[These interviews with hunters, trappers and other residents of Whapmagoostui were recorded for the Grand Council of the Crees/CRA, by Douglas Nakashima and Marie Rou?, and published in a Final Report in August 1994, from which they are extracted. They give a poignant account of the feeling of the Cree people for the land and animals, and their anguish at the prospect that a Hydro project could be built in their land, and also are a treasure-house of information about Cree culture, and Cree attitudes to the land, animals and nature. This document deals with Traditional Ecological Knowledge, or TEK, about animals, trees and the fruits of the land.][Note: The line of four dots between paragraphs indicates a new speaker].
Where we used to stay, there were many fish and caribou. They used to stay, in the summer-time. Caribou used to stay in the water when there were a lot of mosquitoes. There, it was cool for the caribou, when it was very hot for them to stay within the trees. East of the Ipisikimish lake, near the end of the lake, there are some islands there called Gadadeegoodawugach. That is where caribou used to be, and people used to go there to look for them. When I was still living with my father, that's where he used to go, in the winter or when the days were longer. When the days are longer, that is where the caribou used to go, to the ice areas, large lake areas, such as Ipisikimish or Weyashakeemeech-Clearwater Lake. That is where the big game-ntuhuun was. People know these things very well, they know the animals whereabouts very well from season to season.
As for those that will not flee, they will be destroyed. Also, you should remember that many caribou drowned by water, where they call it George River. It was shown, the massive numbers of caribou that drowned. I have seen it quite a number of times. What I saw, I was very sad and very unhappy when I saw it. Even when this was shown, I am pretty sure we were not shown everything. Many caribou drowned there.
The caribou for example. Only some parts of it can be eaten today because it has been affected. The project hasn't started and yet we feel the effects already.
All the animals will be affected. Once the river is closed, the caribou won't come near here. There are caribou today because there isn't a reservoir interfering with their migration. The caribou walks inland towards the Chisasibi River and when they go back they walk along the coast. There won't be any creature that isn't affected by the project. They all will be affected. That is what the people know and therefore, they oppose the proposed project.
Before they (caribou) were plenty, they were usually sought for there (Lake Bienville area). A little north of the lake is their migratory route and others walk on the lake heading south and go towards where Fort McKenzie used to be and comes on this side of Fort McKenzie. A long time ago when they built Fort McKenzie, the caribou stopped coming through. It was as if they were forced back and unable to come through. Since the abandonment of Fort McKenzie, the people saw more and more caribou here. Today they seem plentiful here and along the coast and they go through that area in Lake Ipisikimish. If the project goes ahead, they will all be driven away again. The water will force them back. All the people will suffer.The Inuit from Fort Chimo always hunted inland in those areas. The Cree people sometimes saw them where they hunted caribou. The caribou that came here came from the Lake Ipisikimish area, but they came from beyond this lake. They came from beyond the McKenzie river. They're the ones that came here. They're probably that same herd.Since they built Fort McKenzie, there was hardly any caribou on this side. Towards the north there were some, but not many. While Fort McKenzie existed, people thought it was a major obstacle for the caribou. So there weren't much caribou around here.
People survived from the fish, before the caribou were as many as they are today, where we are. Only in faraway areas, like in the Seal Lakes, further up north, that is where there were one by one caribou, that is where they roamed, when there was hardly any caribou. That is where sometimes we saw the caribou, but further south, we rarely saw the caribou or least of all, along the coast or even the Aabeeseekeemeese, I never saw the caribou there the three times I've been there. Only when I was with the whiteman, it was the first time I saw the caribou there at Aabeeseekeemeese. When we were using the canoe, it is when I saw Aabeeseekeemeese lake, when we started from the Richmond Gulf. I saw it all the way and never once did we see caribou tracks along the way, from Richmond Gulf to Aabeeseekeemeese and people never talked about if they saw caribou, even when started inland from Whapmagoostui river. They never mentioned it, only later, then they talked about seeing caribou in the Aabeeseekeemeese area, when it was close for the many caribou to get here and even the Clear Water Lake area, that is only when they came around, the caribou came from the North.
So many caribou have drowned by water, when water was released on the big river. We have heard just how many drowned. As for those caribou that survived, they were harmed and that is where the contamination started from. It was like their food was gone, this is probably what happened to them. I guess that is why they moved to our area, where they never were. They were probably looking for things to eat. They cannot find it, for there is so much happenings here. That is probably why there is so many, they are looking for what they can eat. Some of the caribou are such a pitiful sight to see for they are so skinny, when they get here. This is what we know, so much is destroyed already, right through this land, where the caribou drowned. There is so much water on this side too, where the dam was built on the Chisasibi river and if ever the dam is built on the Whapmagoostui River, where will these caribou go, where will they find things to eat.MOOSEOther kind of animals, they will flee to another area. Ever since, I can remember, when we were in the bush, we have rarely seen the moose. Ever since, they built the dam on the Chisasibi river, the moose started to move North, where it never use to go. It fled from the flooded land and I have heard moose tracks were even seen further up North. That is what is going to happen here. Animals will flee, will be gone. As for those that will not flee, they will be destroyed.BEARAs for other kinds of animals, the ones we eat, we know the bear, in the spring-time, he eats anything for he has not eaten all winter and he's very hungry when he comes out of his den. When he drinks or eats from the man-made lake, this can harm the bear. Nothing can be d So many things are different from what they used to be, before this river was dammed. I will tell you about it. Since this river was dammed, this large game that we used to kill, does not taste the same as it used to before the white man came to this area. We don't think that it is the same to eat as it used to be. It is because of what it eats in the area where the men work. The bear tastes particularly different than it used to, before all this construction started.
In the past, when people lived off the land, they did so without using anything from the white man. We, ourselves use what comes from the white man. People used the bones of large animals to make what he needed to hunt. They used the bone from large animals, like bears and caribou. The most useful bones were the bones of the caribou. They could use them for many different things. They could also use these to catch fish. They used them for everything. They got the string they needed for hunting from the hide and for catching fish and other things. They used the caribou hide to build their shelters, to be used as a cover for the teepee. They got what they needed for their camps from caribou hide. Of course, the bear's bones were used extensively. They also got string from the bear. Long ago, there was no string, before people knew white people. Everything came from the large animals like the bear and caribou. The Cree people got everything he needed from these animals. They got the arrow tips from this, when they still used bows and arrows. This was what the people really needed for hunting in those days. They used bows before there were any guns. Even when there were guns, they still used bows. They used pieces of bone to put on the tips of his arrows. They put this bone on their arrows. They killed food to eat this way. They even killed caribou this way. Of course, they also set snares. I heard that they could also kill caribou using snares. They used to also set snares for the caribou. This is what they did, before there were any guns. This is what people said. This is what I heard people say. This was about the people who lived truly long ago. Today, people still use the bones of caribou. They are still being used today. People can use them for anything they want to use them for.
The one who thinks that he's helping us, never once told us that he would repay us how much we used to be able to get from the land. He didn't say this to us. He didn't tell us anything in advance, of how he could help us, when he began making dams here. The dumps he has in his towns also kill much game. The animal that the Cree people respected the most was the bear and when he saw his fellow hunters, they often had a feast of bear meat. Today, people don't want to eat these bears since they see how many of them are in the garbage dumps, where the Hydro people have their towns. Twice, since the dam was built, did I kill a bear that couldn't not be eaten at all. I had to throw them out. That is why I believe people when they say that so many things have been destroyed in the way of game and hunting because of the dams.
When this dam was built, right away the destruction of game started. The first thing I will talk about are the animals that run on the ground. They were killed by this project right away. Many were killed on the road. This is what made it lie on the ground (die). All kinds of game were affected... Even the largest game is killed on the road, "the-road-to-build-dams". All kinds of game are killed, even the bear. I saw a bear killed by this road with my own eyes.
one to stop them from eating from that area, nobody can do it.
