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It had to do with the land. The natives would reside on the reserve only. The rest of the land would be for the government to control. I mentioned that in 1949 licences were introduced and people were issued traplines. The land became filled with traplines. You will probably see on the map where they marked the trapping grounds, but without the names. For instance with my trapline, if all the names of previous heads of families were included in the trapline, it would be full as we have large extended families. I’m not sure and I didn’t hear anything about that. The only thing I know is the missionaries acquired those farm animals that were promised in the Treaty. Late elder James spoke about the animals going to the missionaries. Yes, they were well respected and were feared. Credit was given to the trapper before leaving. James Wesley used to tell me stories. Trappers were abused who didn’t have enough furs to pay their debt. Apparently, they were scratched in their faces. And there were other stories of abuse. A gun was six feet in length in those days and the HBC manager would use the gun to measure the height of the furs. If your furs reached the length of the gun, it was considered sold. However, the manager of the Trading Post met his match one day. He had attempted to scratch the trapper’s eyes as he didn’t have enough beaver furs to pay his debt. It turned out that the native had a brother who was strong. The story goes that the brother challenged the manager to a fight; the manager a very strong man himself. The manager was thrown out of the office. That’s the way the Indians were treated by the Hudson’s Bay Company. The company took advantage of the natives. There were many problems. The young people do not know much of that part of history and story. I think they pay attention to it. For instance: when the De Beers company came to our territory, the company opened a diamond mine in Attawapiskat. They offered plenty of money, but that money is just for bait so that we will agree to what they want to do in our territory. The people are reluctant to sign anything because we don’t know what’s going to happen after the mine is closed. What’s going to happen to us and the environment? There is much to discuss. The health care that we receive now is still fair but what the government is doing now is they limit how much they pay for our prescriptions, eye care and other medical procedures. That’s the difference. My prescription glasses burned when my house was destroyed by fire. I went to see the optometrist about it and he told me that I have to put $100 deposit before he could work on them. I have special glasses but I didn’t have any money at that time. The chief wrote a letter on my behalf, but the optometrist didn’t give them to me. He still wanted additional money to the amount of $280, I had to pay the full amount before I could get my glasses. This is the first time this incident occurred. One of the councillors told me that there was money available for elders for such things like this. I don’t think I could say anything until I consulted with the people who voted for me. I would follow the protocol. The chief’s job is to speak on behalf for his people after he consults with them. I know this because I used to be in the council. Yes, there was someone in charge who was knowledgeable of his environment. There was no law to follow. They were nomadic people. They travelled all over the region to live off the land to survive and that was way before trapping grounds were assigned. When that happened, people only travelled on their trapping grounds and they had limited movement. I have nothing else to say on this subject.


Economy by Sinclair Wynne


economy, land, traplines, Hudson's, Bay, Company, Trading, Post, furs, diamond, mine, Attawapiskat, money, health, chief, De, Beers,

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