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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

Fishing and Fish Preparation


Clip Synopsis:

The Heritage Community Foundation, with the kind permission of Terry Garvin, is pleased to present this feature excerpt from the Bush Land People video.

Fish are an essential food source to both the people of the boreal forest and to their dog-teams. The catching and preparation of fish is an activity common to many northwest Aboriginal Peoples.

Clip Transcription:

Milder temperatures bring on the early fish run in deep waters. Fishhooks were once made out of small wooden shafts and barbs of bone bound together with sinew or rawhide. These days, small mesh gill nets are dropped from skiffs or canoes and checked once a day. Catches are limited to the amount that may be eaten and processed in a day. Lake trout and whitefish are the mainstays, but pickerel and perch are also eaten. Northern pike and lake cod, considered unfit for human consumption, are fed to the dogs.

Back in camp, the fish haul is cleaned, deboned, and filleted. Fish is eaten both fresh and cured. Smoking is the usual preservation method throughout the warm weather season. Families specialize in particular smoke cured flavours. Smouldering willow root is favoured. Spruce, pine, and balsam also create distinctive flavours. Fish is cut horizontally to increase exposure to sun and smoke, then hung for three to five days on a green wood frame over a smoky fire.

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