Many of the wildlife species which feed on fish (like the bear) will be affected by the contamination of the freshwater aquatic species. In the spring time it has been a well known fact that the bear is the greatest fisherman of all time. It will be devastated once the fish are no longer in abundance. Like the human being the bear knows which lakes are good for fishing.
Inland before the geese fly, the Cree who live off the land go hunting for bear. When a bear dens and it was a good place to den, it will return to it. The bear seems to be increasing in numbers. The bear tastes the best if it was killed inland.
All kinds of wildlife will mess around with garbage dump. I know this for a fact because I have worked for seven summers where the camp of Hydro is. I lived in the same camp as they do. I have seen the animals come to the garbage dump, all the animals that run about on the land including the bear. When the bear is any where near a camp, it will certainly discover it. During midsummer, when the berries are not there, the bear will almost eat anything. Some animals are like that. They will eat anything. The bear is like that, too. It will look for food at the garbage dump if it discovers one nearby. The animals can not be stopped from coming there. For instance, if a bear is killed at the garbage dump, soon, another will come to take it's place. That is what I know of these animals. Every summer that I am at that Hydro camp, I seen a bear come to the garbage dump every summer. Sometimes, there are not two of them but three of them at one time. I have seen the bears literally trying to get into the kitchen because they look for something to eat. Naturally, the mess around at the garbage dump because not all the food can be burnt off especially the meat. If the meat is deep in the garbage pile and the fire has not reached it, the bear will get it out.
When I am the camp with them, I get to know the workers and they know me, too, as it is when one has worked for a company for many years, he gets to know and is known by his fellow workers. Whenever a bear has to be killed by these people, it is I who they ask if they can kill the bear even if I am at IPISIKIMISH. Each time I am asked, I always stress that the bear is taken good care of and not be wasted in any way and not to be burnt.When we were there two summers ago, one of the WAMISTIKUSIU [non-native] killed three bears. Of these three he killed, he gave me half of one bear. That is all he gave me. The rest, he burnt it. I did not see the other two. They had said that one of the bears was big and one was small. They thought these bears had eaten bad food [from the dump?].I had told them, "I will ask a doctor to check if this food you gave me is really not good to eat." When I got here, I asked the doctor to come to check the meat. He told me that it was good for human consumption.Therefore, the bear they burnt was good to eat. It was a big bear. I had seen this bear walking by.The bears were on an island. It was in the evening when I was told that these bears were on the island where there were some tents there. They said there two young bears and an adult bear. They asked me what they wanted me to do about them. I told them, that they bears should be killed if they can be transported to the community. We were flown to the bears. It was already late in the evening. It was far from where we were. We landed on the water near the island. I told the pilot to let W on the island and that we would chase the bears to them if we see the bears. That is all we can do for him. The island was quite big, too. W could not get the bears. They had given us their own rifles. One of the guns was a high powered rifle and the other one was a shot gun. We chased the bear to W but he did not kill them. They let me off, too. I asked to get off the plane and that I would give instruction as to what to do with the bears. We killed the bear. We did not let Hydro Quebec what we were doing. Fortunately, there was some snow still on it. I told the pilot to go where the snow was but he could not go land there. I told him to let the bear down on the snow. "We are going to cut up the bear. We will gut it and bury the bear in the snow." That is what was being down. The bear was let on the snow. We went to the bear and cut it up. We put all the cup pieces and the guts in the snow. We cleaned the guts.The next day, after work, we went to it and continued to cut it up. This time, we cut up the whole bear. The cut up pieces were well frozen. It was fat and healthy. We could not get the younger bears. We did not see them.They must have gone hiding in the trees. It was already late evening. I told the WAMISTKUSIU who were working in this camp on this island. "The bears are still small. They will not harm you. Try to raise them. Give them food. Feed them good food."We were told to put the bear meat in plastic bags and I had already asked for some space in the freezer to keep until we left the camp. Nobody knew about our bear meat. It was like we were just carrying garbage bags with our belongings. The wagon pulled by the four wheeler came for us. We had our meat with us when we went back to our camp on the mainland. We put our bear meat in the freezer. Two days later, we were told that a helicopter would be going to Whapmagoostui. We send some fish to our families along with the bear meat. We put the bearskin in a plastic bag, too. Nothing was visible. The meat was frozen. The only one who knew about this was our boss. It was our boss who we told what we wanted to do. The bear meat was put on the helicopter. I called Whapmagoostui to have our things picked up. It was placed in the freezer.It was the same summer that the WAMISTIKUSIU killed the three bears. They burnt the bears. I was not happy about this. I told the chief right away what they were doing. He told me that it was going to be mentioned during the meeting this summer. I do not know if it was discussed. I wrote a letter telling him of this.Also, this summer, the watchman was X there. I was informed about a bear. They wanted to know what it could be done to it. I told them that I did not want the bear to be burnt but to bring it to the community.The next morning, when we started to work, my boss came to see me and told me that one of the top bosses of Hydro Quebec wanted to see me. "All right," I said. He said to me, "Let us go to Whapmagoostui. I will go with you." We flew to Whapmagoostui. We entered the building. Our boss, who was called chief of the camp and the Hydro boss. The chief of camps did not understand English but he Hydro Quebec boss understood some English. Our boss understood more English than the others.The Hydro Quebec boss said to me, "I had send for you because I wanted~to ask your opinion this matter." This Hydro Quebec official knew quite well. "Do you think it is a good idea for the bear to be shot because I am afraid that it might damage some of our things. I will do whatever you think is best to be done. I can get a rifle tonight, if you say to go ahead. You can kill it yourself or you can ask X to do it. The bear comes around at night."I said to him, "Only if you do what I am going to ask you, too." There was no one there to translate for me. "I do not want the bear to burnt when it is killed. I want the bear to be put in the freezer and to be flown to the community on the first trip here." "Okay," he said. "One of the freezers will be empty. I will show you which one you will use when the bear is killed."He told the workers to empty one of the big freezers. In the evening, the rifle was brought to the camp. It was the high powered rifle. They brought it in to our tent. I said to them, "Give X the rifle. He is on watch tonight. The comes around at night." It was about midnight when X's shot rang out. It was a big bear. X asked me, "What am I going to do with it?" "Take out its intestines," I said to him. "Put the intestines in the freezer. The bear will be cut up in the morning. It is going to be alright laying there tonight. After it is cup in the morning, it will placed in the freezer."That is what happened. The bear did not rot at all overnight. Later, it was brought to the community. That is what happened. They always ask me what to do with the bears. They seem to be afraid that I might tell stories about them. I stand up to them in these matters. I was very unhappy about when I saw the bears burnt. I felt it was very important for this subject to be talked about because the WAMISTIKUSIU is not allowed to kill animals when they are only there to do work. They do not have the right. If a WAMISTIKUSIU kills animals if he is not hungry, he could get caught.I forgot to video tape a pile of bear bones that I has seen, south of the camp. They were the bones of all sizes of bear. These bones were there quite some time ago. The bones were still very visible. These bones did belong to bears. The skull and the arm bone was unmistakable. They were not caribou bones. A fire had been built there.
