up and plant on a road that had been built through the reserve.
1837, the situation had not improved and a petition from Walpole Island complained of wood being cut on the Lower Reserve and sold to Americans.
Valentine observed: “Steam navigation was introduced to the Great Lakes in 1818 and by the 1820s there were scheduled steamer runs from Lake Erie to Detroit and then up the
St. Clair River to Lake Huron. Wood to stoke the boilers became a major economic factor along the shipping routes and a source of much-needed cash for Native communities.”
The Chiefs at Walpole Island decided that it would be best to exchange the Lower Indian
Reserve for an area on Little Bear Creek in Dover Township. In 1836, Indian Agent
William Jones reported that: “the Indians of Walpole Island have some time ago stated that they wish to have the Lower Reserve exchanged for land on Little Bear Creek in
Dover; that they wish to be a distinct Band from those of this place [Sarnia] to remain on the Island and received their goods separately from the Indians here [Sarnia] complaining much of the unfair distributions of the Land payments.” Jones said that the Walpole
Island First Nation was particularly upset over the activities of Way-Way-nosh whom they believed to have wrongfully claimed “the first Chiefship” from Petegeschick who was one of the hereditary Chiefs on Walpole Island.
The conflict between the Chiefs at Walpole Island and Sarnia had first been raised in a letter from Jones to Givins dated 7 January 1835. Jones reported that the people at
Walpole Island wished to be treated as a distinct band and to receive a separate share of the annuity.
On 21 August 1835, Jones wrote again noting that the Walpole Island
Chiefs were not happy with the way the annuities and presents were distributed. They complained that they were given no advance notice and that the young men at Sarnia took all of the goods away before they arrived.
Chief Wawanosh who lived at the Upper
DOCUMENT 1837/01/14: Petition to Sir Francis Bond Head, NAC, RG 10, vol. 64, C-11,022, p.
DOCUMENT 1836/10/01: Letter from R. Vidal, Commissioner for Sarnia to John Joseph, Sec., to His
Ex. Bond Head, NAC, RG 10, vol. 63, C-11,021, pp. 61,837 to 61,845.
DOCUMENT 1837/03/09: Letter from Wm. Jones to Givins, NAC, RG 10, vol. 64, C-11,022, p. 62,862.
DOCUMENT 2003/01/01: Allan K. McDougall and Lisa Philips Valentine, “Treaty 29: Why Moore
Became Less,” pp. 241-260, in: Papers of the Thirty-Fourth Algonquian Conference, H.C. Wolfart, ed.,
Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press (pp. 250-251).
DOCUMENT 1836/03/06: Letter from Jones to Givins, NAC, RG 10, vol. 60, C-11,020, pp. 60,813 to
DOCUMENT 1835/01/07: Letter from Jones to Givins, NAC, RG 10, vol. 57: 58,963-58,966 (microfilm reel C-11,019).
DOCUMENT 1835/08/2: Letter from William Jones, Assistant Superintendent of Indian Affairs at the
Upper Indian Reserve, River St. Clair (Sarnia), to Chief Superintendent Colonel James Givins, Toronto,
NAC, RG 10, vol. 58: 59,776.
Reserve near Sarnia controlled the distribution of the goods. The Chiefs at Walpole
Island Chiefs disputed his control over the goods.
A General Council meeting was apparently held in 1836, at which time the people at
Sarnia and Walpole Island agreed to divide their annuities and reserves. An investigation into Indian Affairs in 1856 reported: “At a general Council of the Sarnia and Walpole
Band in 1836, a division of the annuity and lands in common to both took place, which appears very unequal. The Walpole Band agreed to take as their share of the annuity
$1400, and the small Reserve in Moore, containing 2575 acres, in addition to the Island on which they reside, which cannot be considered exclusively a Chippewa Reserve. The
Sarnia Band retain the remainder of the annuity, amounting to $3000, and the Reserves at
Kettle Point and the River aux Sables, containing together 5096 acres, in addition to the
Reserve which they occupy, comprising 10280 acres of exceedingly valuable land.”
While no record of this General Council meeting has been found, the first division of the annuity took place in 1838. Prior to that year the annuity had been paid in goods delivered to Port Sarnia. On 23 October 1838, Samuel Jarvis, Chief Superintendent of
Indian Affairs, acting on his own authority, requisitioned £1,200 from the Military Chest and charged it to the annuity account of the “Chippewas of St. Clair and Chenail Ecarte.”
He then traveled to Port Sarnia, where he met in council with members of the “St. Clair
Indians” (Sarnia, Kettle and Stony Point) and decided how the money should be divided.
No representatives of the “Chenail Ecarte Indians” (Walpole Island) were present at that meeting. Based on information provided by the Sarnia chiefs, Jarvis determined that the
Sarnia Indians were entitled to 8/11 of the annuity (£800), while the Walpole Indians were entitled to 3/11 (£300).
Five years later, in 1843, Indian Agent would recall that there had never been an agreement on the division of the annuity. He explained: “I am not aware nor are the
Indians of any agreement sanctioned or unsanctioned by the Govt. relative to the distribution of lands or monies. When the establishment was formed at Sarnia the whole control seems to have been assumed by Chief Wawanosh & as many fully entitled to share refused to settle there with him, their right ceased to be recognized and until your consenting to allow them £300 per annum they received nothing.”
On 3 September 1839, Chief Wawanosh at met with Jarvis at Sarnia and agreed to increase the share of the annuity given to the people at Walpole Island. He agreed to a ¼ share for Walpole Island as long as Jarvis recognized “Kiosh” (Kiyoshk) as the Head
A year later, in November 1840, twelve Chiefs and Warriors of Walpole Island
DOCUMENT 1858/01/01: Report of the Special Commissioners Appointed on the 8 th
1856, to Investigate Indian Affairs in Canada, Sessional Papers of Canada, 21 Victoria, A. 1858, Appendix
No. 21, Toronto: Stewart Derbishire and George Desbarats, Queen’s Printer: n.p.
DOCUMENT 1848/08/04: Letter from William Jones, Late A.S.I.A., Chatham, to Colonel Joseph B.
Clench, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, London, 4 August 1848, NAC, RG 10, vol. 438
DOCUMENT 1843/12/17: Letter from Keating to Jarvis, NAC, RG 10, vol. 134: 76130-76133
(microfilm reel C-11486).
DOCUMENT 1839/09/03: Speech by Chief Wawanosh, Sarnia [to Jarvis?], Samuel Peters Jarvis Papers,
Metropolitan Toronto Reference Library, Baldwin Room, B57, pages 345-346.
24 deputed Chief Begigishiquishkam to convey a message to the Lieutenant Governor in
Toronto. The delegation included Chiefs Abitagishie and Neoutinan (the latter identified as a Potawatomi Chief), and Patwegishie and several elders who acted as assistants.
Keating reported to Jarvis that the reason for their trip was to talk to the Lieutenant
Governor in person about a number of grievances. These included the sale of their lands in Moore Township.
When the delegation returned to Walpole Island, Indian Agent
J.W. Keating learned that their main purpose was to try to obtain an equal division of the annuity money. Keating reported that the Walpole Chiefs and others traveled to Sarnia and attended a General Council. However, at the meeting, the Walpole Chiefs did not speak forcefully about the issue. Keating felt that Wawanosh intimidated them as well as the people at the Upper Reserve.
While the conflict over the division of annuities raged between the Chiefs at Walpole
Island and Sarnia, the pressure from encroaching settlement continued to build. Hunting grounds and maple sugar groves were being cleared or fenced by settlers, and trees were cleared for the timber market. McDougall and Valentine observed, “settlement quickly encroached on the resources of the Chippewa. In 1830, C. Dunn purchased 400 acres at
Bear Creek, which was an important regional deer stamping ground; by 1836, 15 settler families lived in the area. The influx of settlers between 1833 and 1834 threatened the livelihood of the local Chippewa and they reacted. In 1841and 1842, they petitioned the
Crown with the result that 400 acres of their old sugar bush in Enniskillen was purchased for them by the Crown, using tribal annuity monies. In 1845, five Native families and two log cabins were reported as located on that property.”
On 1 September 1839, Chief Begigishigueshkam of Walpole Island made a speech to
Colonel Jarvis and asked that the Lower Reserve be exchanged for other land. He said:
“Father on the Lower Indian Reserve there are no trees that yield Sugar we wish you to purchase it from us & in return, give us some Land near Bear Creek which we will point out to our Agent in order that he may inform you.”
Jarvis saw this as an opportunity to deal with the growing problem of squatters and those who held individual leases from
Chiefs and other Aboriginal people. In a letter dated 17 March 1840, he wrote: “A Desire has been expressed by these Indians to sell what is called the Lower Reserve, in consequence of their being no Sugar Maple growing upon it. …this design be carried into effect the Squatters now residing there would take the opportunity in common with other persons of acquiring titles to such lots as they may be desirous of possessing.”
April 1840, Jarvis wrote about the renewed efforts of the lessees and squatters to obtain
DOCUMENT 1840/11/17: NAC, RG 10, vol. 128, p. 72,123.
DOCUMENT 1841/01/04: Letter from Keating to Jarvis, NAC, RG 10, vol. 76, pp. 68,686-68,690.
Copy in AO.
Allan K. McDougall and Lisa Philips Valentine, “Treaty 29: Why Moore Became Less,” pp. 241-260, in:
Papers of the Thirty-Fourth Algonquian Conference, H.C. Wolfart, ed., Winnipeg: University of Manitoba
Press (p. 254). They explained, “
Between 1866 and 1918 the Canadian government sold the 400 acres of land to oil speculators without obtaining a surrender from the First Nations.” (p. 254, f.n.)
DOCUMENT 1839/09/01: Speech of the Indian Chief Begigishigueshkam to Colonel Jarvis on Walpole
Island, Samuel Peters Jarvis Papers, Metropolitan Toronto Reference Library, Baldwin Room, S 125, B57,
July-September, 1839, pages 373-383.
DOCUMENT 1840/03/17: Letter from Jarvis to Tucker, NAC, RG 10, vol. 73 (microfilm reel C-11026), p. 67402. Copy in AO.
25 title deeds from the government for land on the Lower Reserve. In this letter, Jarvis also stated that the Walpole Chiefs wished to sell the Lower Reserve because there were no maple sugar bushes on it.
The Executive Council of Upper Canada acted upon Jarvis’s recommendations. An Order in Council dated 18 June 1840 called for the “cession of a
Tract of land in the Lower Reserve...[as a means of] affording an advantageous location for some of the Immigrants now daily arriving in the Province.”
On 30 May 1840,
Indian Agent Keating sent Jarvis a “proposal for the sale of the Lower Indian Reserve signed by the Chiefs.”
Jarvis recommended the purchase of the Lower Reserve, explaining: “This tract from its situation and the quality of the soil is valuable and would be most eligible for the location of about 50 immigrant families.”
In April 1843, James Givins instructed Keating to start proceedings to obtain a surrender of the Lower Reserve. He noted: “With reference to the desire of the Indians under your superintendency to have their Lower Reserve on the River St Clair containing about
2,675 acres sold for their benefit, I beg leave to inform you that it would be necessary for you to obtain from the principal Chiefs a formal Surrender of the tract to His Majesty for the aforesaid purpose.”
On 21 July 1843, Keating reported on a “General Council of the three nations Ojibwas, Ottawas and Pottewatimies” held on Walpole Island the day before. He noted, “it was their unanimous wish to send without delay a deputation to wait upon His Excellency the Governor General. …To effect at once a sale of the Lower
Reserve from which they derive no benefit.”
On 18 August 1843, a document known as Surrender No. 53 1/2 was signed in Kingston, then the capital of Upper Canada. The treaty document involved the surrender of the
Lower Reserve to the Crown, and identified the signatories as “Principal Chiefs of the
Ojibewa Indians of the River St. Clair and Chenail Ecarté.” Their names, with totems marked beside, were recorded as: Cheogema, Shawanaw, Quay-qua-kebone,
Petwegeshig, Kekanasawa, George Anse, and Kyosh. Samuel P. Jarvis and John W.
Keating signed on behalf of the Crown.
The totemic signatures of the Chiefs are shown in Figure 10.
DOCUMENT 1993/11/20: Rhonda M. Telford, “Draft Historical Report on the Lower Reserve,” 20
November 1993, p. 10.
DOCUMENT 1840/06/18: Order in Council, Upper Canada, Land Book, NAC, RG 1, L1, Land Book, vol. U (microfilm reel # C-106) p. 388.
DOCUMENT 1840/05/30: Letter from Keating to Jarvis, NAC, RG 10, vol. 73 (microfilm reel C-
11026), pp. 67772 to 67774. Copy in AO.
DOCUMENT 1840/06/08: Letter from Jarvis to Tucker, NAC, RG 10, vol. 504 (microfilm reel C-
13342), p. 101.
DOCUMENT 1843/04/10: Letter from Givins to Jarvis, NAC, RG 10, vol. 507: 128 (microfilm reel C-
DOCUMENT 1843/0721: Letter from Keating to Jarvis, NAC, RG 10, vol. 571: 6 (microfilm reel C-
DOCUMENT 1843/08/18: Canada,
Indian Treaties and Surrenders
, vol. 1: 128-129.
Figure 10: 1843 Lower Reserve Treaty Signatories
A close-up of the totemic mark of Kayashk (Kiyoshk) is shown in Figure 11.
Unfortunately, a tear in the treaty document has partially obliterated the drawing but it appears to be the figure of a beaver.
Figure 2: "Kayashk" (Kiyoshk) with beaver totem
On 8 September 1843, the Executive Council of Upper Canada passed an Order in
Council accepting the surrender of 2,675 acres in the Lower Indian Reserve, Moore
However, the surrender was questioned soon afterward by Civil Secretary
R.W. Rawson, who wrote to Jarvis on 11 October 1843, and asked: “with regard to the said Reserve, His Excellency desires to be informed upon what ground the Walpole
Island Indians claim a right to its exclusive appropriation, without reference to the title of the remainder of the Tribe to share in it?”
“The 2,756,960 acres surrendered to the Crown [Huron
Tract] was the common property of the Chippewas who inhabited it and the lands which they reserved, I take, it remained as common property. When they were induced partially to give up their roving habits and to have fixed places of Residence, these Indians divided themselves into parties or bands and followed their respective Chiefs. One party settled at Sarnia or the Upper Reserve. Another at the
Lower Reserve near Walpole Island, a third at the River aux Sables and a fourth at Kettle Point. Subsequently the
Band which settled at the Lower Reserve moved across the
River and established themselves at Walpole Island where they have since remained. Each of these last mentioned bands have about an equal quantity of land, that of the
Upper Reserve have about four times the quantity and therefore cannot in justice claim the proceeds of the sale of any one or more of these latter Reserves unless it is prepared to share the overplus of the Upper Reserve with the others.”
The lots on the Lower Reserve were sold between 1851 and 1857. Historian Rhonda M.
Telford has shown that the lots were sold at well below fair market value.
McDougall and Valentine agreed, noting that land speculation was rife with political corruption.
They noted, in particular, the role of local politician Malcolm Cameron in obtaining large tracts of land at very low prices.
After the Lower Reserve was taken away, the people of Walpole Island were limited to the delta islands for their exclusive use. While many people continued to harvest traditional resources in the territories that had been taken away by treaties, the building of fences and clearing of land prevented them from accessing these resources as they had in
DOCUMENT 1843/09/08: Order in Council, NAC, RG1, E8 [m/film H-1,770: 3,311, 3,312, 3,331,
3,334]. Copy in AO.
DOCUMENT 1843/10/11: Letter from Rawson to Jarvis, NAC, RG 10, vol. 148: 85,706-85,708
DOCUMENT 1843/10/18: Letter from Jarvis to Rawson, NAC, RG 10, vol. 507: 404-406 (microfilm reel C-13343). On 12 October 1876, David Laird explained that “the proceeds of sales of land in Moore have never been accounted for to the tribe, I may state that those lands were at a general Council of the
Sarnia & Walpole Band held in 1836, assigned to the latter Band.” (DOCUMENT 1876/10/12: Letter from
David Laird, Minister of the Interior, Ottawa, to S.S. Macdonell, Windsor, NAC, RG 10, vol. 1968, file
DOCUMENT 1993/11/20: Rhonda M. Telford, “Draft Historical Report on the Lower Reserve,” 20
November 1993, p. 88.
28 the past. McDougall and Valentine commented on this process of disenfranchisement:
“The politics of the settler world transformed the reserves from home bases from which one could move out to hunt to insecure islands in a settler sea. The source of land tenure changed from personal arrangements with the local First Nation to an instrument of colonial and settler policy. …
The reserve as a home base reinforced by external resources such as sugar bush and deer hunting grounds had been submerged by the magnitude, and inward -looking nature, of the new settler community.”
In the 20 th
century, provincial game and fish laws criminalized traditional resource harvesting outside of Walpole Island. Harsh penalties were exacted on those caught transgressing these new regulations. For example, in 1936, Ontario government game and fish wardens charged Lazarus and Johnston Peters from Walpole Island for trapping muskrats outside of the “Reserve.” They were found guilty and assessed $10 and costs or one week in jail.
Two weeks later, Lazarus and Johnston Peters were sentenced to one week in jail because they were unable to pay the fine imposed by the court. Another similar case was tried in 1941, and the results were the same. Joseph Ermatinger (also known as I-wauta-zee) and his brother Kin-aa-pud-deeze were found guilty of “trapping muskrats on the Canadian mainland without licenses.” They were each fined $10 and costs or 10 days in jail, and were warned by the Court “no time would be allowed for the payment of the fines and costs.” A newspaper account described the futile efforts of their father, former Chief Fred Ermatinger, to defend them in court. The newspaper article noted:
“…their aged father, Fred Ermatinger, an ex-chief of the
Chippewa tribe who also was granted the permission of the magistrate to assume the role of interpreter. The old Indian who announced himself as 'Auhshow,' arrived in court fully prepared to do battle with a well-prepared brief, which he was in hopes of using in an effort to convince the Court, as has been tried on many previous occasions, but to no avail, that under the terms of the British North American Act the
Indians still retain the privilege to hunt and fish wherever they wish without interference or license.”
Chief Aushow (Fred Ermatinger) was frustrated in his attempt to secure what he believed were the rights of his people to access resources in their traditional territory. As noted above, the treaties between Walpole Island First Nation and the Crown did not intend to alienate the people of Walpole Island from their traditional territory. Despite the promises and assurances of Crown agents who convinced Chiefs to put their totem marks on treaty papers, the people of Walpole Island were treated as criminals in their traditional hunting grounds.
Allan K. McDougall and Lisa Philips Valentine, “Treaty 29: Why Moore Became Less,” pp. 241-260, in:
Papers of the Thirty-Fourth Algonquian Conference, H.C. Wolfart, ed., Winnipeg: University of Manitoba
Press (pp. 257-258).
Wallaceburg Herald, February 27, 1936.
Wallaceburg Herald, April 4, 1941.
The Walpole Island Heritage Centre, under the leadership of Dr. Dean M. Jacobs, agreed to coordinate the TEK study. A planning meeting was held at Walpole Island on 16
November 2007. A team was assembled that comprised Heritage Centre staff, community members and outside consultants. Dr. Jacobs acted as senior advisor at the
Walpole Island Heritage Centre, and Clint Jacobs provided advice on aspects of the TEK project design. Burton Kewayosh and Lucille Kewayosh provided assistance during the planning stage. Leroy Altiman provided technical assistance with the video and audiotaping of the interviews, and Norma Altiman and Tammy Sands coordinated the locations of interviews within the Heritage Centre. Malina Altiman assisted in coordinating the feast at the conclusion of the project.
Two individuals from Walpole Island were selected to coordinate the interview process and act as facilitators. Calvert Wright and Eric Isaac were responsible for compiling a list of potential candidates for the interview process. They are both well respected in the community and possess a great depth of experience with people who have traditional knowledge. Calvert Wright has been active for many years as a hunter and fisherman, and knows many people who have engaged in those activities. Eric Isaac is also a hunter and fisherman, and is one of the most respected elders on Walpole Island. He knows many people through his extensive experience in the community through his employment with Public Works and as a volunteer for various community projects. Calvert and Eric compiled a list of about fifty (50) people for the TEK project, and contacted them to ascertain whether they would participate in the TEK study. Some people were unable to participate for health or other reasons. Calvert was mainly responsible for scheduling the interviews. In some cases he assisted by driving the interviewees to and from the
Heritage Centre. Eric also arranged interviews, especially in the cases where a substitute had to be found because of an unexpected cancellation.
Dr. Victor Lytwyn and Dr. Rhonda Telford acted as the principal investigators and analysts for the TEK project. Lytwyn and Telford have been involved with Walpole
Island First Nation for over a decade doing historical research and conducting interviews for other Traditional Knowledge and Oral History projects. Lytwyn and Telford also have extensive experience with other First Nations in Ontario in the fields of historical research and traditional knowledge studies. They prepared a draft questionnaire and mission statement for the TEK project. These drafts were reviewed by the team and shared with individuals from the consulting firm of Jacques-Whitford. Their comments and suggestions were incorporated into the final questionnaire and mission statement (see
Appendix 1 and Appendix 2).
Calvert Wright and Eric Isaac shared copies of the TEK mission statement with potential interview candidates. They also explained verbally the purpose of the project and invited
30 people to visit the Heritage Centre to learn more about it. They joined Victor Lytwyn and Rhonda Telford in making a presentation on the TEK project during the Christmas
Open House at the Heritage Centre on 6 December 2007.
In total, twenty-five (25) interviews were conducted at the Walpole Island Heritage
Centre from 3-11 December 2007. Each interview was video and audio-recorded with the consent of the interviewees. At the beginning of each interview an introductory statement was made by the interviewer (Dr. Lytwyn or Dr. Telford) outlining the purpose and intent of he TEK project (the mission statement). Each participant was informed that their personal information would be respected, and that the Walpole Island Heritage
Centre would be responsible for keeping the video and audio records as well as the transcripts of the interviews. In addition, each participant was told that they would receive a personal copy of their videos (DVD copy) and typed transcripts of their interviews. After receiving their verbal consent, the interview proceeded with questions as outlined in the questionnaire (Appendix 2). The questionnaire acted only as a guide during the interview process and certain questions were not always asked because they were deemed irrelevant or inappropriate. In all cases the interviewees were allowed to speak openly on subjects of their own choosing a well as those questions that were asked directly.
At each interview a large map (measuring 98 cm X 89 cm, and at a scale of 1:100,00) depicting the area from Lake Huron to Lake St. Clair was placed on a table for each participant (see Figure 2).
Coloured markers were available for the participants to mark areas or places on the map as the interview proceeded. The map information was digitized using a Geographic Information System (GIS) that was supplied by Jacques-
Whitford. Winnie Man of Jacques-Whitford was responsible for digitizing the map information with the assistance of Victor Lytwyn. Copies of the maps can be viewed at the Walpole Island Heritage Centre.
The base maps were prepared by Winnie Man for Jacques-Whitford and supplied to Walpole Island First
Nation by Candace Francis.
Figure 3: Walpole Island TEK Study Base Map
Twenty-five people from Walpole Island First Nation took part in the TEK study. Their names have been kept confidential in this report, and instead have been identified by a number. Figure 4 shows the participants by number, age and gender. The ages of the participants ranged from 31 to 89, and there were 17 male and 8 female participants.
Some of the older participants were considered to be “elders,” but the younger participants also possessed Traditional Ecological Knowledge through direct experience or by learning from other people in the community.
A total of more than 600 pages of transcripts were prepared from more than thirty hours of audio and video recordings.
The transcripts, audiotapes, digital video discs, and maps will be kept at the Walpole Island Heritage Centre.
On 27 February 2008 a feast was held at the Wallaceburg Oaks Inn to celebrate the completion of the TEK study. Nineteen of the participants, along with family, friends and staff of the Walpole Island Heritage Centre joined in the celebration. Dr. Lytwyn presented the findings of the study and gave each participant a copy of their transcript and digital video recording. This was followed by a general discussion of the TEK project, and the participants voiced their feelings about the project and its findings.
The study of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) is a fairly recent development for non-Aboriginal scholars. Not too long ago, however, most scholars routinely dismissed this body of knowledge. These dismissals were based on the lack of confidence in the oral traditions of Aboriginal people. For example, Bruce G.
Trigger, a renowned Canadian anthropologist, argued against the intrinsic value of
Aboriginal traditional knowledge. He concluded, “it is of interest when oral traditions confirm other sources of information about the past, but, except when they do, they should not be used even to supplement such sources.”
Alexander von Gernet; also an anthropologist and a student of Trigger provided a similar view about the validity or usefulness of Aboriginal traditional knowledge. Von Gernet commented “many oral traditions do not remain consistent over time and are either inadvertently or deliberately changed to meet new needs.”
The standard of proof or validity that measure western scientific findings do not easily apply to traditional knowledge, and this has led many non-Aboriginal people to doubt the value of TEK. A major constraint on the study and use of TEK has been the reluctance of the western scientific community to appreciate that TEK represents a different way of knowing. As Paul Nadasdy has commented, “The widespread recognition that something called ‘traditional ecological knowledge’ even
Transcripts were prepared by Laurie Leclair.
Bruce G. Trigger,
The Children ofAataentsic: A history of the Huron People to 1660.
Montreal and Kingston: McGill-
Queen's University Press, 1976 (vol. 1): 20.
Alexander von Gernet, "Oral Narratives and Aboriginal Pasts: An Interdisciplinary Review of the Literature on Oral Traditions and
Oral Histories," unpublished report submitted to the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Research and Analysis
Directorate, Ottawa, part 2: 20. Jarvis Brownlie characterized Von Gernet’s report as excluding Aboriginal ways of knowing. She wrote: “Von Gernet produced a report that falsifies, oversimplifies, and omits important cultural and historical context in order to discredit Aboriginal oral traditions. He then embarked on a lucrative career as an expert witness for the federal government who has frequently succeeded in defeating oral history advanced by Aboriginal groups as evidence in court.” (Jarvis Brownlie: “Abstraction,
Decontextualization, Westernization, Generalization: Alexander von Gernet’s Dismissal of Aboriginal Oral
History,” abstract of paper presented at Canadian Indigenous and Native Studies Association Conference,
Saskatoon, May 2007.
34 exists represents, in itself, an important first step toward the full participation of aboriginal communities in the management of land and resources.”
There are many definitions of TEK in the published literature. This has led to some confusion about what TEK is and how it may be applied. Deborah MccGregor explained,
“The term originates from western academia, rather than from Aboriginal communities themselves. Many Aboriginal people object to the use of the term TEK to describe their knowledge systems. This is because the term TEK as it is used tends to connote a false homogeneity of knowledge across the diverse nations and cultures of Aboriginal people.
As well, the term “traditional” implies that the knowledge is static and confined to information gained in the past. In reality, this form of knowledge is continually evolving and expanding to incorporate new information as part of adapting and responding to current challenges.”
According to Douglas Nakashima, TEK is simply, “the knowledge of Native people about their natural environment.”
Karen Roberts explained, “Capturing a single aspect of traditional knowledge is difficult. Traditional knowledge is holistic and cannot be separated out from the people. It cannot be compartmentalized like western scientific knowledge.”
The literature relating to TEK has expanded rapidly over the past few decades. Today there are many people in academia and other professional field who study and write about
TEK. There are many others who collect TEK in Aboriginal communities for a wide variety of purposes. In 2000, Dean Jacobs and Victor Lytwyn observed: “Aboriginal people have traditionally acquired knowledge orally, through verbal lessons communicated by skilled teachers. That knowledge was passed from one generation to the next, and preserved in oral tradition. Written communication has been a relatively recent development in many Aboriginal communities, and much traditional knowledge is still passed along verbally. Elders figure prominently as keepers of traditional knowledge and they are responsible for passing on their knowledge that comes from countless generations of oral teaching.”
This is the view that has been adopted in this report.
Paul Nadasdy, "The Politics of TEK: Power and the 'Integration' of Knowledge," Arctic
(1999) vol. 36 (1-2): 1-2.
Deborah McGregor, “Linking Traditional Ecological Knowledge and SOLEC,” Preliminary Report submitted to Environment Canada and Chiefs of Ontario, September 2000 (copy in Walpole Island
Douglas Nakashima, “Astute Observers on the Sea Ice Edge: Inuit Knowledge as a Basis for Arctic Co-
Management,” in: J. Inglis, ed., Traditional Ecological Knowledge: Concepts and Cases. Ottawa:
International Program on Traditional Ecological Knowledge and International Development Research
Centre, p. 99.
Circumpolar Aboriginal People and Co-Management Practice: Current Issues in Co-
Management and Environmental Asessment, Inuvik, Northwest Territories, November 20-24, 1995,”
Calgary: University of Calgary (1996), p. 115.
Dean M. Jacobs and Victor P. Lytwyn, “Traditional Ecological Knowledge: Philosophy, Methodology and Practical Application,” presentation to the State of the Lakes Eco-System Conference 2000, Hamilton,
19 October 2000 (copy in Walpole Island Heritage Centre).
In the past there have been a number of TEK studies conducted on Walpole Island.
These have included studies related to the Aboriginal Title claim of Walpole Island First
Nation against Canada and Ontario, and various Specific Claims that have been submitted to the government of Canada. There have also been TEK studies in relation to environmental issues on Walpole Island. These include TEK studies relating to species at risk and invasive plant species.
In 2000, Victor P. Lytwyn conducted a TEK study on Walpole Island in association with the Canadian Millenium Pipeline Project Environmental Impact Assessment.
That study was undertaken to determine the nature and extent of the current use of traditional resources by Walpole Island First Nation people within the area of a proposed gas pipeline. The study area included the Local Study area of this TEK study and an additional area stretching south and east to Lake Erie. The participants in that TEK study contributed information on hunting, trapping, fishing and plant harvesting.
Figure 4 shows a map of the composite results of the TEK pipeline study.
Walpole Island Heritage Centre files.
Victor P. Lytwyn, “Walpole Island First Nation Traditional Ecological Knowledge: Canadian
Millennium Pipeline Project Impact Assessment, Final Report,” 3 August 2000 (copy in Walpole Island
An effort was made to obtain information about spiritual sites, but the participants either did not know of them or were reluctant to divulge information about the specific location of such sites.
Figure 4: Walpole Island TEK Pipeline Study Map
The Walpole Island TEK pipeline study provided information that is relevant to this study. TEK information was collected that applied to the Local Study Area for this project. Fishing in the St. Clair River was conducted by a number of participants. Deer hunting was practiced by some participants in the area known as the Bickford Woods and adjacent areas, and within the area surrounding Aamjiwnaang (Sarnia). Finally, some participants in the TEK pipeline study provided information on harvesting medicinal plants along highway 40 and other places within the Local Study Area. The TEK pipeline study serves as a template for this study.
The following summary is based on an analysis of the 25 interview transcripts and map biographies. The TEK information was grouped into a number of themes for the purpose of analysis. These themes consisted of the following: fishing, deer hunting, small game and bird hunting, waterfowl hunting, plant harvesting and spiritual sites. Most of the participants spoke at length about TEK on Walpole Island. A smaller number provided information specific to the Local Study Area. This pattern was also observed in the TEK
37 pipeline study. In that report, I observed: “most of the people interviewed engage in harvesting traditional resources within the relatively small area in and around the delta islands of Lake St. Clair.”
This section examines the TEK information in two areas:
Walpole Island (delta islands in Lake St. Clair) and the Local Study area. Each section is sub-divided into the themes listed above. The final part of this report will summarize the
TEK information relating to changes to traditional resources and resource harvesting activities.
Most participants have engaged in fishing activities. Some have been involved in commercial fishing and some just enjoy sport fishing. Nearly all participants consume fish that is either caught or given to them by other community members. The geographic focus of fishing activity is the Walpole Island area (see Figure 5). The numerous channels and other water bodies in and around Walpole Island have been productive fishing grounds for many generations and satisfy most of the fishing needs of the community. Part one summarizes the fishing activity in the Walpole Island Area. Some of the participants discussed fishing in and around the Local Study Area, and that information will be summarized in part two of the fishing section. A number of participants also talked about fishing in the area around Kettle Point in Lake Huron and
Moraviantown along the Thames River.
The species of fish mentioned by the participants included pickerel (also known as walleye), perch, sunfish, bass, white bass, silver bass, pike, catfish, carp, ling, smelt and sturgeon.
