HUNTING + GATHERING

Aboriginal People: Subarctic

Hunting Practices

Aboriginal peoples of the Subarctic lived by hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering wild plants...Men did most of the big-game hunting, while women snared hare, fished, cut and dried meat, and processed hides. Some hunting techniques such as drives that forced animals into temporary corrals would involve most adult members of a band.

Hunting implements included bows, arrows, a variety of ingenious traps, snares, deadfalls, and such devices as the caribou drift fence and pound. People caught fish with dip and gill nets, traps, spears, and hook and line. They dried berries in the fall or stored them in baskets in pits in the ground. In the northwest, berries were often mixed with fat and fish, or were mixed with pounded dried meat and grease to make pemmican. Women were skilled in preparing meat for drying, hide tanning and sewing, making cooking and storage containers of skins, birchbark or coiled spruce root basketry, as well as fishnets from willow baste or babiche.

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The Beothuk HUNTING + GATHERING TOOLS

The Beothuk are the aboriginal people of the island of Newfoundland. They were Algonkian-speaking hunter-gatherers who probably numbered less than a thousand people at the time of European contact. The Beothuk are the descendants of a Recent Indian culture called the Little Passage Complex.

The Beothuk often acquired metal objects like these by visiting abandoned European fishing posts. Reworking the metal, the Beothuk were able to construct their own traditional hunting tools which included arrowheads and harpoon tips.

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Beothuk Carved Bone Objects

The patterns carved into the bones look really fine and intricate. It makes me think that they used other hand made tools to etch the designs into the bones.

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Beothuk Tools
From left to right: iron projectile point (probably an arrow point), bone harpoon, and bone harpoon with iron blade.

The craftsmanship of these blades are beautiful, especially considering they are made from found materials with no help from industrial making tools. The shapes look sleek and are likely designed in those shapes so they work to a high standard.

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Spoon, saw and scissors from a Beothuk site on the Exploits River

These tools look a lot like the spoons, saws, and scissors we use today. The shapes are similar, and the tools look strong as they still have their shapes in tact so many years later.

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Nuu-chah-nulth whale hunters used a harpoon that was up to 18 feet in length with a detachable head of carved elk horn. An extremely sharp point from mussel shell was set in the elk-horn head.

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Bone and Antler tools

First Nations hunters used a variety of tools made from bone and antler.

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Hide preparation

To prepare the land mammal hides for clothing, the hide had to be processed. After the animal had been skinned, the remaining flesh would be scraped off. Then the hide would be soaked to loosen the hair so that it could be removed. To ensure softness and flexibility, an oily paste prepared from brain and fat would be worked into the hide. The hide would then be soaked, dried, and stretched on a frame. To further soften it, the hide would be vigorously rubbed. Finally, it would be smoked. Working the hides was generally done by the women. The display shown above shows the tools used in processing the hides.

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Stone tools

Hunting of land mammals was generally done using stone tools. In order to produce a blade or a point, pieces are first flaked from a fine-grained rock. 

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Melting snow reveals remarkably well-preserved 5,400-year-old bow and arrows used to hunt reindeer in Norway

 

  • The ancient artefacts were found in the Trollheim and Dovre mountains a few hours south of Trondheim in Norway
  • Archaeologists from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology believe the discovery demonstrates the worrying effects of climate change
  • The bow is made from elm wood that would have been found on the lower part of the mountains, while the arrow tips are made from slate

 

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I love the way the heads of these tools look like they are melting onto the wooden handles. It gives them a raw look.

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Poor Tools by Studio Fludd, How We Dwell + artist photographer Rachele Maistrello

They spent an entire week on the beautiful La Certosa island, just in front of Venice – quite deserted place. After an extremely windy boat ride they reached their temporary home, where they found a green tent and a intriguing KIT of tools and materials to work with during the following days. They decided to live and interpret the entire island as a spread out residence, following the natural suggestion of the several room-like spaces. They carefully collected natural and artificial finds, relics and trash, that they put together in order to create furniture and tools. Only with found things and given materials and tools (nails, inks, play dough, plastic strips) they arranged five rooms: kitchen / living room, bedroom, meditation beach, alchemical laboratory and wunderkammer.

I love how simple these tools are and the different found materials used to create them. From the photos below I see two different materials used to secure the materials together; zip ties and rope. I plan to do a similar experiment, make a satchel, sling-shot, knife/axe tool, and a fire making kit with found objects out in the forest, and I will bring these two securing materials along for the experiment based on the success in this project.

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