I will now talk about my concerns for another animal and that is the bear. The bear will and can make its winter den in rocky areas. It will and can make its den inside rock cliffs. But it prefers to make its winter den under mounds of earth. It is said that when the bear makes its den in rock cliffs, its den is not warm. As it is well known that the exposed rocks are very cold during the coldest time of the year. It is for this reason that its den will not be as warm inside a rocky areas. But if its den is located inside a mound of earth, it will be warm. It also prefers the smaller mounds of earth to build its den. It likes it best there. When it can find such a spot, its den will certainly be warm, it is said. If it makes its den inside a bigger mound of earth and if it not will covered by the snow, it will be cold. The small mounds of earth are best for it because the snow will not be blown off it during the cold winter. The snow does not blow off of there during the coldest part of the year. The snow is always thick on the smaller mounds of earth in the dead of winter. That is why its den is very warm, especially if had dug deep into the earth. When it is making its burrow and is satisfied with the length of the entrance, it will now dig where it will sit. It will make a deep dent where it will sit and will place dry vegetation over the dent to make a mate for itself to sit lay on. It will place the willows and branches all around the inside of its den and will make itself a ?mattress? out of these materials. That is what will do. It will but not always close the entrance of its den from the inside. In this way, its den is much warmer inside. The snow around the entrance of its den will be melting from its own heat. I know this because I have found a bear in its den during the winter time. I know exactly how its makes its den by the way it looks when I find the bear in its den. I know what the area looks like where it can usually be found. It will not always use tree branches, instead use the Labrador tea stems and other kinds of vegetation including some grasses. It will use this to lay/sleep on inside its winter den. It will make its den very warm and cozy. When it goes out of its den, when it is time to go out in the spring, it will drag out the things it slept on. When it does this, it means that it will want to use this den again even if not that year but will come back for it the next year. It will come back to it because it had liked it and had found it to be a warm place to spend the winter. If it likes where it had been one year, it will keep going back to the same den if it had found it to be warm and comfortable. If another bear finds this den first, it will occupy it. It happens that other bears will find the area where there these mounds of earth and find an already made den. The first bear to get to the already made den will enter it and stay there for the winter. I know for certain that these kinds of areas where the bears come year after year will be destroyed once the flooding starts, where it had found a good place to spend the winter over the years. The bear will have the same fate as the beaver where their habitats will be completely destroyed by the flooding of the land. The bear will lose its habitats.
Usually one will find a bear trail in such places. The bear crossing will be found there. This is where the bear NUTAAMUWAAT [fishing the spawning fish]. This is one source of food for the bear. It will not leave these areas while the fish are there. That is why I said earlier that the bear will eat almost anything it can find before the berries are fully ripe for ingestion. Once the bear finds the spawning place of the fish, it will go back there to feed as long as the fish are there. Sometimes, more than one bear will find this same place because it will follow the beaten path of another bear. That is another 'thing I know that will be lost for an animal where it had feed and where the fish used to spawn. This another way these creatures will be affected by the flooding and construction of the dams.
There are many things that the bear eats and its favorite is the berries. Once the berries start to grow, they eat the berries and nothing much else. The young cubs are the same. They eat what their parents eat. At the end of summer, when berries are in full growth, the bear starts to gain weight. There are some hills where there is an abundant growth of berries and that is where the bear will stay. Before the bear hibernates, he goes in search of these berries.
All the animals will be affected. Once the river is closed, the caribou won't come near here. There are caribou today because there isn't a reservoir interfering with their migration. The caribou walks inland towards the Chisasibi River and when they go back they walk along the coast. There won t be any creature that isn't affected by the project. They all will be affected. That is what the people know and therefore, they oppose the proposed project. All the fur-bearing animals will be affected and destroyed too. Everything will be destroyed. That is why we don't want the project to go ahead.
It is noticeable that fur-bearing animals are not as plentiful as they used to be. They have cycles like that of caribou.
The fur bearing animals was the only source of income when a person would journey to the post. Today, the fur of animals for income is rarely used as compared the past. I haven't seen anyone kill a KUEEKHAWCHAOU wolverine myself while I was growing up but I did see a PISHU lynx being hunted. My father relied on the otter, mink and the marten for fur trade. The area in and around the Seal lakes had many otter and marten.
They (The American armies) were already here when I first hunted near here. There were few beavers on my trapline. Today they are really scarce on my trapline and further. It seems that they hardly exist. Because they're all hunted out. The land is not big. It seems small.
Ma-she-ma-gou-shech-a-datch (cree name) is another good fishing spot. I trap where the rapids are, it is always a good spot to trap, otter, mink, fox and other kinds of fur bearing animals. There is a decrease in the number of muskrats, ten years ago there used to be plenty. There used to be many beaver, since three years now the beaver population is scarce.
It would not be at all fair to any living species which lives off the land for the land to be flooded by the hydro-electric power dams. All wildlife habitats will be altered one way or another. I want to give you an example of what happens when wildlife is left alone to breed, raise its young and sustain its own survival. Years ago, the beaver was plentiful in the vicinity of my trapline. In contemporary times, its population is almost extinct because of the lack of what it feeds on. In order for its food to grow, it has traveled elsewhere to survive, however it will come back once its feeding grounds can sustain its own survival. The animal knows when to come back, when its feeding ground can meet its own needs for survival. That's how Mother Nature works!However, once the hydro-electric power dams have flooded the land, the feeding grounds of the wildlife animals will be destroyed.
I will talk about the beaver at length for awhile. As far back as I can recall as I was growing up and as soon as I was able to hunt, I have always witnessed the beaver being sought after. The time came when I was capable of hunt the beaver myself. I have come to observe the habits of the beaver. I have observed that the beaver will not stay in one place for more than three or four years. It is because their food sources have dwindled around their lodge even if there is only one family of beaver at one pond. They look for another place where there is a good source of food for them. That is where they stay. That is one thing I know about the beaver. It will happen that the beavers will stay in one place year after year because their food source is very good at that place. Also, if there are plenty of WIISKITIWII [water roots?] for it to eat.What will happen to the beaver when the flooding begins? When the flooding begins, it will have to built it's lodge almost on top of which were once high mountains. If this happens they will not have the WIISKITIWII to eat. The small/lakes/ponds do not have WIISKITIMWII in them. It is very evident when there are WIISKITIWII present in a lake because the WIISKITIMWII are attached to the plants called WISCHITAASIUCH [water plant). When there are plenty of WISCHITAASIUCH growing in one place, then the WISKITIMWIICH are plenty under the mud. I believe that the beaver would not be able to any nearby WIISKITIWIIH if it erected it's lodge near mountain tops. The other thing I know about the beaver is that if the beaver eats the same thing for three nights, it is tired of it already. How I know this, is because, when a beaver is being chased and it goes a longway from it's lodge, if it's lodge had been destroyed. When it knows that it's lodge has been destroyed, it will swim away from that place. It goes far away. Sometimes, it happens that it has a hard time to go back to where he had come far especially if it has checked it's tunnels had been destroyed. Sometimes, one tunnel might not be broken and other times it will happen that the beaver would make it's lodge somewhere far away. It will come back to get it's food from it's old place. Sometimes, it can only take one piece of willow and then it goes back to it's new home. I have known some beaver to drown because it had to rescue this certain kind of food from that distance. In the winter time, all the willowsare frozen that are standing near the water. All of the willows are frozen. It has no other way of getting this kind of food. Even if the willows are standing along the pond's edge, it has no way of getting and eating the at the frozen willows. It is for this reason why the beaver has to retrieve some of it's food from the it's old home even if it's food is very far from it's new home. Sometimes, the beaver drowns when it is on this kind of mission to absolutely rescue some of it's food. The beaver is like us, if we eat the same food for three days, we do not feel all that well. All animals are like that. When an animal's diet is varied, it will crave some kinds of it's food [if not eaten in many days]. The beaver is one animal that I know of who will do this, try to rescue one kind of it's food against all odds. It does not like to eat only one kind of food for long time. It will get skinny