Te Mauri - Pimatisiwin

Kwebeh: Building Institutions to Manage Mineral Development

An Excerpt

Early man’s survival depended on understanding the environment, the plants and animals that inhabit within. They also need tools for hunting and for protection. The natural resources and the rocks were used. They needed special stones from known quarries to patiently hone into points for spears, arrowheads, and knives. It suited them well for the time without interference. Many may have been known for their skills in producing the masterpieces for the hunts.

There were many other tools of the household, for the processing of the meats, such as the pounding rocks, scrapers, etc. Stones were also used for sinkers for the nets. It is not uncommon to find stone rings outlining where a caribou hide tipi once stood. Stones were also used to let people know who was in the area. In other words, these people were surface mining to produce tools. It was very much a way of life.

Before contact, especially after contact, life started to change at a rapid pace, driven by new tools and an outside consumerism need that drove the early fur trade. In a very short time, the usage of stone tools for hunting went the way of a disappearing memory.

After the acceptance of Treaty 11, in the summer of 1921, access to subsurface resources was now officially open for anyone to claim. The early prospectors mostly followed the old canoe trails and people tried their best to avoid contact. If there was a chance meeting, there was bartering, but resources were limited. The early advanced exploration recruited the knowledge of the people to get where they needed to go safely, especially to build winter roads safely.

The people of the region supplied wood, wild fish, meats, and traditional gear to the exploration camps, in barter or trade. In today’s terms, it would be similar to under the table dealings, not written anywhere. There was no reason for the advanced exploration to do any further recruitment than necessary, to take it to a new level.

Most of the early development decisions were made by government agents and administration for the better good. The original inhabitants just had to move on and avoid what would become future contaminated sites. There are many of these sites now.

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