Victor P. Lytwyn, “Walpole Island First Nation Traditional Ecological Knowledge: Canadian
Millennium Pipeline Project Impact Assessment, Final Report,” 3 August 2000 (copy in Walpole Island
Heritage Centre), p. 18.
Figure 5: Fishing
Participant 1 said that he does a lot of fly fishing , “anywhere that's blue.”. He mainly fishes on the Canadian side, explaining: “Just the Canadian side just because on the
American side there’s a steel seawall and there’s no shallow shoals and little pockets and stuff. There’s not much habitat. Johnston Bay, Dynamite Cut, …fly and ice fishing.
Mitchell’s Bay, same, fly and ice fishing. He fishes for food and tries to stay under the daily pollution quotas, the rest he gives away. He also talked about fish spawning areas:
“Johnston Bay, perch. Dynamite Cut, Goose Lake here, perch, blue gill. Johnston Bay is also, small mouth bass spawn there. This whole shore here is all…I want to say most…and this area here, is where probably 90% of the small mouth bass spawn in Lake
St. Clair. In the Springtime the shallows, it just looks like moon craters. It’s incredible.
Perch as well. There’s an area, should be right here at this…. They got it called Walpole
Bay but its….Horseshoe Bay. Same, small mouth… …bass and then there a little pocket bay and I’ve caught them there so….blue gill. Small mouth bass spawn between 52 and
55 degrees water temperature. Perch like it quite a bit colder. Blue gill like it about 72 degrees.”
Participant 1 said that his grandmother used to sell her fish on the American side. He said: "Detroit. [laughs] Said she used to sell her fish in Detroit. They would catch a ride with the freighters that use to drop lines down and tow them to Detroit. Sort of hitch-hike by waterway. There and back.”
Participant 2 said: “So mainly for me fishing, I don’t too much out of the area, so I just go here and I’ll drift down here maybe. Just fish in there. Or else I’ll go down to the lake over here and fish in there. I used to work here on the Seaway Island when they were dredging this canal out. Trying to do it every couple of years. I worked for the government and I went fishing in there while I was working at the same time. Probably not supposed to do that but I did. There was a couple of spots in here where I can get bass, pickerel. Usually around the lighthouses. They seem to like the little….where the water turns around. The water slows down or something, they’ll get in that spot and they’ll hide behind the lighthouse and wait for something to come. [inaudible] good fishing in those area. Old time fishing, people just went out and down the Chemmy, down in the channels there. Set up ice fishing huts. A lot of their fishing was done with just fish lines and spears. Although there were some commercial fishing putting nets out.
I think they used seine nets at first. In the now times a lot of people use gill-nets. I don’t really care that much about gill-nets because it takes everything, not just the kind of fish you want. They tell me that a lot of people went up north into the lake.”
Participant 3 said that she has fished since she was a little girl. She doesn't do a lot of fishing now, as she is getting old. But, if someone comes and gets her, she will go. She knows where all the spawning beds are and where to go to get what type of fish.
Participant 4 said that his father was a commercial fisherman; also his uncle. He fished over the whole lake, as had his grandfather. They used seine nets. He spoke about
40 catching mixed fish with his grandfather and father. He said: “Like what they ate, bluegills, perch, bass, pike, bull-heads. And we’d sell it around the Island. Drive around…my dad…Model A…Drive around and sell it. Took it all over. A lot of people would buy it for a dime. A dime, a quarter or something like that. Seems to me there was quite a bit of money then. I was raised around fish.”
Participant 4’ s father used to catch sturgeon in Basset Channel with hooks. He gave the following description: “Yeah, big hooks on them, about that big. Razor sharp. Used to sit there at night and hone them. You could go like that and it would stick you in the hand. Put them about that far apart [demonstrates] and the string on it about this long to a heavier line. They’d put them on the sticks but you weren’t allowed to do that either.
The game wardens were always watching us for bass and watching us, anyway. They’d put that line and they’d guess….they’d be close to the bottom. They didn’t want it right on the bottom. They wanted it say [demonstrates] this far off the bottom. Because when uh…the sturgeon, when he’s feeding, he’s like this. He’s got his head down like this and he stands up like that [demonstrates] and he’d brush against those hooks and they’d catch him all around back in here. The got a real rough skin like a ….And that hook would hit it and get in you know, and that’s how they’d catch him. They’d have a lot of lines across the Bassett. Not a big channel. What is it about a 100, 200 feet wide. From the channel bank to the channel bank would you say? ...They’d have those big sticks pounded down there so nobody’d see it. With the rings on there. And just before Bassett
Channel in the centre there, they had a cement block there and a cement block there and it would kind of hold it. And pull it and then you’d have to keep them off the ground.
They’d catch them that way. Ate a lot of that too.” Some of the sturgeon and caviar were sold at the Oak Club in Idlehour, and some were consumed by movie stars.
Participant 4 also talked about shooting sturgeon. He said: “Sometimes we’d used to shoot them with a rifle. Back in the bay around Horseshoe Bay. [discussion over map].
Some of them would go along the shallow end here just feeding. But you don’t see them do that no more. Shoot them with a 22 because they’d come up near the surface of the water and like this [sound effect] they’d dive down. They can’t swim fast. They just go like that. [makes motion with hand] They’re easy to keep up with in a boat. They don’t go like this [demonstrates] they go in a straight line like that. You can follow them easily in a boat and a guy with a 22 up in front. Dow dow dow [sound effect]. Because he comes up like this and go down again.”
Participant 4 talked about commercial fishing for carp. He said: “When I first started, it took 3 or 4 days to get here. We kept the carp alive. They wanted them alive. We used to tow them by boat riverway, took a long time [inaudible] walking speed or slower. 7 or
8 fish cars. They load them on these trucks. They were, I think they were Fargo.”
Participant 5 said that he started fishing when he was about four or five years old. He fished in all the little creeks that used to run through Walpole Island. He fished with a string and stick. His catches were shared with others.
Participant 6 said that he fished from Dynamite Cut, all along the lakeside through Bass
Participant 8 said that her father fished on the Snye River. There was a dock, so he'd sit there and fish. He also fished through the ice with spears.
Participant 9 said that he worked for a commercial fisherman. This ruined his interest in sports fishing. He fished all around the island, “All around Grassy, around Grassy and
Middle Channel.” He also did ice fishing in Goose Lake. He fished commercially under the ice, and nets were threaded under the ice and pulled under the water.
Participant 10 said that his brothers fished using: “A little lure and then speared the fish.”
They fished from about Mitchell's Bay over to Seaway Island.
Participant 12 talked about fishing techniques. He explained: “We trip down, we’d go up the River a little bit, and we’d trip down and we’d chug down. When they say chugging, it’s bouncing a little sinker on the bottom of the river. Just bouncing along as we drifted down, because we got about a 6 mile an hour current up here. So we drifted down. Got a few fish. We get 3, 4, 5 in many good spots. We move up again and drifted down again until we had enough fish. That’s the time of fishing we done. We done a little bit of jacklighting. Same area. Out Highbanks here. Jacklighting at night. Again the fish were plentiful. You’d go out and get a [washed-up pole] again we’d give them all to the neighbours. Next morning, give em all…pass them on to the neighbourhood.”
Participant 13 said that she used to fish on the island, right in front of her house. She also fished in the marshy areas and the channels. She sometimes fished with a dip net.
Participant 14 said that he does a lot of fishing, especially down around Bassett Island and in Goose Lake. He fishes all through Johnson's Bay, and goes out about two or three miles, “As far as what we call the Boundary.” He added: “But: Where they’re claiming boundary that part was right there but you can fish all of it. Lake St. Clair, we own all of
Lake St. Clair, so put that line in there for somebody else to go by. And all the way over and around the other side of Seaway Island.” He said that he also does a lot of ice fishing in Goose Lake and the Middle Grounds, up to Grassy Island and around Martin and
Whitney Islands. He has also been a fishing guide during the summer, and has been doing this with a partner for 44 years.
Participant 15 started fishing when he was around five years old. He fished in all the channels. His techniques included spear fishing; ice fishing and hooks and line. He never nets.
Participant 15 said that pike were caught in the spring, “when the ditches were open and water was high in this area we’d spear for pike in the north part of Walpole, right in this area as well. That was the handiest area for that. Just walk across that swale where the
Chief’s Road crosses at the [inaudible] there and we’d just stand on the bridge and spear pike there.” Participant 2 noted that the Chematogan was full of fish. He said: “At them
42 times we could go down there and build a little tepee out there on the ice and dig for pike over there and catch them.” Participant 25 said he would spear pike in the spring, in the swales east of the Chematogan. He would spear pike with his dad in a swale at night with jacklights. Participant 5 said he used to get pike from the ditches with roll-nets
[gives description]. Pike were also speared in the springtime. He would also use a jacklight to spear pike under the ice at the head of St Anne's Island across from Tashmoo
Participant 15 said that he had seen sturgeon caught around Bassett Island. The fishermen would put hooks out on a setline. They would eat sturgeon steaks; some would be sold and some stored to share with others. Sturgeon eggs were fried, as was the roe of other fish.
Participant 16 said that she lives along the Snye River and has always done a bit of fishing. Fish is eaten at home. Others give them fish, which they also eat.
Participant 17 said that his father was a commercial fisherman, and he started helping him when he was about 12. He has held his own commercial fishing license since he was
18. He fished mainly in the southern part of the Reserve, and explained: “we’re talking the southern boundary and actually to the present I’m 5 ½ miles out towards Detroit, presently.”
Participant 19 said: “We’d be fishing here. Out on the point. My brother’s also used to do jack-lighting. And they still continue to do it to this day. So they are fishing along the shore line. Where are we at? [looking at map] I fished down this way. Where’s the Club
House on this thing? [discussion over map] Where’s my uncle [personal name] Club
House? So all along in this river. It was a fishing area so I know there’s different places along here that we used to fish. I’d go out in a boat with my brother’s and we’d fish down here. Where’s Black Shack again? We’d be fishing all along the lakeshore.
There’d be area in here. Bass Bay. All these areas along the lakeshore. And this was just with rod and reel. Fishing in these areas. Those are all fishing type things.”
Participant 20 said she fished around the island, at Highbanks and Winston's Point. She did not fish as a child, but when she was older. Fish was eaten and shared.
Participant 22 spoke in general about selling fish for income, and the rocky relationship between people from Walpole and the game wardens. He said: “Well I’ve pretty much sold everything that people demand, eh. The warden wanted to arrest me, says he
“wanted to put me in jail before I die.” I told him, “I’m going to spit on your grave if you talk to me like that.” He passed away but I didn’t go spit on his grave. [laughter ] but he couldn’t touch me because the MNR, the Natural Resources over here, they told me that as long as I did not deliver that fish, the game warden couldn’t touch me. People could come in and pick it up and take it home with them and they won’t bother. That’s what the MNR told me and I stuck with them. That stuck in my head. He never did catch us.
We weren’t getting them illegally. We were fishing for them for livelihood.”
Participant 23 said that he started fishing around the island from about seven years of age, especially in area from Ferry Lane around to Chiefs Road. He also fished with an uncle who lived across from the Highbanks on the Ontario side of the Chenail Ecarté before it was built up. He fished for pleasure and home consumption, shared the catch with others, but did not sell it.
Participant 23 said he remembers that people used to go fishing [at night] for smelts on the Big Beach [near Tecumseh monument], which used to extend out a couple of hundred feet, and on part of Willow Beach, “where the brick wall ends, north of the ferry landing.” Big fires were built and dragnets were used. He said: “I think the one family that I knew that done it every year were the Jacobs family. That was Rufus Jacobs. I don’t know if they were his sons or his brothers.” Participant 12 said that there used to be smelt fishing off of Myrtle Beach on the island. But, he said, “there are no smelt around anymore.” Participant 14 said that when he was younger, he used to fish for smelt off Willow Beach on the island. Now he gets smelt in Lake Erie at Erieau.
Participant 24 said that he confined his fishing on the Canadian side. He said that he thought that he would get into trouble on the American side, or that his catch could be confiscated. He explained: “I’ve heard of other people being run out of there. [inaudible] being chased out by the Border Patrol and the Coast Guard. Those that were patrolling the area, usually run them out.”
Participant 25 said that he fished as a kid in the dredge cuts. He noted: “You could get pike, sunfish, little perch …nothing really big enough to eat, but as a kid, it got you interested in fishing.” Later, he would drive to Dynamite Cut and fish off the shore there, or where ever it came out in Bass Bay.. In the swale area he frequented, he also caught bull fin and dogfish. He fished all around the island. Fish were eaten at home. It was not sold or traded.
Participant 3 said that she has fished all the way up the St. Clair River to Kettle Point,
Saugeen and Cape Croker. She has also fished for trout (salmon/lake trout] near the generating station. She has also fished for sturgeon in the St Clair River by the old ferry dock in Lambton; also at Mooretown.
Participant 4 fished for pickerel with his father and grandfather along the St Clair River up by Robert's Landing and Port Lambton. Generally, they did not fish further north than this because it was unnecessary. He said: “Didn’t need that. Got enough right there. Had to travel and gas would have cost [inaudible] I imagine.”
Participant 5 said that he had fished in the St. Clair River, up to Port Lambton. He has also fished in all the channels before they blocked them off up in the Sydenham. He has fished on the Thames River by Moraniantown. Ice fishing at the mouth of the Thames.
He has also fished up by Port Lambton. He didn't fish on the American side because he thought he'd be harassed. Fished in Lake Huron, by Kettle Point with his brothers-in-law.
Participant 6 said that he fished in the St. Clair River up to about Port Lambton. They had a rowboat and oars so that was as far as they went. In Lake St Clair, they fished out to the “imaginary boundary line.” They fished at night with jacklights all along the lakeshore, or in the canals. During the day they would fish with lines.
Participant 10 said that he did not fish in the rivers in the Local Study Area because, “we got enough fish locally, so we didn't go anywhere else.” However, he said that his brothers fished in the St Clair River from Port Lambton south. He also noted that people fished for sturgeon on both sides of the St. Clair River up to the Port Lambton area, with heavy lines and seines.
Participant 14 said he fishes in the St Clair River. He explained: “I’ve never fished up in the mainland portion of it. I fished down stream around Fawn Island. Stag Island up in through there. …Rod and reel and then we used jack light all along the St. Clair River and the Snye.” He fishes for pickerel up around Stag Island, and down the St. Clair River to Walpole Island.
Participant 22 said that he fished in the St Clair River from Walpole up to Lake Huron.
He noted that fish was also used for medicinal purposes. He explained: “Yeah, the fish, the deer. This medicine, it’s for bringing life to the head and the legs. There’s the deer liver. We used the fish liver too for our ceremonies. To help you if you are sick to come back to life.” He has also fished for pickerel and other species in the St. Clair River, north of the Blue Water Bridge
Participant 23 said that he fished around Port Lambton. He explained: “That'd be up the old Coast guard land. Used to be a ferry landing at one time. … Yeah, in that area. And all around and back in here. I don’t know the…I had a friend who lived on White Bread
Road and he knew all the creeks and probably all this area in here. So we were fishing…it’s in the spring for, I forget what fish we were going after.” He noted that he had been up both sides (ie: American and Canadian) of the St Clair River in the area north of Walpole to Sarnia. Participant 23 said that he has fished for crappie in the creeks back behind Port Lambton area.
Participant 4 used to fish for pickerel in the channel at Russell's Island on the American side with his grandfather and father.
Participant 10 said that his brothers fished on the American side. They fished there until the game wardens came and chased them out. He noted: “we felt that river was ours.”
Participant 11 said that before Seaway Island went in, he used to fish around Harsen's
Island in Musquamote Bay. He noted that where Seaway Island is, it was originally all marshland.
Participant 15 said there had been a change in access to American territory. He said:
“Dickson’s and Harsen’s Island. Now the story was, one of them was from [personal name]. He used to go across here regularly to sell wood in the winter. And at that time the water, the river, would freeze and you could drive a horse and buggy or horse and wagon across. Used to do that as a normal part of his activity annually. And at one time they stopped him and said ‘where are you going with the wood?’ and things like that and tried to exact from him ‘where’d you get the wood at? What are you doing in our territory ?’ . He’d say, ‘I never left my territory.’ And he was referring to Harsen’s and
Dickson’s Island. Gathering wood here and selling it over here for a source of income.”
Participant 17 said that he fishes commercially within 5 1/2 miles of Detroit. He does not fish in the Detroit River, but noted: “I’ve…been off the United States waters of Seaway
Island because it’s kind of a screwball border line, it comes on an angle and that’s where we think we’re okay, and we know that three years ago some of our people were charged with running gill nets in United States waters.”
Participant 14 said that he does not fish on the American side. He explained: “they harass you something terrible over there.”
Participant 18 said that he fished on the American side for pickerel, in the area “from
Grand Point Cut right down to San Souci. There was a couple of channels.” He said that he did not get hassled by the game wardens for this, and noted that fish was for home consumption.
Participant 21 said that she stopped fishing on American side, “because the DNR or
MNR or whatever … they stopped all native people from hunting on that side.”
Participant 22 complained about American game wardens. He said: “I first ran into them in the early 40s. … I had to give the license to cross the river there one day. 'You don't need a license; you're native.' He was the only American game warden that ever told me that. The other guys always wanted me to get a license. I told them, 'I don't need a license,' I said: 'I'm a North American Indian.’ With us we have new breed of Game warden. We have to abide by the regulations. We have to go with the old time regulations. I never did get a license.”
Participant 25 said that he fished on the American side on the north channel, Algonac and
Harsen's Island, “mostly jacklighting.”
Deer hunting was less common than fishing in the Walpole Island area. About half of the participants said that they had hunted deer on Walpole Island. Most of the participants who hunted deer in the Local Study Area referred to an area called the Bickford Woods or 1800 Block. Figure 6 shows the composite map of deer hunting from the TEK study.
Figure 6: Deer Hunting
Participant 6 said that he hunted deer in the “Public Bush,” and noted it as a place “where every one used to hunt.” The meat was eaten and the skins were given to an old man.
Sometimes he hunted at night with jacklights.
Participant 10 said: “Meat was for home consumption and for sale; also shared with others. Not sure if the hides were sold, but if someone wanted them, they could have them.”
Some sold deer skins to tanneries off the Island. Participant 11 said that a few people tanned their own skins, but not many. Participant 3 had used liver of deer for medicine.
Participant 14 had hunted deer all over Walpole Island, and noted that whatever meat could not be consumed was given away to elders or others who could not hunt.
Participant 15 explained that he hunted “Generally on Walpole and on Ste. Anne’s.
Squirrel Island …Seaway, and that mostly would be in the early morning or in the evening when the deer were moving or sometimes jack lighting at night for deer.”
Participant 11 said that he “Hunted deer on the Reserve wherever they were available.”
Participant 2 observed: “They have certain trails that they come across. ... so we can tell when they’ve come across. They don’t often stay on Walpole because we are pretty much hunting all the time here. So they just kind of travel through. Once in awhile, you’ll see them, or you’ll see that they’ve come across on certain spots. When you know they’ve come across, you know where to hunt them.” He did not know anyone who hunted off the Island. Deer skins were sold to buyers who would tan it; a few people on the Reserve did their own tanning, but not many. Meat was eaten. Participant 11 said his group would not hunt deer on the American side. They would wait until the deer came onto Seaway Island and get them there.
Participant 16 had not hunted deer herself, but her family was given deer meat by other hunters on the island.
Participant 17 noted that his uncles were big deer hunters. They would go out after the first snow in the fall into the bush. They hunted deer all the time, and gave away the meat to whoever needed it. He had himself hunted deer all over the island, and explained that because they found enough deer on the island for their own purposes, they did not hunt “off-Reserve” unless they were following a deer and it left the island.
Participant 21 said that deer meat was eaten and the hides were sent to a tannery in the vicinity of Forest, Ontario.
Participant 4 hunted deer on different farms on the mainland with permission. He hunted with the “Moravian Indians …we used to hunt around Wardsville, here and all along the
Thames up to Moriavian Town. … There were different farms along in here, but we did it…we snuck around there…and when we’d get kicked out….it was easier there ‘cause they kinda knew what was going on…the game wardens so they didn’t really bother you.” He hunted on both sides of the Thames River.
Participant 14 said that he had been invited to hunt deer Moravian Town and Rondeau.
His father hunted a lot around Tobermory and: “He’d even been down to Pennsylvania and down through there, turkey hunting and deer hunting. In Ohio deer hunting. ... He’d go with friends, or customers that he had during the duck season. They would invite him down and he’d go down and hunt with them. But I used to go up to Tobermory with him for the deer season, which opened around the 6th of November on my anniversary and that kind of stopped after a while. [laughter]. His father also hunted moose up around
Red Lake area: “And again, all he needed up there was his band card. As long as you was a North American Indian you could hunt anywhere you want to hunt.” He had permission from the Chief to do this: “Yeah. He knew them very well. He’d go up and visit them even during the summers so. He’d always have that permission. As a matter of fact the deer season right now, they’re going to have that cull. I think it’s on the 10th to the 14th at Rondeau, but this Saturday coming, they’re having a hunt over in Moravian
Town and we’re invited to go to that reserve to hunt. ... So you don’t need a license to hunt over there. All you need is your band card. As long as you are a North American you can go where…as long as you are invited into that reserve to hunt and I believe
Sarnia is the only reserve that requires you to have a license…another Indian to have a license to hunt.”
Participant 17 said that people from Walpole jacklight for deer now in Bothwell and
Ipperwash. They go down the back roads to avoid enforcement. They go to winter yarding areas. For a number of years his son would go to Bothwell and go out with
Moraviantown people and they’d hunt a lot in Bothwell area. “But they would take my truck and they’d said, ‘Well, we got stopped by the MNR guy today.’ I says, ‘You got stopped? Did they know what you were doing?’ They said, ‘Yeah, they were just telling us where the deer was and they didn’t have any problem with it.’ That was ten years ago at least and up to five years ago. That shed a new light in terms of acceptance of our rights.”
Participant 2 said that he hunted deer on Harsen's Island until they were stopped by game wardens. He explained: “Harsen’s Island and hunted around in there ‘til they got run out because they have different rules for hunting. You can’t hunt. You can’t hunt by tipping over the houses and cracks and certain runways. You’ve got to be so far away from different kind of hunting. Probably some of the reason our early ancestors tried to
50 include in the treaty that we could hunt any place on the land as a part of the thing that they…being wandering people…and I don’t mean homeless, because any place stopped we were home, right then and there. Being wandering people, rather than wait for our deer to come to us, if our deer had moved north us, we moved north too. We located ourselves wherever these deer went. We knew our herd or whatever herds went
[inaudible]. Deer were smart too. They know enough that when they eat out this area, they move to another area where food’s good. People go that way too. They follow them along. This was like farming, only thing is instead of closing our herd in a corral and bringing food to it, we let them go there and they go and get their own food and we just go and harvest the deer. It’s different now being... Stuck in the one spot from being a wandering people. We could go all over the place. Wherever. Whatever, you know.”
Participant 10 said that his brothers would go onto American side [Harsen's Island] and chase deer over onto Walpole side onto Seaway Island.
Participant 17 said: “I’ve got to point out also that I’ve known people going into
Michigan and coming back on the Customs with a deer on their vehicle. The Customs would simply smile and wave them through. That was great. I thought that was, you know, without having to be burdened down with hunting laws or what have you, that they were able to go out and find a deer in Michigan.”
Participant 17 also talked about hunting along the Thames River. He said: “For a number of years my son would in recent years go to Bothwell and go out with Moraviantown people and they’d hunt a lot in Bothwell area. But they would take my truck and they’d said, “Well, we got stopped by the MNR guy today.” I says, 'You got stopped? Did they know what you were doing?' They said, 'Yeah, they were just telling us where the deer was and they didn’t have any problem with it.' That was ten years ago at least and up to five years ago. That shed a new light in terms of acceptance of our rights.”
Participant 1 said that he hunts deer in the Bickford Woods. He explained, “The area’s typically known as either Bickford Oaks or some people call it the 1800 Block bush. … I believe it is limited to this…by Oil Springs Line, Tecumseh Road, Bickford Line and
Highway 40. As far as what area is Crown Land, I’m not sure because there is some farm fields along the edges. And I don’t know the actual boundaries, where it starts and stops.” He explained how he first started hunting in the Bickford Woods: “Just shown it from other hunters here. Just was brought there and you know, said, ‘this is where we can go. This is where we can’t go,’ that sort of thing. Just always been told where the animals generally cross and where they don’t. Better spots than others. There’s another spot along Baseline Road ...And then there’s another spot…Kimball and Wilkesport.
Very small area right here [draws on map].” He also hunted deer on the edge of the
Sarnia Reserve. He also hunts rabbits in the 1800 Block, explaining: “Same area for rabbits, that sort of thing. Actually we hunt rabbits through farmer’s permission all through out here. A friend who lives off reserve has permission from farmers and we go
51 up and hunt rabbits. I couldn’t tell you exactly where the farms are. …But, they are in the area from Walpole going north”. Rabbits are also hunted on the edge of the Sarnia
Participant 3 said that her sons hunt deer on the Sarnia Reserve. She explained: “They put the food on my table.” She has also hunted on the “Pinery Reserve” and the area around Enniskillen.
Participant 3 said that her sons hunt deer in the “Conservation area” (Bickford Woods].
She explained: “Yeah, they walk between the Highway 40 and to the bush back and forth and up this way.” They have been hunting there for five years, and she added, “I don’t know what they’re going to do when this thing [refinery] comes in there. Going to be in the way.”
Participant 4 said that he used to hunt deer on the mainland north of Walpole. He explained, “We used to go out sneak around out there and shoot a few.” He identified the following road names from the map: Kimball Road, Pretty Road, Tecumseh Road, Indian
Creek Road No. 15, and said, “I used to go all around there hunting in there. ... Lambton
Line, I used to go around there ... and I don't see those little gravel roads in there ... We used to go all the way up to [Back of Sombra]. The facilitator said: “I know a lot of people talk about the back of Sombra area, there are lot of deer back in there.”
Participant 4 agreed, and added: “Yeah, open fields, there are a lot of open fields and there wasn’t many houses nearby. They used to shoot from the road and then go pick them up. ... There was another spot I used to go up around Plank Road, where there’s a herding ground up there’s where I used to go. The farmer used to own that wheat field.
Wheat in there. And I used to hunt in there and he told me I could go hunting the herd in that area in the winter. And I used to go there and shoot and couple of deer and out.” He noted that Plank Road was: “a herding ground for the deer in the winter. They herded up, you know when they…you just kind of tip toe through and left off one or two shots and get a couple of them they’re scattered all over.” He said that he would also hunt deer off of Moore Line, Old Gravel Road and South Plank Road. He explained: “Yeah, we hunted over there. Deer herd up in there for the winter and the guy who owned the bush let me go in there. So if I wanted to shoot a couple, they’d be all over the place.” He added, “I’d been hunting around the 1800 block too for about 20 years, but I was hunting with permission there.” He hunted there with a special card. He used to hunt here with policemen friends from Wallaceburg. He described the 1800 Block: “It’s quite an area in there. It’s considered a high value piece of property on account of its rare flowers and everything that’s in there. But now it’s sold to different people…I think three different organizations own it, some foundations, like? They opened it up to everybody now.
…Real thick with oak trees, oak…lot of oak trees, mostly oak and ash. That’s all was in there, a lot of brush in there that’s good for deer cover.” He said that he went hunting there for the first time about 20 years ago. He had been invited by the landlord. The card was fine for the MNR; they would see it and let him continue. He said that many people from Walpole used to hunt in the 1800 Block: “But then the word was getting around that there was too many people in there so they cut back the amount of people they allowed to go in there owner.” He still hunts in the 1800 Block: “I usually get deer there and then I
52 fill up my freezer.” He also hunted deer around Port Lambton Line: “Yeah, a lot of times we’d do it at night…or we’d go out in the evening just getting dark where you could see out in the field and they’d come out those deer and you’d use a rifle you could reach them a long ways across the field and shoot them. If there was cars coming we’d just leave them laying and go back in there and get them after.” He had concerns about being confined to a smaller and smaller territory: “Well, I kind of worry about that big plant coming in there…kinda take up a big area of hunting ground in there where I hunt, right here…And every time you open up big places like that it’s getting closer to here. It’s getting too close, you know.” He noted that the bush in the 1800 Block is an important yarding area for deer: “Well that’s the main bush for every deer in this area. They run in that bush.” Talking in general about the industrial build-up along the river, he noted:
“They are taking up a lot of hunting ground especially in that area right there.
[Industrial] Plants need growth here and there, take up more. And another thing I didn’t like with plants was that the water used to freeze solid all the way across. You could skate across it like an arena. They used to have ice in here, all the way across. Not a jagged and busted up ice like you see now. It was solid all the way across.” He said that in the 1960s everyone used to walk across the St Clair River to get to the American side for work. But then it stopped freezing over, no matter how cold it got. Many people drowned in the river as a result - including his grandfather: Participant 4 explained: “He walked right into a hole right in front of the house.” The facilitator agreed, stating, “Well since the plants come in here you’ve got your Lambton Hydro, Detroit Edison on the
State side, they used the water for their coal plants and then it goes back into the river again. That’s what keeps us from this point down right off to the lake, the water’s warm all the time. Even if it does get cold enough to freeze it jams up, ice did…the water gets cold enough it turns to ice and it will jam up all through the river. It doesn’t stay that long. It doesn’t stay frozen very long because all that warm water’s underneath. It melts the ice from the bottom and it just weakens that whole river again. But from here on up its good because isn’t warm water.”
Participant 4 also noted that he used to hunt deer up around Petrolia. He said: “More up in this spot here. Near Petrolia, huh. The farmers used to find stuff in there, because I used to…that’s were I used to go hunting, up in that area there. That yarding area.”
Pointing to an area along highway 40, he noted: “I know all the farmers in there. I worked with them. I hauled their tomatoes and everything. I still drive the truck.”
Participant 5 said that he hunted deer in the Bickford Woods area. He used to hunt there in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He said that he wanted to hunt there in order to:
“exercise our rights so we wouldn’t lose them. We thought that area was part of our traditional hunting grounds. People years ago, we were used to hearing Old Timers talk about the 1800 [Block] … I always heard, I never heard about the Bickford, but that’s the same area…it was the 1800 Block all the time and that’s where it was.” He added, “I think it was years ago as a harvest area in case we needed it. I mean there was lots here, but I supposed some of them wanted to exercise their rights there. ... Farmland…there’s farmland around, there’s bush, bush area…it’s a good habitat for deer. I guess there’s turkey in there now. But I never did see no pheasants in there. There’s cottontail in
53 there.” His grandfather said: “that it belonged to us and he would let us out there to go … he had his own little hunting spot around this way, he just didn’t want the hassles.”
Participant 8 said that her father sometimes hunted over-night upwards toward Sarnia.
He would walk along the river trail or go by row boat.
Participant 10 said that his brothers hunted deer south of Sarnia. He noted “It would be somewhere back here in those bushes [pointing to the Bickford Woods area].”
Participant 12 did not hunt in the “1800 Block” himself, but knew that other people from
Walpole who hunted there. This area was “south of Bickford Line and east of Highway
40. On the east - out to about Tecumseh, south to White Line. This was for deer hunting.
There was also deer hunting/poaching going on in the back of Sombra - jacklighting at night. Around Bent Path area. People were hunting back in that area in the 1950s, and it still goes on.”
Participant 12 said: “A lot of the neighbouring reserves would invite some of the boys from the Island, too like Sarnia, Kettle Point and I think [Muncy?] used to go up to
Ipperwash at the [inaudible]. Still invited out there because there deer got so thick out there so they invited some of the fellows from the Island here to go up there and cull them out you know. I think it was out of season. Didn’t have to be in season. So they went up there and just again, cull them out, thin them out. I guess they were raising heck with the farmers’ crops.”
Participant 13 said that her father and grandfather (and other Indians) used to hunt in the
“Bickford Forest, or Bickford Woods.” It was also called “the 1800 Block, something like that.” There was an Indian name for this place, but she does not remember it, and there is no one to ask anymore.
