Land as Provider

Introduction

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“File:Winter-boreal-forest-Trondheim.jpg” by Orcaborealis is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Indigenous peoples’ relationship to the land we now call Canada has existed for millennia. While colonization and modernity have impacted this relationship, there are individual and community-wide efforts of renewal and revitalization.

Relevant quotes from the author

 When things start to fall apart: Andrew Wilmot in Conversation with Waubgeshig Rice

“But in just a couple of generations, a lot of people have moved away from winter preparations like hunting and gathering wood, and have become more reliant on the amenities that bring them closer to the world to the south. So when they lose many of these conveniences, it’s a sobering wake-up call to re-examine their roles and responsibilities to the land and their community as Anishinaabeg.

Part of it goes back to what I mentioned earlier about putting a different lens on post-apocalyptic experiences and why an Indigenous perspective is crucial to consider. Nations and cultures have survived since time immemorial on this land without the fragile luxuries we’re so dependent on today. If and when those things disappear, the answer to survival will be in the land, as it has always been. Also, a personal reason for driving this message home was to remind myself to reconnect with the land. I grew up on the rez with lots of land-based knowledge, but I’ve lost a lot of that since I’ve lived in cities for two decades now.”

From the Novel

Evan ate southern meats when he had to, but he felt detached from that food. He’d learn to hunt when he was a boy out of tradition, but also necessity. It was harder than buying store-bought meat but it was more economical and rewarding. Most importantly, hunting, fishing, and living on the land was Anishinaabe custom, and Evan was trying to live in harmony with the traditional ways. (page 6)

He would have liked to have kept the hide intact. If his dad and a couple of his cousins or buddies were with him, they could have loaded the whole moose onto a truck and done all the skinning and cleaning at home. There they could clean and eventually tan the hide to use for drums, moccasins, gloves, and clothing. (page 7)

Resources

The Assembly of First Nations is the national advocacy group for First Nations in Canada. They are also interested in  Honouring the Earth.

The  United Nations plays a role in supporting Indigenous peoples around the world in their pursuit of self-determination and land rights.

This source from  Trent University’s Indigenous Environmental Studies and Sciences programs shares other relevant links about Indigenous connection to the land.  

This short doc by Ryan McMahon from the Canadian Broadcast Corporation’s Stories from the Land series shares about the last commercial net fishermen in Rainy Lake, found in northwestern Ontario.

This  short doc from the same series shares about the significance of corn soup to the Haudenosaunee.

 

Discussion Questions

1. The novel begins with Evan hunting a moose. In what ways is Evan connecting with his Anishinaabe identity when harvesting the moose?

2. On page 107, Justin Scott says that he knows how to live on the land. On page 124, Justin goes hunting with Evan, Dan, Isaiah, and Jeff. Compare and contrast Justin’s way of living on the land with Evan’s.

3. Identify examples of the ways in which characters use their land-based knowledge?

Activities

1. Evan remarks how hunting for meat is harder than buying it but it is more economical and rewarding (page 6). Elsewhere in the book, Dan and Evan tan a moose hide (page 21). This video shows the traditional way of harvesting deer by a member of the Lac Du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Reflect on the ways that the characters in the book and person in this video provide for their family and community. Compare this to the ways that small-scale farmers approach agriculture, and then to large-scale farming.  

2. Reflect on the cost of groceries in your own community. Identify the general cost of some produce, dairy, meat, canned goods, and household products. Conduct internet research on the cost of food in northern Ontario and into the far north. Compare the cost of living in each place. How do you think this impacts Indigenous well-being in northern communities?

3. Aileen urges Evan to learn about the medicines found on the land (page 147). In this video, Joseph Pitawanakwat discusses traditional medicines.

Find examples of modern medicines that come from the traditions of Indigenous peoples in Canada and around the world.

License

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Moon of the Crusted Snow: Reading Guide by Anna Rodrigues and Kaitlyn Watson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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