rapidly if does not have the proper kind of food that it likes and because it does not have a proper home and if it is not dry where it lives. If it lives like this for three nights, it will already be visible that it is loosing it's fat reserves even it had been quite fat. It's fat looks all red because itis always in cold water even while it is eating. In the spring time, the beaver starts to get skinny quite rapidly. It gets skinny fast because it is in the cold water more often. Now, what will the beaver look like if it's habitat is flooded out? The first thing the beaver does is make a den inside a mound of earth. It makes a den inside the mound of earth. Having done this, it places sticks and willows over it or just the sticks that are underwater. Having done this, it will now place mud over it. Then this construction starts to harden and continues to place/mix sticks [MISTIKUH] over it and uses rocks along with the sticks with this construction. It does this, why it places the sticks over it first is because the entrance to it's den does not close over with the weight of the other building materials. That is why it builds like that. The older beaver likes to put larger sticks over the entrance first and also uses bigger sticks with it's construction. That is why it does like that. It gets all the mud it uses that is submerged in the water. If the beaver wants to build it's den where there is only white moss near the mountain tops or there is only rocky areas where it will be dry, he might not find mud to use to build it's den. The mud is very warm for it's construction. Even if it uses the other kinds vegetation to build his den, it always mixes it with mud. After the pond freezes, the beaver comes out, it will add snow and ice mixed with mud over it's den which make it's very hard. It does this because it wants to make it's den very warm for the duration of the winter. The beaver makes sure that the opening to it's den leads into the deeper waters. It does this so that the opening to it's den will not freeze over even if the pond itself is thickly frozen over. It does happen sometimes that if the beaver did not make the entrance to its den deeper in the water, the entrance will freeze over. When this happens, it can not use its lodge. His lodge will be very cold. Where its food is stored, it makes a hallow at the bottom of the pond. It makes this area very deep, even if the stored willows are sticking out of the water. It tries to store its cut willows/food deep in the water. That is what it tries to do. The willows that are deep in the water do not freeze onto the ice. It leaves the one on top of the water alone even if the top ones are sticking out of the water. During the winter, it eats the one that are stored deep in the water. If the beaver can not store its food deep in the water, and most of its food is frozen at the top the pile and if its den is cold, it will tend to try to stay its tunnel. Sometimes, it does not survive when this happens. It dies. Sometimes, it will happen that it will come out of its den and onto the ice all year round especially if it can not get at its stored food. It tries to store all kinds of willows in its stash. As I had mentioned earlier, the beaver eats all kinds of willows and it also will store the WISKITIMWII in its stockpile even if it can get at the WISKITIMWII easily during the winter. It will gather and eat the WISKITIMWII during the winter. These are the habits of the beaver.The beaver checks its dam every day. It knows when its dam is becoming loose or some of it gone, it knows right away and it will fix it right away. I believe this habit of the beaver because I have experienced it myself. Once I was anxious for the beaver to show up. I let loose some of the poles on its dam. When detects right away that the water in the pond was getting low and it showed up right away even if it was not the time of day for it to show. It swam straight to its dam. When it comes near the place where I am laying in wait for it, it dives into the water. When it surfaces, it has mud in its paws. It will inspect exactly where the breakage on the dam is. It will place the mud where the breakage in the dam is. If I hunt beaver this way and I have killed the first one to surface, the other beaver knows that water level in the pond is still getting low, it will surface. It will do the same thing. It will swim straight to the dam. When it comes close to the dam, it will dive and bring up what it will use to repair the broken dam.That is how I know that the flooding of the land will not be good for the beaver, too. I know that when the gates of the man-made dams are open, the water level gets low. When this happens, it will happen that where the beaver are will be without water. I have heard this happening to beaver that when the water level goes down, and if the water level does not go up pretty soon, their lodge entrance will freeze over and their food storage in the water will be dry. It happens that they will go on land and look for where there is water. The beaver can not stay on land for a very long time because its feet and its tail will freeze first. Its paws will freeze, too. It can not stay on land for a long time during the cold time of the winter. It will look for water because it was made in such a way for it to be in the water. It was not made to be on land. That is why it is not good for it to be on land especially during the water time. Even if it goes out for a short while, it will not be able to move in a short while because of the cold. I have seen a beaver drag a trap where it was caught on top of the ice and try to get out of it. It was soon unable to move because its feet, tail and paws were frozen stiff in a very short while. It will happen sometimes that the beaver will come on top of the land if its lodge and tunnels are blocked when it is being hunted. Sometimes, it would be found on land where it had frozen because all its tunnels had been destroyed and could not stay in the water indefinitely. I know I am telling the truth when I say that it is not good for the beaver to stay on top of the land during the cold part of the year. That is one kind of animal that I know of which is gravely in danger when it can not get access to it's dry home via water during the cold part of the year. The same thing happens to the muskrat. It can not stay on land during the winter time. But these two kinds of animals can stay out longer on land during the spring time. All the animals that depend on the water for their habitat does like to stay out on the land when the spring animals. That is one kind of animal, the beaver from what I have been telling you to be severely affected in many ways when the flooding comes even if tries to stay at the edges of the reservoir.It will have a hard time to find it's food because the vegetation closest to its access will not be its food and will not find the WISKITIMWII, for example... The WISKITIMWII is one of the beavers' favorite foods. In the summer time, one can many of the WISKITIMWII flooding on the water in the beaver's pond. Even during the winter, the beaver eats the WISKITIMWII all the time. It does not like it when it does not eat the WISKITIMWII even for a short period of time. The beaver also likes to be living a lake/pond where there are a lot willows and plenty of WISKITIMWII around. This kind of a lake where there a lot of willows around it is called, ANIIPISKAACH. It is this kind of lake that the beavers like to inhabit. It is certain that the beavers can be found in this kind of lake every year and will inhabit it for many years.The beaver also likes a lake/pond where it is easy to make many tunnels around the lake. The beavers will reuse these tunnels over the years. If the lake has a winding shore-line and has high banks, the beaver likes to make only a den by burrowing into the bank of the shore-line and not make a lodge. It will live in this burrow instead of a lodge. It still likes to live in this kind of a burrow on the river bank if there are plenty of willows and WISKITIMWIICH in this lake. If a beaver wants to make a lodge near the mountain tops [after the flooding], if we reflect on this awhile, I believe that the beaver will have a hard time to make tunnels in this kind of area especially if it is rocky. If the lake/pond where the beaver is, has a rocky shore-line, the beaver can not make its tunnels. It can not make its tunnels deep with water. Even it does go ahead and makes its tunnels/burrows before it is cold, its tunnels are dry and there is no water in its tunnels. It can not use these tunnels. As I have mentioned before, the same thing could happen to its lodge. When this happens, the beaver starts to be affected by the cold. The beavers get very skinny rapidly if the pond/lake is very rocky. It does not do much good even if they make the water level high in the pond/lake, if the lake was rocky to start with. Their tunnels/burrows will have no water it them because their tunnels and/ or lodge would not have much water in them once the freeze up has happened. The beaver likes lakes/ponds that are not rocky and prefer lakes that are muddy. It is said that this kind of a small lake tends to have warmer water, a lake with no rocks in it. Especially if this lake almost looks like a MISCHAAKW SAAKIIKINS [peat/swamp lake'). When a lake is like this, muddy and has soft bottom with other vegetation growth, the WISKITIMWII grow in abundance in this type of a lake. The beaver likes this type of a lake best and it can make its tunnel deeper into the earth. The tunnel leading to its lodge can be made deep in the water. When it can construct its tunnel this way, it will not freeze up and will not be cold if it makes its lodge and tunnel in this way. I am just telling you what I know about the beaver and what it likes best in its habits. I can see it for myself that [if after the flooding) if a beaver could construct its lodge near or on the tops which were once mountain rocky tops will not have enough building materials which it is used I am certain that the beaver would die of the cold. The tops of mountains and rocky hills will be the only ones that will be seen in some areas where the flooding will take place. In this way, the only place the beaver can make its lodge on top of these once mountain top [which will look like islands]. Where would the beaver get its foodstuffs that will be easily accessible for it? That is how I know that the flooding will severely affect the beaver.