Participant 14 said that he hunted Deer on the Sarnia Reserve, “behind Shell.” He explained: “Actually up around where the plants are and that in there. They have a bush that runs through there. … Well there’s a big bush that runs through the back end of the
Aamjenong.” He usually hunted with his brother and father, explaining: “Yes I would go with him in the car. We would actually drive together when we went just for the company, but we always hunted together, myself, my one brother and my dad. Usually the three of us. We are the bigger hunters of the group, the family.”
Participant 14 said he, “Almost forgot about this interview because he was hunting this morning up in Bickford Woods - 1800 Block.” He hunts “all of the 1800 Block.” He also hunts deer in another area back of Sombra (drawn on map). Most of this is in farmers fields, but they have written him a permission slip and that is all he needs. He will not get hassled by the MNR. Referring to the “1800 Block,” he said that “Ducks
Unlimited Naturalist … bought that property [inaudible] so it’s wide open. Any North
American Indian can hunt in there. Whether be from Sarnia Reserve or from Walpole. ...
They purchased this about …I’m going to say about 4 years ago, 4 or 5 years.” Howver, he had hunted in this area before that: “There use to be a fellow by the name of Jack
Randers that owned all the farmland in the front and in the back portion of it. And then it was sold to Lumley’s out of Petrolia. But they only bought the cornfield edge up in here.
And the back part is all bush. ... I’m mainly go by myself, but I run into a lot of other people that owned the bush prior, like Jack Landers and his boys, Scott and Rob who are both police officers. The one, he has property up in here and like I say, I get written permission. I’m not hunting on the other properties without that.” He also hunts around
Enniskillen, right off of the Petrolia line. “By Petrolia and Eniskillen’s just this side in here. All through there. Petrolia. Got to be right in here somewhere.” Returning to the
1800 Block, he said that this was a yarding area for deer: “This is really bad in through here. Like through the [inaudible] in the Bickford, all…the deer yard in the bush. All these little bushes that are in and around this area, all the deer in the wintertime will go to this big bush, the 1800 Block. That’s where the pipeline that runs through here. Right down through the centre. ... It’s a very thick bush. A lot of tag alders and that in there.
Heavy bush in there.”
Participant 14 said that he hunted around Enniskillen. He explained: “Deer. I hunt a lot of deer up in those areas. Not a tough area to hunt. I know most all the farmers in through that area. They are more than welcome, or happy to let you in there.” He also hunts around the area of Kimball, explaining: “Yeah, one fellow Jim McGee, works for
Sarnia Ontario Hydro. Him and his wife both hunt, or work there. They own a lot of that area in here in this area, because there’s like an oil field that goes through. They have one of those that’s in there but they got friends that I hunt with. Winters. About 8 or 9 of us in our group which we usually hunt and they’ll let anybody go in with them. All you have to do is ask. And they are more than happy to let you do it.”
Participant 15 said that he has hunted deer in the “Bickford Bush,” also known as the
Bickford Woods, and Bickford Conservation Area. He described the location as: “North of Bickford Road and on either side of Highway 40.” He said that he had never heard the name “1800 Block” as the name for this area. He first hunted in this area in the 1960s and 1970s. The area was preferred because it was: “a heavily wooded area and there’s more likelihood in us being successful in getting rabbits or deer or the chance of deer in that particular area.” He also hunted rabbits in the Bickford Bush.
Participant 16 said that other family members hunted off the island. She explained: “The wooded areas that are available to them. Part of our territory.” She had heard of the
Bickford Woods, and said: “It’s a place for hunting. I believe they did maple syrup tapping there. I think nowadays they hunt wild turkeys there. Not being a hunter I just sort a very vague on it. ... I believe it’s our territory and not private land so we could hunt anywhere that is not private land.” She considers it to be a “Reserve.”
Participant 17 said that deer hunting in general took place “at and behind Ipperwash and south down to Walpole Island. …and they'll still hunt different areas back in there at night.” He said that people did not hunt in the entire area, just where deer congregate at night - in yarding areas.
Participant 19 spoke about the places where her brothers hunted deer. She said: “Do you want me to put this on your map? My goodness. We might have to go further off your map. I know my…. Where’s Kimball Side-Road [discussion over map] I know my brother’s have hunted up as far as this way and they’ve hunted…where’s that dam that goes through there? [Discussion over map] There that’s McCue dam that comes in someplace through here. I know they’ve hunted in, even they’ve talked about Bent Path
Line, Wilkesport line. Even probably in this area. And I know that they’ve hunted up in this area and it goes over this way. Yes they have hunted up behind Courtwright.”
Participant 21 said that her sons hunted deer in the “1800 Block.” She noted that only in the last three or four years had the MNR stopped hassling them. She said, “As long as they have their status card, they are OK.” She said she hunted raccoons in the 1800
Block. She noted that her sons also hunted raccoons there, but were stopped night hunting by the MNR. She explained: “Indians were stopped by the MNR from night hunting by flashlight, flood light, or even the times they used the torches.” This started when her sons were about 20 years of age. She said: “We told them that they could go hunt over there and that they wouldn't be bothered. And then one night they went hunting for raccoon at nighttime and the police came and stopped them. They, I don't remember if they took the raccoons away from them that time, but they hid all the stuff that they were using in the bush. And it's probably still there.” This was about 30 years ago. Regarding use of the raccoons, she said, “They sold the hide and sometimes we ate the raccoons. Raccoon wasn't really something we ate all the time. But we did eat them.”
Participant 22 said that he was invited to hunt deer on other Indian Reserves including
Sarnia, Kettle Point and Muncy. He told the following story: “My grandparents had a unique way of hunting. Hunting them deer. They’d wait for a freezing rain in the winter time or a snow. I seen my uncles greasing their leathers. I’d ask my Grandma, I’d say
“What are they doing?” They said they were getting ready to go deer hunting. When the freezing rain come on these guy could see some deer through that snow and the deer would finally get caught up in here and quit running. They’d take turns chasing him till the deer couldn’t run anymore and they could walk up to him and club him in the head.
That’s one way they hunted them, they had no guns. They had bows and arrows. This was easier than shooting them, I guess.” This occurred back in the 1930s.
Participant 22 noted the location of the “1800 Block” and circled it on the map. He said that it was a bush area accessed by a little creek off the St Clair River, right where a little canal came in, and is around Highway 40. He said it was a: “Settlement for all the
Natives that hunted, passing through, that's what it was for, set aside for.” He did not know where the name (1800 Block) came from. He also said: “The band here, the different bands and the Muncie, not Muncie, Sarnia, Walpole and Stony Point, they named this place for people who were always passing through. They could park in the there any time they want and hunt whatever. That's what that was set aside for. Even the
OPP asked me ‘How come you don't go out in that bush?’ I says, ‘I've got other places besides that I go’ that's why they used to go in there.” He also hunted rabbits and jackrabbits in the 1800 Block.
Participant 24 said that he knows of people who hunted deer in Sombra, Moore Line and
Tecumseh. He said the farmers didn't mind because they wanted the hunters to come in and get rid of the deer.
Most participants hunted small game animals, including reptiles and amphibians, in and around Walpole Island. The rich aquatic environment of Walpole Island provided much of the small game required by community members. Figure 7 shows the composite map of TEK information relating to small game and bird hunting.
Figure 7: Small Game and Bird Hunting
Participant 2 said that he had hunted muskrat on Walpole Island, “directly across the
Chematogan Channel, there was all marsh and we could just go right across the
Chemotagan in the wintertime. …So all of this channel that goes down to there has marsh along there, on the lower end of Walpole Island, maybe something like that is almost all marsh. The lower end of it. I think you probably tell the roads on Ste. Anne’s. Almost all the lower part is marsh. We hunted all of that area and that one time when Seaway
Island was brand new, it was full of water at first until they pumped all that sand and stuff. That was good hunting in there for a while.”
Participant 3 said that her uncles hunted muskrats around Mount Pleasant and the Colony
Towers Marsh at night during the full moon. She also hunted muskrat on Walpole Marsh and on St Anne's Island.
Participant 4 started hunting muskrats in the late 1950s and 1960s. Muskrats were speared in the winter, through the ice. He said that he made a “fairly good living at it. I used to run a fairly big trap line, close to 1,000 traps in the spring time, some in the fall, but it was mostly in the spring.” He hunted on the island, all through the marshes, and anywhere they could be found. He said the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) would not allow them to hunt “off-Reserve.” He noted that people from Walpole Island were afraid to do this, “and you had to stay in what they considered Walpole Island territory.
Had to stay within that. ... I was afraid that I’d lose everything that I had if they ever caught me out. That’s what I was taught to believe.” The hides were sold locally, in
Sandusky, Michigan and in North Bay. As much of the meat as possible was eaten, the rest was thrown away. He explained that everybody had a lot of muskrat and it could not all be consumed. In regard to the importance of muskrats to family economy, he said
“out there then you could see 100 people out there a day. All from the island hunting. It was their way of getting money and groceries. Everybody did it. My wife, everybody.
A lot ladies out there even.” Muskrat hunting started to decline during the 1970s. He attributed this to pollution from the industrial complex at Sarnia: He explained: “I figured it was the pollution from those chemical plants, I used to think. I couldn’t prove anything but that was always my thinking. And a lot of people on the island thought the same way. …Some of the animals were sick and this could be passed on to humans.
…Some of them were sick-looking, skinny. But…sometime, you’d bust open a house and there would be four, five of them laying in there all dead, but they told me that was from a fever, like they had. You can get the fever, too, which lots of people did. But they said that you build up an immunity a doctor told me. And I thought I must have, because I never got it, my wife didn’t get it.” However, he noted that the deer and wild turkey population has been increasing.
Participant 5 said that he had “trapped and speared muskrat all my life. I've trapped from the end of duck season until it was too hard to trap, the ice got too thick to trap. Then I
59 started up in the spring with a different type of trap. I trapped all across Walpole marsh right from Seaway to St. Anne’s Island.” He noted that trapping was done in these areas before they drained them and before the entire dredge cuts went in. He described the types of traps used, and how muskrats were enticed out of their houses to be speared. He skinned and stretched them as a boy; cleaned them and roasted them for food. Meat was also shared with others. During the 1970s, he took the pelts to North Bay where they were auctioned off. He got an advance payment, and the rest later. He said that he did not trap much as the mid 1980s, mostly because the price dropped.
Participant 6 hunted muskrats in the marshes on Squirrel Island and on St Anne's Island.
His grandfather hunted muskrats on Harsen's Island, on the American side. They would walk across the river in the winter; or cross with a horse and sleigh.
Participant 8 said that her father hunted muskrat, and her mother would clean them. The meat was eaten and the fur was sold. He hunted along the Chenail Ecarté (the Snye), and sometimes into Dredge Cut Lake and the nearby marshes.
Participant 9 said that he trapped muskrat in the spring, or speared them in the fall in the marshes. He hunted them in the whole area across the marsh. Muskrat meat would be eaten if there were nothing else to eat.
Participant 10 said that his father did a great deal of muskrat hunting, mainly in the rivers throughout the island. His father was a muskrat trapper during the war and the hides and pelts were sold to fur buyers.
Participant 11 said, “Before the farms went in this whole area [points to map] was all marsh.” He also referred to a pond area [Chee-cat Pond aka: Turtle Pond?] by the Snye that no longer exists. “All this area - muskrat was hunted. Also hunted them in area where Jacobs used to have a farm. Muskrat meat was eaten, and meat processed so that it could keep into the summer. Before Seaway Island went in, the area was all marshland and muskrat used to be caught there.”
Participant 11 said that muskrat used to be caught in marshy area around Harsen's Island called Muskamote Bay. The hunters would walk across the frozen river to the marsh and go muskrat hunting [Area marked on map]. This was done at night - the hunting was done secretly. Muskrats were speared. They couldn't use traps or they would be tracked down. This harvesting was taking place in the late 1940s. They stopped because they were being watched, so they set a big fire and left. He explained: “They burned that whole marsh right down that time. The area that was burned was on Isle St John's - or St
John's marsh.” He also said that mink used to be caught in a marshy area around
Harsen's Island called Muskamote Bay.
Participant 13 said that she did not hunt muskrats, but she cleaned muskrats for the men hunting in the marsh. The pelts were stretched and dried, and she saved the meat and sold it to an American restaurant. She used to row across to Champion's Ferry at
Participant 15 hunted muskrat mainly in the marshes on the Walpole side and on St
Anne's Island. He noted that the area “across the Basset when it froze, back in the day when rivers used to freeze, we'd hunt in this area and trapping and hunting in the Squirrel island Marsh. …But, in the Spring you could find muskrats just about anywhere.” He also used to set a trap in a ditch along the way to school when he was a kid, and hunted by a road and “the swale that used to run that separated Highbanks from our neighbourhood.” He tried hunting on Seaway Island after it was created, “largely muskrat, but any game of opportunity.” He said that he would hunt, trap or spear muskrat in the winter and use a shovel or an axe to break open the muskrat house.
Participant 16 pointed out a place where one man she remembered used to trap muskrats in the Colony Marsh on the American side.
Participant 17 said that he hunted muskrats in “all of the marsh areas of Walpole.” He started when he was about 12 or 13, and used a spear at this time. He was about 16 when he started using a gun. Meat was eaten at home, and the pelts were sold: He explained:
“Well, it was a case where you followed the highest price. When you shipped them off to the Hudson Bay fur company you had a waiting period of perhaps a couple weeks for an advance and maybe as much as a month to get the final payment. But that would give you the highest price. And then we’d certainly take them to Michigan to sell them. And we had a lot of local buyers.” Excess meat would be given away, but at times there was just too much and a lot of meat was wasted. He explained that there was so much that he could not give it all away. He spoke about how plentiful muskrat was: “spring trapping at the peak, just for an example, you’ve got maybe a window of 7 to 10 days where you’re primarily dealing with at least 100 rats a day if you are good. But you’re dealing with 1000 muskrats, you’re dealing with quite probably the down period which would be at least another 2 weeks maybe 3 weeks and then you’re looking at least 2,000. But you also have to understand that’s during the spring trapping. I’ve caught as many as a thousand during the spring season. That was I recall, January and February, two months.
That was my high point. I worked with a group. We kinda stuck together. ...In March I’d go back to commercial fishing, so that was just the high points.” He noted that the peak population and high fur prices occurred when was when he was about 25 years old. One pelt was worth about $15 or $16. His brother, trapping alone at that time, made about
$50,000 per year. Muskrat trapping tapered off because prices declined. Muskrat prices declined because of the anti-fur movement; “They were against the leg-hold trap.” Aside from the economics, he noted a sharp decline in their population. He linked hunting pressure with healthy muskrat populations. He explained that when people stop hunting them, their numbers declined. “Nature keeps this in balance.” Elders have told him stories about hunting outside of their boundaries, but they were wary of the Ontario
MNR: “No they said they’ve hunted outside of our recognized boundaries and they’ve hunted in the area. There were always with the MNR. Not so much the Michigan MNR, but the Ontario MNR. So they were very careful if they met up with the Ontario Natural
Resources people. Primarily the game warden out of Mitchell’s Bay who kinda handled the district. They did say they were proud of the fact that they would go beyond our boundaries and hunt and fish and a lot of them believed that this was their rights.”
Participant 18 said that he occasionally hunted muskrat on the island along the southern part and all over the marshy area. He had about 17 dozen traps. He also speared them, and noted that fur prices used to be were very good.
Participant 19 said that she hunted muskrat with her brothers all over the southern part of the island, especially in the marshes that were up by Austin Road. Meat was eaten, and the fur was dried and sold to the fur-buyer. Meat was also shared with the community.
Participant 20 said that she had hunted muskrat with her husband on the island. She used traps and did not personally hunt with spears. The muskrats were skinned, dried and sold. The meat was eaten at home and shared and/or traded with others.
Participant 21 said, “There was a good market here years back, but the police came around and closed us up.” She noted that her father also trapped out by Martin and
Whitney Islands until he was stopped when non-Aboriginal people purchased the islands.
She said: “That’s where he used to trap. All in there. Because he used to trap either side of those islands and up until the island was taken over by non-Native people then he quit trapping over here and along here. And he’d just trap on the island side.” Although the
Walpole Island First Nation considered that it owned these islands, Ontario sold parts of them to non-Natives. She noted that this was: “the reason why he quit over here was because the people bought the islands that were along here.”
Participant 21 said that her father used to trap on Harsen's Island, where he also kept a house. She said: “Some where right in where that cut is. As far as I know the one house but I don’t know if the other house belonged to him. And then he did trapping in here. In that little cut. Because we used to go in there in the spring time and he’d be trapping and he’d go with his boat and he’d go down that little cut there. Go run his trap-line. That was when we were just little, like that was before we used to go to residential school. We used to stay over there. Stay right at that house in the Spring.” Her father also lived at that house during the week after he started working on the American side. The family remained on Walpole, but he lived on Harsen's and came back on the weekends. He trapped on both sides of the river.
Participant 22 had hunted muskrats on St Anne's Island and Walpole Marsh by spearing, not trapping. The muskrat was skinned, the meat eaten and the fur sold. She said that while her father was hunting she would go and sell the fur at auctions while he was in the marsh.
Participant 23 described how he hunted for muskrat with spears. He never trapped them.
He trapped on Seaway Island, all the way up to the Bush Marsh, Walpole Island Marsh, and “and all over the place wherever there's water and marsh.” The pelts would be sold; the meat would be for home consumption, or sometimes fed to dogs.
Participant 24 had hunted Muskrats all around Goose Lake and Dynamite Cut. He hunted with a homemade spear. The meat was eaten at home, and/or shared with
62 neighbours or whoever wanted it. He hunted from about November to middle of April.
He stopped hunting by the early 1970s due to other employment. He noted that the muskrat population started to decline in the 1970s, but did not know the reason for the change.
Participant 4 hunted mink, and said that their pelts were worth more than the muskrat, so
“it was a bonus” to get one.
Participant 11 trapped mink for its fur. He said that not even a dog would eat the meat.
Before Seaway Island was established, the area used to be marshland and mink were caught in there.
Participant 14 used to hunt mink, but the “tree-huggers” caused the prices to fall from
$13 per pelt to about 50 cents. He trapped these along the Chematogan on the Bassett side.
Participant 15 said that he occasionally captured a mink, which was considered a “game of opportunity.”
Participant 4 hunted fox for its fur.
Participant 11 trapped fox for its fur on the island, especially on Seaway Island around the marshes and along the fields.
Participant 12 said that there were a lot of fox on the island. He noted that there used to be a bounty on them, and they would get about $30 a pelt.
Participant 15 said he occasionally captured a fox, which was considered a “game of opportunity.”
Participant 11 trapped skunks primarily for its fur during the 1940s and early 1950s. Fur prices in general were very good during the late 1930s and early 1940s. Participant 12 confirmed pricing information. Skunks would be taken on the island, anywhere in the bushes. Up north skunks were taken for their perfume sac, but people at Walpole didn't know about this during the 1940s.
Participant 1 hunts squirrels, and said that there are a lot on the island.
Participant 5 hunted squirrels as a boy in the bush with a slingshot, and later he would shoot them with a shotgun or a 22-calibre rifle. He hunted mostly on Pottawatami Island.
Participant 10 hunted squirrels in the Highbanks area and in the Public Bush, also close to their home. The meat was eaten at home.
Participant 12 said that squirrels were hunted by slingshot, and the meat was eaten.
Participant 14 said that he used to hunt squirrels, but his wife would not allow him to now.
Participant 15 hunted squirrels as a young boy with slingshot across John Road (and other areas marked on map). He also shot them with 22s and 410s, and the meat was consumed at home.
Participant 17 hunted squirrels on the island, close to where he lived.
Participant 19 said that her brothers hunted squirrels in their back yard.
Participant 21 said that she hunted squirrels, mostly on the island, for home consumption.
Participant 23 did a lot of squirrel hunting in the bush behind his aunt's house on the island. They would be shot, and the meat was eaten at home.
Participant 24 hunted squirrels behind his house.
Participant 25 said that he hunted squirrels on the island when he was about 17 years old.
Participant 4 hunted raccoons, especially when there was a bounty on the animal.
Participant 5 said that he did some hunting of raccoons in the bush lands, but never on purpose in the marshes.
Participant 9 killed the “odd raccoon” for its fur, which was sold.
Participant 10 said that raccoons were hunted for their skin and tails, which were sold.
The meat was not eaten, as it was too greasy.
Participant 11 trapped raccoons for their fur.
Participant 14 said that he hunts raccoons.
Participant 16 said that raccoons were eaten for food.
Participant 17 hunted raccoons every now and then. He would take it to his aunt's home and she would make a hash out of it. That dish was one of his favourites.
Participant 18 said that he hunted raccoons all over the island, in the cuts and farm lands, and anywhere where there was open land where they thrived.
Participant 24 hunted raccoons just for the fur. The meat was not eaten. He noted that the raccoon population has declined in the last 10 or 12 years.
Participant 1 hunts rabbits. He uses rabbit hair to make flies for fishing. He eats the meat and gives the rest away. He does not sell it.
Participant 5 hunted cottontail rabbits, mostly on Potawatomi Island.
Participant 6 said there was a lot of rabbit hunting on the island. They were eaten.
Participant 8 said that her father hunted rabbits in the bush in back of their house along the Snye.
Participant 12 said his grandfather showed him how to track rabbits. They were clubbed and the meat eaten at home.
Participant 14 said that rabbit hunting is pretty much done now due to declining populations.
Participant 15 hunted rabbits; cottontail rabbits; and rack rabbits. They were eaten at home.
Participant 17 hunted rabbits on the island, right around where he lived.
Participant 18 hunted rabbits and jackrabbits all over the island, in the cuts and farmlands, and anywhere there was open land where they thrived.
Participant 20 said that she hunted rabbits behind her house as a young girl. Her father taught her what to do: “As a young girl we owned a bush lot and we still own a bush lot behind our house and that’s mainly where we did our trapping and my father showed us how to set traps and how to jump on them, on the brush piles he created for rabbit habitat.
So we would jump on them and he would shoot them when they come out. And
65 eventually we shot as well. So that’s basically where the rabbit hunting would have gone on in our family.”
Participant 21 said that she hunted rabbits, mostly on the island.
Participant 23 hunted rabbits a great deal. The meat was eaten at home. All this hunting took place on the island.
Participant 24 hunted rabbits behind his house, where there was a bush and swamp close by. He noted that the rabbit population has declined.
Participant 1 said that he does not hunt pheasants because there are not enough around.
They are left alone. However, he noted that there are pheasants on Seaway Island, and if they're caught, they are processed right away and the meat is eaten. He also said that he hunts mourning doves on the island.
Participant 3 said that she used to eat quail and pheasant eggs that were found on the island.
Participant 5 said that his grandfather showed him how to hunt ducks, and then he did it on his own when he was about 11 or 12 years of age. Participant 5 said that he hunted quail on the island until about the late 1960s. Participant 5 said that he hunted pheasants on the island until about the late 1960s.
Participant 6 said that quail were hunted on the island on farmland and the marsh, for home consumption. Participant 6 said that he hunted pheasants on the island, on farmland and in the marshes. He also hunted woodcock. All were eaten at home.
Participant 10 said that his brothers would get quail all over the north end of the island and down along the marshes. Participant 10 said that his brothers would get pheasants all over the north end of the island and down along the marshes.
Participant 11 said that people would hunt quail on the island for food. Participant 11 said people would hunt pheasants on the island for food.
Participant 12 said that he did not do too much bird hunting when he was very young because he had no gun. He could not afford one. After he was about 13 years old and had worked on the American side, he purchased guns. Participant 12 said that pheasants used to be plentiful. He would get two or three at a time - enough for dinner. He hunted them on the island, along the Snye, in the marsh and wooded areas.
Participant 13 said that she hunted pheasants in the marshes.
Participant 14 hunted quail but noted they were “pretty much gone now.”
Participant 15 said that he hunted quail for home consumption. There was a plentiful supply right behind his house. Quail could also be obtained all over the island.
Participant 17 said that he did a lot of pheasant hunting on Seaway Island, but also hunted on Walpole Island.
Participant 18 hunted quail all over the island and down into the marshes. Participant 18 said that he hunted pheasants all over the island.
Participant 21 said that she hunted quail and pheasants, mostly on the island, for home consumption.
Participant 22 said that he hunted pheasants on St. Anne's Island.
Participant 25 said that he hunted quail beginning when he was about 16 years old. They were shot “in the swale from around Nahdee Lane … across Altiman Road … almost up to Chief's Road.” Participant 25 said that he hunted pheasant, beginning when he was about 16 years old, but does not hunt any more.
Participant 1 said that he used to hunt bullfrogs, but not any more, “just because they're gone.”
Participant 2 said that hunting frogs “Used to one of our mainstays in the summertime.
Frogs were so plentiful you could go along with a stick and spear enough for a meal in a couple of hours. Feed the whole family. Where we used to go was primarily along, like I said, we lived there. We went along that canal there. The people would go all over the
Island. There were other Indians that actually did it. They killed the frogs and took them over to a place over here in Algonac where they sold the frog meat. …They sold those little green frogs and stuff too. Whatever they got they, they’d catch them and… those people bought those things, try and help them get money. Money was pretty hard to come by. Harder than anything, I think. I don’t ever remember being hungry, I remember going for a few hours without food. But when you got hungry, you’d just take a line and throw it in the river right there and catch little catfish or perch or something like this. Something that would keep you going. Frogs were very easy to get, most times you could just go along with that stick in the weeds and those frogs would jump up and whack them with that stick and you’d eat.”
Participant 3 said that her family used the turtle heart for medicine. She explained: “The turtle heart’s for medicine. That’s why we believe in eating the turtle and making soup out of it and using every part of the turtle. Even his shell. For medicine. We still do
67 that. My family still goes out and looks for the eggs and I’m still doing what the men’s doing. My girl cousins were going out and getting the turtle eggs, so we still eat them.”
Participant 4 said he hunted bullfrogs with his father on the island all the time. In particular, they hunted around Johnson Channel and St Anne's dike. Bullfrogs were hunted at night with jacklights and speared, or just grabbed. As a kid, they used to get about 100 a night to fill up a bag. These were sold on the American side of the river at the Canadian Club, at Henry's across the river in Algonac. He also hunted leopard frogs with his father as a kid. These were found in the grass, near a marsh. They were hunted with a stick and smacked on the head. He said the whole island used to be covered in leopard frogs, but not now. His father used to hunt a lot of bullfrogs on the American side, when he was a boy, maybe about 10 years old. They used to collect about a potato bag full of them. He said that the Canoe Cut on the American side was a frogging area as well: He explained: “That’s how the island got there, I mean, that cut, ‘cause nobody really knows about that. I told people about it but I don’t think anybody really remembers. Why it was there, how it got there? But that’s how it got there. But we used to hunt bullfrogs in there, that’s one of the areas we hunted in there. Bullfrogs.”
Participant 4 said that he had eaten a lot of turtles, but never targeted them. He said: “We never hunted them. Just seen them and catch them.” He described their habitat: “All along the banks of the lake. Lake St. Clair. [inaudible] high ground. They’d lay their eggs in there. Those snappers. Even those little turtles buried their eggs in there. Even out in the farmer’s fields. They used to bury them along the roads. Where we were driving along the farms and along the marshes. They buried them wherever… the dikes, sand. Wherever they could find.”
Participant 4 told another story about hunting bullfrogs on Harsen's Island. He said:
“Yeah, we used to go over there with some other Indian friends I used to hang around with. ... Go hunting bullfrogs. A few in there around the garbage dump around there.
They had a garbage dump near McLean’s Cut. A place called McLean’s cut come off of this North Channel here. Run in through there and it’d run up towards the middle of the
Island way up in here and we used to go in there and get bullfrogs. ... A lot of lily pads all in that one area in the centre of that island there. Big open swale must have been a delta at one time, years and years and years and years ago. Anyway we used to go. It was a little-known place where nobody went with a boat but us.”
Participant 5 said that he did not go out of his way to hunt turtles. If he saw one, he would keep it and give it to the old people who would eat it. He also hunted leopard frogs as a kid. These were eaten. They were not sold.
Participant 5 said that he hunted bullfrogs as a kid in the ditches, and in the weeds on the island. He said: “They were very plentiful. You'd kill many inadvertently cutting the lawn.” The frogs were cleaned and fried. Bullfrogs were sold on Harsen's Island. When he was a youngster, about 12 or 13, he would go out jacklighting for bullfrogs: He noted:
“one guy punting the other guy holding the bag and the other guy grabbing. I did that.
...This was in the '60s when they were plentiful.”
Participant 6 said that some person used to come to the island and buy turtle shells. He used to make trinkets out of turtle shells. He also ate the turtles. His neighbours caught them along the lakeshore.
Participant 6 said he caught bullfrogs along the lakeshore, and along the Chematogan
Channel. The frogs were eaten at home. He recalls that some people sold frogs to a restaurant across the river on the American side. The frogs were speared.
Participant 7 said her husband used to hunt bullfrogs on the island, all along the creeks.
She has eaten them; and says they taste like chicken.
Participant 9 said that he used to trap turtles in the marshes in the springtime. They were snapping turtles, and he said that he used “little square nets, like that and we used to put a piece of bacon or like a carp carcass. And that turtle would go in there and once he got it he can’t get back out.”
Participant 9 said he trapped bullfrogs. He explained: “We used to catch those at night.
Right around those dikes around Ste. Anne’s. All over the Island. Wherever there was a dike we went there. Bradley’s, Ste. Anne’s.” The frogs were caught by grabbing them and then putting them into a box, and then they were sold. He was working for someone catching the frogs and the “boss” sold them. This was the same person he used to fish for.
Participant 10 said that turtles were caught for home consumption. They were caught at
Gi'ikan Pond, close to the Snye (in the north end - this pond no longer exists). His uncles would eat the turtle eggs. He also captured leopard frogs, and explained: “the little green frogs, we used to eat those. We'd kill them and fry them and we'd fry about twenty of them because they are smaller. Caught by hitting them on the head with sticks. They were all over the place, all over the island.”
Participant 10 said he caught bullfrogs in the marshes and the rivers. He used a 22 rifle when he went with his brothers. They were caught for home consumption and also sold:
He noted: “Probably in Wallaceburg. I didn't get involved in that. I was younger. They were older and they had some markets for it.”
Participant 11 said that he hunted turtles and their eggs for food around Chee-cat Pond
Participant 11 said that he hunted bullfrogs with an elder. He explained: “At that time we used to get them by the crateful and pick them up at night.” They were kept live in a box and sold. These were caught in the marshes by hand with a spotlight at night. He thought the buyer came from the Canadian side.
Participant 14 said that he hunted bullfrogs in the past, but they were becoming extinct now. He said there are only a few places left where there are a few left, such as the
Sandpits. He said, “you hardly see leopard frogs anymore. There used to be a lot of them. Noticed a decline in their population about 5 years ago.”
Participant 15 said that turtles were caught opportunistically. He said people might offer you one, and some people would live-trap them at the south end of the marshes, just off
Johnson's Bay. He also caught leopard frogs on the island. When he was a kid, he would go out with bread bags and fill them up with frogs, clean them, and sell them across the river at 50 cents per dozen. These sales were made during the 1950s.
Participant 15 said that he caught frogs as a kid any place within walking distance of home. Sometimes he would see them on the back of the dykes around the farm areas and stunning them with a stick would catch them. Bullfrogs were also caught at night by shining a light on them and scooping them up with a dip net. Or, they could be shot with a 22. The frogs were eaten, or sold in Algonac to the restaurants. If bullfrogs were caught in a net, they were kept in a box or garbage can with water until a dozen, or several dozen were accumulated. These could be sold across the river for $4 or $5 per dozen. These sales were being made during the 1950s. He also noted the sale of frogs on the American side in Algonac. He said: “Largely the restaurants kind of went down the tubes there. I knew my dad’s relative, my relative, [personal name] would make some income selling fish to those restaurants. Others I’ve heard have been selling frogs as well as turtles to those restaurants for the restaurant trade I guess. Mostly Henry’s. A place called Henry’s.”
Participant 16 said that snapping turtles were eaten for food. She said that she would find them walking along the dikes. People also ate box turtles and mud turtles.
Participant 16 said that bullfrogs were caught and eaten. She also talked about “little brown peepers,” but did not recall their name; and tree frogs. In her father's time, “when he was a boy they would sell frogs to the hotels along the River.”
