Tales from Temagami - Land of Deep Water

Indian Use of Fire

from Moose To Mocassins: The Story of Ka Kita Wa Pa No Kwe. 1992 by Madeline Theriault.


White man makes a farm to grow hay to feed his animals. He also grows vegetables for food. Indians also feed their animals, only in a different way. Around the middle of April, the Indian trapper looks around to find a bare spot, mostly up on the rocks where the snow goes first, where there is still a lot of snow at the bottom of the hill. They set a match to this bare spot and only burn where it is dry and bare, so there?s no danger of a big forest fire because the fire stops when it reaches the snow.

Two years later you would find a big patch of blueberries in amongst the bushes. And you would see all the hungry animals feeding on those blueberries: fox, wolves, black bear, partridge, squirrels, chipmunks, and all kinds of other birds. No doubt they were happy to find those berries. It was the trapper that got it for them by setting the fire.

This is what I mean when I say Indians feed their animals too. As we would preserve them for our winter use. After a few years, young trees would grow on that burnt place. Then the rabbits would get to feed from those young bushes. In later years, the little trees would get bigger. Then the moose and deer get to feed from it. So, you see the setting of these small fires can go a long way in feeding many animals.

the End