(Translated and edited by Brian Webb)
I cannot talk about the goose very much. I can about the goose hunting from inland; however, I cannot talk about it from the coastals’ ways. I never hunted for geese here on the coast But inland that is where I can talk about the goose.
The geese start to fly in the beginning of this next moon (May). I remember that decoys were not used inland. We only looked for the waterfowl where there was water. That was how waterfowl was hunted.
I joined the hunting excursions many times when waterfowl was looked for. I would scare the geese in a particular direction to someone who is going to shoot them. That was why I accompanied the hunters. That is what I was taught to do. When I accompanied my older brother or my father, they used to say to me, “I will go over there and listen for my whistle. And when you hear me whistle, move into my direction to scare the waterfowl in my direction.”
That was how my father and my older brother taught me. That was how my father and my older brother killed geese when I accompanied them. As I remember it, decoys were not used for those geese we looked for. For me, I really didn’t kill waterfowl, but I only scared them in a certain direction.
Around the 20th of the Red Throated Loon Moon (May) that is when all the ducks, loons and red-throated loons fly in—mallards, mergansers, pintails, the whistling common scoter ducks and those oldsquaws that call “ahaawaa.”
It used to be said that the loon flies in on the 25th of May; however, not all flew in at the same time. Loons landed on the water where it was clear of ice. Loons don’t fly even when they see people and they used to be killed by following them by canoe.
When ducks were seen on the water when walking during the summer, I would sometimes scare them in the direction where the hunters were. When my father and my older brother couldn’t creep toward the ducks because of their distance from the land, I would scare the ducks toward them. Thatwas how waterfowl hunting was done long ago. There used to be a great deal of commotion when waterfowl were expected. The people ate the ducks when they arrived. In the evenings, everybody was given a duck to cook and everybody ate together. The hunters feasted.
When the people wanted a feast, one person who would hold the feast was given all the geese. That was what was done long ago before we were born. That is long-ago doings. Some people do it today—copying it.
When the first goose was killed, everybody had to get a taste at that inland dwelling. Even when just two ducks were killed, that was still done—everybody would get the first taste of duck. What they did long ago, that is still done today. I remember that people used to be eager for the ducks to fly in, when there was no food. Once the newly living ones saw the decoys of the coastals, that was when the inland people started using them. The newly living inland people just recently started using decoys. That is how we, the inland people, eat goose when the geese arrive.
I saw how the Iiyiyuuch (Cree people) were responsible for themselves. That is how knowledgeable they were, before there were (Hudson’s Bay Co.) buildings here inland where we are. They didn’t see buildings all winter. The summer was still long when we got into our canoes here at the houses (Fort George) and it was already a long summer when we saw the buildings again. That is because people were hunting nomadically—making a living in one year of being away.
I remember there were inland buildings, but the people from the past didn’t see buildings all year. Since there were houses inland, my father used to take a trip to the buildings for supplies and that really helped the people. There were others who didn’t see houses all year, even when the buildings were inland. Then as I lived on my own, I didn’t see houses for a whole year.
That was what it was like for those people who hunted and survived by themselves— when they didn’t see buildings for one year. They must have been good hunters, even though there were no caribou. When one found a bear, there was great happiness. It was thought that this was a great quantity of food, when one bear is found. That was how hunters were like, those who always hunted. They were called nomadic hunters, those who hunted all year. I remember that was how people looked when we were far inland.
Ever since I was on my own, I always stayed in the bush for the winter. That is why I know how inland hunting was like—people hunting nomadically. Those were my father’s teachings. There is a great amount of learning in the procedures of hunting. That is what my father taught me ever since I really started to hunt There are different ways of hunting different things. My father taught me how all hunting is done.