I have seen areas that had been flooded, trees floating on the lakes. There is one animal for sure that would be affected, the porcupine. The porcupine likes to eat the bark of the trees, and if they were to be destroyed, then it would surely affect the porcupine. There would be a shortage of food for the animals that eat the tree bark and bough. For the beaver, it is the same thing. The spruce grouse makes its home in the trees. They also would be greatly affected. MINKThe animals, like the otter and mink, will go to spawning areas they know of. There are fish that are particularly sought after by the mink when these fish spawn in the fall. These fish resemble the small ITIKIMAAKUSH. These fish are smaller than the ITIKIMAAKUSH. Hence, these fish are called ICHIKAASIIUMAAKUSIICH [mink fish]. The ICHIKAASIIUMAAKUSIICH spawn in the fall in small rapids. I did not see them much in other areas to spawn other than where it is APAUSTIKUSICH. When the mink finds the spawning place of this particular fish, it will keep on feeding from that area.
Ma-she-ma-gou-shech-a-datch (Cree name) is another good fishing spot. I trap where the rapids are, it is always a good spot to trap, otter, mink, fox and other kinds of fur bearing animals. There is a decrease in the number of muskrats, ten years ago there used to be plenty. There used to be many beaver, since three years now the beaver population is scarce.
The muskrat has its tunnels/burrows, too. Some of its tunnels/burrows can be found in the ice but it only uses these in the winter time. It can not stay in these dens in the ice all time during the winter time. It will only swim to these dens once in awhile. It is the burrows that are on land [on the river bank] that are much warmer and will stay there in the winter. The muskrat will never have its young born in the dens in the ice. It will have its young born in the burrows that are on the land. It will rear its young in those dens. Sometimes, the muskrat will have two litters of young in the summer time. It will rears its young in the dens that are on the land. When it starts to get warm, the muskrat will make lodge. Its lodge will not be build for warmth. It will rear its young in this lodge during the hot weather in the summer.
There are many UNCHIKWAAMAAUH [a permanent otter habitat] there but I do not know how many there. I believe this is yet another reason why the EEYOU liked to spend spring break-up at that spot. Even in the winter time, the otters inhabit this place all year round, AKUHPTHCH. The reason why the otters inhabited this place all the time is because of the fish. There are a lot of MAASMAAKUSHIICH [speckled trout] in the rapids.
For example, the otter has a special place where it likes to come out of the water from and will take its prey to consume on that spot. It will eat there. These places are called UNCHIKWAAMAAUH. Sometimes, the otter will make its den in these places. The otter stays there in the winter time. If it can not make a tunnel and den in these places, it will make its den in the snow. If it makes its den in the snow, it will have boughs and NIPISIISH on the floor of its den. It is bad for all animals to sit on the snow for a long time. It will lose its fat reserves and be skinny fast if it gets too cold all the time. The cold affects the animals that way, too. All these NCHIKWAAMAAU will all be lost.
The fox also lives in a den. The fox will use its den many times over and have its young born there and stay there in the winter time. The fox will make its den in rolling hills/sparsely wooded sandy hills. It does not always make its dens in the mountains. The fox will have deliver its young in the dens. The fox dens will be lost to the flooding, also. There will be nothing left of them. If it should happen that there is no place to make another den nearby where it had lost its den, the fox will be in a pitiful and lamentable situation. The fox is one animal that likes to make its den in sandy areas. It will make its tunnel very long. The fox will eat anything that it can find.
Along the river is where the rabbits roam. It is also there where the ptarmigan are. The rabbits run around and eat the willow buds and so do the ptarmigan. All this will either be under water or dried up. In any case, they will all be affected somehow.PTARMIGANThe ptarmigan were plentiful as well even in spring. This would be referred to as EETAOU (it's out there). The ptarmigan would be in large numbers on hills that would look snow covered. This is not so today. Also people would catch ptarmigan with fish nets. This doesn't exist today. This was called OOCHIPITCHYAWANU. The net would be camouflaged with sand because they can't find sand in the winter and they love sand in the spring. They would run under the net and the net would be pulled and they would all be caught. If the ptarmigan was as scarce today as it was back then, we would have experienced hard times.
When a boy is ready to use a gun he would be told to go ptarmigan hunting and there would be food to eat. The ptarmigan would be everywhere. They would be very healthy and fat. That is not the case today for much of the wildlife.
Along the river is where the rabbits roam. It is also there where the ptarmigan are. The rabbits run around and eat the willow buds and so do the ptarmigan. All this will either be under water or dried up. In any case, they will all be affected somehow.PORCUPINEThe porcupine were plentiful as well. We used to say, "Maybe a porcupine will cross my path". I've seen when a person would have four porcupine at a time. He would carry two and pull the other two. When he is not in a hurry, he would JIMBEEWEESHAOU or MAMAEEPITAOU the porcupine. It was very healthy as well. In the fall it would be very heavy. Even a baby porcupine... That is not the case today for much of the wildlife.
It is always like that, certain animals reduce in population at certain periods and increases its population again, later on. It is also like the porcupine, it was really scarce. This year it is starting to increase its population again, and there will be plenty in the future. All animals have this cycle.
The porcupine eats the flowers when they grow in the summer. It loves to eat flowers. It eats all kind of the flowering plants as they grow. In the swampy areas, there are plants that grow there which are called, KAKUUPIKUS (porcupine). In the fall, when it still walks about, it will travel to the swampy areas where these plants are. In the autumn, the porcupine does not eat much of the tree bark. It eats all the flowers and flowering plants. As soon as they start growing, it starts to eat them, whatever kind of flowers it can find. In the fall, when its summer food is not visible anymore, then it will start eating the tree bark and the boughs of the trees. That is what it will eat. As soon as it gets cold, it starts to get skinny. This happens because it looses some of its food during the winter time. During the fall, when it is still eating the flowers, it is at its fattest. When it starts to get cold in the late fall, it will start to loose its fat. It has lost some of its good food that grows in the summer. All this I am telling about the habits and habitats of the porcupine, like where living in rock caves, and other places where it makes its dens and all the places where its good food grew in the summer, all that will be lost once the flooding has happened. These things will not be visible and would have been lost to the flood. The porcupine will be perplexed as to where to get its food. It could also happen that the trees that are good for it eat will not be accessible to it. All I have mentioned so far, I know will all be lost once the flooding takes place.
I have seen areas that had been flooded, trees floating on the lakes. There is one animal for sure that would be affected, the porcupine. The porcupine likes to eat the bark of the trees, and if they were to be destroyed1 then it would surely affect the porcupine. There would be a shortage of food for the animals that eat the tree bark and bough. For the beaver, it is the same thing. The spruce grouse makes its home in the trees. They also would be greatly affected.
All birds will be affected from the explosion of rock. The place where it lays its eggs and its eggs, as well, will be affected. What about all those places we don't know about where birds nest from the coast to the inland. There will be the destruction of wildlife and human life as well. I, myself, fear that the project may eventually go ahead but I talk anyways of the impacts.
The WEESKITCHANISH, the grey jay for example helped me when I was at my lowest. I couldn't hardly move from the hunger I felt and it saved my life when I was hungry. It was during a period when the men would journey to the post and the fish were scarce. This is why I remember the smallest of birds as well.
As I said before, I know all about the river. There is abundance of food for all kinds of animals along the river, all that will be destroyed. Even though we do all we can to save the land, it still might be destroyed. When I said I have knowledge about the river, I can show you, where the feeding grounds are for the migratory birds. Especially at this time of the year, the feeding grounds for the migratory birds is starting to show. In this area Nassacass (Cree name) the water is very shallow, this is where the migratory birds feed. This is also the place I was born and raised. I always go hunting in this area.
There is always abundance of food for the migratory birds, inland. In the fall the usually stay until there feeding grounds are covered with snow. There are excellent feeding grounds along the river during the summer. I guess that is why the population of the migratory birds never decreases. Even when the migratory birds fly back to the south in the fall, there are other animals and birds that feed there. Like the ptarmigan, grouse, rabbit etc. There is always abundance of food, even in the winter time. Some animals like the otter feeds near falls or rapids.
