Caribou Arrival

Caribou arrive on the homeland

Deer LakeWinterMarch

Caribou arrive on the homeland by the thousands in the 1800’s. Instead of migrating to the caribou, the animals came to the area as part of their migratory pattern over the homeland of Deer Lake hunter/gatherer culture. The Caribou opportunity remained for a brief period of time before they moved on. The caribou would come back in August, this time with calves and move through the homeland. Moose hunting also occurred this time of the year to take advantage of the snow conditions. There was a hard crust on top of the snow. The crust made it possible for a hunter to walk mostly on top of the crust for easier walking. The crust also made a loud echoing sound that confused moose. The crust made it almost impossible for moose to run without injuring their legs on the hard crust.

Ice break at Deer Lake

Deer LakeSummerJune

Ice break occurred during the month of June at Deer Lake. Ice break is a big event for a hunter/gatherer culture. A big migration occurs when the people start to migrate home from winter trapping grounds back to the central community. The people are happy to see family and friends after being isolated for the winter months. It is a time that new foods are available from the lands and waters. At Deer Lake area, the walleye spawn occurs at this time. The walleye spawn provides an easy catch and plentiful food for the people. Just before the ice break, the hunter/gatherers are hard at work gathering breaking ice. The ice has to be blue. It is stored or buried in cold dark places. The ice is used to provide cold for food preservation. The ice will last through the summer. The hunter/gatherers also start to do planting at this time as soon as the frost leaves the ground. They will plant turnips, potatoes, and carrots, among other things. The planting once harvested will supplement the food available. Also at this time, a long expedition occurs when a group travels by canoe to Winnipeg via lakes and rivers, and through lake Winnipeg and onto the city of Winnipeg to obtain staple food supplies. The travelers sell many pelts to the fur market in the city. For sale are beaver, muskrat, lynx, fox, otter, fisher, weasel and squirrel pelts.

Blueberries were sought out in forest areas that had burned by a forest fire

Deer LakeSummerAugust

The month of August was the time of blueberries. Blueberries were sought out in forest areas that had burned by a forest fire. They called it Wiisaabkideng. Blueberries were an important part of the food supplemental harvest for the deer lake people.

Also at time, the caribou came back through the area with their new calves. It was important to harvest this important food source of caribou before the long onset of fall and winter. The gardens had to be harvested and food prepared. The caribou moved on. August was a very busy month for the deer lake people as the freeze up time was coming next month. Family groups of men had gone ahead to traplines to prepare them for the trapping season and for the family to eventually migrate there for the winter season. The main community would eventually empty out as all families would go their separate ways for the winter trapping season. Gaagigebag, is a plant that was available all year round, even under the snow. This was harvested to make a tea.

Lake freeze up time

Deer LakeFallSeptember

September was the lake freeze up time. It was now full winter. This was a continued busy time as traplines were prepared for the long winter. Wood had to be cut at the traplines. This was the time of moose hunting as the moose were on the mating season.

The moose hunt was still in the swing at this time

Deer LakeFallOctober

The moose hunt was still in the swing at this time, but this was the time that all families began their journeys to the traplines.