Participant 19 said that her brothers caught turtles on the island, down at “Romaulds” and
Bradleys. They were caught during the cold weather. They were eaten, and the eggs were taken as source of food as well. She also noted: “Would hunt leopard frogs in the bush, and make a fire right there and fry them up. …If you were hungry there was always food there.”
Participant 19 said that she hunted bullfrogs with her brothers. She noted that the frog population had drastically declined. Frogs were eaten almost immediately on fires made in the bush where they were caught; they were fried up. She did not sell the frogs.
Participant 21 said that she hunted leopard frogs. She noted that there was a difference in hunting bullfrogs and leopard frogs. She explained: “With leopard frogs we just used to use a stick, that looked like a club. It was bent like this. You hit the frog with it and knocked them out and stuck them in your bag.” The Leopard Frogs were skinned and eaten. There was a local market for them. They were sold to restaurants across the St
Clair River on the American side.
Participant 21 said that she hunted frogs, mostly on the island. Bullfrogs were hunted with a slingshot. The frogs were skinned and eaten. The legs of the bullfrogs were sold locally to restaurants on the American side, across the St Clair River. The remainder they kept and ate.
Participant 22 said that he hunted turtles and their eggs in and around Walpole Island. He hunted leopard frogs with his wife, and hunted them in the same way: He explained: “I used to walk. We’d walk the fields for leopard frogs and we had made our clubs like she says about 3 feet long and wide paddle on the end, like a paddle where you hit the frog with. Long handle on it. And as you walked along you hit the ground with the point of the club and scare up the snakes, which would also scare up the frogs in front of you.
Then they’d jump and you’d walk up on them and hit them over the head. They used to be plentiful here. Now I think you’d walk all day to get one or two.”
Participant 23 said that he hunted turtles when an opportunity arose. He had a cousin who loved turtle soup, and would “go out of his way to either trade or hunt them.” He noted that they are difficult to clean. He added that his uncle also kept turtles in galvanized tubs.
Participant 24 said that he hunted frogs as a kid. The legs were eaten. These were not sold. He noted that the frog population has declined, but would still find some in the marsh around Goose Lake.
Participant 25 said that he caught frogs for sale. He explained: “Well, I heard they were a delicacy and I knew they didn’t want you ruining the meat by smacking them with rocks so I would go to the marsh along the same place where …the southwest…the west side of
Squirrel Island because there were these dredge cuts and a lot of bull frogs in there and I just used a fish line…I’d just dangle a lure in front of them and a bull frog would take it.
Put them in a bag and take them home.”
Participant 5 talked about elders' trapping at Enniskillen during the early part of the 20th century. He said: “Trapping was done in the 20s and 30s. But I don’t know if they got sugar bush back them times but that’s what the natives used to use it for. The 1800s.
They said that they trapped up there.”
Participant 6 said that he used to cross the Snye in winter onto the Ontario side and hunt for muskrats. He said that the farmers did not want them hunting there, but they did it anyway. Muskrats were both speared and trapped. Sometimes this was done at night.
Participant 3 said if her sons encountered squirrels in the Local Study Area, they would kill them.
Participant 14 said that wild turkey could be seen in the 1800 Block bush. He said: “You can get them up through the 1800 Block most all these other areas in here but they require you to go to school for two days to figure out what a turkey is I guess. [laughter] to know the difference between the male and the female. That’s what it is. The school lasts for two days. You are allowed to shoot the male turkey, but not the female.”
Almost all participants who had hunted waterfowl confined themselves to Walpole Island and adjacent marshes. Figure 8 shows the composite map for waterfowl hunting.
Figure 8: Waterfowl Hunting
Participant 1 said that he hunts ducks along the “Snye, all along: the shoreline and all the way around all the fields. Wherever they're flying.” He noted that ducks are eaten right away at home.
Participant 2 said: “It’s all diked-inland. Go out to the far end of the Walpole Island, it starts just before the marshland, I would think. I think it’s probably in here. They had dikes in there. As a child, as a young guy, we could go back in there and kill ducks in those little canals. And I can remember in this area before it became farmland, these areas eventually became farmland after they diked them out. Those areas were just loaded with ducks. You’d hear them [flapping] and you’d hear their wings. Just nothing but the sound of their wings [sound effect]. There was a lot of ducks back in those times.”
Participant 3 said she hunted ducks “In the marshes and Squirrel island and out in the lakes and over here [pointing at map].” She was taught to hunt by her husband. She said:
“When I had to put food on the table or he had to put food on the table and then I was his helper. I just went out. He took me out and I started to hunt and he showed me how to shoot the gun and everything. I had to trap-shoot and everything. I had to learn. I can still do that.” Ducks taken for food were for home consumption, and also shared with older relatives who needed food.
Participant 4 said that he used to hunt ducks with his father. He started guiding when he was about 15 years old. He guided mainly for wealthy Detroit people, and stopped about
10 or 15 years ago.
Participant 5 said he started hunting ducks in 1966 or '67 at the Hunt club, guiding for the members. Ducks were very plentiful. He hunted ducks with the St Anne's Club for about
27 years. He explained: “you could drive down any one of these rivers and you’d be flushing them out all the way down. And then in July and August, you’d go down the same rivers and there’d be hen ducks with their little ones scattering around heading for the weeds. You don’t see them flushed out down the rivers any more. I used to go down…where the mother was with the little ones in the late spring anymore. There were…there used to be ducks all around Walpole and on the mainland. You could drive…I used to drive to work to Mitchell’s Bay and you’d see the ducks in the fields.
You don’t see that anymore. Not in these fields, corn field out here.” He also hunted ducks for his own food in the little ponds in the back of Goose Lake.
Participant 6 said that he hunts ducks in the marshes on the island, and was also a guide for about four or five years.
Participant 7 said that her husband was a guide hunting ducks for the St Anne's Club on the island. She also hunted geese in the same area.
Participant 9 said that he was a guide for people who wanted to hunt ducks. They took them home. He never sold duck himself.
Participant 10 said he had been duck hunting in the marshes and cornfields on the island.
When he was a young man, duck hunters in the Walpole Marsh hired him as a guide.
Participant 11 said he hunted ducks and geese on the island for home consumption, and extra was shared with others. He never guided.
Participant 12 said that his grandfather did a lot of duck hunting. He used to work for the
Toronto Club down around Bassett Island in the early 1930s. They would stay at the
Club for the week. He brought the ducks home to eat. He also went duck hunting with his neighbour and his bother-in-law on the island, all around Romall's farm. The meat was eaten at home and given away to whoever wanted it.
Participant 13 said that she hunted ducks all over the marshlands on the island. She said:
“In the marsh. Just about anywhere really. Along the river you sat around.” She hunted with a small 410 that her husband had bought for her. She said this was common, noting:
“A small gun most of the ladies used. The bigger girls I guess they went to the 20 gauge.
A little bigger. A little bigger gun. Most of the ladies used a 410 shotgun.”
Participant 14 said that he hunts ducks all over Walpole Island, not just in the marshes.
He used to hunt in the marshes and all along the lakeshore with his father. He has been a guide for 44 years.
Participant 15 said he hunted ducks for home consumption. He hunted ducks in many of the same areas where muskrats were taken. But, not on St Anne's due to the hunting club located there. He also hunted geese for home consumption. He was employed as a guide for a number of years between the ages of 16 to about 22, and noted: “Well, my dad had a little club of sorts and he had a number of ponds around the north end of Johnston’s Bay.
All the way up to where Dynamite Cut is. And then he had a few more over on Squirrel
Island, just between the Bassett and the Chematogan and he had some regular clients that would come up and hunt mostly weekends. So at the same time I would be attending high school, or sometime after that, I would be home for the weekends to help out guiding these sportsmen out. Largely from Detroit.”
Participant 17 said that he started hunting ducks when he was about 12 years old. He explained: “My father wouldn’t let me guide until I was 16 years old. Until the present time I have a guiding service. It’s not how you would say, very successful now, but that’s the nature of the beast right now. We’re in an economic climate that hurts and were also in an unusual situation where the birds are not pushing through our flyways very good. So we don’t have the numbers to work with and we don’t have the customers because we are dependant on Michigan, and from the states for customers and they are all related. The United States are having a terrible time of it. Over the years we’ve been very successful... And they we’ve had various core groups over the years and we’ve been
75 moderately successful in being able to create a livelihood of it, but the industry had fallen on tough times right now.”
Participant 18 said that he hunted ducks, and explained: “Again that was mostly down to the southern side … in the marshes …The sky used to be black with ducks when they flew, there were so many. Now you only see one or two.” He also hunted geese, and explained: “you waited in the fall time, you’d wait until the early birds would come through because they were covered in pinfeathers.”
Participant 20 said that she hunted ducks with her husband with a gun. But, she had hunted with a gun before with her father.
Participant 22 said that her grandsons hunt ducks, and she would “pull some of the feathers off and keep them and give them away to someone who'll use them.”
Continuing about use of feathers, she stated: “that’s what we used to do when we were hunting. I used to take all the feathers that they’d want. They’d tell me what kind of feathers that they wanted me to keep so when I was plucking the ducks I would keep those feathers that they wanted for their fly fishing equipment or whatever it was that they used to make… And by the end of the season I’d have like maybe 3 bags full of feathers. I’d just put ‘em all in one back. They had to pick them out themselves when they got them.”
Participant 22 said: “There’s a lot of people come in here. The fly fishermen come in here to get certain feathers from different birds. Like the wood duck, they take the whole duck. Canvas back they take the bars, barred feathers on the sides here. For fly fishing.”
Participant 23 said that he hunted ducks in the Walpole Marsh. He explained: “There’s little islands out there. ... Johnston Bay in this area. Johnston Bay, out in Middle Grounds, and in this area in here Ste. Anne’s, and along the Snye up in Ste. Anne’s across from the farms and one of the pump houses.”
Participant 24 said that he used to hunt a lot of ducks, but does not do so now. He hunted on the island, in the Goose Lake area. He has also hunted both ducks and geese in
Participant 25 said that he still-hunts ducks. He started when he was about 12 years old, with sling shots and arrows. Later he used BB guns, pellet guns and then 22’s and shot guns. He hunted generally in area around Goose Lake, north of Goose Lake and Squirrel
Island. Duck meat was consumed as food. He was also briefly employed as a guide, on the Chematogan. He said that he also hunts geese with his uncles.
Many participants collected plants for food, medicine, spiritual or ceremonial reasons.
Most found the plants they needed on Walpole Island. Figure 9 shows the composite
map for plant harvesting. The summary that follows lists the plants that were used for medicine.
Sasaquon [aka: Horsemint]
White Sasaquon [aka: Pennyroyal]
Wikan [aka: Sweet Flag]
Plants mentioned that were used for spiritual purposes:
Figure 9: Plant Gathering
Plant Harvesting: Part One – Walpole Island
Participant 1 said he does not collect mushrooms or other plants for food on the mainland. He explained: “No. I don’t and I’ll tell you why. Generally when the mushrooms and the asparagus, when they’re ready to harvest, so are bluegill, bass, perch.
So we are usually doing both at the same time and there isn’t any fishing here. So, a typical day will involve launching the boat, stopping along these islands, picking mushrooms, get a bucket full of fish, come back and have a fry.” He collects wild asparagus, morels, puffballs and fiddleheads for food. He collects plants for medicine, explaining: “I couldn’t tell you what the plants are called. I know what they look like. I know what they look like at the time of year that you need to get them. And I know what to do with them. Aside from that, I don’t know.” These were found mostly on Squirrel
Participant 2 said that he picks lots of berries such as black berries. Regarding the picking of plants for medicinal purposes, he said: “The main thing about what I know about medicine is for the most part we got ours here on the Island. There maybe people that have gone off into the other area to get medicine, but I don’t know what it would have been.”
Participant 3 said that she picks blackberries for “woman medicine.” She noted that there were wild leeks in the area behind her house. She collects wild asparagus for food in the spring. She also noted: “Sometimes when I’m cutting grass in the very back of my yard,
I can smell anise. So I don’t know what that plant is. I asked somebody who said it’s not anise it’s something else. [Rhonda Telford suggests fennel] That’s the one. Those were all medicines and I think a lot of those farm lands they planted those things themselves because it’s all grown wild around there because I got those leeks and all growing in a little patch. And that fennels all in another patch. There’s probably other stuff in there.
There’s one you always hear about it… some kind of pop they made. [i.e.: sarsaparilla]”
She picks mushrooms on the island and on Seaway Island. She explained: “people are very secretive about their spots. They don't want others to know where they are going.”
But, she is scared of mercury contaminating the mushrooms from Seaway. She added:
“Up here in this marsh there used to be like a lot of channels running through Walpole
Island that were deep at one time. They’re now all kind of clogged up because that’s what happens eh. But in these channels, my mother used to tell me about the women used to go down there and get neck-deep in those channels and reach and feel around on the…I don’t know if it was cattails or something. ... but she called them marsh potatoes.
You could reach around and feel them growing on the roots. You felt one down there, you dove down and got them up and put them in a basket or whatever. And they did that.
That’s how they collected something to eat. ... They weren’t very big. They grew wild, wherever the cattails was. I don’t know if they were part of the cattails or just something that grew around them. ... There was something else too. They dug up some kind of a root. From a kind of a tall plant. It comes out looking like those ginger roots you see in the store. All knobby and everything. You peel the skin off of that and those things tasted kind of good. Some kind of potatoes or something. I don’t know about the name
79 of that thing. Those are the things they dug up.” She added that she has transplanted and/or replanted medicinal plants to help them grow and spread. Some areas were dug up with shovels or backhoes to aid plant growth, recovery. He talked about getting grassy quills on the American side for duck blinds. He explained: “Well we were always told the islands belonged to us, but I never ventured over there, just heard stories that people have been checked over there before. They were harassed, they weren’t thrown in jail or nothing, but they were harassed. And we did…when I worked at this hunt club here, we and another fellow we used to go and gather quills for our blinds, but we never hunted or fished in there. Nobody chased us out of there for doing that. In that big Muscamoot
Participant 4 picked and ate "May Apples" that were very sweet and grew all over the island. He said that they used to grow out of a “little umbrella bush.” He also collected a lot of hazelnuts as a kid. He said they were very plentiful, and used to be all over the place right where he lived, but they are not there any longer.
Participant 4 said that he picks spring morels at Moraviantown, and also on Seaway
Island. He also collects puffballs for food, and another type of mushroom called Pink
Bottoms. He noted that the leaves of the milkweed plant were also picked and eaten as food. They were cooked like spinach, with bacon. He also collected morels on the
American side on Russell's Island around the Boy's Club. Some sweetgrass was collected from a small island, apparently on the American side, but it is not clear which one: He said: “You get run out now if you go over there. ... Signs say No Trespassing and the police would come over there. Got run right out of there when we hunt deer over here.
Chased them off. Can’t go there he says, Private Property.”
Participant 4 said that his father collected milkweed to get rid of warts. He also said that milkweed was collected during World War Two and used in life preservers. His father also collected common plantain for blood poisoning.
Participant 5 said that he picks puffballs and morels on the island. He also talked about making sugar. He said: “There was a group of families that went out there and done it.
And every winter they’d do it and split it up with each other. Families that got along with each other, relatives or whatever it was. They had a big pot, fire. My grandfather told me that when it used to foam up, they used to get it with a dipper and throw it on the snow. Then it would cool. And he’d say “Boy it made good candy” he said. That’s one of the stories he told me about that. The sugar bush at the south end of Pottawatomi
Island.” He said that he has collected plant medicine for other people, but does not accept money for this. He noted that money is not supposed to change hands for medicine. Instead, traditional food, such as muskrat, may be given in exchange. He has collected Sassaquon and Wikan that are used as medicines on Pottawatomi Island. He has collected sweetgrass in the past and sold it to people using it for basket making.
Participant 5 also talked about the collection of maple sugar at Enniskillen. He said:
“The old timers used to talk about Eniskillen Township over there where they hunted and trapped muskrats. Back…I don’t know…the 20s and 30s. They used to go up that way.
They said [inaudible] owned the land but tried to take…stop us, where Eniskillen
Township is eh. ... [by] Petrolia.” He was not clear on the time period this was done, but noted that the old timers used to go to Enniskillen to trap during the 1920s and 1930s. He talked about the collection of medicines on the American side for barter, saying: “Oh, yeah, we traveled all places in Michigan. Years ago old people would get young people to drive them to Mount Pleasant because there was medicines over there and they’d switch. They take medicines that they’d prepared and switch them back and forth type thing. The older fellas they wouldn’t take the new Highway. It was always this old back way that they wanted to take. That old Indian trail because that’s the way they wanted to travel all the time instead of the new highways.”
Participant 6 said that he used to collect walnuts and hickory nuts. He never picked berries, but his wife's family did: blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, and currants.
All picked on the island in the fields. He picked a kind of mushroom that he couldn’t recall the name of. Later, he mentioned picking morels and puffballs. His family did not make maple sugar, but he knew others that did. He said that there are a lot of maple trees on the island. Regarding the use of plants for medicine, he said: “I couldn’t tell you what it was. They had their own…Plantain and they mixed it with… I know my grandmother used to use, she used to make ... that herself. I don’t know what it’s made out of. Made their own liniment, which was good for ... arthritis. …People used to trade other things for medicine. They never used to sell it. Years ago they never had any money. It was always trading something or doing favours for somebody. You done something for somebody else.”
Participant 7 said her grandfather collected plants for medicine. She mostly knows the
Indian names used for the plants. She talked about other medicines, the names for which she didn't know. Her grandmother would make baskets from black ash. She would go off Reserve and sell them on the Snye on the Ontario side in what was called Belgium
Town. Also, people used to take their baskets over to the American side for sale. She explained: “when they used to make baskets and stuff, she said they used to have a big boat over here used to be called the Tashmoo, and that’s where Indian women would go in there and sell their baskets in the states.” They were sold at Tashmoo Park in the late
1930s and early 1940s; this was across from Squirrel Island, but on the American side.
Participant 8 said her mother would collect plants for food and medicine. She also said that she collected hazelnuts and hickory nuts with her mother as a child on the island.
She picked berries: blackberries. She used to pick these with her grandmother. Also: thimbleberries, raspberries and strawberries. Her mother would collect plants for food and medicine. Her father used to make bark canoes and bows and arrows. He also made axe handles and sold them. Her father also kept a garden with potatoes, carrots, butter beans, cabbage, squash, corn, beans. She explained: “That's what we lived on through the winter.” Her mother used to make baskets from black ash. Her mother also made sweet grass baskets, and she used to braid sweet grass.
Participant 9 said he collected hazelnuts, but noted that after a while they became less plentiful. He also collected hickory nuts and walnuts when he was a kid. He also
81 collected blackberries and thimbleberries. He picks morels for food. He collected puffballs for food on the island, and said that he would find them in the bush. He collected milkweed and his grandmother made a soup out of them. All the plants used for medicines were picked on the island by his grandmother and mother. He never picked them himself. He collected wild peaches on the island by the footbridge when he was small.
Participant 10 said that his family collected and ate wild berries. His mother would can berries. He also said that his family collected and ate wild mushrooms. He said that his father collected maple sugar; and his brother did a lot as well. He could not remember all the plants his mother collected for medicine. These were collected mainly around High
Banks where they lived. Likely collected at Sarnia as well, where she went to visit.
Some of his relatives made baskets from ash and these were sold to tourists who came on boats and stopped at the dock near the end of Chief's Road. A lot of the tourists were
Americans coming to the Reserve to see prize fights held at the same time handicrafts were being sold.
Participant 11 said that he collected hazelnuts for food and snacks in the winter. He collected a lot of wild berries including: thimbleberries, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. He picked a lot of wild asparagus, and still does. This is found on the island.
He also collects wild onion for food on the island. He collected morels in the fall for food on the island. He collected fiddleheads on the island. He collected dandelion leaves and used them in salads. He collected plants for medicine with his grandmother as a child. Participant 11 talked about use of oak trees to make canoes. White or black ash used for baskets. Hickory was used for handles for a basket or around a basket; also used for axe hammer handles. These items were sold at local fairs. His grandmother made a lot of baskets and sold them on Harsen's Island at Tashmoo [name of a fair or park, or name of a small village] during the late 1940s and 1940s. He also talked about the decorative use of fragmites plant: “Well the Red [lake] was good for making blinds. Like the frost hits it and the leaves don’t fall down. This fragmitis, the frost comes along all the leaves would drop off so its not any good for anything although I have seen some people make wall things out of that like they can barricade a wall like a curtain. I’ve seen that and it looks pretty good.”
Participant 12 said that he collected hazelnuts and hickory nuts for food in an area behind his house. He also collected berries for home consumption. He collected wild leeks for food in the area behind his house. He also collects morels and puffballs for food. He did not make maple syrup, and explained: “Nope we didn’t but we did help a fellow who was making maple syrup, and again I must have been about 5 years old. We helped him gather sticks to keep the fire going. And he had a big cast-iron pot back there. Right back where I was born. Back on 4-Corners, we call them. Chiefs and Tecumseh.” His grandmother used to collect plants for medicine. She also made a syrup out of hickory and honey. All the plants were picked close to home: “Everything was right there.”
Participant 13 said that she collected wild asparagus for food. He picked wild onion, and noted as recently as last summer she went looking for them. She also picked morels for
82 food. She collected puffballs but did not like the taste. Her grandparents made maple sugar, but she never went to watch them. She, herself, never made sugar. She used red willow for blood poisoning, and said: “Well if I can even remember that, that I haven’t talked about in such a long time. For one thing, the Red Willow. You see Red Willow, you know, it only grows about this high. It’s not the great big willows, got to be the little ones. The roots to those you cook until they’re soft and mash them down and for blood poisoning or any kind of sore that just won’t heal, you put a gauze or cloth there and then this mashed red willow root, you put it there. Then you put another cloth over that and then wrap it. You can actually feel the pull of that stuff. It takes everything out of the sore. The matter, everything.” She also collected Sasaquon for colds and madea tea from it.
Participant 14 said that he collected hazelnuts, and still looks for them today. He collected all kinds of berries in the sand Pits. These included thimbleberries, raspberries and blackberries. These were found “along the Snye. Don’t see hardly any of those anymore. There’s a lot of the black cap berries. You can get those almost anywhere.
…choke cherries, we used to get a lot of choke cherries, but you don’t see hardly any choke cherry trees any more.” He picked morels along the dikes and along the edges of marshes. He also collected puffballs for food. One of his grandmothers had a lot of plants drying from the rafters. He noted: “It was for medicine and for teas for the winter and stuff.” He also collected hazelnuts, and still looks for them today. But he noted that hazelnuts are difficult to find now: “The fires have pretty much taken care of a lot of that.”
Participant 14 said that he picked a lot of wild leeks and asparagus on the island. He said: “You get a lot of those in back of the sand dunes. Over on Squirrel Island, where the sand dunes are back in there. …Yeah. Wild leeks just about anywhere. Highbanks is full of them. Of the wild leeks. [inaudible] where, I live there. They’re in the back of my house. Go right in the back, right in the yard on the side of the bush there.”
Participant 14 said that he never picked fiddleheads himself, but knows a lot of families that do so. These were picked on the island, and were said to be plentiful: “All along the edge of Public Bush. All along the corn field.”
Participant 15 said that he collected hickory nuts on the island. He also collected puffballs. He said that some elders made maple sugar. He explained: “Used to be up in the Eniskillen. The stories are that people would go in the spring in maples sugar time to that area to gather maple sugar. And also in these areas here" [points at map to an are around Petrolia]. He added: “Well it was an activity that was pursued by some of the elders here on Walpole Island itself. Particularly [personal name], a neighbour of ours.
Senior, you know, the elder. And then people later related that they used to go out to those areas out in the county largely. From what they described to me it was like they would go to a bush area that they were familiar with and new they could find maple trees and go in that area. That area’s been the subject of a lot of historical research and other such things that people have identified. ... That’s the Eniskillen area. I’ve heard from other Indians, from First Nations such as Caldwell Band that they used to go to maple
83 sugar bushes to gather. From those particular sources like that it seemed to be like a family would have its own kind of bush and would be responsible for taking care of that.
The other stories that I got from Pottawattamies was that there were three stars in the constellation Orion and are now called the belt of Orion. In our way we called [native word], like three persons in a vehicle and when they reach a certain configuration in the
Western sky just at… Spring, that was maple sugar making time. So the moon, the full moon or new moon that occurred, the moon that occurred at that particular time said that you would be in maple sugar making moon time. And you would have to move to the maple sugar area, if you were going to sugar off. And take care of the required instruments for making maple sugar, the buckets, and collecting paraphernalia, and clean the pathways to the trees that you were going to be tapping and remove undesirable species. So it was a form of agriculture. They’d be managing the forest by the removal of undesirable species and making sure that the pathways were clear for carrying the sap and then to a specific area you had prepare fire-wood and things like that for the boiling of the sap, down to the syrup and sugar.” Participant 15 also collected milkweed for food.
Participant 15 said that he uses some plants at ceremonial occasions; and also for house fresheners (i.e.: sweet grass, sassafras tea, various roots).
Participant 16 said that she collects mushrooms and fiddleheads for food. He collects milkweed and makes a soup from it. She uses a wide variety of plants for medicinal purposes, including mullein and yarrow. Regarding the use of plants for ceremonial purposes, she said: “I’m usually given those medicines. I don’t grow it. Some people do grow tobacco. There’s Indian Tobacco that’s grown. Different from the regular kind. I use tobacco, sage and cedar myself. And they are all hard to come by, like on the Island, they are usually given as gifts. Often they are paid for, often they’re bought.”
Participant 17 said that he used to pick plants with his family when he was a younger child. He explained: “they would pick a large variety of plants.” He does not carry this on, but still picks mushrooms. He picks mushrooms at a secret spot on the island. His family did not make maple sugar. He said his aunts and uncles went off-Reserve to make sugar. He explained: “I’m quite sure it happened, but no, not in my lifetime. I think you’re going back to another generation to my uncles and aunts. They would, that’s the type of thing they did. They talked about going up to Sarnia. They would be ….at that time on the reserve it was a day trip for them on horses. But they would hunt along the way and like you say, they didn’t always take the road, they took a straight line. But they would hunt and they would gather things along the way. And go to Sarnia reserve and see what their extended family look like and come back and same thing. They talked a lot about that kind of trip.” He does not pick medicinal plants himself, but relies on his wife, who has a network of people from whom she gets such plants. His father, who worked in the bush, would make axe handles out of necessity. They were made from ash and maybe hickory. This was obtained close to home on the island. He explained: “I’ve heard of people saying that they used to sell wood by sleigh in Algonac.” This took place before he was born.
Participant 18 said that he collected morels for food. He also collected puffballs for food, which he considered to be a staple. He does not pick medicines himself, but will: “take leaves off cedar, cedar trees and you can drink that as a tea.” He also talked about
“spicebush.” He said: “This was for thinning blood …but I noticed that’s kind of disappearing too. Like a few times I been back for it. I used to pick it at one time, I noticed that the bushes are declining out there. ...This may be due to over-harvesting.”
He was not sure, but he noted that before plants were taken, “I used to go out there and lay your tobacco down.”
Participant 19 said that she used to pick berries alongside the road as a child. She also picked wild strawberries and “these little grapes” [does not know what they were called].
She collected morels for food. She collected puffballs for food, and considered them to be food staples. Her brothers usually found these while they were hunting deer. She picked dandelions for food.
Participant 20 said: “We have an area in our personal property that grows a lot of berries, so those are gathered and made into pies and what not. Frozen. We’re near the excavation site on Walpole and there are a few areas back there that have berries. If we can beat the birds to them we get back there and get those as well.” She also collected morels on the island. She explained: “There are wild mushrooms growing back at the excavation site, the sand pit area they call it, back of that there’s mushroom patches, morels.” She said that she traded things with the [personal name] family who made sugar when they wanted it, as they didn't have sugar bush on their property. She said: “There are also medicine plants all the way from where I live back to the sand pit areas that we gather. … and before any of these plants are taken an offering is made to the spirit of these plants that good things will come of that, the [inaudible] of that plant. We’ve done medicine walks in that area surrounding my family’s property.” Regarding the spiritual power in plants, she said: “Kind of a symbiotic nature that exists between the plants and the people and the spirituality. We’ve done ceremonies down at the hill here, along this river. Casting away ceremonies for instance. We’ve done ceremonies for the water …
Plants cure…plants have such a big part of our life. There were cures for cancer, there were cures for all the major diseases…diabetes, everything. I remember as a young girl watching my father and my uncle go out and they were looking for the plants for the cancer cure and they knew the three ingredients but they couldn’t find the one and they would come back home exhausted because at their age…in their ‘seventies…and its tiring for them to be out all day.”
Participant 21 said that berries are collected for food, including: black raspberries; thimbleberries; elderberries and chokecherries, which are very difficult to find now.
Also: pin cherries. She said that she does not know why these are harder to find now, but she really has to look for them. She also picked wild strawberries. These are harvested mostly on the island. She collected puffballs on the island, and in the spring or fall would go to Sarnia Reserve to get puffballs, “along the outskirts of the Sarnia Rez.” She also collected fiddleheads on the island.
Participant 22 said: “We collect pretty much anything that's edible.” He noted wild mushrooms that were collected on the island.
Participant 23 said he knew about one family that made sugar on the Sony Road. He explained: “that would be [personal name] and his family.” He was given maple sugar by the nieces of this family, but never heard about other people making sugar or other sugar bush locations. When asked if he collected plants for medicine, he replied: “Yeah, quite often. But I get other guys to pick them. I have a… Just my way of thinking is all
Indians don’t have to know all this stuff because if you do you’re going to overload your brain cells. I guess my specialty is what you call War Dance tradition. But there all kinds of traditional people. There’s healers and people who gather stuff like that you know. So I allow them to specialize in their areas and I go trade with them, you know.
Most of these people I’m friendly with, you know, and I tell them what I need. I lot of them will just come over and give me stuff. I guess that they would be medicines to clean you out and purge the impurities from you. Then there’s salves for scrapes and cuts.” He used tobacco for spiritual purposes. He explained: “I’m a heavy smoker but I used tobacco in a sacred way also. I got a place out behind my house which is a…
There’s a spot out there where I got out and lay my sacrifices down and have my smoke out there. I try to go out there every day but that doesn’t happen. I take fruit out her I lay it down. And do my prayers out there.”
Participant 24 said that he has not picked plants for food on Walpole Island. He explained that he does not have the time to do this. He has a friend who still makes maple syrup from trees in his backyard on the island. He said that he has not picked plants for medicinal purposes, explaining that he does not have time to do this but knows they are out there. He has used plants, for arthritis, that others have given him. He said that he knew an old timer who used to make axe handles from ash. He had a large bush and would just walk back and get it. Speaking about old time crafts, he said: “people used to make baskets out of it…white ash and black ash…People used to make baskets and then they’d sell them at pow wows or they’d sell them on open market somewhere where they’d sell in a store. Or they used to trade them for goods, too, back in the old days.”
Participant 25 said that he collected morels and puffballs for food on the island. He collected some medicine with his father a few times; mainly Sasaquon. He said that black ash is used to make baskets, while white ash was better for making handles for tools. His cousins collected black ash, and he accompanied them a few times. But, even then, black ash was becoming difficult to find. He collected on the island, although his grandparents took a tractor and trailer and would go out and harvest large quantities.
Participant 2 talked about the hardships of losing mobility around their traditional territory. He explained: “Stuck in the one spot from being a wandering people. We could go all over the place. Wherever. Whatever, you know. If there’s a sugar bush here
86 we’d get up and go over there during the sugar time and get that. Wherever. In this day, and I’m told there’s a sugar bush someplace up in this area over here this place.” This sugaring place was Enniskillen. He also spoke about the collection of plant medicines in general in Sombra Township. He explained: “There’s a spot there someplace near
Sombra, where… that I think we had a land claim on. ... Used to be right in the township of Sombra. There’s a piece of land that’s located in there someplace that originally set out as the original reserve. ...Don’t know the name of it. But it was set apart. I don’t know anybody actually went and lived there.”
Participant 3 said maple sugar was collected at Enniskillen. She has gone off Reserve to collect medicinal plants. She said: “I go all over like the Caldwell Band, we’re pretty well connected like a day drive, a day and a half drive.” She also goes into the area around Bickford Woods looking for certain types of medicine: “My spring medicine.
