Animbiigoo Zaagi’igan Anishinaabek Chief Theresa Nelson is passing on her family’s trapping traditions, including her own 34 years of trapping knowledge, to her daughter.
“I really feel it is important that my daughter knows where she came from,” Nelson said during the Nov. 5-7 Robinson Superior Regional Economic Development Summit. “It makes me very grounded to take part in something that special and I hope she carries that on as well.”
Nelson first learned about trapping when her parents took her out on the trapline at age six.
“My parents took me out every year for five weeks to do some spring trapping and fall trapping,” Nelson said at the Nov. 6 First Nation Fisheries and Hunting/Trapping session.
“They had to go through the school board to argue the point of what kind of teachings I would get. My father said the traditional teachings — she will be getting a lot about life, our culture, our history — and they permitted me all the way up to Grade 6 to go trapping every year.”
Nelson caught four muskrats during her first year on the trapline.
“That was about $20 back then,” Nelson said.
And her parents taught her how to skin and stretch furs when she was older, which provided her with an income during high school.
“It made me a lot of money,” Nelson said. “I bought my own clothes, I bought my own vehicles.”
Nelson said trapping was a good fit for her because she enjoyed the solitude of the trapline.
“It’s something I look forward to every year,” Nelson said. “Those were the best memories I have of my childhood. It just brings all those back and I get to share them with my daughter, which is really special.”
Nelson said her community still has “a lot of” trappers, hunters and people who live on the land.
“They feel the same way that I do — very passionate, very proud of their land — and it’s ours,” Nelson said. “When we see people that don’t belong up there, it bothers you. Even though it’s crown land, it is still ours and we’ve always felt that way.”
Nelson usually begins trapping beaver in early October.
“We utilize the whole animal,” Nelson said, noting she uses beaver meat for her marten traps and the rest of the beaver for her wolf snares. “I only have a small quota of 10 (beavers), so we make sure we get our 10 before the marten season opens on (Oct. 25). Then we go hard on the marten and the wolf.”
Nelson was pleasantly surprised with her trapping income last spring after years of low fur prices and high costs.
“We got about $159 for an average for the marten,” Nelson said. “For the past few years we haven’t been trapping for the money. So it was nice to actually make money.”
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