If the land is flooded, the feeding grounds of the birds will be destroyed. It will be hard for them to find an area as abundant as the areas where they go to feed their young. We can understand this if we consider what would happen if Whapmagoostui were to be destroyed without killing any residents. It would be hard to find the same comfort in another area, without our homes.
It is like the land where the whiteman has not touched yet or damaged yet is a very small place. That is why I think a lot of the animals, birds will be destroyed. It is also known that when the birds fly South in the fall and when it comes up from the South to the North, it stays up North in the summer time. In the fall, when it flies back South, it tastes differently in the fall from in the spring. The reason for this is because there is very good food for them to eat during the summer. It grows very well and it is very good for them because it?s very fresh. It is there that I saw will happen, what harm will be done to the birds and animals that live off the land and the amount of land that will be destroyed.
I know the habits of the many creatures. I know the habits of the smaller birds and the big birds like the MICHISHU [eagle] and other flying creatures including the bird we call CHIIPAAYAAS and the bird called PIPIICHISIU. These two birds, PIPIICHISIU and CHIIPAAYAAS, the first thing they will kill for their young to eat is the APIKUSHISH [mouse]. This bird will have its nest and lay its eggs in a PISKUSCHIITUKW (still standing rotting tree]. It will make the hole from the base of the tree and if it can not do this, it will make the hole in the tree from the top. It will lay its eggs here and will hatch here.I have hunted these two birds, the PIPIICHISIU and the CHIIPAAYAAS many times. When I have caught the male and female bird, then I would chop down the tree because I did not want the birds to suffer, I would find many mice inside the nest. After chopping down the tree or just push it down. I would chop it down if I can not just push it down. These two birds do not make nest all the time but will usually will stay in these hollowed out dead trees. They will lay their eggs inside the dead trees. Yet, this kind of a place is a good place for these birds to rear their young. These two birds I am talking about, PIPIISCHISIU and CHIIPAAYAAS, have a favorite place to stay in. They will find a big rotting tree and lay their eggs inside these trees many times over the years. I presume that these two birds will lay their eggs in these kinds of places whoever gets to it first. These two birds behave the same way. They will go to the same place if they had found it to be a good place to lay their eggs in and rear their young inside the PISKUHCHIITUKW. The habitats of these two kinds of birds will be destroyed for certain after the flooding. Their food will destroyed, as I have told you that these two kinds of birds mostly eat mice. They will ptarmigan, too. I know that the favorite food of these two birds is the mouse. These two birds will lose their habitats where it used to rear its young and their food source when what is being planned comes to pass.The KUSIMAASAAU behaves the same way as these two birds. Sometimes, one will found a huge nest on top of a tree whose top had broken off. This bird KUSIMAASAAU will lay its eggs and rears its young in the same nest year after year. It will happen that if the nest gets too big over the years buildup, it will fall off. But this bird will keep on rebuilding the nest on top of the tree. Itlikes the location of the nest especially if the lake nearby had plenty of fish in it. This bird eats mostly fish. Its hunting is made easier if the lake has plenty of fish in it. I also likes to stay near lakes that are shallow and have fish in it. It likes this type of a lake because it will look for fish as it floats on the air over the lake. When the fish goes to the shallow parts... In the spring time, the fish will come closer to the surface of the lakes. They will even swim close to the shore. All kinds of fish does this.The AYICHAAUCH [sucker fish] behave the same way. They lay their eggs/spawn in the spring time. I know of many types of fish that will do this, swim around the shallow parts of the shallow. Their backs can be seen on the surfaces of the water. Therefore, the birds flying on high, the ones that eat fish, will spot the fish easily and can grab without much effort. Naturally, the bird cannot see the fish when they are swimming about in the deeper parts of the lake/river. The fish is not easily visible. So, when this bird finds a place near a lake, that is why it will have its nest there. This nest in this kind of a location will be occupied over and over again over the years. Sometimes, the nest will be on rock ledge.The creatures have a very good sense of what to do so their young will not be an easy prey to predators. Most of the time, the birds usually will build their nests on top of big rocks where no one can climb to them. These flying creatures like it best to build their nests atop big rocks. No one can climb to it [man or animal]. When the nest is in a tree, if the parents are killed, for example, the KUSIMAASAAU, the nest will be topple over with a big stick or if the person happen to have an axe will just chop down the tree if there are young in there. The reason why I am telling you all this about the nesting habits of the KUSIMAASAAU, whether nesting in a tree or whoever the bird is that nests in trees or they nest in nest on rocks. Usually, these birds like to build their nests preferably on rock islets, sometimes, these rock islets will have one big rock on them, especially if these islets are in the middle of the waterway. If someone walked by these islets; they would not be able to get to them especially if they do not have a canoe. That is why these birds like to nest in these small islets out in the middle of the water.All the creatures that lay eggs are very secretive where they lay their eggs. They will hide their eggs from predators. These egg-laying creatures will not usually lay eggs on the land. They prefer to lay their eggs on these small islets with very little vegetation growing on it. These birds will still make a very nice and cozy nest. They will still make their nests where the eggs will be warm and not be on hard surfaces so that they would not break them when they sat on them. When their young are still small, the birds will sit on them during the night to keep them warm. That is why the birds make their nests warm and cozy and soft inside as much as possible because that is where it will keep its eggs. They do this because they do not want their eggs to be destroyed. That is why all the egg-laying creatures will try to hide away their eggs as best as they can. Sometimes, the bird will... I know for certain that a goose will do this: When its eggs are found, it will make another nest somewhere else and transport its eggs to the new location. It hide them away like that. Some other birds will cover up their eggs with vegetation if it knows that they had been found. It will keep under wraps like that. That is what some birds will do, try to hide their eggs away because they love their eggs very much.All that I have been talking about, all these birds, whether they nest in trees, rocks, or sitting atop a tree, nesting near lakes, all these areas can be flooded out and these habitats will be lost in the flood. These birds nest in these areas because their food is easily accessible to them and that is where their young survival was ensured. I see all of this being lost forever once the flooding has began. Some of the things I have talked about, I do not see them being mentioned in this book [Summary of Hydro Quebec?s impact statement ? Cree version].
We all know when the geese fly, when many have flown north, it usually gets cold and the geese know where there's open water. Even if they have flown out in the bay, they fly towards the coast and go to the open water, this is when it gets cold. When the geese first fly, it used to get cold, when we're still in the bush. There were certain places, where there was open water. The geese knew these places very well and that's where they used to land. Sometimes when its cold, they used to be very many there in the open water. The geese or the ducks, when they first fly here, the ducks eat the grass, even when the land is still frozen. They eat whatever they can find. It is not very good for them because it is frozen and it's not as good as it is in the summer. It's like it died when it froze. They also eat other frozen things which is not good for them.In the summer, when they are here for quite awhile, even when they were fat when they first come, they lose the fat and they get skinny. It is because the food is not good enough for them. When the geese feathers come off (they molt), they are skinny. And other kinds of animals, even the ducks, that eat the grass, the same thing happens to them.Only when things start to grow, then the birds start getting fat again. It will be like that if they ever built a dam on the river. The river is not going to freeze, they?ll fly and land there and that?s where they?ll eat from, the dirty water. Very soon, in the future, we?d probably be told that we cannot eat the goose or other kinds of animals because they are contaminated from the water. That?s what I think will happen.
DUCKIn the fall, one of the habits of the ducks is that they gather in huge numbers at this place, at the rapids, before they start their migration south. They gather there because of the fish. The USIKUUCH also eat the fish. These ducks are more numerous than other kinds of ducks.The last time I was at IPISIKIMISH in the fall was two years ago. That is what is told about the ducks. There are a large number of loons there. They frequent this place, too, because of the fish. The freeze-up comes, the ducks continue on to stay there, at AKUHPITINIICH. The ducks are numerous there even up to the freeze-up. They start their migration when the whole lake has almost frozen over. They start migrating only when it starts to get really cold.