Some woman medicine, I need to go in there.”
Participant 5 talked about making axe and hammer handles in Port Lambton. He explained: “And that belongs to us too, they say. They got a great big barn and there’s about six, seven guys with shavings all around them where they made axe handles and hammer handles. You see those pictures around the island in people’s houses. They had the names of the people.” His grandfather talked about this, but was not there himself.
Participant 6 referred to a sugar bush that used to be at Enniskillen. He had heard others talk about this area for sugaring. There was a graveyard beside it. This was about 80 or
90 years ago. He did not think anyone had been there recently.
Participant 20 said that plants were generally harvested along the little creeks. Her main route was Hwy 40. She also collected inland on the Sarnia Reserve.
Participant 22 stated that axe and hammer handles were made from hickory and baskets from black ash in the 1800 Block. He noted changes in the area over time, saying:
“When the people quit going there the campsite just overgrew with brush and when they quit going there, it was the game warden that put a stop to the boys from going there.
They kept everybody from out of there for a while. I don’t know, they finally got word somehow that it belonged to the natives, that whole area there. Different natives from different… all natives going through could put up a camp there. So that’s what it was for. Like here, Natives could stay 4 days, you know, somebody passing through. After 4 days somebody’d check them out see how long they were going to be here. That way we kept all the strangers out of her. Most of the strangers out of here. Had no problem.”
Many of the participants were reluctant to talk specifically about spiritual sites. The following is a summary of the spiritual site information obtained for the Local Study
Area (see Figure 10 for the composite map).
Figure 10: Spiritual Sites
Participant 2 said: “I guess that’s probably the only sacred areas there are that I would know of. Wherever burials are. Lot of people, somebody died, their body, they didn’t exactly bury them in a graveyard. They might just have buried them right there. You’d find probably find bones all the way along that, along the River because it was an old
Indian Trail. Before they made the Highway. Probably find burial grounds all along there. They call it the Bear Trail.” He also talked extensively on old trails and travel routes between Walpole and Sarnia; noting that settlers set up their villages where
Aboriginal people were already settled. He explained: “It became too crowded and noisy for the Indians and they left. …They just moved away because there was lots of space.”
Participant 3 said: “In the Whitebread area that’s where one of our traditional lodge, medicine lodges were. There’s a big high place there. That’s where the camp was.
...That was our old medicine lodge that was there. There’s a high ground there and that’s where it was located. In that… very protective over in that area. We still have watches that look over that. In up in our where ICI is Stanley Line. ... Into Bickford Line.
[whispering over map] There’s a burial grounds there and then when they built these plants here [name inaudible] and ICI they just built our… moved our bones in. Turn them over and put them in the ponds. ... When they started to put their plants there. We held a ceremony for our ancestor there and then they revealed themselves in the ceremony that they were there. And they weren’t taken care of. Right in between those two lines. The bones were just moved, shoved-in, reburied.”
Participant 15 said that he was aware of archaeological investigations as part of environmental assessment processes. Some archaeological sites have been identified. He was referring on the map to the Bickford Line, or a little north of it; also others toward
Stanley and between Stanley and Wyatt Line.
Participant 20 said there were places where people had family plots where they buried their ancestors and as far as the Local Study Area she said: “there is a spiritual effort on going now to more clearly identify where there is supposed to be a burial ground there, but it hasn’t been clearly identified yet. They are having ceremonies to do that now. And they are not going to come forward with it until they are absolutely sure where it is. ... It’s not been identified specifically. ... There were places where our forefathers are buried that certain families know, that’s been passed along maybe from one person in each family…one generation to another to another generation kept very very secure and nobody ever goes to those areas. They are sacred and special. You don’t disturb your ancestors…Tecumseh and his brothers and that sort of thing. They are allowed to rest in peace.” If these areas were disturbed by accident, she said: “I guess most of the impact would be on the people that disturbed it. And how they dealt with it. If they got a hold of the medicine people and had them go in and do a ceremony to take care of it then things would probably settle down. That energy wouldn’t become evident from those ancestors. But if it is done in a hostile way and without respect without a medicine person taking care of it then there’d be a lot of negativity happening in that area. A lot of energy, negative energy would be disturbing things. So it just depends on the individual who’s done the disturbing and how they treat the situation.”
Participant 23 said that there was a burial under a new building at the Blue Water Bridge.
He talked about the ceremonies performed during the re-burial process, saying: “Well there was one under the new building, the building at the Blue Water Bridge, I know that because I’ve got relatives on the Sarnia Reserve and when something like that happens they inform the Band Council and then the Band Council will talk to people, some of their traditional people and the go and do ceremonies over there. There are certain men that do the ceremonies and they usually have accompaniment of people who will sing.
I’m one of them people that can sing, not necessarily old traditional. They are contemporary songs but when there’s something happening like that they usually get a bunch of singers to get what we call the Honouring Song for those departed people to help them in their reburial site. Whatever they are going to do. Whatever those traditional leaders decide to do with the remains. They usually rebury them on the
Reserve. It’s handled by both politics and …[inaudible] accompanied by people who can sing.”
Participant 1 talked about the decline in muskrat hunting. He said: “I guess when I started becoming an age to hunt muskrats they were already on the decline. And all the people that I hunt with on the Island here that I hunt ducks with and stuff, most of them don’t go out for muskrats anymore. I don’t think the price is there for the fur and I know there’s not many out there. There’d be uh…the minks have come in. You see a lot of minks now. The minks eat the muskrats and their young. Kill them off.” Regarding hunting and access, he noted: “My family doesn’t do any [plant] collection off the Island.
No. Not to say that they don’t grow there. A lot of people specially with hunting won’t go off the Island, just because you get hassled. There’s a lot of hassle. ... The Ministry.
The Ministry of Natural Resources. Other people from off the Island that are in the bush often they’ll hassle you as well. Make false reports. Not last year, but the year before, that’s what Dean was talking about there. I was hunting here and I got…I was dragging a deer out here and I got hassled. The ministry came in. The conservation authority came in and they called the OPP. Half an hour before I shot that deer I was over here. I drove from here to here, because there were police here. They pulled us over. Someone filed a report saying we were shooting across the road. No shots were taken. It just so happened one of the guys in our hunting party was a police officer from Wallaceburg. And he said
‘No. Trust me, no one’s shooting across the road here.’ I said ‘I know another spot I’m going to try.’ The same police officer got the call over here so he came over an checked us out and he said, ‘You know what, I’ve just talked to these guys. There firearms are registered.’ And it was hunting season. You get a lot of hassle.”
Participant 1 also said that he used to hunt bullfrogs, but not any more because they were gone. He said: “You know you hardly hear them anymore and when you do find them they’re immature, they’re not very big. You don’t get the big ones anymore. I haven’t seen the big ones in a long time.” He noticed this change starting about 15 years ago. He noticed a similar decline in leopard frogs. He explained: “Even the leopard frogs there.
As a kid we’d spend the morning catching leopard frogs to use them for bait. They’re not really around anymore either. Used to be able to go through the grass with a stick… they’d just be jumping. They’re not there anymore.” He first noticed the decline in leopard frogs about 10 years ago. He does not know if spawning behavior has changed, but: “Small mouthed [bass] has increased significantly due to the zebra mussels. Water’s a lot clearer now. There’s more food. More plant growth and such. I’ve heard the walleye have declined, the numbers of wall-eye have declined. ... I’ve heard the Thames has been over fished for one. That’s their main spawning grounds, the Thames. Other than that I don’t. I don’t know why.” Also: “The snakes seemed to be in pretty fair population. Turtles seem to be. I still see a lot of snappers out there. Big ones too. I don’t tell anyone when I see them.[laughs] or where there at. There’s actually two that I know of that I see every year. Big ones. I go and see them every spring. They come out and they can’t hardly swim and they just kind of float around there. I get in nice and close and have a good look at them. It’s that cold water. They seem to be in fair numbers.”
Participant 1 also noted changes in bird populations. He said: “Bob-white quails are almost gone. I haven’t heard one in a couple of years now. Used to hear them all the time. … I haven’t really heard of anyone hunting them for a long time. I don’t believe it’s an issue over hunting. I would assume that it’s an environmental impact, but I don’t have any facts on it.”
Participant 1 talked about his diet and traditional food. He said: “I would say, for myself
I would say 70% would come from wild meat. Wild game. Not nearly as much on the wild plants. Maybe 5% would be plants. I probably eat venison every day. … When I was working full time I obviously ate less. I didn’t have as much time to hunt. But in the last couple of years I’ve worked myself into the position where I can hunt all the time.”
Participant 1 commented about water quality. He said: “Well, I have to assume it’s gone down. Pollution, you have to assume it’s gone down. Hopefully we’re keeping up with it. We just built a new treatment plant. [laughs] I don’t know if it’s helping or not. I still drink the water.” He believes the water is much more clear now because of zebra mussels. He said: “I would say so yeah. You’d go up in the lake and you could see 15 feet to the bottom easily. You think you’re in the Caribbean. ... Zebra Mussels are filter feeders so they eat all the suspended algae and such in the water. ... Well, from what I’ve read on it they don’t know what the lock term affects will be. Like I said, it’s made the small-mouth bass population just explode. In the fishing community if you’re bass fishing, and if your [inaudible] fishing that’s fantastic. But what are the long term affects. I don’t know.”
Participant 1 talked about changes in the marshlands. He said: “All the quill weeds have completely taken over. Water levels are way down. That’s not just the Island though, that’s all through the Great Lakes. Water levels are way down. … Why have the quill weeds taken over? No. Just that it’s a…I assume it’s a…well it’s an invasive species. I assume it’s stronger than the native plants. ... I've heard two different stories. They say you need to raise the water level in the marshes and the quill weeds will die. Well, I
92 don’t know. You go through the cuts in the marsh in there and they’re still growing in 4 to 6 feet of water you know. They’re coming out of the banks. So I don’t know if raising the water would kill them or not. But I do believe, I believe there’s a spin on the quill weed. The deer population has better cover. My feeling is that there were more deer on the Island than in a long time. The numbers were way up this year. …because now they have more cover.”
Participant 2, referring to the 1920s or 1930s, he said that: “If you did fishing you didn’t have to go very far in those times. Now in our now present times, like I said, there’s not much.” He came back from Residential School in 1956 and noticed some changes:
“They just hunt frogs when I come back from the residential school. There wasn’t very many of them and nobody would buy them anymore. I don’t know why.” He noted that turtles are a lot smaller now than they used to be. He said: “they were just huge. You know, great big shells. Don’t see them like that no more. We still don’t like to say, we don’t know what caused that. Could be, like you said the stuff up there, the water. I don’t think that many people actually goes out to deliberately hunt turtles.” Before his time, people used to cast ropes onto the back of steamships and get pulled up river; they would let go; float back downstream and fish along the way. He explained: “Whatever they caught is what they ate. ... Probably take them a day or so to drift back down, I don't know.” He also talked about how the spawning areas have changed. He said: “A lot of these canals running through there were all spawning areas for fish in days before. The waters were a lot wider and deeper in the now times the main spawning areas are south of the islands, in the little bays and stuff in here. Doesn’t show Goose Lake in there, but it’s in there someplace right about here someplace, where probably a lot of spawning in that area. Waterways ran differently back before diking and the water’d come in one way and went out a different way. Now they got what they call a Dynamite Creek in there that lets the water go over to the Johnston instead of over to the Chemmy but before times the water from Goose Lake used to go down into the Chemmy. Dump in that end of the creek. Closed it off on that end so this hunter down here could have a hunting area. And then closed it off on the other end and they put Dynamite Creek in there. Dumps it out into Johnston Bay. Goose Lake was a spawning area, so no they’re all in the south. All this area here. Depending on the kind of fish you’re looking at. Bass, I don’t now about.
Sturgeon probably go way up north someplace to spawn. I don’t know a lot of spawning beds in here. Any place there would be spawning beds there would have to protection for them. You know, this is a running creek and most fish don’t spawn there but they tell me that one time you could go up off Walpole Island on the beach every year and catch smelt. You could go out there and wade in the water at spawning time get about a basket full.”
Participant 2 also said: “There was a few but it wasn’t like the way we hunt, like for an hour. Back in those days people didn’t…they went hunting because they wanted to eat duck. It’s different from now, from how it is now. When you take out a guy out there and you don’t want to eat the duck, you just want him to pay your money so you can go there and hunt. But back in those times, you lived right there. We could get ducks in that river. We didn’t have to come way down here. So if we did want to go down there we could. Right there, we could just sit right down there on the dock and shoot them. In the
93 wintertime, we got a hole in the Chematogan and pushed the ice underneath there and throw corn or whatever we had out there. Those ducks would see that opening because, we cut the opening. And we’d go and wait there and Bang! We got food. …Like I said, we could just go across into the marsh and hunt.”
Participant 2 noted changes in some plants. He said that Wikan was not as prevalent now as it used to be. It used to grow all over the marsh by the Shooting Club. It grows around water.
Participant 2 also talked about changes to his diet. He said: “We changed. It began to be easier to go to the corner grocery store and get a couple of pounds of hamburg there than it was to come down here to get a muskrat for your supper and stuff, so. What with jobs and everything else, you know, people had money to spend. It changed part of our way of life.” He linked the decline in leopard frog populations to chemical outflow from up river. He said that “Indians” eat too much white food now; need to eat more deer meat again. Too much cholesterol in white man's food. In general he used to eat squirrels, raccoons, pheasant and quail eggs, robins and bluebirds. Regarding diet in general and amount of traditional food eaten now, he said: “Today I don’t eat very much of that. I got some venison in my freezer and I think I got about 3 ducks or 4 ducks. I got no turtle meat. I think I got about one bag of pickerel. I might eat pickerel maybe once a week.
Venison, maybe I might eat some about every two weeks. I don’t eat that much any more. Just even beef, kinda sometimes.” He noted that in the past, he ate a lot of muskrat meat, but now not very often. He said the population had declined drastically.
Participant 2 said that pollution was a cause of population decline in amphibians. He explained: “So everything is changing. We don’t know why. Maybe it’s because you got chemicals coming down. I don’t know. I couldn’t say that. Maybe because the air is changing. Whatever [inaudible] frogs. Whether it’s parts per billion amounts of chemicals that get into the air or into the water, it’s not just here. I’ve heard it said that those little amphibians and stuff and frogs and stuff like that all over the world are sort of disappearing, so it’s not just us. But you know this is just our observation.”
Participant 3 noted changes in the fish spawning beds. She said: “I think that the grasses are all polluting itself. Floating on the River. Top of the River. Not sticking to the bottom.” This affected the spawning beds, she continued: “Yes, the higher fish can’t be there. Their eggs or whatever they’re doing in there. That’s what I see floating; they don’t look good. Floats all the way down in there. Now we are getting some grasses in the water that don’t look right. I don’ know what they….it’s strange. Strange growth.
We see it more in the wintertime now its floating, eh. Because it’s dying, because the water’s killing it. It’s cold. Dying. Weeds. Seaweed. What we call them, seaweeds.
River weeds I guess.”
Participant 3 also noticed big changes in duck hunting over the last 20 years. She said it was much more difficult to get them now. The population is decreasing, she said: “I think because of the agriculture. Because of the airplane overflying in our air zone, airspace. That’s what I see. Making noise and don’t know how they’re trying to protect
Homeland Security American side they’re flying and then we have the South Ridge Air
Force Base and then we have the big Detroit Metro Airport. That’s what I see. We’re just criss-crossing, they are doing criss-crossing in our airspace and they are scaring the ducks away and the geese. And then we got agriculture coming in and they’re not leaving the corn on the ground for the ducks to eat. So our men have to go and throw their corn out to get the, trap the ducks, so it’s hard.”
Participant 3 also noted changes in plants. She said it was more difficult to find medicines now. She explained: “I think the family, the plant families, it’s harder to find.
And it’s not replanting itself. I’m sad to see that it’s not vibrant, it’s not coming back.
You could just walk and look for it. But now you’ve got to really go search for it. You got to go do hard walking.” She has also noticed a decline in certain types of flora:
“What I see too is no black willow. They’re cutting it down and it’s not growing and that’s not here either. Our white willow’s not here. We got yellow willow, we got red willow but no black and white willow.”
Regarding changes in diet, participant 3 said: “I think the eating habits changed.” Also regarding frog hunting: “I saw the change to and my sons used to just pick it up and sell it to the fishermen. ... to get pocket change. I don’t get my frogs, the bullfrogs to eat now, unless somebody gives it to me. I guess that’s the way it’s going.” She still eats turtle and eggs, but: “there’s a different meat colour. It’s more like yellowish, like this
[demonstrates] funny colour of yellow, like this colour. Funny colour meat now. Not used to that. Not like what it used to be.” The meat used to be better: “Like a clear, like uh, clear meat. Pink like. Not pink, but what good clear meat looks like. Now it looks like a yellow colour, like a brownish colour.” She commented that their health was deteriorating because they were eating too much white food (pigs, cows, chicken &c).
She said they need to return to Indian food, like deer mea, or “natural food.” Speaking of diet in general, she said she used to eat squirrels, raccoons, pheasant eggs and quail eggs.
Regarding how much traditional food she still consumes, she answered: “I eat a lot of it.
I still eat it. I wouldn’t do without it. But it’s scary to eat that because of what’s happening to the animals. [inaudible] the ducks. I eat turtle, I eat everything. Today it’s still in my fridge and if I get hungry for it, I’ll cook it. If I can’t find… if it ain’t in my fridge and I’m running low then I’ll go to my aunts and uncles and get it. They got it.”
She said that the number of muskrat houses on Walpole were dwindling, and attributes this to DDT let loose in Dynamite Cut by a former Chief and Council. She also blames low water and low demand for fur.
Participant 3 commented about her livelihood that used to come from harvesting traditional resources, and the importance of sharing food and medicine. She said: “There was a dependency on that. It was a… had to. Or you wouldn’t have food on the table.
But now it’s like a tourist industry. You shoot it for them. You kill it for them.
Outsiders and it’s not a reliance on put it on your table. Even if you….my sons are hunters. They hunt for them. They don’t hunt for the family no more. If they do give me what they shot extra. S o it’s uh…going. Even the fishing. Fishing them, not fishing for you. For the family, for the table, for fishing to help the elders. Still the elders, they like they’re used to eating the wild. Still they just sit and wait for you to come and bring
95 them a duck, or bring them a fish or bring them a turtle or something. Or bring them plants or you know, medicine to them. Because they can’t go out there and do it no more. So they wait and they don’t go out and ask, “I need this, I need that” they just wait for you to bring it to them.”
Participant 4 noted that muskrat hunting started to decline during the 1970s. He explained: “it started to go downhill fast.” He attributed this to pollution from the industrial complex at Sarnia, explaining: “I figured it was the pollution from those chemical plants I used to think. I couldn’t prove anything but that was always my thinking. And a lot of people on the island thought the same way.” He noted that some of the animals were sick and this could be passed on to humans. He said: “Some of them were sick-looking, skinny. But…sometime, you’d bust open a house and there would be four, five of them laying in there all dead, but they told me that was from a fever, like they had. You can get the fever, too, which lots of people did. But they said that you build up an immunity a doctor told me. And I thought I must have, because I never got it, my wife didn’t get it.” He said that deer population, on the other hand, has been increasing. The deer hunting is getting better. He also noted an increase in wild turkeys, which are now on Walpole.
Participant 4 also said that he used to do a lot of frog hunting, bull frogs, but they are almost wiped out now. He does not attribute this to over-hunting by Walpole people, as at the time, their population was small. He first noticed the decline in the late 1960s and
1970s. The same thing happened to the leopard frogs.
Participant 4 said that he used to fish for smelt on the island, but noted that smelt stopped running about 20 or 30 years ago.
Participant 4 collected a lot of hazelnuts as a kid. They were very plentiful. He said they used to be all over the place right where he lived, but they are not there any longer.
Participant 4 spoke about a general decrease in duck populations. He said: “Every species of duck that they hunt is down like red-heads, mallards. Well red-heads is making a comeback. I see a lot of them. But canvas back and mallards are down. Way down. …I heard it was because there was no habitat for them. I don’t know. That’s what
I heard. [inaudible] up north wherever the migratory birds come from.”
Participant 4 noted changes to the quality of drinking water. He said: “Well I know it was bad before in the ‘60s. Real bad. I knew that. Because I used to get really bad ear infections then that you don’t see much anymore. Kind of improved. It went way up one time until people became aware of it and it’s going down again. ...Scabs. But I know it’s bad because I used to even see those little wee plastic pellets. Little wee things about the same as BBs floating down along the river and all over here and there. In the marsh.
You’d see them in the marsh. You’ve probably seen them [to facilitators] wash up on the shore and they were little pellets. Plastic pellets. I knew they were plastic but I haven’t seen that for quite a while now. And one time there was really a lot of it. It was all over the marshes. Whenever you’d go into the marshes, wherever the water would flow in,
96 you’d see it. On the beaches you’d see it. ...It would just wash up and leave a little
[inaudible] you know. Like anything else it would wash up on the shoe here and there.
But there was a lot of it in the water. I don’t know where it come from but….I know it came from those plants up there. It’s the only place it could have come from.”
Participant 4 noted changes in the marshlands. He said: “That phragamites. It’s just taken over everything. That’s what I think about it. It’s everywhere. Not only here but…[gesticulates] wherever there’s water and marsh.” He first noticed this, “Oh, 20 years ago maybe. It first started. Not that long. There used to be a different type of weed, similar to phragmites and they used to call it the Redlake. That used to be plentiful on the Island now it’s disappeared too. You don’t hardly see any of it. I think that was a local plant.” He also noted another weed: “Red stalk on it. Similar. It was unreal. The aggressive weed like that Phragmites grew. It didn’t….It left other species alone. It stayed to itself. Not like that phragmites that marches through everything. Spreads out like that.” He attributed these changes to discharge from Seaway ships. He said: “I think it’s some of those foreign boats that went up and down the seaway and they brought in a lot of unwanted pests. ...The water’s still as blue as it ever was. I don’t think there’s much changes. The water looks beautiful but it aint. That’s my theory of it.”
Participant 5 noted a change in the muskrat population. He explained: “The muskrats are way down in all the parts because they are not being harvested anymore. They seem to be harvested…you’d think they are wiped out around our area in the marshes. There’d be just as many the next year. It’s partly disease and there’s a lot of [mink] now just running around all over killing them [to eat] and then they’d go again … mink are overpopulated in the marshlands now. People used to track them for days in the ‘forties and ‘fifties because they were almost worth a week’s wages back then. ... But the marsh is being overrun by mink now. That’s part of the decline in the muskrat, I think.” He was also concerned about being harassed when hunting in the 1800 Block. He explained: “We were kinda nervous, we were testing the waters. We never got pulled over or checked but some fellahs have and just recently they were, a few years ago they were checked and they called the Heritage Centre and talked to Dave when he was here. Dave said ‘if they’re asking you all kinds of questions, you ask them questions, too. Who they are, names and badge numbers.’ Apparently they were let go. They had their pictures taken but no charges were ever laid. One was if you had the proper papers, your firearm papers and your status card.”
Participant 5 noted that there was a change in access to water for fishing free of harassment. He explained: “yeah, we were afraid of that in the ‘fifties or ‘sixties. Finally the younger people just went venturing out further and further. Some were asked for their license and some told them, 'We own the lake, we shouldn’t have to have no kind of papers to fish in our back yard.' That’s what they told them. [Inaudible] administrative line they call it… we kind of kept in there and finally we heard stories that it belonged to us so we kinda protected it, kinda, type of thing. You know, something’s gonna happen, we’re going to find out.” Talking about the boundary line in Lake St Clair, he added: “It was the depth of a paddle or something….And we could have had a 30 foot paddle
[laughs] You know? Depends on what kind of paddle you’re talking about, it was a
97 boundary line and then they changed it to an administrative line. I remember seeing old maps where our area was up to here and then across. So your maps went further this way….When Russell’s Island went, and then out and then in. See, they just came out trying to close it in. ... Well this one goes across that way. Old maps say we own out this way, into Mitchell’s Bay. Then the newer maps went closer in. I’ve seen those old maps. And then they….[Whitney’s Islands] is what it was called. They took in somebody’s marsh and that was supposed to be ours.”
Participant 5 talked about the abundance of catfish when he was a kid and the reasons why they cannot be caught as before. He said: “The numbers have dropped. When I was a kid you could catch cat fish any place. I hear there are a lot more fishermen now than there was 30 or 40 years ago. There used to be a lot of cat fish up in these small areas.
When we were kids we used to sit on the dike and fish for them. The spawning areas seems to be the same. Along the south areas of the Island, but like I said before, before they blocked this off, the fish used to go up all these little ditches and spawn and go back out again. That’d be the first the pike, carp, dog-fish. They’d all come this area. They must have known how to get back out again. But it’s all blocked off.”
Participant 5 also noted that quail and pheasant were plentiful on the island until about the late 1960s. He attributed the decline to farming chemicals. Regarding decline in ducks, he said: “Loss of habitat is one of the bigger things that I see. And you have to think that climates have changed. It seems to me that the birds are staying more north longer... wherever there’s food and water good habitat they’ll stay there a few months.
The winters were colder a few years ago when they pushed up through here and they got a lot of opportunities to head south. The trumpeter swans …territorial bird in here keep taking over areas where the mallards and the smaller ducks used to feed for aquatic bugs and plant life. And swans are chasing all the little birds out. People know that, MNR and that, they know that swans are territorial. I’ve seen that maybe about 5 or 10% of the cause, but nothing real great in swans but their numbers are down. …are picking the fields a lot cleaning nowadays too. Take forty years ago, there’d be cobs of corn, here and there, there was food for them, they didn’t spoil any grain, but the fall time and the spring time was a good source of food for them. Summertime they eat a lot of plants and aquatic life."” He had heard his grandfather say that duck population was declining.
This was when he was about 11 or 12.
Participant 5 commented about water quality. He said: “Well the water seemed to be pretty well clear. People weren’t afraid…there were higher water lines in the ‘fifties and
‘sixties. It was mostly up around ….the other side of the island people used to gather water in pails, even in these little swamps and creeks, the water was still running through there. And then the scare in the ‘sixties and ‘seventies with the pollution that they were finding they just quit.”
Participant 5 talked about changes to the water. He said: “The colour is still the same, the muddiness come usually after heavy rains or a real good northwest wind seems to
[stretch] along the beaches of all the lakes here and it just [puddles] down. Just the
[inaudible] from Lake Huron and run off. Even windy days you could see when you
98 drive around the river there you can see where the erosion is, it’s just all milky from the side there from shore erosion and you can see it.”
Regarding changes in diet, participant 5 said: “Well during the winter months, not so much in springtime, we used to eat muskrat once a week, sometimes twice a week. Fish, whenever we could get it, any time of the year. Squirrel, at the time I wasn’t in school we used to go up and shoot them. Rabbits, when we had spare time. When we were younger we had a lot more to do. Haul water, split wood and that type of thing.” He considered that about 20% of his childhood diet came from traditional foods, whereas today, it is about 4%.
Participant 5 talked lack of ice formation on the St Clair River beginning in the 1960s.
He said: “When I was small, the ice conditions seemed to be thicker. But that was deceiving. It could be thick one day and the next day it would be gone. Even when we used to go across the Johnston River to spear muskrats on St. Anne’s, we’d have to watch that to because we’d be out there 8 to 4 and come back and it would open up just during the day. That quick. The last time was back in ’66 I think. [Personal name], when I was a young fellow, we used to have a cable-ferry where the bridge is now. There was about
30 cars piled up. It was winter time. It was January. He said ‘to heck with this”’ My mum and other brothers. He drove down the road, went down the bank of the river and drove across the river and my mother was screaming eh. He drove right across up on the bank up on the other side. She didn’t know what he was going to do. ‘Shut up’ he said.
[laughs]. That was around 1966. He knew what he was doing. I didn’t. I was just a kid.
A lot of people done it. The ice conditions seemed to be thicker in those days.
[inaudible] used to drive their cars out into the marshlands. Spear rats. Get out of their car and start [inaudible]. They don’t do that anymore.”
Participant 6 talked about declining animal populations in general. He said: “There’s a lot of uh…Years ago there used to be a lot of deer here. But then other things…There used to be a lot of pheasant; there’s no pheasant. And the leopard frogs, there’s no longer….they used to be in the ditches. Plentiful. Now I heard leopard frogs, just this past spring, down my way, where I live, for the first time, in, I don’t know, maybe a few years. They were missing for about 10 or 15 years. The Leopard frogs. …There isn’t many deer on the Island but in here there’s a lot of deer here but most of its on private property. The people that own it they don’t want you on their property. They kind of frown on that. Even if you hunt along the edge, they don’t care for you.”
Participant 6 has also noticed changes to duck populations. He said: “Well, we have some ducks, we call them local ducks. They hang around all year. In the fall around the middle of November when the weather gets called we have the Northern ducks. Some
Northern ducks and they are bigger ducks and they are a nice duck for food. But not that many. I don’t know what it is. Environmental change, maybe. Or else the flyways have changed, I don’t know. That’s still a question that a lot of people that are duck hunters can’t answer. They’ve all got answers but what is the real reason that they don’t. I couldn’t really tell you.”
Participant 6 said that his diet has changed. He noted that about 40 years ago anywhere between 20% and 40% of his diet used to be from traditional foods. Today it is maybe
10-15%. Regarding the change in diet, he said: “It’s hard to say. If you ask a lot of people that they’d sooner eat steak or muskrat, they’d probably say steak. Like, you don’t want to eat muskrat everyday. Not any more. At our house we eat it once a year.
Have a nice feed of it. Nobody hunts it any more, you know. Not too many. Very few people hunt.”
Participant 6 said that he used to be able to cross the river in winter in a horse and sleigh.
He explained: “That’s before the [industrial] plants move in, there used to be 3, 4 feet of ice, clear ice, solid ice. Since the plants have moved in there, you can’t even walk across out in the channel there. That’s caused by the plants. ... The chemicals in the water. ...
They used to put out markers, you know, where it’s nice and solid, eh. But cold winter days there was at least 3 foot of ice and you could see down. Anymore you can’t see nothing there, because it doesn’t even hardly freeze up anymore.” He thinks the last time that you could walk across the ice was about 50 years ago. He also used to walk across the Snye when it was frozen.
Regarding changes in the marshlands, particpant 6 said: “Well, there’s probably a lot of changes but I’ve never noticed. I know there is a lot of changes from when I used to hunt and today I really couldn’t pinpoint and tell you exactly what it is you know. But there is changes. The environment changes quite a bit through here.” He attributed this to: “The chemical plants right there.”
Participant 7 said that he used to cross the St Clair River in winter when it was frozen.
He explained: “Yeah I remember crossing with my husband one time. We went over to get a television over there on a sleigh and we brought it over walking.” He said that the river doesn't freeze anymore, and attributes this to chemicals in the water.
Participant 7 has concerns about decreasing water levels and chemicals in the wate. He said: “Well they think it’s polluted because everyone’s getting sick from it and that. And then pregnant women drink that and their babies are sick and stuff like that. … Yeah, we used to get out water from the creek. From where I was brought up. They’d get the creek water, but just out of the …we’d walk down there and get it out of the creek and we drank it. We didn’t boil it or nothing. It was just really nice and clean. Now it's different: It’s not clear anymore. It’s kind of dirty, or foggy like” She said that when she was about 10 years old and had come back from school, they didn't get water from the creek anymore. Now water was obtained from the pumps.
Participant 7 said that there had been accretion. She explained: “Well I noticed the same thing that there’s going to be more beach because the water’s going down. I haven’t been out in the beach in the while. It’s been a long time ago when my kids were little they’d go swimming and stuff. And then they said there’d be bacteria in the water they wouldn’t let them swim.” She first heard about bacteria in the water about 10 years ago, and believes this comes down from Sarnia.
Participant 7 commented on polluted water which no longer freezes. Referring to the petro-chemical industry, she said: “And then they’ve been having spills every little while over there. That’s why I’m saying that. Maybe I’m wrong…I don’t know, but that’s what I think.” Concerned because she does not know what industry is dumping into the
River, she noted: “Pollution. Breathing it in, drinking it. And then not only that…chemicals in the food they grow now, chemicals in the farms and they use all these sprays…oh, whatever they use, so it’s not just the Shell people or whatever different companies, it’s the farmers too - bug spray or whatever ... But now I think everything’s it’s polluted, now. That’s how come I said I don’t really like this generation.”
