The Montagnais "Hunting Territory" and the Fur Trade

The Montagnais "Hunting Territory" and the Fur Trade

The Montagnais "Hunting Territory" and the Fur Trade

The Montagnais "Hunting Territory" and the Fur Trade

Excerpt

The aboriginality of the northeastern Algonkian "family hunting territory" has been the subject of periodic debate throughout the three decades following Speck's first description of the system. The present work re-explores some dynamic and historical aspects of the problem among the Montagnais-Naskapi of the Labrador Peninsula in the light of new data from central and southeastern Labrador, where the hunting territory is at present either absent or in the process of developing. It offers as evidence for the post-Columbian development of the system a description and analysis of the main factors responsible for it in one area at least--eastern Labrador--plus the application of the resulting hypotheses to a re-evaluation of the historical material from western Labrador.

Field work was carried on during the summer of 1950 at Natashquan, which lies on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River about two-thirds of the distance from Quebec to the Strait of Belle Isle. The Natashquan band numbers about one hundred and fifteen. Many of the older men had joined the band as adults, so that it was possible to work with informants who had hunted throughout the whole central and southeastern area.

My principal informant and interpreter, Thomas Gregoire, a man of fifty-four at the time, was born and had grown to manhood in the St. Augustin band. Upon his first marriage, he joined the Romaine band and some fifteen years past had "come down Natashquan" with his mother, his wife having died. His mother, Alice Peter, was eighty-five when I worked with her. She furnished details of her life as a girl and young woman of the Northwest River band, as well as what she had heard from her father, an Abenaki, who had crossed over from Gaspesia and married into the Northwest River band.

Mathieu Medikabo, sixty-three, had grown up with the Romaine band and had moved to Natashquan when he was about forty. As a young man at Romaine, he had crossed over the Height of Land every Christmas to trade at the Northwest River post and hunt to the north and west of Hamilton Inlet in the spring.

Pierre Toby, a man approaching forty, was reared at Seven Islands.

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