The seagulls also inhabited this place. In those days, the seagulls were eaten by the EEYOU. Every kind of flying fowl was eaten by the EEYOU. I have known that the seagulls have not been eaten by the EEYOU for many years now. The seagull is not eaten anymore because... When the EEYOU is out on the land, their garbage is not visible but wherever there is WAMISTIJUSIU, their garbage is also out in the open and visible. When the seagulls discover where trash is, they go there and feed off of it. All kinds of wildlife will mess around with garbage dump. I know this for a fact because I have worked for seven summers where the camp of Hydro is. I lived in the same camp as they do.SNOWY OWLThe snowy owl was plentiful then as well. There would even be traps for such a bird. Traps would be set up on tree stumps and you could easily see if one was caught if the trap was on a hill top. The snowy owl was very fat and healthy in the fall like a goose is. And its broth was very good similar to that of a goose?s.
If the dam is built all of what the Cree people have come to cherish and respect will be destroyed. The river that flows from the north contains a large number of fish, different fish species inhabit the water. If the dam is built all of the fish habitat will be destroyed by the projects of James Bay II. We will be unable to tell where the river flows once the reservoirs have been made. The same process applies to the river we reside on. Lake Trout did not inhabit the surrounding lakes. We were unable to catch it until we portaged to the inner fresh water lakes. As we approached the Lake Bienville area the species were in great numbers. All of this will be lost once the project commences.A Naskapi told me this story, I will retell it to you. Years ago, when the whiteman made a manmade lake in our area... in doing so, one of the rivers which flows into our area was diverted. When this occurred all of the fish habitat were destroyed. Even though the river flows again, not one fish species can be found in the river. At one of the fishing expeditions sports fishermen were taken to fish in this area. The whitemen were mesmerized by the whole adventure. They were told what had happened. They did not realize what had happened until they were told of the consequences. This will happen once the dams have been built.I have heard that the same situation applies to the Mistisipi BIG RIVER area east of Lake Bienville. The land was flooded and erosion took place. Fish habitat was destroyed. The water is contaminated. Only the uncontaminated lakes will be able to sustain the fish habitat.
Out on the land where the damming will be, it's as if the food is ready for you to eat. For example, at Lake Domanchin where the fish are healthy and beautiful. I've already seen the dambuilder mark "his territory" while I was on a fishing trip. Across the lake is where his flag is. I've seen how he destroys and I doubt that he will give me anything in return. Where I fish from the lake, the fish are so beautiful like the KAWAPSICH whitefish, KOOKIMASH lake trout and MASHIMAKOOSH rainbow trout.
There are effects already. The fish were most beautiful at Lac Bienville. People would give me fish from there and they tasted different. From the outboard motors the gas leaked into the lake and this is where the pollution comes from; from the dambuilder's workers. The lake is ruined from the gas, oil barrels and outboard motors. Soon people will not be able to sustain themselves as they did before. The fish aren't as healthy. Even from skidoos. Even if a little gas manages to pollute a lake, the fish are polluted as well. I told this to my sons, as well. Just imagine the damage when the dambuilder blows up rock from the land. The water which is very good to drink will be undrinkable and the pristine lakes, as well, will be no longer.
I'd rather the government be provoked so people can see with their own eyes how much land the government has destroyed already. For example, in the Chisasibi River the fish can't be eaten and the water is undrinkable. I've never seen in my lifetime someone who has caused this much destruction. It's as if the dambuilder has destroyed the communities as well.
I think of the lakes at MADAWOW and how happy I was during the spring. Where the three rivers meet is where we would spend our spring while my father was still alive. The fish were plentiful. They like to spawn at the river's outlets. That is where we used to fish, where the fish would spawn at river's outlets. All kinds of fish like the IDKIMAKUH (whitefish) and the KOOKIMASH (lake trout)
And it's as if there isn't anything now. Here along the coast is where a person would easily catch fish. That is not the case today. It's as if things are dying today, that is the way it seems.
When I'm sick today, I think of the fish before anything else. Even when a person didn't take provisions for the journey to the post, he did take hooks with him for fishing in the lakes.
The damage has been done in Chisasibi. The Cree there cannot fish where they once did. We should learn from events like that. I've heard from others in Chisasibi and I've seen where they used to fish from the river. It's sad to see that they cannot fish from where they used to. Where the rapids fall is where they used to fish.
I saw all of the lake. We fished all over that lake and further. That's the main reason why we were there. There wasn?t much else over there to eat. Fish was the main diet for the people who hunted there. They wouldn't always go to the community each year because they wanted to hunt instead. That's mainly what they ate.
It is already known by the people that the fish won't be fit for consumption and that is why we won't let the project go through. From Lake Ipisikimish to where the people usually hunt will be covered by the reservoir. All the fish will not be edible. The river will not exist because the reservoir will empty along the coast.
People have really relied on fish. Most of them hunted mostly for fish. People survived from the fish, before the caribou were as many as they are today, where we are.
The other thing we are worried about is where the fishing spots on this river are for the fish nets. The fish were very good, very good. Since the filthy water, sewage water from this community, flowed into the bay, we have noticed right away, that the fish we fished from the bay, were gone. Also, one kind of fish that is gone, that used to be in this area, are the char. They too are all gone, especially the big ones. Whenever some are sent from the North, they are too small. The Inuit up North catch this fish and they send them to us. It is what they hunt. That is one of the things that are gone now. They were very good to eat. For the fish were very good, we call them nuudeemeewaseewooch-narrow bodies. They have blue gills and they look like the whitefish, but they are the char. Those are the ones and I know the Chisasibi people know about these fish I'm talking about.
The other thing that we worry about is that we will no longer be able to eat the fish in the areas that will be affected by the project. We think about areas where we used to fish such as IPISIKIMISH (Lake Bienville) which will be greatly affected once the water levels have risen. We remember all the good fish that we used to get from Lake Bienville. The place at Lake Bienville where we used to camp and where I used to set up our camp will all be under water once the project is under way. We will no longer be able to depend on the fish that we used to get from that lake because they'll be affected by the high level of water and their food will be affected and they'll be full of illnesses that will prevent us from eating them. The fish will be sick because plants that they eat underwater will be disturbed.WHITEFISHOut on the land where the damming will be, it's as if the food is ready for you to eat. For example, at Lake Domanchin where the fish are healthy and beautiful. I've already seen the dam builder mark "his territory" while I was on a fishing trip. Across the lake is where his flag is. I've seen how he destroys and I doubt that he will give me anything in return. Where I fish from the lake, the fish are so beautiful like the KAWAPSICH whitefish, KOOKIMASH lake trout and MASHIMAKOOSH rainbow trout. I can't really say that he won't divert the river because he has researched the river for such a long time now. He is practically finished and that is why he says that he is ready to start work. He has researched for many summers now and has built camps all over. Even now it seems that he is already firmly in place.
I was raised out on the land, inland. The land sustained me. I didn't have to pay for anything. I was better off, at times, in the bush. The fish and ptarmigan was plentiful, and the rabbit as well. It was long ago but I remember my father and how beautiful the land was. I think of how the land will be changed and it disheartens me. I think of the lakes at MADAWOW and how happy I was during the spring. where the three rivers meet is where we would spend our spring while my father was still alive. The fish were plentiful. They like to spawn at the river's outlets. That is where we used to fish, where the fish would spawn at river's outlets. All kinds of fish like the IDKIMAKUH (whitefish) and the KOOKIMASH (lake trout). When I recollect, I feel negatively towards what the dam builder wants to do. The dam builder is persistent and it seems that no one can stop him in wanting to destroy the land.
