Kahnawake’s problem with flooding due to beaver dams is not a new one but seems to be worsening every year. Destroying the dams and lodges of beavers with explosives, the previous choice of elimination, proved to be irritatingly ineffective.

The major problem we are faced with is power outages, occurring when flooding takes down large trees, which in turn pulls down the power lines leaving parts of our community in the dark.

Help came in the form of Bobby Patton, a Kahnawake Native living in Waskaganish, Quebec, near James Bay, who got in touch with the Kahnawake Conservation Officers to ask permission for him and his friends to trap beaver on this territory.

After hearing of our little beaver problem, Patton and Co. (Alan MacLeod, Alan Diamond and Clarence Cowboy) hastened to make the 12-hour journey to Kahnawake from Waskaganish.

These men were so excited to come to Kahnawake because of the idea of trapping beavers so close to a city that they financed their own trip.

After two days the foursome trapped 45 beavers, covering only 30 to 40 per cent of the territory. In exchange for their services, the men asked only that they be allowed to keep the meat and pelts from the beavers they caught. Sadly, of all the beavers caught, only a small percentage were suitable to eat because the water was so polluted in places that some of the meat was full of toxins.

To see these guys in action skinning a beaver is something else. The entire process requires nothing but a knife and a piece of bear bone. A whole beaver is skinned in a matter of minutes. The men also took home a deer which had been bumped on one of our highways and picked up by the PKs. Skinned, quartered and frozen in the blink of an eye, the men brought it back home to Waskaganish for everyone to enjoy. Hopefully, they’ll be back again next year to help with “our little beaver problem.”

(reprinted from The Eastern Door of Kahnawake)