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    There is a vast misconception that Native Americans had no "sense of ownership" of land or property. The fact is, there was and it was wide-spread, even if it was not quite in the same image and holding as the white man. In many instances, it was this misconception that was used as an "excuse" for the whites to "move in" and supposedly establish true ownership over land that was apparently "free for the taking/settling". It is no wonder that "lawyers" thrive in the world.


Aleck Paul, Temagami Band of Chippewa; Bear Island, Ontario

    So these families of hunters would never think of damaging the abundance or the source of supply of the game, because this had come to them from their father and grandfather and those behind them…

    The Indian families used to hunt in a certain section for beaver. They would only kill the small beaver and leave the old ones to keep on breeding. Then when they got too old they too would be killed, just as a farmer kills his pigs, preserving the stock for his supply of young. The beaver is the Indian's pork, the moose his beef, the partridge his chicken. And there was the caribou or red deer, that was his sheep. All thse formed the stock on the family hunting ground, which would be parceled out among the sons when the owner died.

    He says to his sons, "You take this part. Take care of this tract. See that it always produces enough." That was what my grandfather told us. His land was divided among two sons, my father and Pish'bo (Tea Water), my uncle. We were to own this land so no other Indians could hunt on it. Other Indians could travel through it and go there, but could not go there to kill the beaver. Each family had its own district where they belonged and owned the game. That was each one's stock, for good and clothes.

    If another Indian hunted on our territory we, the owners, could shoot him. This division of land started in the beginning of time, and always remained unchanged. I remember about twenty years ago some Nipissing Indians came north to hunt on my father's land. He told them not to hunt beaver. This is our land,: he told them; :you can fish but must not touch the fur, as that is all we have to live on.:" Sometimes an owner would give permission for strangers to hunt for a certain time or on a certain tract. This permission was often done for friends or when neighbors had had a poor season. Later the favor might be returned. 

    When the white people came they commenced killing all the game. They left nothing on purpose to breed and keep up the supply, because the white man don't care about the animals. They are after the money. After the white man kills all the game in one place he can take the train and go three hundred miles or more to another and do the same there.

    You can write this down for me. If an Indian went to the old country, England, and sold hunting licenses to the old country people for them to hunt on their own land, t he white people would not stand for that. The Government sells our big game, our moose, for $50.00 license and we don't get any of it. The Government sells our fish and our islands or gets the money, but we don't get any share.

    What we Indians want is for the Government to stop the white people killing our game, as they do it only for sport and not for support. We Indians do not need to be watched about protecting the game; we must protect the game or starve. We can take care of the game just as well as the game warden and better, because we are going to live here all the time…


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