Continuity Of Caribou Harvests Is Critical For Northern Peoples
Rangifer (caribou and reindeer) continue to be the most important terrestrial subsistence resource for northern Aboriginal peoples. Traditional caribou-hunting communities in the Canadian North are bound in their relationship to caribou to many other circumpolar societies, including more than two dozen aboriginal cultural groups in Eurasia and North America
The Denesųłiné emphasis on caribou is not unique. The BQCMB (2002b:25-26) state that:
Apart from purely economic factors, the use of caribou is important to the culture and traditional lifestyle of aboriginal people. This importance cannot be fully evaluated and quantified using the analytical tools of measures economic value. Yet the benefits are immense, because caribou confer considerable advantages and strengths upon life in aboriginal communities
Ruttan (2012:93), who harvested caribou with Athabasca Denesųłiné in the 1950s and 1960s, states, “The role of caribou as ‘staff of life’ to past generations of indigenous people living on the land cannot be overstressed”. Therefore, caribou is life.
By using ethnoarchaeological methods, I was able to link twenty-first century hunting activities with practices of the recent past. I was able to connect these practices to historical records and ethnoarchaeological sites at Wholdaia Lake. Spearing caribou at watercourse crossings is the most respectful hunting practice. Spearing…