Participant 8 said that she used to walk across the St Clair River when it froze in the winter, but noted that it doesn't freeze anymore. She first began to notice this in the late
1960s or early 1970s.
Participant 8 said that the water used to be bluer. She thinks that the water is being polluted by Sarnia industry: “all those factories and from Sarnia, down that way. That’s what they claim anyway. Because there wasn’t that many factories over there in those years, maybe 50 years ago.”
Participant 9 said that he ate a fair bit of traditional food while he was hunting and fishing on the island. After he started working in Chatham, he believes he ate less traditional foods than he formerly consumed.
Participant 9 said that he used to walk across the St Clair River in the winter when it was frozen. He explained: “Longer than thirty years ago. 40 years ago since I walked across there. Used to go across there and get our supply of alcohol and all that kind of stuff.”
He said that he would walk across at the Ferry landing. He would walk to Harsen's
Island ad then through Russell Island, or walk across to the mainland. He talked about why he stopped crossing the river: “Well the icebreaker sometimes came and broke it up, the other time it melted and there was now more ice. But there used to be a lot of ice come down that river. All those plants that are up there. It doesn’t come down any more.
But it used to.” He attributed this to: “the late 70s I think. Maybe the late 60s it started.
There was a change I think when one of those plants started dumping their stuff in the river and that ice didn’t stay too long. Now sometimes we don’t get too much ice anyway. If we do get ice it doesn’t stay to long usually. It’s not safe to walk on.” He also said that he walked across the Snye River when it was frozen, especially if the ferry was not running. The said the ice there stays longer now than on the St Clair River.
Participant 9 brought in some old postcards, and said: “That’s a nice one up by where the
Health Centre is. One time that was a…used to be a beach area. It was dry and there used to be a drop-off there. It’s not there now. So the water back in those days must have been pretty low. When, I guess, the steamboats come by, I mean those big freighters come by they make big backwashes and sometimes the fish would get washed up on the beach.” Talking further about the shoreline, he said: “I know right now that the water is low but it’s not as low as it was back then. I really don’t know what the… because I was just a young fellow. Those are the things I can remember about that.
Shelf, like this is a drop-off by the Myrtle. Used to be a police station. Mountie Station there. Used to be a beach there.”
Participant 10 said: “fish were gradually going down and it was harder to catch them.
I’m aware that they were coming up with scabs on the bottom of them, probably from pollution from the north.” When he was about 20, he would go fishing by himself, and he said: “these fish would have spots on them, on the bottom of them, like sores. And when I became chief people started bringing me them that looked pretty bad, like they had cancer. And at that stage we were aware that there were hot spots in the river, deep down there and it would melt rubber, it was so hot. And I know they were on this side, the Americans were testing it.” Declining populations led governments to control limits.
He also noted declining frog populations - again beginning when he was about 20 years old.
Participant 10 said that he used to walk across the St Clair River when it was frozen to get to work on the American side. He explained that he was “About 15, 16. I was about
19 when I used to….but we would go over when we were younger. My mother said they used to cross in cars. They’d drive across and then drive up the other side and go shopping. But that’s all I knew about it. By the stage I was …there was a ferry there and there was Customs.” He said that after a while the river never froze due to pollutants: He explained: “Well, the other problem that happened is the hydro plants that went up there melted all the ice so it was kind of dangerous. I went across when I was about 19.” He explained more about Hydro's role in polluting: “Well hydro was all those plants and this water…the temperature going up so the ice wouldn’t be thick. When I was small you could see the ice was about this thick [gesticulates] and it was just clear. You could see the fish under there. And my mother said when she was smaller, they would drive in cars across and horses and sleighs.”
Participant 11 noted that there were hardly any bullfrogs left on the island anymore. He attributes their decline to the installation of the pumps. He explained: “When they drained the marsh/the creek. This was about 20 years ago. One of the pumps was burned down by trappers. They were blamed because they did a lot of trapping through that creek. These pumps caused a lot of damage to traditional harvesting. …Took their livelihood away [continues inaudibly] Once that was put in like he says the bull frogs went and the muskrats down through that whole area there, that whole creek from the
Snye down to Goose Lake. A lot of the boys used to have trap lines through there” He noted that the leopard frog population declined for the same reason: “When we lost our water we lost the frog.”
Participant 11 has observed a decline in quail and pheasant over the years. He said there are few left on the island anymore, and attributes this to fire. He explained: “I think they’d done away with that because they had too many marsh fires, and that’s another thing that kills off these little birds like that.” He thinks this decline started about 10 years ago.
Participant 11 said that he used to walk across the St Clair River to the American side when the river was frozen, but stopped doing it. He explained: “I guess when they started polluting the waters. … I guess when they started polluting the waters.” He said he began to notice these changes in about the 1960s.
Participant 11 stated: “For the last ten years the water has been going down. All the marshes are draining. The only place you can have any water is if its being pumped into the marsh if you’re going to keep it. But other than that you don’t pump your marsh it’s going to drain. And its going to kill a lot of stuff in there. And other weeds are going to grow that water kept underneath. So like, okay we’ll take this, so called quill grass ...
Fragmitis. Yeah, see that came oh, when I worked for [personal name], that’s when we started seeing this fragmities. Now that used to be a tall weed, just all by itself just growing in the Red [Lake], it killed the Red Lake after while. And the muskrat do not eat that ‘cause its stick is like a bamboo that there fragmities.” He thought that these changes were caused because of low water levels. He said: “Because of the water going down.
Because there’s lots of times water comes into the marsh and if it is high enough the plant will not grow. But if you lower the mash or the water line it will help the plants grow like some of the….duck potato…we got duck potato that grows good where the water’s about two feet, maybe two feet at the highest. That thing will really grow good. But if it get’s higher than that it will not grow, it’ll just stay down. And the water lily. That’s another thing, that’s a medicinal plant. The water lily is medicinal.”
Participant 12 noted changes to some of the small game populations was done by an increase in the fox and skunk. He explained: “I think the fox started coming in and uh…and they never had no… well they got in pretty thick and there was a bounty on them. On the Reserve here for a while. But they were only giving about $30 a pelt or a head or however you measured them, but they did have a bounty on them for a while. I think the fox taking a lot of the quail, snipe, woodcock and pheasant and not only that, I think they were digging into turtle eggs and duck eggs. The fox and the coyote doing the same thing. I was working for Public Works there and I covered a lot of ground when I was in Public Works. I drove around different areas of the Island, dikes and back roads and that’s what I found. You could see pheasants lying here and there. Just look and you could tell it was an animal that got after the quail or pheasant or turtle eggs. You could see their tracks. I guess the skunk was doing the same thing, digging up the turtle eggs.
So the fox done a lot of damage.” He believes that the fox population got out of control in the first place because there was no bounty on them. He said: “all of a sudden were running short of pheasant, quail and all those smaller animals. Even the rabbit. Pretty well cleaned them out; the cottontail. So I’d say it was a fox.”
Participant 12 also noted changes in the spawning behaviour of fish. He explained: “I think the spawning….we had a problem here with Alewives, they call them Alewives.
They start eating eggs, for the spawning perch and I think even the pickerel. … Alewives.
It’s a little fish about yeah big. Sometimes I guess they call them Mooneyes. One big eye. They’re flat. They were so thick one time they’d wash up along the shore. They’d lay there for 2, 3 days and really stick up the whole place as they rotted out. I think it was the Ministry of Natural Resources, started bringing in trout and salmon. They
103 planted some up along the St. Clair and the St. Clair River and there’s the one’s that got rid of the Alewives to save the Pickerel and the Perch. Another little story there too. The heron used to come in. Night Heron. There’s a bird come in there and the Alewives were so thick they’d come in and that’s what the Night Heron would eat. As soon as they got rid of the Alewives with the Salmon, the Night Heron disappeared. I don’t know if you know it but it’s a real fancy breed. It’s got a nice long tube, little feathers grow straight back anyway. That’s what happened to that and I think uh, they took a lot of the pickerel and the perch till they got rid of that. But still I don’t think they ever came back to Lake St. Clair. Maybe the fish got wise to that, so they stayed away, pretty well. So they weren’t getting that much Pickerel. That might be part of why you can’t get too much pickerel now.” He also spoke about the decline of smelt: “We done smelt fishing out Erieau. But that was back in probably late 50s, 60s, yeah early 60s and we were going over there every Spring, like in April when the run was on. And then all of a sudden again, they quit or something happened or they just weren’t there anymore. The whole shoreline changed. I think the cottage people started putting break walls up around that area.” He thinks that smelt around the island declined because of the cormorant. He explained: “Cormorant. ... The bird. It’s a diving bird. We never used to see them up here. Till about 25 years ago. 20 years ago. They found out there weren’t smelt coming up this river, I think and that’s when they show up every spring. Smelt and the
Cormorant would show. Like I say we never see them up this way and we now we see them all the way up to the Sault, up to the Mackinaw Bridge area. They see them up there. Which they never seen Cormorant up there, you know. So that’s what brought those birds around. Smelt.”
Participant 12 also talked about changes in duck populations. He said: “Ducks. I think their flyway was different. What I though because, one time they were plentiful. They had a regular flyway because even at our place here we used to go out down the docks and they’d just be flying in thousands of them. Flying over. But after a while the people up… just outside of the Island took, the farmers starting putting little sanctuaries, feeding ducks up along there so instead of them coming out to the Island to feed, they was stopping at these sanctuaries. I don’t know if it was their plan to change their flyway or not, I don’t know. But they did change and the ducks were kind of thin after a while on account of that. I thought anyway. So they weren’t plentiful after a while.”
Participant 12 talked about changes in his diet. He noted that when he was with his grandparents he mostly ate traditional foods. He explained: “Mostly traditional food.
We ate a lot of, not a lot, but whatever we could get. Rabbit, squirrel, fish. We didn’t stay with that too long because again I was sent away to school when I was six years old so. At the time that’s all we ate. Like in the 30s. Time were rough at that time for food.
And I remember a couple of times we went out, without food for a couple of days, 3 days before we got anything. Like, I was just a little guy then, about 5 years old. ... Same area.
And I can’t imagine today, you know, a little guy going out , 4, 5 years old, going out hunting. Looking for rabbit. I look at a lot of these little boys now, 5 or so. Beside.
Was I that small when I went out hunting? Killed a rabbit, stuff like that. That’s the only time I… things happen in your life and you remember all those little things. I can’t imagine, like I say, you look at the little guys. 5 years old. I was hunting at that time.
Sent away when I was six years old. That’s about it. I didn’t do that much hunting.
Grandma did it. I was with them for 3 years. They adopted me or took me in when I was
3. Shipped me away when I was 6, so three years I really picked up quite a bit from
Grandmother and Grandfather. Taught me how to hunt and all that. Which wasn’t much, but I appreciate it so.”
Participant 12 noted changes in ice conditions. He remembers crossing the St Clair River when it was frozen. He said: “Yeah, when I was working in Algonac in ’50, I think it was ’50, we used to go across, walk across. The River was frozen over and it was safe and what they used to do was when it first froze up, the guys would across it, 2, 3 guys would go across with a spear, like a muskrat spear. And they’d go across it…It all depended how hard you speared the ice. Maybe you could go through here…eh, that’s a bad spot. They’d pick another spot. They’d take branches of trees or something big carrying [inaudible], bunch of cans or something. They’d mark away, all the way across,
‘til they got to the other side, so the next guy didn’t have no spear or nothing. So he just went by the marking his pathway. There was a pathway as long as the ice was there.
Walk back and forth. It used to freeze up solid before Christmas, because I remember we used to bring a lot of Christmas presents over. Go across bring stuff over. Middle of the night, because there was no ferry to catch, or nothing like that. No time to come across.
Stay over there ‘till dark and come across with groceries and whatever. ... I think it started changing, like uh, I think Detroit Edison had a plant up St. Clair side and I don’t know if it’s called recycling but anyway they use wattable power and that plant went up there and when they discharge, the water’s still warm, so warm water was coming down from Lake St. Clair and after that another plant was put up. Lambton Hydro. On this side. So that the bothered the water temperature more. So when it does get cold. It would warm any kind of ice. Jams up but it doesn’t last long because the warm water just wears it out on the bottom. ... Underneath, yeah. Not only that. When the warm, when the warm real thick ice, when it did jam up down at the narrow spots down below, the ice would jam up and it would be all jagged. So underneath the ice, you could see an ice berg this way or that way so when the warm water hit those ice bergs, that’s down a little bit, form a whirlpool and any time the warm water swirling underneath, just eat up the ice that quick. It wouldn’t last but just as it was jammed up tonight and about 2 days there’d be nothing there. Break away and just float away because the warm water just take it away. So it was never safe after the plants were up there.” He believed these changes started in the 1960s, and recalled that it was safe in the 1950s.
Participant 12 talked about changes to the shorelines. He said: “And the shoreline, we have a lot of erosion up around the Island. Because of the commercial traffic, the big boats that come through. The road… a lot of the Island on the lower part that even went into the marsh. One spot there on Squirrel Island we had to build it up with stone.
Gabion basket. To keep it from going in some more. Eroding that whole point, that was right back up in here ... All up through there, down to Squirrel Island. Squirrel Island was the worst one. It eroded quite a bit in there. Once it got beyond the cattails or whatever grows along the shoreline. Once it washed that out then it got into the earth part I guess. Washed it away. ... I think it did along the lower end of the Island there.
Washed a lot of cattail away. Because that was holding the shoreline.”
Participant 13 spoke about the contamination of the river water. She said: “when we first got water on the Island, we always had a pump, and when the water came in to the Island, you know, everyone was given water to their homes piped in. We used it too but we used it for washing. My children drank pump water and anyway, my mother believed that getting water from the river was already contaminated. She never wanted her grandchildren to drink that.” She said that her mother started having these concerns in the 1950s: She explained: “About the 1950s. So she was already concerned about polluted environment.”
Participant 13 talked about a decline in wild onion and other plants. She said: “Well since the farmers came in and they do all there whatever in the fields. Whatever the spread in there to kill weeds, well that must go out in there to the areas where we found, you know, stuff that we ate that grew wild. But you know there are so many things that are missing.”
Participant 14 observed a great decrease in muskrat. He attributes this to an overabundance of mink. He explained: “The population of muskrats has dwindled very, very extremely because of the wild mink. Now the mink are more abundant than the muskrats were now. Really nobody traps them anymore. Simply because you could get mink in any colour you want to get them on a farm. So we don’t hunt them in the… and the mink today are killing.”
Participant 14 said that he used to fish for smelt on Lake Erie at Erieau. He attributes the decline to predators, saying: “They’ve turned loose these salmon now. And trout and they eat their weight every day. So you don’t really see them any more. I haven’t been to Lake Erie in years... Could try over there. I don’t even know if they’re coming here or not any more. But they come in just a dusk them come in and there’d be thousands of people along the shore fishing for them.” He said that fish spawning has changed for the worst over the years. He explained: “The depth of the water. A lot of the hunting clubs have done a lot of diking to their marshes over the years and that has changed a lot of that. ... It has stopped the rivers from flowing through the fish waters for them to breed.
To be able to go into spawn in those areas.”
Participant 14 also noticed a decrease in small game bird populations. He attributed this to fires set to smoke out deer and an over-abundance of fox. He said: “Quail, there’s very, very few. If you see them don’t bother with them because there isn’t any any more.
Use to be able to walk outside at any given time during the Spring or even in the Fall in the early morning you’d hear them chirping and now you don’t even hear that any more.
... Here on Walpole I believe they’re decreasing because of the fires and the fox. ...
We’ve got a lot of fox here. But the fires are terrible. The younger generation today are setting the fires to chase the deer out and the fires are just destroying all their original path.” He also mentioned increasing duck numbers due to farming. He explained: “We have a greater number of ducks, but we don’t have the numbers we had years and years ago. I believe it’s from the farming. ... Yeah, right now the farmers today are, as fast as they’re picking the corn, they got a machine coming behind that’s ploughing the fields,
106 and the birds aren’t just staying here anymore. At one time we were the duck hunting capital of the world just about. We had hunters from all over the world.”
Participant 14 also noted that berries were not as plentiful because the sand was removed from the pits. He said: “To remove the sand out of there. But now you don’t hardly see those in here at all any more. Just a few that grow along the edges where they didn’t dig them.” This started in about the 1960s.
Participant 14 has observed declining water levels. He said: “Water levels are horrible.
When I got married back in the early ‘70s, the water was low then. I used to live up along the St. Clair River and I used to cut the grass out on the river and a few years later the water’d come up so high that it was by your arm pits. Now it’s back down again.
Everybody said it’s just a seven [level off] It’s been past seven years and it didn’t come back. It’s down. And it’s going further and further everyday. ... I have no idea what’s causing that. Be a rich man today I think if we knew [laughs] It’s anybody’s guess right now.”
Participant 14 believes that water quality is declining. He said: “A lot of people today are afraid to even drink the water. And then the water in the bottles and the people are afraid to drink the water in the bottles. After a given time the plastic is going to give off something. ... A lot of times now, you go out and there’s always a sheen on the water now. It looks like an oil sheen. You always see that all the time you go out.”
Participant 14 has seen very negative things happening to the marshlands. He explained:
“Mostly all of them are all dying off now and you got a lot of this phragmites overtaking where you used to be able to see cat tails. You don’t see cat tails any more. You see phragmites. Like quill weeds or whatever you want to call it.” The impact has been very negative. He said: “Very, very bad. So bad no that you can’t really walk in it because it will go through the soles of your shoes or your boots. It’s just terrible stuff. And I think you see the impact in our wildlife. Muskrats depend on the roots of the cattails. If you don’t have the roots of the cattails, where are they going to live? You got all this phragmites which is overrunning everything. Wherever you see a ditch there’s phragmites Unfortunately we’re transplanting it. ... I believe somebody thought it looked like a pretty flower or weed that they thought would be nice in the house. And when it was no good after awhile they threw it out. Unfortunately the seeds the seeds took place.
Took hold and away it went. It’s like everything else. The water runs down through the middle of the Island. Who knows what grows up in that area? In the northwest. Follow the river down. Next thing you know it’s here.”
Participant 14 collected hazelnuts, and still looks for them today. But he said that hazelnuts are difficult to find now, and explained: “The fires have pretty much taken care of a lot of that.”
Participant 14 said he has been eating traditional food all his life. He still eats traditional foods frequently, saying: “I can guarantee that twice a week I will have had something that I killed. …Mostly meat.” However, he had eaten more traditional food as a child.
He noted: “When we were kids we didn’t have much money. And we solely depended on a lot of this…what we are talking about today.”
Participant 15 said that jackrabbits are getting rare. He has not seen one in years.
Muskrats are also on the decline. Not as many as formerly. This started about 10 or 15 years ago.
Participant 15 believes that the frog populations have been declining since the 1980s. He believes the duck population is also declining. This started in the 1970s. He explained:
“Before that time, you could go out in the cornfield and shoot as many as you wanted.
Black ducks and Mallard ducks were the favourites because they were bigger. But, wood ducks, widgeon, teal and ring neck were also taken. Open water diving ducks such as bluebills were hunted, also canvasback and redheads. It is rare now to hear the bobwhite quail anymore. They used to come into his backyard when he was a kid if they threw out some corn. Pheasants are also rare.”
Participant 15 does not eat as much traditional food as when he was younger. He explained: “Ducks two or three times a year and fish two or three times a year.” When he was a boy, his family at fish “continuously.”. Ducks would have been consumed once or twice a week. Perch fries were common in the summer, and he consumed the perch as soon as they were caught. Larger game was also eaten immediately. He agreed that his diet had “changed quite dramatically” from childhood to now.
Participant 15 has observed a great change in water quality since the 1970s. He said:
“When we used to swim as kids in the water there’d sometimes be a slick on the water and sometimes just great areas of floating debris and uh, dark oily substances, grease and things like that floating on the river. There were attributable to uh, petro-chemical discharges at that time. And to other household discharges because there’ll all open sewers all up and down the river. Pretty gross. I don’t see any of that anymore. You know, that sheen on the water, that occurred on occasion or these mats of vegetation and other waste materials that you’d see on the river.”
Participant 15 said: “when I was quite young the hydrology of the Island was quite different and all of the drains and ditches and slews and things were open to the main body of water around here, Either the Johnston or the Snye or the Chematogan or the St.
Clair River.” Regarding the shorelines, he stated that he had noticed a: “hardening of the shorelines in many areas. With the creation of [inaudible] and shoreline protection efforts, the erosion that takes place occasionally… At one time there was a large beach area, in this area, just south of Tecumseh Road area, a large, there was a large beach area and it was eventually eroded away. Um, north between Austin Road and Dan Shab Road, there was a lot of nice beach area in there that’s largely eroded away as well. And there are also a lot [inaudible] some stone gabion basketry in that area and also just piles of rocks put out to protect the shoreline.”
Participant 16 has noticed a decrease in some plant species. She said: “Milkweed used to be along a lot of the roads. It’s…I think pesticides have put an end to that. All the
108 farming. We have it on our own property but it’s decreasingly [sic] rare. I shouldn’t say rare but it’s not as abundant as it used to be. It used to really go in thick stands along the roadways. Joe Pye Weed is another plant that I sometimes use rarely. It’s for kidneys.
That’s still fairly common along what we call the “back 40”. I don’t know what road that would be.”
Participant 16 said that traditional foods were much more available in the past. Part of this may have to do with fewer people hunting. He explained: “It was much more available. It’s hard to get muskrat anymore, for some of us if we don’t have hunters in our family. It’s given to us. People who do hunt, spread their game around, so we do get it given to us, but not that much. ... Even then we didn’t eat that much of it. But we ate everything. We ate snapping turtles, squirrels, raccoon. Of course the animals were a little bit cleaner back then. ... A raccoon living in the forest wouldn’t be eating garbage
[laughs] like they do these days. They would be eating only natural nuts or whatever from the bush. There were no garbage dumps around.”
Participant 16 noted declining water levels. She said: “Well the water levels right now is way down. Some place there’s [inaudible] legs of pier supposed to be down 3 feet. This year and its affecting all the little ponds, lakes, rivers. All up to Lake Huron, up to Lake
St Clair.” She talked about the effects of decreasing water: “I think we got more beach now because the water’s down.”
Participant 16 commented about water quality. She said: “Well the Dredge Cut has changed dramatically. It’s not free flowing like it used to be. I can’t say that its…I notice the colour and the taste being that different. It’s not as clear as it used to be when I was a child. We used to swim along the Snye. It was pretty clear.” She said that these changes were gradual.
Participant 16 said that she has picked blackberries and elderberries for food on the island, but noted a decline in these because of agriculture. She said: “There don’t seem to be as many elderberries as there used to be. Probably because of all the farming that goes on these days.”
Participant 16 noted a decline in frog populations. She said: “They almost disappeared.
At one time when we lived over in the back settlement they would just cover the roads in the Spring. And about 10 years ago, you didn’t even hear frogs, like it was strange. Now they’ve returned but not to nearly what they were before. And I put that down to pesticides.” She noticed this change beginning in the 1980s and 1990s.
Participant 16 noted a decline in their population , but did not know why this was occurring. She said: “The great decline. There used to be huge flocks of them. I can’t say too much about that.” She stated that eagles had returned to the area: “One nice thought is the eagles that have come back. I’ve seen one right along where we live which is Bridge Road, right in here. Fishing on the ice which is something that might not have happened before the bridge, because the water no longer freezes downstream from the bridge. It stays open all year. ...The ice-floes used to come up and jam around Old Ferry
Road, near James’ Corner. And then it would freeze and we would drive over. We can’t do that anymore. Because it jams up upstream from the bridge. It jams at the bridge and freezes there. But it stays open below the bridge and is now suitable for eagles to hunt in the wintertime. They hunt on the ice and wait for fish.”
Participant 16 noted changes in climate and ice. She said: “Yeah, the climate change is very noticeable. We used to skate for miles along ice back in the Back Settlement. It used to stay frozen all the time. These days it doesn’t. It was more open because they didn’t have phragmites there. So all the ditches and the creeks were all open. There was a pathway you could skate for miles. We even used little boats along the back creeks there. Now that’s all gone. There’s water there in the spring, but not for very long.
…There were all sorts of stories about crossing on ice-floes. It would freeze up and they’d mark a path with a muskrat spear. They had to cross to get to work. People didn’t get jobs in town. They didn’t hire Indians basically. So Dad fell through it twice. We lost a lot of people along that river. He used to cross in just a small windbreaker so if he fell through he’d be able to get out again. That did happen. I couldn’t really tell you exactly how the ice has changed. I didn’t do that, no. I’ve never crossed on that river like that.”
Participant 17 noted that muskrat prices declined because of the anti-fur movement.
They were against the leg-hold trap. Aside from the economics, he has noted a drastic decline in their population. He sees no signs of feeding, and links hunting pressure and high/healthy muskrat populations. He said when people stop hunting them, their numbers decline. Nature keeps this in balance. Elders have told him stories about hunting outside of their boundaries, but were wary of the Ontario MNR. He explained: “No they said they’ve hunted outside of our recognized boundaries and they’ve hunted in the area.
There were always with the MNR. Not so much the Michigan MNR, but the Ontario
MNR. So they were very careful if they met up with the Ontario Natural Resources people. Primarily the game warden out of Mitchell’s Bay who kinda handled the district.
They did say they were proud of the fact that they would go beyond our boundaries and hunt and fish and a lot of them believed that this was their rights.”
Participant 17 also talked about the decline of the pickerel population. He explained:
“Well I know that the walleye population on Lake St. Clair , the production and the actual fish that we call Lake St. Clair walleye is becoming non-existent. And I think you have to look at the fact of the Thames River Fishery and habitat and spawning areas is a clear example of that. I went to a walleye user workshop probably 30 years ago in London,
Ontario. MNR had ... invited users of the resource and they were charter boat, fishing camp, the whole gamit: bait shop, they had Michigan, Ohio and some of the states bordering on Lake St. Clair. They did tests on the walleye at that time, thirty years ago, and they showed that the walleye larvae, I believe that’s the term, would be in a sack form and possibly floated down Lake St. Clair and they ate our [p---] during the day. The test showed that they were exiting in through Lake St. Clair in the millions. But even at that time they said that they were encountering problems even though the fish were coming into Lake St. Clair, they weren’t making [inaudible] numbers. And now if you talk to Moriaviantown people who used to lower traps down to bring up walleye they
110 aren’t getting any. So the spawning done. The Thames River is not producing any….I guess the Sydenham is producing some now. But I think if you go to MNR right now and tell them that all our walleye on Lake St. Clair are migratory. Lake Huron to Lake
Erie and that’s where we catch them.” Regarding the role of the MNR in curtailing the rights of the people, he said: “You could probably say that what sticks out a lot is the frustration of people and not to be able to do what they believed they could do in terms of rights, without in terms of MNR standing, looking over our shoulder and dictating what we could do. Preventing us from doing a lot. They were controlling access and the fishermen out there would always talk about that, you know, we think we have the right to do this and that. And they believed that too. ... I recall my aunt once saying that there is a ‘true law’ ... her interpretation of natural law, I guess versus the legislative law. ... she said that her belief is that our rights had been promised to us. They believed strongly in the treaties and the things that were promised to us. Not so much Indian Affairs, they were dependant on them, but they weren’t very popular, either.”
Participant 17 also talked about the decline of the duck population and some reasons for it: He explained: “Well, our worst year ever was two years ago. And this year is rivaling that. There’s a lot of theories with the industry people stating that it’s a case where the warm weather…like you have to look at least a month ago we were dealing with 90 degree Fahrenheit weather and it would cost ‘em. We were looking at mosquitoes one month ago and then all of a sudden we’re back into winter real quick. But the theory is that the Manitoba-Northern Ontario is where our birds would come from and they’re holding in that area and their diverting down through the central provinces rather than make a normal trip down to our area – they’re not. And then you’re looking at a regional aspect north and south. Two years ago we talked lot about…duck hunters and people that deal in the industry and they’ve said you know we’ve got people that hunt in Saginaw
Bay, Sault Ste. Marie and all the ways down to Arkansas. They’re in Arkansas and the
Arkansas people are saying, “Those Northerners are killing all the birds!” And the guy from Michigan, he’s a taxidermist says 'I got news for you. We didn’t get the birds either.' So it’s a regional thing, north and south and at this point we can’t point out why the ducks aren’t making that push over here. There’s a factor there. A lot of people believe that it is weather related. And it’s quite possible it could be. So with global warming the birds might not even come here. I’m talking about big numbers.” He recalled that ducks were plentiful in the past, probably when he was about 16. He noted that back then, some ducks were classified as garbage ducks, but not so today. All are valuable. He recalled high bird populations: “I remember before I guided, I used to crawl up and hunt the shore lines and try to get the mallards. But I remember crawling up to trap birds on the water within the higher yards numbering anywhere from two to five hundred. And no pressure on them. They were just enjoying life. Things change.” He also noted that Walpole Island First Nation had brought up the water levels in the marshes. He said: “That’s going to attract more birds. We’ve been able to have the hunters to hunt more areas that were inaccessible. But that’s not the fact of why the numbers aren’t there. I think it’s just the global scheme of things right now with development all over the country. And they say that the nesting areas don’t have water like they used to have so that’s a real factor in the hatchery and reproduction of the birds.
So, we’re not getting the numbers but might be because of the weather factors and they’re
111 not pushing over. Again the large numbers as to why they are not rebounding I really couldn’t give an accurate answer.”
Participant 17 also said that his diet consisted of: “Meat, staples what ever comes out of the grocery store. We would have in my mother’s household we probably had game or fish at least two dinner meals a week out of seven, so. Yet when we’d go over to my aunt’s she had one, two, three that were cooked game all the time so I was visiting them a lot and eating there.” He said he prefers traditional foods over store bought foods now: “I do prefer because now I find myself, because of economics, I’m depending more and more on fish and game now. ... It’s amazing. I’m eating deer now. I’ve put two deer away already. I’ve butchered them myself and put them away. I never had to do that before. But now I enjoy it. It’s an occasionally….and I ate fish probably at least once a week, once out seven days and ducks when the season’s there I’ll put maybe twenty away for the winter, but I’m eating duck once every two weeks now. I think the key to that is that you’ve got to have time to prepare it properly and then it is much more enjoyable.”
Participant 17 said that in the past, “the winters would have more ice. We would be able to cross rivers with cars. … I’ve seen the car cross the Snye River to by-pass the ferry and a 25 cent charge. [laughs] Even I did that a lot.”
Participant 18 noted that the muskrat population has been declining. He does not think anyone has been hunting them in about the last eight years. He explained: “the ice isn’t there anymore which pretty well limits what you do out there. Really. No, I haven't muskrat in 10, 20 years.” When he first started hunting with his partner, they used to hunt them for a living. Now he does not think there is any such thing as a muskrat hunter out there. He noticed the decline starting, “right after we quit hunting ... Maybe 15, 20 years ago. [interference on tape] died out. The price of fur went down and most people said it just wasn’t worthwhile going hunting anymore apart from food. The pelts had dropped down to a dollar or something like that during one of a couple of years there. It just wasn’t worthwhile for both of us to be going out. You just hunting for food it wasn’t bad at all. I mean, but other than that, you put all your refineries up there.”
Participant 18 also noted the decline in frogs. He said: “I think it was kind of a gradual decrease I think. But then again I blame that on the stuff that they’re throwing in the water. Coming down through our river system and infiltrating into our marshes and stuff like that. That’s what I blame it on. Because I know we didn’t kill them off.” He noticed that enforcement was stricter now than in the past. He said: “No, they didn’t have the … Border Patrol running wild at that time. There was no such thing as a threat like they have nowadays. ... they didn’t really care. I mean, you weren’t getting that many fish anyways ... It wasn’t like you were making a mint on them or something like that. We used them for food.”
