(Transcribing and Translation by Clara Cooper)
Where were you born?
I was born in the bush. The place is called Kutopiskaau.
Whet month were you bom In?
I was born April 16.
Ware you relied In the bush?
This is where my father raised me. And now I stay here on this hunting ground that my father has left.
Did your father always hunt on this land?
He hunted here for a long time.
When he first met his wife
How about yotr wife? Where did you first meet her?
My father and I were in the bush, just the two of us. We traveled to Ouje-Bougoumou, where the old Ouje-Bougoumou used to be long ago. It was Christmas time. So that’s how I had my girlfriend. That is how I met her.
I heard you said you met her on a portage. Is that where you saw her?
That is where I first wanted to talk to her. But I didn’t have time. I was working.
But that Is where you first knew her, right? Because you were always In the bush…
Isaac trying to provide for his children
What was It like trying to provide for your children In the bush? Having them In the boat, traveling to another camp, trying to hunt…
We were here at Windy Lake. We live on an island. We used to set up a net. And we only had flour, lard, tea, sugar. We would set up a net and dry the fish. And you children were there.
That Is In the summer, right? What about the winter? Was it hard for you with all those children?
It was kind of hard for me. First, I would go and set up the tent where we would want to move to. I always had two tents. And I would go and set up everything. Wood… I would also take things we needed like pots, everything we might need. And
“I considered it my friend. You depend on your friend that you go with. You depend on him to help. That is what the canoe in the back was used for.”
when I was finished, I would also have wood there. I would make it look real nice. Only then we would move.
What about before there were tents? Did you make a cabin? Ware you fast in making It?
I was really fast in making it. I didn’t use any nails. It was flat. I put up wood around it and I put moss in between the wood. And I put in two windows.
What did you put there that looked like a window?
It’s white. The white bag where flour used to be in.
What about In the boat when you used to take your children? Ware you able to fit ail of them In?
All of us were able to fit in. I had a big canoe, a 19-foot canoe, and I also had one small canoe. I kept it in case we hit a rock. I kept it in the back. I considered it my friend. You depend on your friend that you go with. You depend on him to help. That is what the canoe in the back was used for. And I put some food in there too, a stove and a tent were in there too. Because if my canoe tips over, everything is gone.
Did you sometimes leave your wife and children when you went out hunting?
Yes, I left her. She used to be here (at Windy Lake) when I hunted.
Did a woman have a responsibility when she was left behind?
Aa, there was lots for her to do. Cooking for her children, washing clothes and getting wood.
Did she go hunting a bit?
No, because you kids made a lot of noise when we went moose hunting. We couldn’t take you along.
Was It like that In the winter time too? Did you leave your wife behind?
As long as it was warm where we were staying, she would stay behind.
When Isaac saw a Ski-doo for the first time
Do you remember the first time you saw a snowmobile driving by? What did you think?
Over at Presqu’ile, we were living here at Windy Lake. I walked on the lake and cameon the shore of Presqu’ile. And I saw
something on the ice. That thing was driving by and I did not know what it was.After awhile another one drove by. It was driving toward where I was heading. I wasable to walk on where it drove, but I didn’t know what those things were.
Where did you first see It?
When I headed back to my camp again, I saw it.
You must have thought It was really fast.
How many years after did you have your own snowmobile?
A white man gave me a ski-doo. A white man from Chapais sold it to me. Heknew I was hunting. He asked me: “Why don’t you use a ski-doo?” And I toldhim: “I don’t have money for me to have a ski-doo.” A ski-doo was expensive.It was $300. “No, I’m giving it to you. Give me $ 100. I’ll give it to you,” he told me.The red one I used to have, that’s the one.
From there It was easier for you?
I used to drive it around. I wasn’t afraid of it.
I suppose you dldrft think It was going to break down, eh?
I did not think it was going to break down.
When Isaac first saw a white man
Do you remember the first time you saw a white man?
This long portage here in Windy Lake -wnere you go through it and over where the littleriver is coming through – my father and I were paddling around and along the shore therewe saw smoke. My father went up the shore. Then he came back down and said to me,“There’s a white man living there in the bush. Come here and look at them.” We went tosee the white man.
“Hello,” my father said to them. He was good at speaking English. “What are you doing,”he asked them. “We come from far,” they said. “Then what are you doing here,” my fatherasked. They didn’t say anything. “We’re just paddling around,” he said. That’s all hesaid to us.
That is the first time I saw a white man.
I also saw the Company boss, the one who bought fur from us.
What about the fur? How was It bought? How many years did It take you to pay for a gunusing the fur? Did they stack up the fur beside the gun?
Yes, they used martin fur. That is how he used to buy them.
The first town
What about the first town?
Do you remember It? Which one was there first, Chibougamau or Chapais?
Chibougamau. The mine was first there.
Ware there some houses?
Yes, there were houses only where they were working.
Was there a road or did they fly in some things?
There wasn’t any road yet, only an airplane. After one year there was a road comingthrough there. Horses walk through there.
Oh, Is It through Pointe Bleue?
Yes, yes. Then the mine was built in Chapais. Those horses came from Eskaneo. Aftertwo years, the thing that was running, it was called Maskek. It look just like your car.It was really fast on the lake.
Is It the first time you saw an airplane too?
Yes, that is where I first saw it, in Chapais.
Do you remember when Chapais was first there? What houses were there first?
It was those log houses, where the workers stayed.
Wb there a place where the white man drank?
Not right away. In the summer time liquor was brought in for them.
Only In the summer time?
Only in the summer.
Only the men who were working were there? Then later the women?
Did they sell It to you too?
Yes, but we didn’t drink it. Do you know when a white man drinks something and you don’t know what it is, would you drink it? I don’t think so.
Wall, a Native person wasn’t allowed to drink long ago, right?
Yes. The bottle was small. It was round. And today how do they look? They’re really big bottles.
Where Isaac used to go and sell his fur
What about when you used to go hunting long ago? Which way was doser for you to goand sell your fur?
Over where the old Ouje-Bougoumou used to be. It was not there right away. I used to go to Waswanipi Post to go and get something. That is where we first went to get supplies. And then another place. Nichiskan it’s called. A store used to be there. And then Ouje-Bougoumou was there. So it was close there. It was closer but still we had to sleep twice before we got there. We were pulling our sleds.
tbu never traveled to Mlstlsslnl In the winter or summer to pick up supplies?
What about to Obedjiwan?
That one, it wasn’t too long ago. You children already traveled with us.
When the weather was good while you were traveling, how long did it take you?
Sometimes one night. I walked for one day and one night. I did not sleep. In the morning I would leave two in the morning, sometimes one o’clock. Sometimes I would get there 11 o’clock. That lake I have to walk is very big.
Did you used to travel to there with your family using dogs?
No, we did not travel to there as a family. I only went there to pick up supplies. I used to go there when the snow was hard to walk on.