The staple food of the Indian during the summer months is fish, but he finds this variety of diet acceptable only when no other is available. Hunting is his most honorable pursuit, and meat his proper food. All else seems to dwell on a lower level.
January 3, 1929
The Land of Feast and Famine - The Barren Ground Indians
Man The Fat Hunter
Human Predatory Pattern
During this period the musk-ox was also preyed upon by the Indians to a considerable extent. This species was plentiful and maintained its numbers as long as the natives had only their own weapons to use against it. The effect was otherwise with the introduction of fire-arms, for then the Indians' lust for killing was given full play. The mentality of the musk-ox was such that it refused utterly to flee from danger. As robust as a mountain, it challenged everything, and for the purpose of defense it had its " hollow square " — side by side, with lowered heads, these animals would form a fortress of powerful horns which no beast ever dared to attack. But the hunter armed with modern weapons could stand within easy range and mow these creatures down. A fair number of these rugged warriors of the Barren Lands still remain in existence, but theirs is a dying race, considering their original numbers. The musk-ox now enjoys complete protection, and a large region has been reserved for them in the Thelon Game Sanctuary.
Compared with caribou-hunting no other quest for game, now as formerly, is of the least significance. During the long winter months there is no other food problem save that of venison. During the remainder of the year moose, ducks, swans, geese, muskrats, et cetera, come to the fore. And the Indian seldom allows a year to go by without tasting a beaver tail. Beaver-hunting sometimes calls for stalking, sometimes for the art of decoying. The Indian's ability to imitate the calls of the various animals is almost inconceivable. I have seen one of them cause a flock of wild geese to swerve from their course and alight on the surface of a lake directly in front of the hunter.
The staple food of the Indian during the summer months is fish, but he finds this variety of diet acceptable only when no other is available. Hunting is his most honorable pursuit, and meat his proper food. All else seems to dwell on a lower level. It would be an easy matter for the natives to place a greater safeguard upon their existence by fishing beyond their immediate needs and storing up a reserve supply during the autumn. But such a type of activity is alien to their nature. The fish can swim by in solid phalanxes right under an Indian's nose, but he will do no more than throw out a couple of lines. He neither shifts nor disturbs his nets, merely pulls the ends far enough out of water for him to lift out what fish he can reach. There lies his seine week after week, drifting in wind and stormy sea, whilst slime collects in the meshes. All is well as long as he is able to make a fair catch from day to day. And what about the future? Good heavens, when the fishing season is over, the caribou will have arrived!