I will talk about the ATIKIMAAKUUCH [cisco?]. I will talk about them. They spawn in fast moving waters or where there are small rapids where it is shallow. That is where they spawn/lay eggs. That is where the ATIKIMAAKW spawns during the fall. The other kind of spot where they spawn is on the shores of MINISKAAKUUCH [small islands) which have sandy shores and not too rocky. That is where the ATIKIMAAKUUCH like to spawn. It is certain that they will spawn for many years in the same spot. We can not really know how many years the fish have spawned in one spot over the years. No one really knows how many years all the different kind of fish will spawn in on place over the years.A person will know of fish spawning places which are in use for many years. As of today and while I was growing up, I knew of and have heard of places where the fish spawn. I might have known and heard of these spawning places, perhaps, before I twenty years old and today I am fifty-nine years, these spawning places are still used by the fish. The places/areas like these that the EEYOU of the past used to rely on for fishing are still reliable today as they were in the past. This year, I am still fishing in the same places that my father taught me where good fishing places which he had heard of himself and experienced and the places where the fish spawned. The EEYOU, over the years, would come to these places where the fish spawned to catch some. These places are known as NUTAAMUWAANAN. The places that are known to be good places for sitting up winter fish lines are known as KHSKHPH. There other places where it is very good for setting winter nets and these places are called PIKWAAIIPANAAN. All these places that I know of on the proposed flooded area will all be lost. All these places where the fish spawned, whether in AATIWAACHIIUSIICH or in around a MINSAAKUCH, will all be gone. Sometimes, the MINSAAKU will be visible out of the water and some MINSAAKU do not jut out of the water and sometimes is almost out of the water. That is where the ATIKIMAAKU will spawn. Therefore, if these places are way deep in the water, these fish can not spawn there anymore.
The Inuit know that this is happening because the water is mixed together. The Arctic char, the cisco and trout are affected, too. People don't mention everything they know. Look at them sitting there... they know a lot, those who always hunt. The people know that the waters of the rivers and lakes are different.
Some parts of certain animals are inedible. A man asked me which seal is fresher/edible. The seals that are inland of course because the diets of seals in the coast and inland are very different. The lake seal eats only fish and that is why it tastes good. I told him that my father hunted many seals in his time while we were inland. My brother as well. They hunted seal in winter as well as summer... I told him he could try this but the inland seal is the smartest and keenest as compared to the coastal seal. The seals on the coast aren't scared at all. The behavior patterns are different. He asked if the seal was good. I said of course because it only eats fish as opposed to the seals in the coast. It tastes very good. I told him that there are only a few elder men and women who have seen the seal because it isn't hunted like before. He hung on to every word and I told him that the inland seal is the purest, healthiest and mild in taste for the fact it only eats fish. I told him that the inland seal exists in two places, where I mentioned and further north (Seal Lakes).WHALESJust the other day I heard of the Inuit's whale hunting expedition being unproductive, not the way it has normally been. For example I heard that the whale they caught was inedible. In the past I have never heard of the whale being contaminated such that it was inedible. Both Cree and Inuit hunted the whale because of what it consists of. It is rich in nutrition. In those days the species were edible.
Also I've never heard of someone talking about the WACHINAKIN (tamarack tree) and how the roots of that tree were used. We call the roots OODIPEE. My mother would chop them and pull them. She would peel them and they would be chewed on. It was very sweet in taste. Almost like a soda pop. My mother would keep these roots as a substitute for sugar when the sugar run out. I would get sick from sucking on the roots for a long period of time.
I've heard the dambuilder say that there are no tall trees in our area. There is a lot of medicine in some of these trees. The WACHINAKAN for example. It is used when someone burns him or herself or it is used when someone has a soar stomach. He or she drinks it after it has been boiled. Also the WEESICHIPIKUH (Labrador tea) are medecinal as well as rocks.
It is not only what will happen to the animals that will have impacts to the EEYOU. Many things that grow on the land will be impacted which in turn will have effect on the EEYOU. Aesthetically, we are very happy and feel good when we see the trees and flowers growing on the land. We feel good and happy to see the trees growing. When we reflect deeply upon the beauty of the trees as they grow and the flowers, we, the EEYOU know within ourselves that the Creator has given the trees for our benefit while we live in this environment. Everything that will happen here will have direct consequences on us.All the trees that grow in this environment, most of the trees are utilized in some way to make things that EEYOU uses out on the land, for example, snowshoes, toboggans, IKWAASKUPAAN [snow-shovel] and other uses like axe handles. The other thing the EEYOU uses is the birch bark, the hard kind. The WAACHINAKIN is the best to use for snowshoes. All these things will all be destroyed. The EEYOU will be greatly affected by this event.
One of the many things that will be affected is the medicine of the Cree that is present in various trees, willows, flowers and berries. I have seen this in my life, where a person is near death and is saved by traditional medicine of the Cree.There are trees that will be affected, the Cree make tools and huntings implements from the tree. I also have seen this many times, and I have practised this also. The Cree make their snowshoes and other important necessities for the bush, from various trees.I have seen many people use the wageenakin (tamarack) to cure many illness. It has also been used to alleviate pain from accidents with axes and knives. The Cree hold this tree to be of great importance. They use it to build canoes, toboggans, and snowshoes. It is also used for firewood when it is dry. That is why it is so important. It has multiple uses.
I have seen areas that had been flooded, trees floating on the lakes. Even if they clearcut, the moss and plantlife that was never in water would affect the make-up of the waters. Even if the trees have been in the water for a short time, they would still be destroyed and could not be used.
I will talk about, what I know about the uses of the tree. The spruce tree has many uses. I already talked about how the branches were used. There were many uses of the tree. I will talk about the spruce cones. It is very easy for us today to use what is now available to us from the store, especially when it comes to hunting gear. Before the availability of the products from the store, I personally benefited from the use of the cones and I have seen my mother use the cones in this manner. The cones would be boiled, both the old and new ones. When this was done, the fishing net would be immersed in the boiling pot. This would be done to color the fishing net. This is one of the most prominent and important uses of the cones.
When we consider the ami-na-skowch (heavily forested area) that I am talking about, everything still grows there, but when we stop and think about the trees. The trees are like people. A person can only grow to a certain height and then they stop. For the trees, it is the same thing. Once they reach their full height, they don't grow anymore. Eventually, they fall down to rot. But after a fire, nature is renewing its growth, everything is more beautiful than before. The trees grow, the leaves on the branches, willows and the flowers. Everything grows at its own rhythm, and we know that the trees will not be destroyed or rot before they reach their full height. That is why it is so much better for the animals that eat the flowers and the berries.
If we considered which trees are important to specific uses, we would know where they came from and finally learn how to respect them. Most trees have many purposes. Important tools and weapons were made from trees. The ooskwayo (birch) which the Cree like to use is found along the river, it would be greatly affected by the flooding.
The berries will die as well from the gas fumes and from the explosions. Today, the berries don't grow as much as they used to. Even the oil from our houses affect the berries in our surrounding area. The flowers don't bloom as soon and as well as they used to. Before, the berries (cranberries from the previous summer) would be plentiful after they thaw in the spring.
The berries for example were sometimes the only thing that one family ate, because there was no food. Even if there was only one fish caught, they would mix the berries with it. After mixing them with the fish, it would seem as if there was more food. They would get bigger helpings than they would have if they did not mix it with fish to make sikumin. The berries for example were sometimes the only thing that one family ate, because there was no food. Even if there was only one fish caught, they would mix the berries with it. After mixing them with the fish, it would seem as if there was more food. They would get bigger helpings than they would have if they did not mix it with fish to make sikumin.
There are many things that the bear eats and its favorite is the berries. Once the berries start to grow, they eat the berries and nothing much else. The young cubs are the same. They eat what their parents eat. At the end of summer, when berries are in full growth, the bear starts to gain weight. There are some hills where there is an abundant growth of berries and that is where the bear will stay. Before the bear hibernates, he goes in search of these berries.