Participant 18 also said that his diet had changed quite a bit since he was a boy. He explained: “Well, I guess we were what you would call poor. Although at the time I never thought we were poor. … my mother used to work across the River for [pennies a day] or something like that. She bring home hamburgs. At the time I never knew there
112 was anything more than hamburg. I thought Hamburg was all their was I never knew where it came from. Never thought about it. Wasn’t ‘til I turned 16 and went to work that I realized that there was more than just hamburgers and bacon squares. But that was
… that would be mixed in with fish, like at the time we were kids and we were out on the
River constantly fishing everyday. ... until I turned 16 I never knew that there was steak out there. I remember when I first seen my first steak I asked, “what is that?” I’d never seen one before. I guess you could say we were kind of poor. But we lived on hamburg,
[‘taters], bacon squares, beans, you know the basics on the Island here. And then when you had fish you dropped that summertime through the winter. Wintertime the ducks, muskrat. People would drop over. ... until I got kicked out of school. That’s when I started hunting after that. We just didn’t have any men-folk in our family who hunted. I learned about the time I turned 16.”
Participant 18 referring to the refineries near Sarnia, and said: “Now they tell me it doesn’t wreck anything down here but there hasn’t been no ice like there used to be.
Solid ice down to maybe 6, 8 inches thick through the marshes. But I haven’t heard of nobody going walking around on the marshes, spearing or anything in years.”
Participant 18 referred to the declining clarity of water. He said: “They were clean.
Dredge Cut used to…when I was 16 used to get drinking water out of Dredge Cut. Used to be boats and outboards used to travel up and down that riverway. ... The water was clean. Up at the ferry landing here. Used to go stand on the ferry landing and look down and see the bottom of the river. Y ou could see what was down there. Clear, clear as a bell. Nowadays, you’re lucky if you even see down to the bottom of the River in an inch and a half water so. Whatever they’re putting in the water is just….gone.” He said that he had not gone swimming in the water for about 30 years because: “Just too many people getting sick, like they….bacterial culture, something like that, coming down in the river. People’d be getting lesions, whatever you call it, sores on their bodies from swimming. So I says, ‘no I ain’t swimming in that no more.’ The water’s gone.”
Participant 18 said that the water was no longer freezing because of pollution. He explained: “Again with the water situation. When I was a kid, we used to be able to skate anywheres along that river. Used to be water out, I mean ice, out in the middle of the river that was eighteen inches thick. I remember chopping holes with my skates so I could get a drink of water out there. The water was clear the water was clean. I remember telling my mother when I was 12. I told her one day and I said 'You’ll see the day when there will be no ice at all left in that river in the middle of winter.' And we do not have ice in that river. It’s coming true. When we were kids I used to see people drive their tractors and trailers across the River on that ice. Can’t do that no more. Water used to freeze up within an hour or so after the ice-breaker went through it. You don’t see that anymore. Today the water is…the more plants and stuff that can build up along the river…When those people, they don’t really care. They don’t really care about down this way. Hey they’re making their money up there hand-over-fist, they don’t really care.
They don’t drink the water here. They probably live someplace up in Toronto or someplace and they don’t even have to care about this area. I imagine that there are things they’re throwing in [inaudible] That’s the way I look at it. They don’t really care
113 about what they’re ruining. They’re wrecking everything. ... You go feet down into that river, down to the depth of 12, 14 feet, clear as bell. You can see that up north sometimes though. I was at that ferry up there, the ferry way the heck up there that crosses to
Manitoulin Island. You can look down there into that into their water. You can see rocks that are way down there. They look close but they’re not. Those people asked 'how deep is that water with those rocks.' 'Oh, about 20 feet down' As a boy, I remember when we used to be able see them like that on our reserve. Can’t do that anymore ... All these companies up there. They tell you it’s not ruining anything. I don’t believe that. In my world I see the old timers like they were strong, they were healthy. I mean, there was even people here on the Island upwards of 100. Nowadays we are lucky to live to be 79,
80. I think the water like, when…when the water first started getting all the bad things, I even told the better half not to get water out of the River anymore. I don’t. Why. To me that’s sad. That’s really sad. Our people here are getting more diseases. Like you hear of younger people coming up with cancer, all this other stuff. That wasn’t here before.
To me, I blame it on the River. The water that become. It comes from those people up there that put all that stuff in there. They say “it won’t hurt you a bit.” [[inaudible] They don’t care. Never mind it seems they were going to put it on both side of the border] take a smell and it’s bad and it’ll say zero discharge. Period. We went to… had to do with putting salt water, I think uh…from Queen [inaudible] or something like that up through
Sarnia, with [inaudible] and stuff and they wanted to put this salt water back into the ground and we went up there to that and I asked them if there was a danger of that getting into the water table in the ground...And they said there might be. So I asked them I said,
“well, how’s this water created? How do you get the salt water? And he says its caused by… to get the gas up to the top so they can harvest it. They shoot water down and it has to do with something with the calcium or whatever it is. Goes insides of caverns that they create and I says “Well seems to me,” I says, “why don’t you keep using the same water? That way you wont [inaudible] on you.” He says “it tears up our pumps.” or something like that. “Makes our equipment get wrecked faster.” And I says, “well geez, you are making all this money. The easiest way to solve this problem would be to quit doing it all together.” That money. That’s money to them they…Who cares about the little guy. They don’t care. And that’s kind of sad. If I had my way I’d shut them all down. Shut them all down and move them some place else. That’s giving the problem to somebody else of course. We wouldn’t have it. That’s the way I see things.”
Participant 18 attributed geese population decline to the oil refineries. He said: “Again, after the factories came in up the river. I would say the oil refineries are the major ones that killed everything. That’s what I’m thinking like they killed off some of the food that the ducks, geese would need. It just seemed like they declined. I’m not an avid hunter like some of the people I talk to out there says, yeah, it’s really bad. There still are ducks out there, I understand and people still get their limit when they come back hunting. But it’s not like it used to be, not even close. It was just awesome to behold. I don’t know how to say it any better than that.”
Participant 18 also talked about the importance of sharing food in the community. He said: “They were food consumption. Fed my family. Other people that didn’t have guns or anybody that could hunt in their family. Usually people with big families if you had
114 extra you went out and gave them. Say, “Hey, do you want some duck meat?” “Sure”.
“You’ve got to clean it.” “No problem,” And you took them. So there was nothing wasted. Like I said, you never shot more than you could eat. And if you did there was always another family right next door that you could give them too and they were really glad to get them.”
Participant 19 talked about changes caused by the installation of pumps on the island.
She said: “Since they closed off areas with pumps at different ends of the Island, there used to be pike that would come into our ditches. Because of the water control that’s not there either. But there were different animals that we had in our territory. ... Frogs for one. Not just the leopard frogs but also the bullfrogs. A decline in the numbers. ... I’ve seen a real big decline in the frogs. I used to go out, like I said, I would drive … along the farm roads and my brothers would catch bullfrogs. I’d be the driver of the car and they’d do the shining. So this would be at nighttime. Used to be lots of bullfrogs out there but now there’s been a decrease in the number of bullfrogs.” She attributes this decline to: “our environment. If it’s in the air or if it’s in the water. But I also know that our land is also like a filtration system since we do have a lot of the marshes. And that’s what filters the waters that flow through it. And that’s where our animals live. Their survival area’s in those marshes and in those bushes. I believe our air and water can change a lot of what happens around us.”
Participant 19 said that her father had a full time job in Algonac, so they always had access to store bought food as a kid. But, they also ate traditional foods when they were in season. She does not eat a lot of processed food, and still eats a mixture of store food and food off the land.
Participant 19 remembers getting water from the St Clair River to make Kool-Aid. She would walk out to where the water was cold, and said: “so you know you get your drinking water directly from the river that's surrounding us. … And I remember even when we would be out in the marshes hunting muskrat. Some time if you got thirsty, you’d drink the water. I don’t think I would do that today.”
Participant 19 spoke, in general, about sharing in the community. She said: “Like in our house … you took what you needed. And if you had extra you usually gave it away.
Neighbours, friends, family, whoever. It was shared.”
Participant 20 said: “Well its changes the economy as well. For instance, the muskrat hunting. You could get…when I was a young married, you could get 15 dollars a pelt and you’re lucky if you get $5 now. And with the lack of harvesting there’s been a lack of reproducing by the muskrat. They tend to reproduce in relationship to how they’re harvested, so if there are men out there and they’re bringing in one hundred a day, then they’ll reproduce, they’ll have more than one run to compensate. So that whole industry has kinda been kicked out of our economy because of the fur lobbyists, they didn’t do their leg work. They didn’t learn that harvesting is balanced by nature and that’s a lot of what we have to say too is that balance exists, nature will always seek to balance itself. If there’s an impact it will fight hard to balance itself. You’re looking at tsunamis,
115 extending to the world scene, tsunamis and things like that, big floods, all those things are the Earth trying to balance itself. So if we push too hard somewhere we’re going to get pushed back. It’s going to push us back. We’re going to be struggling. And that’s what’s going to happen if we don’t start protecting our hundreds of acres of wetlands.
It’s going to start dying on us and we won’t be able to sustain our families in many cases.
So the economy is another aspect that get impacted very heavily by everything around us.
And I think the spirituality….you could show[tapes] of the spirituality of our relationship with the things around us. That’s a whole separate study. That’s a whole separate teaching. That’s a whole separate way of life, we can’t cover it in an hour interview on tapes and video. So, I’m sad that you don’t have a lot of time to spend with elders but, we do what we can.”
Participant 20 noticed changes in the colour of the fish and their size. She explained:
“My husband had an elder call him and ask him to come look at a fish he had. She couldn’t figure out why it was red.” Her husband said that the fish in the marsh are red
“because it's their natural colour, but the fish in the St. Clair are leaner and more white, possibly because of pollution. As you get into Johnson's channel, the fish are fatter.”
Participant 20 also noticed a change in the availability of plants. She said: “Well, a lot of the development causes some of it and they’re not aware of the rarity of the plants or the medicinal qualities and that information is virtually dying out. People who know it still use them a lot. Traditional people use them a lot. And there’s kind of a swing recently
I’ve noticed. I have more people coming to me to ask me for different kinds of plants, but I have no where near the knowledge that my grandmother had. She was referred to as
“Dr. [Wal-a-sa]” which means ‘something that shines on everything around it’. She would have people coming from Detroit, Toronto, all over the whole region to get her medicine. She’d have cabinets of little bottles…. And then she taught my aunt and my aunt only caught part of it. And then my aunt would teach us children a few things so through the generations that information has been lost. And then the plants themselves are being lost as evidence by what my father and uncle were looking for and were no longer then. But sometimes plants will be dormant for years and then they’ll come up so that hope is always there. If the conditions are right they’ll come out again.”
Reflecting on what proportion of her died is traditional food. Participant 20 said: “I’d say about 65% is traditional game and produce and plants when I was young and now it’s the other way around, maybe 40% and 60% from stores and whatnot. That’s because my husband’s family are still heavily into the harvesting of wild life.” Returning to diet, she attributed these changes to: “the fact that game is not as accessible as it used to be or it’s not there anymore. Not as healthy as it used to be.”
Participant 20 also said that she had noticed great changes in how the water freezes:. She said: “we used to skate all over the river, the cars would cross to the mainland across on the ice in the winter…kids were freely allowed to skate and that’s a deep river ... but it would freeze so thick you could look at if there was a crack you could look and see at least three feet of ice ... And it was the same down on the other end of the island. ... One of [personal name] favourite stories is that the car starting going down and he had like six
116 guys in the car and they tried to throw their stuff out and get out of the car before it goes under. They got out. The car went down ... There’s a bay out here called Volkswagen
Bay there’s a Volkswagen down there that went down under the St. Clair ... They’ve gone down in skidoos and all their equipment and they’d have to swim for their lives through ice floes.” He attributed changes in ice freezing increasing urbanization, use, and pollution of the river. He said: “more activity that was in the river, the more boats, the more sports fishermen, the petro-chemical industry definitely with their spills and their leaking into the river and the fertilizers that leached into the river from farmland north of us. Thousands of hectares leak, still leak into the river.” She also talked about how the river is used differently these days; people used to swim in it on a daily basis and: "... laundry was washed in the river ... Today people are very very cautious. The look for the signs, the Closed Beach signs along there ... The No Swimming signs are up these days because of spills in the petro-chemical industry and from the marinas across the river.
They spill water into…I mean oil into the water ... communion with the water doesn’t happen the way it used to. And it was a communion as much as the organized religions practiced communion in their churches, they use Holy Water…all those rivers were our holy water, and they are our holy water but [our] people throw garbage into them and damage the quality …they bury things under the water…all this sort of stuff is a concern of the community people. They don’t let their children ... go swimming the way they used to. I remember as a young married person seeing young two year olds diving off of the breakwall into the St. Clair River. And you’d just see a little two year old being able to swim and dive in like a little muskrat out there. Now women are holding their kids close. They’re not letting them do that. They’ll let them wade in the water a little bit but they’re going to get showered when they get in and they get ear infections and throat infections and they are just not comfortable. Things that are happening and impacting – it’s not our doing, its from around us.”
Participant 20 said: “We didn’t have a water line when I was growing up. We hauled water from the river for everything ….laundry, cooking, drinking…and it was …it had a sweeter taste to it and it was colder. It’s not cold anymore.”
Participant 20 reflected on changes to human health. She said: “Well, when I was growing up, people, maybe because they were more aware of the plant world, there were no serious diseases. Diabetes was rarely heard of, cancer was rarely heard of. One case a year …and that’s a guesstimate, I don’t have stats, but, those were extremely rare, but now they’re more than norm. There’s a lot of cancer and all different kinds of cancer.
There’s lupus…diabetes is epidemic proportions and its probably a combination of the way we eat, but it’s also a combination of the impact of the environment…toxins in the river the system, toxins into the air we breathe. We’re across from the Detroit incinerator and people are trying to build incinerators around us. Everything is impacting upon this little First Nation’s area. And we have to start saying ‘no’. I mean, they’ve come to a point where they are finally asking us in situations because we’ve got resource people now that are lawyers and can put up a legal battle. And we’ve acquired friends over the years through our hunting and fishing that are powerful friends in the business world and though its not a practice of ours to impose on them to fight our battles, at some point if
117 we get backed into a corner those resources might get called upon. Still, as I can see it, and as my fellow women’s group can see it everything is coming at us.”
Participant 20 talked about social psychological changes. She said: “Yeah, a lot of marsh and there’s a lot of activity here. Years ago survival for wintertime, especially when they’d all go out and spear rats, there’s camaraderie, you’d earn some money and brought food home and plus you had exercise…walk out on the marshes. Socially there was laughing, joking going on and [part of health] laughter is one of the best medicines.
There’s much less activity, even our children don’t play sports much anymore, either.
It’s kind of sad that this diabetes is becoming an epidemic all over, not just on our reserves. That’s all I have to say.”
Participant 21 said that people from Walpole were stopped by the MNR from night hunting by flashlight, floodlight, or: “even the times they used the torches.” This started when his sons were about 20 years of age [maybe in high school] & hunting in the 1800
Block. He said that: “We told them that they could go hunt over there and that they wouldn't be bothered. And then one night they went hunting for raccoon at nighttime and the police came and stopped them. They, I don't remember if they took the raccoons away from them that time, but they hid all the stuff that they were using in the bush. And it's probably still there.” This was about 30 years ago.
Participant 21 also noted changes in plants. She said: “Wican [Sweet Flag] is difficult to find now. … I don't know if it's because of the low water level or because of the pollution or pollutants that have been coming.”
Participant 21 noted changes to his diet. He said: “we did eat more traditional food when we were younger, but we still do eat most of the traditional food. Actually all the traditional food that we did we ate when we were younger but we don’t eat them as much.” The reason for this was that “there was a study done here on Walpole a few years back. ... when the results came out, in my system there was the elements of pollution, or whatever, in my system. And when they tested my son, his was double what mine was. I think probably because what I had in my system was transferred to him when he was a baby. Then as he grew up we were eating all this traditional food and all the chemicals and stuff that were in the food that transferred into his body.”
Participant 21 said: “We used to just go, and like he said, just go get the water and take the water out of the River and just drink it. We don’t do that anymore. Like when we go fishing we usually take water with us or we take some other stuff to drink but not drink it out of the water anymore, not drink it right out of the boat.”
Participant 21 talked about the frequency and importance of sharing traditional food with the community. She said: “it was common like if you had … like in my family if you had more than you needed my mother and dad would give the meat away to other people including muskrat and even the deer like I remember the one time my brother killed a deer and we gave half to different family members or just quartered them and we only kept a quarter and we gave the other half to other family members. Same with muskrat.
Even know they still do that. I know people who still do that. Now when they have muskrat, even him and I, because he doesn’t hunt anymore, we ask people and they usually bring us muskrat or they bring us duck. …My son went to the Pinery. They had a cull up there. And he brought three deer home and he put it on the radio station. On the
Island station. And he told them he had deer at his house and anybody who wanted deer to come by. He cut it up the way they wanted it and by that evening out of those three deer he had maybe only a portion of one deer left and then when people came by he says
‘That’s it. I’m not giving anymore deer away, because the rest of the deer that I have I’m going to give away to all the seniors on the reserve.’ Whoever wanted it.”
Participant 22 stated that leopard frogs had been “plentiful here. Now, I think, you'd walk all day to get one or two.” He attributed the decline to the farming activity on the island.
Regarding use of the St Clair River in winter, and changes in freeze-up of the water, participant 22 stated that: “Back in the early 40s we used to drive right across this river here. And back in the… last time we drove across, I think it was back in ’42. Due to the fact that the ice would melt from underneath, not from the top. One guy going ahead of us, we were walking, he was going with the car [inaudible] with the ice, he went over the thing and the ice would come back up . We told him about that and “ I didn’t know that”
Now he was the last guy I seen drive across that river. Ice used to be about that thick.
[demonstrates]. They used to harvest that ice out here, for cool….in the summertime.
They had these log sheds they put ice in there. They’d sell ice in the summertime. That was good clear ice.” He believed these changes were caused by industrialization up the
St Clair River, or from climate change. He explained: “Mostly the plants up here, was when I noticed the ice started to get weaker, unless it’s the climate change, might have been the climate change at that time nobody knew anything about it. But that ice did start to deteriorate from the bottom up.”
Regarding water quality, participant 22 stated: “I lived on the River all my life, and during the War, 40, 41, 42, I used to drink the water right out of the River. I’d go up there with a cup and dip it in and drink it. Back in the ‘40s. I noticed the taste in the water. Different. Bitter. ...[before the 1940s:] ... we used to get our water right out of the
River. By then, back in the ’40, you’d go fishing, take a cup along there, and dip it in the water and drink the water. You’d notice a difference in the taste.”
Participant 22 said that boats and steamers had taken: “out a lot of land along the shoreline and down here.” He said this was due to wave action and "backwash". He noted a 200 foot opening down on Squirrel Island, and said: “Bout 200 feet opening in that area. I used to walk up to that lighthouse when I was a kid. Now its all washed out.
A lot of land, we lost a lot of land here. After them Steamers come in.”
Participant 22 said that about 1958 or 1958, a man at the CBD in Wallaceburg, a local bar, started talking to him and told him that he had just lost his job, without notice, at
Dow Chemical. 'Where I work', he says, 'the building was 40 by 60. One story affair. It had all kinds of dyes in buckets.’ You know what his job was? ... to go up on top of the
Blue Water Bridge and take the colour of the water. He had a piece of paper and match that colour of that water and look at the mouth River and he’d come on this side of Sarnia about 5 miles down from there, from the bridge, he’d look at the water and he had to match that colour of that water with them dyes that were in that was in that big shed.
Because the people knew their water would be miscoloured from the junk they were throwing in the River. That was his job, to match the colour of that water everyday.”
Participant 22 talked about the importance of sharing traditional food with elders. He said: “We delivered a lot of that deer meat to seniors who can’t get out. A lot of seniors when I was younger used to ask me for meat because they knew I was hunting and I was glad to take it over there. They didn’t ask me for much maybe two or three ducks or something, two or three muskrats. Just enough for a meal. Every fall it would be the same people who’d ask me for the same kind of bird. And one family had me interested in seeing if I wanted to get a loon and she cooked him. She took the feathers off, left the head and the feet on. How she cooked him I don’t know. I went over to find out. She cooked him in some kind of a herb she used to cook that loon. To me I think it’s got a fishy taste to it. But somehow or other she got rid of that stuff.”
Participant 22 spoke about his work as a guide and declining duck populations. He said:
“I was a shore boy for one of the hunting clubs and they ran short of guides one day and the boss come up to me and says ‘Hey, have you ever guided?’ I says, ‘No. Don’t know nothing about it.’ ‘Well’ he says, ‘You are going to be the number one guide before I’m through with you.’ ‘Good and fine. Put me in the boat and told me where to go.’
There’s a canal there, follow that and down until you see a blind set up there. Well it went according to instructions and we got the birds. Of course I wasn’t allowed to handle a gun while we were guiding. These guys were pretty good shots we go it done early.
After that they kept me on as a guide for a long time at that club. Then in ’48, I went out there on my own. Three of us started a guiding service here and it turned into a good thing after a couple of years. But the ducks are not here any more. They changed their flyways.” He first noticed this decline in population during the 1960s. Mallards were most sought after because they were big ducks.
Participant 22 noted that his diet had changed, and that eating traditional food was a seasonal practice in some cases. He said: “The food that we get like muskrats and the ducks, we more or less go according to going according to the season because if you eat muskrat in July or something like that it will make you sick. They are cold weather meat.
They are. You wait until it gets cold. They are alright to eat now but in September I wouldn’t even touch them. They are good for the winter much up to what, about
Participant 23 noted changes in fish. He said: “the fishing isn’t as good as it used to. As
I said, I used to borrow my Uncle [personal name] boat and I knew all the holes from my house up to Highbanks here. There were…fish would accumulate, their backs would…At the time you could see 10, 15 feet down, straight down, so the clarity of water is gone.”
Participant 23 also noted a decline in the duck population. He stated that: “at one time right from the city of Wallaceburg, I guess on the Eastern side you could see the ducks flying over Ste. Anne’s Island. You could just see big black cloud. I can recall my mother telling me one time, she said, “Uncle [personal name] got 29 ducks in one shot, you know. I didn’t know until I started going out there and I think the limit was around
10. My mother used to say that when these guides used to take their hunters out there they would guarantee their ducks. When I got out there I hunted in the park a couple of times, and you could, we as well as you, and he struck one and he could stand up and shoot, there’d be you know. I wouldn’t even know how to count. You could just hear them and maybe roughly 500 just going around. This was me and I’d be going around like that you know. They’d be making a lot of noise and you could hear the wings flap. I don’ t think you could see that today then even. Even when I was out at Middlegrounds, you could see, the call them big rafts of ducks, just hundred and hundreds of them. I don’t think that number of ducks is coming back, for that way of life seems to be going down. Used to be most young boys knew how to guide and how to blow a call and that was the way of life and its getting where there are less hunters and most of the hunting is going to the clubs. That’s a big change.”
Participant 23 noticed changes to the ice in the river. He explained: “I’d be, about 7, but they used to cross the River in cars. They were these old Fords, I don’t know if there’re
Model Ts or Model As, but I could see them going across and driving to Algonac, you know, with the…The ice wasn’t…it wasn’t at all how it is now with how after a breaker goes down, ice breaker, it was smooth so you could drive these cars across. Anyway, I lived in the States. I’d just walk up to the custom office, there were several crossing points and Indians had paths, several paths. And they were well used and I’d just wait for a grown-up there and I’d just follow them, you know. There’d be 4, 5 people, you know, at a time and I wouldn’t ask them, I’d just follow them, because they were this wide
[gesticulates]. The water does not freeze any more.”
Participant 23 said that when he was a kid, he used to fish from his uncle's boat, and he said: “At the time you could see 10, 15 feet down, straight down, so the clarity of water is gone. You don’t know what’s in there. What chemicals are in there. So it would say it’s not safe to drink. The river never freezes any more so there’s a lot of changes.”
Former Chief Burton Jacobs told participant 23 that he could no longer farm because of the pollution coming from Sarnia. He explained: “he would refer to the chemicals coming from Chemical Valley that were affecting his vegetables and they wouldn’t grow anymore. So it wasn’t profitable for him to have truck garden anymore and that’s what he told me. This was in the late 50s.”
Participant 23 noted that at one time a lot of the people on Walpole Island ate muskrat, but now it was not as common. Regarding changes in his own diet, he said that he could not remember specifically, but recalled: “When times got a little hard then we’d move back with her in-laws which were at that Potawatomi Island. I can remember my cousins and I stayed there upstairs and they had these wires up there. And I can remember they
121 had muskrat tails hanging from them and chicken legs. Although I can’t remember eating them, we must have because that’s what they flavoured soup with.”
Participant 23 noted a change in the taste of river water and well water. He said:
“because I was born on the river I drank river water. When I moved back to Potawatomi
Island I drank well-water and I remember I didn’t like the taste of it. So I would go a long time without water, until I really needed it, because well water didn’t taste good to me. At least at that time. ...Yeah, I drank river water until I was 40 years old. That’s less than 30 years ago. I lived at a place on this river and they call it the Old Saw Mill and they still drink river water up there.”
Participant 24 has noticed fish populations declining. In regard to why this is happening, he said: “I don’t know what causes that but probably chemicals…there are some that have infections on them too that I’ve seen, so, [personal name] send them off somewhere.
They are infected on the side, with the scales missing off. So we just send them off to
Toronto.” He first started to notice this about 10 years ago.
Participant 24 has also noticed declining duck and goose populations. He said: “The most northern ducks don’t come down until November and very few ducks are there sometime and duck hunting starts in September and usually goes until December 15th and the first two months is pretty rough. So, I don’t know how to explain that.”
Participant 24 said that his diet has not changed at all from when he first started hunting.
He still eats a great deal of traditional food, and gets much of this now from his wife's son. Other people also give him traditional food.
Participant 24 remembers being able to walk across the frozen St Clair River to the
American side. He said: “About 30 years ago. Nobody’s been able to do it since then.
It’s been a long time. I remember we used to walk along the tip of Russell Island, there and head right to Algonac.” He said that people stopped walking across because it became dangerous. He explained: “I noticed it was gradual. It started being…the ice wasn’t as thick and people weren’t going to chance it anymore.”
Participant 24 recalled changes in the quality of the water starting about 30 years ago. He said: “We used to get it from the swamp back there because there used to be a steady flow going through there and there used to be real clear water, too. Used to be water that’s coming from the Snye. This one here at this time…most of the creeks back there were tied together at the time, so they were able to flow, used to get the fresh water there
... They put in a pump house here and that kind of mess everything up…so everything just went stagnant after that.” He has also noticed changes in the taste of the water. It has an "odd" taste to it, and the colour changes after it rains. He has also noticed changes in the level of the water, noting that the amount of water is decreasing. He explained:
“The only think I’ve noticed about it is that it’s gone down an awful lot. The past few months here…it’s pretty….I don’t know if there’s a high wind got something to do with evaporation or what, but it’s gone down quite a bit since June.”
Participant 24 has noticed changes over the years. He said: “Oh, I don’t know, it’s hard to come out and say what’s depleting the wild life out here. It could be chemicals. A lot of farmers are using pesticides and whatnot. And they are using different fertilizers which have a lot to do with depleting rabbits because the rabbits eat weeds and whatnot.
... Raccoons ... they get rabid and they die from it. And deer…of course we don’t depend on the deer unless there are deer hunting season opens on the American side, and a few people have come over already, they’ve been hunting now. And for fish it must be a lot of chemicals in the river.”
Participant 25 said that when he came back to the Island in 1983, he noted a decline in quail and pheasant. He attributed this to numerous grass fires, which kill the small birds.
He lived on the island for about his first 20 years. In that time remembered his diet as including traditional foods about once ever two weeks. When he came back in 1983, he didn't have a boa, and noted: “it just didn't seem to be any game. …Pheasant and quail were getting scarce.”
Referring to water clarity, No. 25 stated that: "It depends on again, on the weather. If you’ve got a nice bright sunny day then you really don’t notice it and then you get a day when it would be pouring rain and the water turns the brightest blue you can imagine.
You see every weed bed and drop off along the river in the pouring rain."
Participant 2 said: “So it’s a big deal that we are going to lose that piece of land over there. …My dad used to always say, “Native peoples,” he said “Nishnabs are not really religious because,” he says, “when the creator put man on this earth, he said that everything that you need will always there so there’s nothing for you to ask for. You’ve got everything. All you got to do is go out there and get it. Everything you need is right there.” It’s a little difficult now when you are isolated in that one spot. Segregated even is a word that probably covers that whole thing. We go to our own schools and we have our own way of thinking. The government sets us aside like that. And not many of us want to go wandering around everybody else because we think in a certain way in that spot. We’d get over here and this town over here, or this town or Chatham or whatever.
And we know that we think differently than they do. We know that their attitudes are different than ours. It’s foreign to us so we go home. A lot of our young people recognize that. For us to go out there, we have to change our way of thinking. We have to change our whole way of living to go out there and live in the city. They think differently in order to work a 9 to 5 job or 8 to 4 or whatever it is the hours are. It’s hard.
I’ve been out there. I’ve been out there for about 20 years or so and it’s not exactly the
[inaudible] mix in. I always brought [inaudible] people are running around just like ants on an ant hill. Zoom, zoom, zoom all over the place. And I’m walking along with my slow way and they’re crashing into me. And you get down in the subway and they almost carry you right along. [Sound effect] Right into the subway and away you go.
You’ve got to watch your stop to get off. [laughs] When I came home it was kind of … it was good to find that we hadn’t changed a whole lot here on the reserve. It was still a
123 recognizable way to be. I wonder if that’s what it is with people when they go away and come back. I always wondered, I still do. But I still encourage our young people, I say,
“You should go out in the world, over there and see what’s going on in the world and see how it is to be alive.” I hear those people talking about when they’re going to put that in there, it’s going to create jobs for us. Maybe it will. I know that as a people here we don’t have the education necessary for us to go and work in that place. We might get some of the shoveling jobs. Probably none of us knows how to anything that has to do with the oil We’re not chemists or engineers or any of that stuff. It sounds like a lot of education. More education than we could get in the time it takes them to build that and maybe more than we even get to get to go to work in that place over there. I heard
[personal name] talking the other night about we don’t have unions. I think I’m kind of getting off the case here, off the subject. It’s all…the main thing about it, I think is that although, this will pollute air, will pollute land, will pollute water and they just call it parts per billions. I think that no matter what they do it’s going to change. We’re already changing. The fact that they’re even talking about it. We’re talking about it, it means it’s on our minds. It’s changed our way of thinking already. Already just the idea that they might build it there. Say might. It seems almost certain that they’re going to. Just from the way mainlanders are building new stores and land values are going up over there on the main. People talk “Hey, going to sell your house. They’re giving more money now.
“You know and stuff like there, ‘ We want to buy your house.” I don’t know why.
Maybe people are going to come and live in this area so they can work there. All of that changes. It really doesn’t have a lot to do with the ecology. Whatever they do is going to change the land and the water. It’s changed us as a people already. We’re talking about it so it’s on our minds. Having to think about it makes us think about all those things that we already had. And had as People in times gone by. Here we are, we’re on that small piece of land. I don’t if it would do us any good to get out there and mix and be such a thin amount of people that there’s only one of us within every mile or something like that. I don’t know. Sometimes I think maybe that’s what we need to do. As a people, get out there and mix in with everybody else, so there’s no difference. …trying to see both sides of the story. On the one I can see it as a disability on the other hand I can see that it will probably help a lot of people in this area. [inaudible] As far as general access to is concerned [inaudible] I can’t see that it changes my way of hunting. [inaudible] may change them over time. I hope for our people that we can adapt. If this thing’s a done deal. I hope that our people can adapt to the situation. I hope they can go out there and get some kind of an education that will allow them to do it. [inaudible] want to. I can see them seeing it differently than I do. I can see that, you know, before [inaudible] stay here, stop here, so. If they want more than they’ll have to go out in that world out there and get more. Kind of satisfying to me, the way the world is today, as far as I’m concerned. But I know that our coming generations aint exactly going to be happy with it. They want more, they see so much on television, over the media that they want all of that stuff. They want stuff. For me to make a decision for them wouldn’t be the right thing to do. Our young people should be brought in to this and talk about it. What do you want? What do young people want? Ask them. They need a voice. What do you want in your future? They might just go a bit further than rap talking and stuff like that and say “Yeah, this is what we want.” I think that’s what you need to do just ask the young people and see what they say. What they think. We’ve had our tradition a long
124 time. They’re going to have different traditions than we do. Probably already do have different traditions. That’s all.”
Participant 3 said: “I feel sad. I feel bad. …What I see of our island. These are encroachments. They are encroaching on our traditional hunting grounds. What I see here is our young people have no certificate of possession because the land, because the certificate of possession had been given to us by Indian Affairs and that our people are living in the towns and the cities and with our young people having children and coming back and if the mother and father and grandfather and grandmother don’t have land for them then they’re homeless. And I see that land as an opportunity for our young people to go and have land. Because our people are growing, the population. So I see that as an encroachment and for them, the Shell company to come and look at our land. Who proposed them to come here. They invited themselves. I don’t know who they approached first to come onto our land and proposed to [inaudible]. For there, I call economic blackmail because our people now depend on money and there saying they’re going to create stimulated economy base for this grey area. Wallaceburg automotive, whatever dying out and manufacturing. So they’re going to be the cash cow. I see them as they are. And who they are and that’s an opportunity for our young people to have land. It’s uh… they need land. I see that that was given to us and all of these are encroachers. I don’t know what you call them kind of people, squatters all along up there. We never say nothing. And yet when our time comes to our people to go up there, then we’re the ones that are in trouble, because they say we’re the ones that’s causing the trouble. We’ve allowed them to build and move in there. They said the waterway is important. My grandfather and them said that’s important but they’ll bring the white man, he’ll come here and he’ll live here and develop here because we have to go to the water to live. So they area moving us out. Moving us in tighter spaces. Now they’re looking at our spaces and that’s all it is. …I see an impact. I don’t see a benefit. They may say a benefit. Economic spin-off. Economic cash cow. I see an impact to the water.
I see an impact to land. I see an impact below the land. I see an impact to the air. I see an impact to our human beings. The Indian people. That land was given to us by treaty rights because we gave up so much of our land. I see a need for young people to have homes there. Just because we’re not there, doesn’t mean we don’t have need of it. And I see that down the line. I see reading their papers, the proposed closed loop to the water.
They’re not going to discharge into the water. But they have a pipeline going to the other
Shell plant. And that Shell plant they want to back it up. Their chemicals. Back it up where they have an open loop discharge it. So I see that going right there and going there and discharge it in the River and we’re going to swallow it. That’s all benzene, that’s heavy chemicals they’re talking about. And they try to minimize by words but you have to look beyond words. You have to look to the unseen and that’s what I look at. When I look at things I don’t look at what I’m seeing, I look at the one’s that’s invisible. What they’re trying to do. ... What I see is like they’re proposing to the year 2013. That’s their big plan already And they’re just looking at the environmental assessment approval. So they're letting… there’s a third party. There’s a silent third party. Who is that silent third party? That’s going to involve Ontario, Quebec and Alberta, all the way to wherever they’re going to have their pipe line. So that third party is the one that ‘s going to have to go through with the applications and processes. Silent partner. That docking. There
125 going to have bigger boats coming in and they’re going to take that benzene. Where they going to ship it? This way or that way? What if something happened. Accident. We’ll have a spill. Boat spill and then governments way down to the St. Lawrence River, they are going to widen it and bring bigger ships up and there’s a prophecy that says Walpole
Island’s going to be underwater because of their land diversion, water diversion. The projects are already starting. Going to be drowned. And that’s what they call benefit.
What they call themselves. What I see is that is trying to be cash-cow, economic blackmail going right there. We’re poor and they offer us big money all for Wallaceburg, all for surrounding areas, jobs. But they don’t see the damage. It’s just big business. Big corporation. Impact. Benefit for their own pocket that’s all. Their share holders or whatever. Corporation bigwigs mess up you area. They don’t have to swallow it. They don’t have to look at it. It’s all I see. Megwitch.”
Participant 4 said: “Well, I kind of worry about that big plant coming in there…kinda take up a big area of hunting ground in there where I hunt, right here…And every time you open up big places like that it’s getting closer to here. It’s getting too close, you know.” He noted that the bush in the 1800 Block is an important yarding area for deer:
He said: “Well that’s the main bush for every deer in this area. They run in that bush.’
Talking in general about the industrial build-up along the river, he said: “They are taking up a lot of hunting group especially in that area right there. [Industrial] Plants need growth here and there, take up more. And another thing I didn’t like with plants was that the water used to freeze solid all the way across. You could skate across it like an arena.
They used to have ice in here, all the way across. Not a jagged and busted up ice like you see now. It was solid all the way across. ..." Said that in the 60s everyone used to walk across the St Clair River to get to the American side for work. But then it stopped freezing over, no matter how cold it got. Many people drowned in the river as a result - including his grandfather: "... He walked right into a hole right in front of the house.”
The facilitator agreed, stating that: "Well since the plants come in here you’ve got your
Lambton Hydro, Detroit Edison on the State side, they used the water for their coal plants and then it goes back into the river again. That’s what keeps us from this point down right off to the lake, the water’s warm all the time. Even if it does get cold enough to freeze it jams up, ice did…the water gets cold enough it turns to ice and it will jam up all through the river. It doesn’t stay that long. It doesn’t stay frozen very long because all that warm water’s underneath. It melts the ice from the bottom and it just weakens that whole river again. But from here on up its good because isn’t warm water.”
Participant 6 said: “all these plants have a holding tank back here ... where a lot of their waste goes. Then it goes up so high, like this [demonstrates] say this is the top of it here and right about here, there was a hole or so. That hole led the pipe to the river. I know that for a fact because I asked the guy up in…I was a councilor for three years, 3 terms here on Walpole. He took us to the chemical plants up there. They had 90 pipes leading to the river. Then they said they couldn’t…they were working on it. It was going to take them 20 years before they can clean some of that environment up. I made a comment to one of the big chiefs up that area. I said 'gimme about 60 yards of cement. I’ll fix those hole for you. Plug them up'. I says, then I asked him 'why do they have to lead to the river, knowing that you know, once they reach the level, they’re going to go out to the
126 river?' They couldn’t answer that one. That was my question. Over here I asked them the same question there. Then just recently, I thought it was part of Shell, I wasn’t going to ask another question. But three days ago up in Midland, Michigan, they had Dow
Chemicals up there. The waste…it’s the end of the land eh, and it’s started to affect the people living there. Cancer and diabetes. They want to move them people out of there now. Its not in a reserve but its someplace over there. Now my question would have been to Shell is 'does Dow make the same kind of products as Shell’s going to do up here?'
We don’t know. Never asked that question. I wanted to ask but I didn’t get a chance to ask it. …So how’s that going to affect the land claim. Right in here. They’re probably going to answer that question here better that I can. But I know it’s there. And that was a question my wife said, 'What are they going to do with that Sombra Township land claim if that Shell is going to move on there?' I says, 'I don’t know.' Maybe that’s one of the reasons there having, like, you know, this session, like today. I couldn’t tell you. I don’t like to see it. It may help some of the people out here, you know. Professional people, to work there. I think that’s…they’re the people….and the Government would like to see that. They get a lot of taxes out of these people. It really does nothing for Walpole
Island. If somebody tells you it does, don’t believe them because anything good that can come out Shell that I know, recollect would help Walpole Island. They do want our blessing on it, I know that. They were down here to wine and dine us at one time so.
Hard to say, you know, the comments that I have said are actual facts and all that. To the best of my knowledge, the answers I’ve given you and the comments are exactly what I just said. Are they going to dump in the river? We all know that. Maybe some good’ll come out of it if it’s there, I don’t know. I don’t think it will do us any good at this point.
We don’t know at this time. It might help some of the….I don’t think any plant, whether it’d be Shell or anybody else that moves into the area, it’s not good for the community.
Because they are going to…. You always read about something, some spills from the plant. The grounds, bad water bad underground water. That could happen here. But we don’t get underground water, but they could pollute the river, we don’t know. They say they won’t do it but it’s hard to say.”
Participant 9 said: “Well, I was just at the meeting the other night and I thought that this was a business thing, and if they say what they’re going to do about protecting the environment. Petrolia was in the way and they were supposed let them in there. I don’t think it’s not too bad of an idea, but either way we can’t be sitting in the dark all the time.
[inaudible] also be able to manage to keep the marshes and the… for the hunters. You got to keep that open and ensure that they continue to get their livelihood there. I also think that … I was at the school the time before and I thought that what they were talking about was drug and alcohol and I got a free dinner and I think that probably my only personal views I think…drug and alcohol don’t do you no harm. The drug people in the
Shell Refinery. That’s my own personal views but there’s sure been… there was not too many people at the drug and alcohol the other night. There should have been more there and they should have been more signs like they had the arena for the drug and alcohol.
Trying to think, I don’t think it’s too bad of an idea myself. I’m so used to working outside now, not on the Reserve anymore. I don’t know what all those other people’s opinions are. I know myself that I could probably go along with it. …Oh, yeah. That’s why I said that as long as the company says they’r going to do what they’re going to do, I
127 think it’s not too bad of an idea. …Well, I think I don’t really have too much more to say, but I thought it was, uh. I could bother to go either way with it. I have more concern about drug and alcohol, than I do with that. …if it’s going to hurt the environment I probably wouldn’t go against it, I mean, I’d probably go against it. But I’d have to read more information because I didn’t read any of that stuff they handed over. I just went over and I hadn’t had my meal and listen to their presentation. I thought their presentation was good. But then that’s a different story.”
Participant 10 said: “We believe Enniskillin is still ours. There’s areas along the river there that’s surrendered for sale but never sold. And I think we have serious concerns about what the use of the land in this area.. For years and years groups have been dumping, open dumps into the river where they could have self-contained, maybe holding tanks and then run the pollution into that and then filtered it out, but it’s just too costly for them so they didn’t do it. …There’s a sacred part there that we feel we own. And the river directly, and we have an interest in all that area. So I think they should insure that we’re properly compensated for the interest that we have. And we feel we still own this river.”
Participant 11 said: “To me, I really don’t have nothing against that cause if it’s looked after, like anything else it’s going to come sooner or later. They keep asking. ... I really don’t have too much to say about it. Other than that it would be something to look at, something to look forward to. ... People I says it might be something that the people would get something out of. Some of these older people like they…I’ve heard one people say, there was a person there demonstrating there, ‘Down with Shell! Down with
Shell”. And when Seaway Island came here, they were against that when they put the creek through that. A lot of people were against that. But these people who were against it were the first to in line. [laughs] So, I think this happens they’ll be the first ones in line again. So, it’s a good thing to me anyway. And everything else is, like..as a far as pollution goes, I think the whole Earth is polluted. Like, they say that the water is…you can’t drink the water, which, well, we had lot of these oil spills in there. I know when I moved back to the island, when I first moved back there we used to have a well which we drank out of and the well was always good. They used to have these people come in and check all our wells to see if there was any pollution then. Then the water line come along and lo and behold our well was no good. In other words, hook ‘em to our line. So that’s the same thing that going on, the same thing with these guys. So I still say it’s a good thing.”
Participant 12 said: “I think uh… I always told [whitey] “I love all what’s going on. All the stuff that’s going on is helping the people.” But after a while I realized that it’s not helping. It’s polluting the air, polluting the water. Seem like everything that’s done, it’s good for what, for traveling, fuel and all that. It’s good for all that. But at the same time they’re polluting the air. “Hey this is good for you. We give you gas heat. We give oil heat for your homes.” And all that. But to get that you are getting pollution too. So we get you all kinds of gas, and put it in your car and it’ll shoot out in the air. Which is polluting the air. Which is good for traveling and all that but it’s doing a lot of damage and I think whatever industries that go up, it’s good one way then it’s bad another way.
But what’s going to happen in another 50, 60 years time. Just keep polluting the air. It’s getting thicker. There’s no way you can clear it up. Once it’s there it’s there. Up in the air. I thought anyway. There’s no… They always say the forests and all that has a filtering system but how much of this polluted air is going through the forest to filter itself out. You hear about acid rain and all that. While back I think a lot of the trees, right to the… I got a couple of maple trees in my yard there and they got spots on the leaves which you never used to see before. They’re spotted, when they fall, they’re yellow with little spots on them. Where’d the spots come from? Because before we never used to see spots on the leaves. So I think its from the pollution and all that. Acid rain. Got to be something up there. So I… I’m sort of against it myself. Not only for us but for generations to come. We’re not doing them any good. It’s good yeah [inaudible] we live 40, 50, 60 years old. Life is good, everything’s there, gasoline, transportation whatever at all. Chemical plants up there are building for us today. What’s going to happen 4, 5 generations down the road. I don’t know. I’m sort of against it myself. For not me but for the future. ... And they say zero or no spills at all and all that, but it will never be that way. There will always be spill, I think. We have a storm here for 2, 3 days, every downpour we have a [inaudible] up there and everything goes to the River.
All your overflows, all your waste. They say they got holding tanks for all the waste. I wish they had holding tanks for everything. That they didn’t have no pipes on the River, like your overflows and whatever. I wish they had holding tanks in the back where they could treat their water or whatever with chemicals they had back there. But like, eh, I like progress, but it hurts everybody. It’s good for the pocket book now, but generations to come, healthwise, I think it will catch up. Catch up. It’s caught up to a lot of people already. You see cancer and all that. But you can’t fingerpoint. You can’t say this guy up here caused it and all that. …About the last 10 years there be more cancer. Different types of cancers. I don’t know what… You have it in the stomach and lungs and blood.
So I hate to say it. But, I don’t like it.”
Participant 13 said: “Well, what I was told is we were the first people in this country and then the people that came over took everything from us. And Austin used to tell me this.
He said, “You don’t hate people. Never, never hate people. They are thought of equal with you and I, everybody else. They are the ones that have to learn to accept the First
Nation People here. The first people that were in this country.” So just stay like that and whatever.”
Participant 16 had a number of concerns for the future and the Shell refinery area. She said: “I have lots of concerns and they’re not being addressed. One of my concerns is the acidification that might happen because of this type of refinery. That might be good for some of our Eco-systems, like Oak Savannahs like acid. But for all of our species at risk and rare plants it’s not known how that will affect them. And I was looking at the draft environmental assessment and there are no standards for acidification for Ontario. They are using U.S. standards which may not be appropriate. Different climate different soils.
And they make no promises. They say they will deal with acidification insofar as it’s financially viable. That’s one of my biggest concerns.” She was also concerned about the project and the future health of the community. She said: “Well we are undergoing a cancer epidemic. In my youth cancer was unheard of. I had heard of maybe one person
129 before my time that had cancer. It didn’t exist. We were more prone to heart disease and diabetes, but we did not get cancer. It was not one of our diseases. Now it’s suddenly hitting 50 year olds. It’s very dramatic and there will be affects from the air pollution from that plant. And they cannot tell us that it’s safe. We cannot take any more pollution than we have. I’m concerned about the boy babies that aren’t being born. It’s showing up on Walpole. Of course the birth rates fluctuate. The proportions of boys and girls, but the proportion of boy babies is definitely lower than girls right now. What will that do to our future, I don’t know. We can’t, absolutely cannot, have a plant there.” She maintained that the Shell plant would be too close to the island. She said: “That’s too close. That’s 6 miles. The more population and development comes to our territory, the worse it is for all of the animals. The light pollution, the noise pollution, that will affect animals and probably plants.” Her final thoughts on the Shell refinery project were that:
“It definitely will not benefit. There will be no real jobs for us. It will be a negative impact. It’s just a matter of degree. As far as traditional knowledge on our side, it will be spiritual warfare. We can’t fight on their terms. They have all the surrounding towns lobbying for it. But I’m still very hopeful. I say it will never be built. And that’s that.”
Participant 17 said: “Well, my understanding is that the refinery itself is a corporate production and it’s going to utilize resources to complete production, it’s going to emit and give out waste. I’m not entirely sure, I’m not up to speed in terms of what’s coming out of the waste and that would be my concern as a contributor. …Absolutely, because there are times when we can see an actual plume in the air that stretches anywhere from 2 to 5 miles and there’s some, depending on the wind, there would be some that originate from the Detroit area and coming eastward, especially in the morning, you could see that, it’s very evident. And certainly from the north, on the north wind you see the plume coming out- [bell ringing] It’s definitely weird because it’s not, it’s really a, seems like, its looking to you like a dirty plume coming at you – a rust coloured plume, sometimes, depending on how the sun hits it. And that’s not natural, that’s the first thing that comes to your mind. Over the years I’ve been able to see the river quality, as I see it in the fish that I catch, seems to be improving but there’s always the underlying factor of the effects on the people. The health of our people is not how would you put it? It’s not like…it’s more than physical. I think you catch the person thinking that “this stuff is killing me slowly”, you know, “I’m not living the full life I should be …I’m legally to have.” I t’s like a cloud that seems to be over your head, and you don’t know if it’s going to rain, its constantly there, it’s a worry that you have and you just try to forget it , but there’s things in life that you see that bring you back to that concern that you have for the environment and the effects of the water and the air. And certainly, you always think of catastrophic things that could happen that could turn around and kill people and degrade our environment, our territory so badly. Even though they have safeguards, you know, it’s something that if you live here you grow hardened to it, but in the back of your mind it pops up all the time. You see something, it’s like, I’ve see something today, that would bring you back, you know, this is not…it shouldn’t happen, this is not natural. So, it’s a concern. I think, I don’t know if a lot of the younger people have it, but I’m quite sure the elders…they keep telling people this is bad and as a FN because of our relationship to
Mother Earth or the Territory, and the creatures that inhabit it, you know, we have respect for them, but you wish it could stay like that. You’d rather see changes that are not good
130 and then you don’t know, you’re trying to get to this place where everything seems to be running smoothly and everybody feels very good about the whole territory. But it’s not happening. If you’re in a territory and you use it like, you see changes over the years and its not exactly depressing but it’s something that bothers you all the time.”
Participant 18 said: “That’s what I seen change. The water doesn’t freeze anymore. We don’t have the ice out here anymore like we used to have. The water isn’t clean. I don’t care how many experts you get up in this [inaudible] “It won’t affect you.” They don’t live here. They don’t see it. If they came down they would probably wouldn’t drink the water from out of the river either. They know what’s going into it. They’re not going to tell you. If you don’t know, too bad, but the way I see it, I’m against all refineries.
Anything that’s going to put the stuff into the cricks and tell you with a straight face it won’t hurt you. I don’t believe that for a second. If you say “well it does affect some place.” They say “where’s your scientific data?” Even they can’t prove it doesn’t hurt you. They have all these tests, like with guinea pigs. You take a certain amount
[inaudible] couple of years [inaudible] what happens to you. Try doing that over the long term. In a short time. [inaudible] do that. So they continue to mess the water up. They don’t care.”
Participant 20 said: “I think for me to agree to even consider this project there would have to be a lot more information come forward from Shell. It’s not enough to say its
‘state of the art’. What exactly does that mean? We’re not getting the detail and certainly some of us has the capacity to understand the detail. In the early stages, sure, bottom line is acceptable but as they get closer to developing I think we’re going to need to know what exactly is ‘state of the art’ and not just the water, but air, air quality.
[Inaudible] where the plumes are coming at us already from the chemical industries and industry in the ‘States as well. So at this point we’re trying to catch up, we’re trying to get enough technical capabilities to be able to measure for ourselves and to prove for ourselves and our community that these things are not good and they are in fact
[inaudible] to a great, great degree, their socially as well. Nobody touches them, social aspects.”
Participant 21 said: “My concern is to do with the traditional medicines that grow here.
And I know other native people from other reserves come here to pick the medicines. … I know there are people that are starting to use the medicines again. There was a time they didn’t use them but they’re starting to use them again. And they are people here who know. They say they don’t know, but sometimes when you are sitting around with a just a bunch of people and talking about certain things and they come out and say they know this medicine, and they know this other medicine. And you sit there and you look at them and previously before they said they didn’t know anything. That what my concern is just to do with the medicines and the rare plants that we have here don’t go anyplace else.”
Participant 22 said: “They said we believe that this uh, water’s got a lot to do with the kids being deformed and what not. And these two girls went all along the waterfront.
Clean around in this old water here. And up there too. They went to different villages
131 and talked to people that would talk to them and questioned them about the water. What its doing to the health of the people. And we had all this information that we collected from the different people around the area and we were supposed to go on in Windsor on
Channel 9 to air what we had collected. The girl called me up. They went there in the morning, we were only supposed to deal with her too. They said the place was locked up and they couldn’t get in. They didn’t want to air that what we had…the information we had gathered, they didn’t want it to be aired. Somebody didn’t want it to be aired.
Locked us out. That’s why I’m leery about this water here with kids getting deformed and what not. Very suspicious when you do see one that is deformed or mentally disturbed you know. Shouldn’t be that way. That’s about my concern. For the younger generation.”
Participant 24 said: “Well I’ve got nothing against it as long as they contain it. Whenever they can contain the chemicals that fine.” Regarding health concerns and the future, he said: “A lot of people complain about the water because all lot of them figure that it’s cancer that’s killing them, but cancer could come from anything.”
The results of the Walpole TEK Refinery study indicate that people from Walpole Island continue to use the “Local Study Area” for traditional purposes. The main activity is deer hunting, and this takes place throughout the Local Study Area with a focus on an area known as the Bickford Woods or 1800 Block. This area was once part of an Indian
Reserve known as the Lower Reserve. The St. Clair River is used by some Walpole people for fishing and travel, although these activities were much more limited in scope and intensity. Some people carry on plant harvesting in the area, especially for medicinal purposes. The location of spiritual sites was vaguely referenced by a few of the participants. Some had obtained this information from archaeological work in the area.
Others were reluctant to speak about specific spiritual sites.
Most of the participants confined their traditional harvesting activities to Walpole Island and adjacent marshes and waters. The reasons for this are both ecological and historical.
On the one hand, the Walpole Island area still abounds with traditional resources. This is a testament to the ongoing efforts of the people and leaders of Walpole Island to preserve traditional resources. On the other hand, people from Walpole Island have been denied access to their traditional territories and resources since the mid-19 th
century. Harsh penalties associated with restrictive provincial (and U.S.) game and fish laws have caused people from Walpole Island to be apprehensive about hunting, fishing and harvesting in areas outside of the island. The area known as Bickford Woods was more frequently mentioned as a place to conduct traditional resource harvesting, especially deer hunting.
Some of the participants thought of this area as a special place that had been reserved to them. This may relate to the setting apart of this area in the early 19 th
century as the
Lower Reserve. Although it was “surrendered” to the Crown in 1843, people from
Walpole Island have maintained a close relationship with the area.
Many participants observed changes to their traditional resources. These comments were mainly focused on changes they had witnessed in and around Walpole Island. Many participants blamed increasing pollution from industrial developments upstream for the negative changes. Others focused blame on developments within Walpole Island, such as drainage or other man-made changes to the environment. Most participants were concerned about future changes, and how they would affect generations to come. The decline in traditional resources and resource harvesting opportunities was cited by many as a negative element in the health and social fabric of the community.
APPENDIX 1: MISSION STATEMENT
Walpole Island First Nation is seeking your participation in a Traditional Ecological
Knowledge (TEK) project. The purpose of the TEK project is to collect information that may be useful in assisting Walpole Island First Nation to properly assess the potential impacts and benefits of a proposed new oil refinery by Shell Canada Products (Shell).
The location of the proposed oil refinery is within Walpole Island First Nation’s traditional territory, and is situated near the St. Clair River just north of Walpole Island
(see attached map; Figure 1A). In addition to the refinery operations, the proposed project may include:
a dock on the St. Clair River; new pipeline infrastructure; a co-generation electricity unit; a gasifier to convert petroleum coke into synthetic gas; storage of crude oil in brine caverns; and roadway/highway/railway improvements.
Your participation in the TEK project is important because we need to present our knowledge about the land and resources. Our knowledge has been passed down through generations by telling stories and recounting our relationship with Mother Earth. This traditional knowledge has not been recorded in books, but has been kept in the minds and hearts of our people. While some of the traditional knowledge has been lost through the passing of elders, we are seeking now to preserve some of it through a process of interviewing elders and other community members. Also, traditional knowledge has been collected from previous interviews in the community and some of that information may be appropriate for inclusion in this project.
You are being asked to participate in interviews coordinated by the Walpole Island
Heritage Centre. A team of people has been put together to help gather Traditional
Ecological Knowledge. Eric Isaac and Calvert Wright are the Team’s traditional advisors and they will be contacting you to schedule an interview. We ask that you consent to be audio and/or videotaped in order to preserve a record of your information. You will receive an honorarium of $100 (Canadian) for participating in this project. You will also
134 receive a copy of any audio or videotape and written transcript that is produced. The tapes and transcripts of your interview will be safeguarded in the Heritage Centre. Your privacy will be respected throughout this process. The final report that we provide to
Shell and the governments of Canada and Ontario will not contain personal identity information.
We hope that you will consent to participate in this project. It is important that we take this opportunity to present our history and traditional ecological knowledge.
State the date, time and place of interview.
Identify all people in the room.
Refer to the written statement explaining the purpose of the TEK Project, and ask if they have read the statement and understood its contents.
If yes, then ask for their consent to be interviewed.
Ask permission to audio and/or videotape the interview.
Continue with taping.
Refer to maps as Map 1 (large area map, showing the area between Lake Huron and Lake
Erie) and Map 2 (Shell project site map and the St. Clair River), and ask if they are familiar with these areas. Note that the areas in question cover both sides of the
State your name. (give spelling), and any nick-name(s)
Give the date of your birth.
Where were you born?
Can you provide the names of your parents?
The names of brothers and/or sisters?
Names of grandparents.
Names of great-grandparents.
Other distant relatives.
Do you have a totem or clan?
Do you belong to a particular tribe (for example, Ojibway, Odawa or Potawatomi)?
Do you know where your ancestors came from?
Tell me about your childhood. Where were you raised?
Do you speak Anishinabe?
Did you go to school? Where? Describe your school experience.
Describe your childhood on Walpole Island (or away from the island).
USE OF TRADITIONAL FOOD RESOURCES:
Do you hunt? If so, when did you start and what kinds of animals and/or birds have you hunted?
Where have you hunted? (mark locations on maps)
Do you eat the meat of animals and/or birds you hunt?
Do you eat wild game given to you by others on Walpole Island? If so, what kind of game?
Do you fish? If so, when did you start and what kinds of fish have you caught?
Where have you fished? (mark locations on maps)
Do you eat the fish you catch?
Do you eat fish given to you by others on Walpole Island? If so, what kind of fish?
Do you trap? If so, when did you start and what kinds of animals have you trapped?
Where have you trapped? (mark locations on maps)
Do you eat the meat of animals you have trapped?
Do you gather edible plants? If so, when did you start and what type of edible plants do you eat?
Where do you gather edible plants? (mark locations on maps)
Do you eat edible plants given to you by others on Walpole Island? If so, what kind of plants?
Approximately what percentage of your daily food comes from wild animals, fish and plants?
Has your diet changed over the years? If so, has the percentage of wild (or natural) foods increased or decreased?
Has the composition of wild foods changed over time? For example, do you eat more fish now than wild game?
USE OF TRADITIONAL MEDICINAL RESOURCES:
Do you gather plants or animals for traditional medicinal purposes? If so, when did you start and what kinds of plants and/or animals have you gathered?
Where have you gathered medicines? (mark locations on maps)
Do you use medicines given to you by others on Walpole Island? If so, what kind of medicine? And, do you know where these medicines are gathered? (mark locations on maps)
USE OF TRADITIONAL SPIRITUAL RESOURCES:
Do you gather plants or animals for traditional spiritual purposes? If so, when did you start and what kinds of plants and/or animals have you gathered?
Where have you gathered spiritual items? (mark locations on maps)
Do you use spiritual items given to you by others on Walpole Island? If so, what kind of spiritual items? And, do you know where these items are gathered? (mark locations on maps)
USE OF TRADITIONAL RESOURCES FOR COMMERCIAL PURPOSES:
Have you ever sold or traded traditional resources?
If yes, what kind(s) of resources have you sold?
What percentage of your income was derived from traditional resources?
Has it changed over time? If yes, can you explain why?
Did your parents or other family relations engage in selling traditional resources?
If yes, what kind(s) of resources did they sell?
Did their sale of traditional resources change over time? If yes, do you know why?
Have you guided hunters or fishermen?
If yes, can you point out the areas where you guided? (refer to maps)
Has your guiding activity changed over time? If yes, can you explain why?
Did your parents or other family relations engage in guiding?
If yes, can you point out the areas where they guided? (refer to maps)
Did their guiding activity change over time? If yes, can you explain why?
USE OF TRADITIONAL TERRITORY:
Where have you traveled for traditional purposes (for example, visiting relations in other communities) in the territory around Walpole Island First Nation (including U.S. territory)? (refer to map)
How did you travel?
Was your travel part of a seasonal movement to these locations?
Has your travel patterns changed over time? If yes, can you explain why?
Do you know the travel patterns of your parents, grandparents or other family relations?
If so, can you point out their travel on the maps?
Was their travel part of a seasonal movement to these locations?
Did their travel patterns change over time? If yes, can you explain why?
KNOWLEDGE OF ANISHINABE PLACE NAMES:
Do you know of any Anishinabe names for places on the location maps? (mark locations on maps)
If so, can you also provide the English translation of these place names?
Do you know any stories that may be connected to specific places or areas on the location maps.
KNOWLEDGE OF TRADITIONAL SPIRITUAL PLACES:
Do you know of any spiritual places (for example: burial grounds, ceremonial sites, battle grounds, council fires, village sites) in and around Walpole Island?
If so, can you show these places on the location maps? (mark locations on maps)
Do you know any traditional stories relating to spiritual sites?
Have you ever heard of a “Spirit Stone”? If so, what can you say about it, and do you know the location of such a stone?
KNOWLEDGE OF NATURAL ECOSYSTEMS:
Do you know the spawning habits of fish species around Walpole Island?
If so, can you point to spawning areas of fish on the location maps? (mark locations on maps)
Do you know if the spawning behaviour of fish has changed over time? For example, have spawning areas changed?
Do you know if the numbers or types of fish have changed over time?
If so, do you know what has caused these changes?
Do you know the seasonal movements of animals and birds around Walpole Island?
If so, can you point to areas of animal and bird movements on the location maps? (mark locations on maps)
Do you know if the flying and/or nesting behaviour of birds has changed over time?
Do you know if the numbers of animals or birds has changed over time?
If so, do you know what has caused these changes?
Do you know about the movements and/or locations of amphibians (e.g. frogs) and/or reptiles (e.g. turtles or snakes).
Do you know if there have been changes to the marshlands around Walpole Island?
If so, do you know what has caused these changes?
Do you know if there have been changes to the shorelines of Walpole Island?
If so, do you know what has caused these changes?
Do you know if there have been any changes to the water levels around Walpole Island?
If so, do you know what has caused these changes?
Do you know if there have been any changes to the quality of drinking water around
If so, do you know what has caused these changes?
Do you know if there has been any change to the colour or turbidity (muddiness) of water around Walpole Island?
If so, do you know what has caused these changes?
TRADITIONAL HISTORICAL KNOWLEDGE:
Do you know anything about traditional laws or law making on Walpole Island?
Do you know about the history of the Council of Three Fires, or Three Fires
Have you heard stories about the first arrival of Aboriginal People to Walpole Island?
Have you heard stories about the first arrival of non-Aboriginal people to Walpole
Have you heard any stories about warfare with other First Nations in the past?
Do you know how the people of Walpole Island regulated access to natural resources in the past? For example, were there traditional regulations in place to prevent overharvesting of resources?
Were there traditional regulations in place governing access to resources by outsiders
(Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people)?
PROPOSED SHELL REFINERY SITE:
In addition the questions already asked, and referring to the location map of the proposed
Shell refinery project, have you traveled within that area?
If so, where exactly have you traveled and for what purpose?
Have you traveled along the St. Clair River adjacent to the Shell project site?
Have you fished or hunted in that area? If so, mark these locations on the map.
Do you know of others who have traveled over or used resources within that area?
If so, who are these people and what did they tell you about their experiences?
Do you know if access to the Shell project area has changed over time?
If so, do you know the cause of such changes?
Do you know if there are any spiritual sites (for example: burial grounds, ceremonial sites, battle grounds, council fires, village sites) within the Shell project area? If so, can you mark these on the map?
Do you remember the original condition of the land, water, and air in the area of the existing refinery and the expanded area for the proposed refinery?