Caribou Hunting At Selwyn Lake

A set of 184 photographs recording a trip north to Selwyn Lake by a class from Black Lake School to experience a caribou hunt. The Dene people of northern Saskatchewan have for centuries depended on the vast herds of caribou that migrate north and south through their lands. North in the spring to calve and south in the fall for winter cover inside the tree line. In recent times the people have become more dependent on food from the local store, but they still prefer caribou to any other food, and hunters still go to the traditional hunting grounds or harvest them when the herds come near their communities. The students in this school project were fortunate to go to a winter camp and participate in a traditional learning experience with people who had lived in that way for most of their lives. -p01: The Twin Otter airplane chartered to take the children and some of the adults north to the winter camp at Selwyn Lake. -p02 to -p05: Loading the supplies, gear, and passengers for departure. -p06 to -p07: Taking off. -p08: The Black Lake settlement from the plane. -p09: Middle Lake and the Fond du Lac River. -p10: The Fond du Lac River and Elizabeth Falls. -p11: Inside the plane. -p12: The camp from the air. -p13 to -p14: Cabins at the camp. -p15: A boat pulled up for the winter. -p16 to -p20: Getting things ready to live in the cabins. -p21: Some of the students. -p22: Meat being cut to eat for supper. -p23: Supper time. -p24: Waking up to another day. -p25: Washing up. -p26 to -p27: Breakfast being prepared. -p28 to -p31: Students having breakfast - fruit, dry meat, bannock, and tea. -p32: Bannock ready for breakfast. -p33 to -p34: These photos show scenes around the village. -p35 to -p36: A teepee for smoking meat and a meat cache on a shed roof. -p37 to -p38: Mink carcasses. -p39: A log pile and gas cans beside a cabin. -p40: The cabin wall showing the log construction and the chinking with sphagnum. The trees are small this far north. -p41: A dog shelter - a pile of brush covered with snow. -p42 to -p43: A dog being fed caribou meat. -p44: Some of the pups. -p45 to -p46: A toboggan with the dog team harness. -p47: Around the camp. -p48 to -p49: Some of the sled dogs. -p50: Feeding the dogs. -p51: A toboggan with its cariole and a passenger. -p52: Off they go up the hill. -p53 to -p60: Fun in the snow - around the cabins, sliding, and snowshoeing. -p61: A visiting trapper arrives. -p62 to -p63: The load on the visitor's toboggan includes a wolf and a marten. -p64: The visitor helps out around camp. -p65; The wolf has been skinned and the students look at the pelt. _p66: The wolf carcass. -p67: Around the camp. -p68: Packing for the hunt. -p69: Going to check for caribou. -p70: The trapper returns... -p71: ...with more furs. -p72 to -p73: Sled dogs and toboggan. -p74: White fox and mink carcasses on a stage. -p75: Students moving to another cabin. -p76: A beaded gun coat. -p77: Preparing shells for the hunt. -p78: Mending wind pants for the hunt. -p79: The saw used for cutting ice for the ice house for summer fishing. -p80: Caribou are sighted! -p81 to -p84: Caribou herds seen running through the islands. -p85: A hunter races after the caribou. -p86 to -p87: Philip sees a calf, but it is out of range. -p88 to -p89: Philip has shot one. -p90 to -p91: He kills it with a blow of the axe. -p92 to -p93: The animal is taken to camp tied to a toboggan. -p94: Philip dresses out the caribou. -p95: He checks the amount of fat. -p96: The hide is removed. -p97 to -p98: The meat is cut up. -p99 to -p103: The hunters cut up the meat. -p104 to -p106: The boys help. -p107 to -p110: A fetus is removed and cleaned. When cooked, this favourite part of the animal is soft and fatty. -p111 to -p112: Students display the fetus. -p113: The organs are removed from a caribou carcass. -p114: Ribs are cut out for lunch. -p115: Stomach fat is dried and eaten with dried meat. -p116 to -p117: Making camp in the bush for lunch. -p118: Heads ready to cook for lunch. -p119: The tea pail is put on the fire. -p120: A pole is put through a head for roasting. -p121: Flames singe off the hair. -p122 to -p125: The pole is stuck in the snow and leaned over the fire to roast the head. -p126: A rack of ribs are roasted too. -p127: When the head is done the charred skin is peeled off and the delicious meat is eaten. -p128: The jaw meat is delicious. -p129: The rest of the caribou is cut up. -p130: Some meat is cached to be picked up later. -p131: Caribou fetus for dinner. -p132: Heads skinned and broken up for the cooking pot. -p133: Meat is hung close to the stove to cook slowly. This takes all day, being turned continuously. -p134 to -p137: Meat being cut thin to make dry meat. -p138 to -p142: Girls work with the women at dry meat preparation. -p143: Turning the drying meat. -p144: Meat drying. -p145: Peanut butter and bannock while waiting for the meat to cook. -p146: One of the women talks over the radio to friends at Black Lake. -p147: One of the girls calls Black Lake. -p148 to -p153: Smoking meat in the bush, turning the meat, and the meat smoking. -p154 to -p156: Scraping the hair off the hide. -p157: The hide is washed after the scraping. -p158: Students watch as the scraping continues. -p159: A hide scraper made from a thigh bone is sharpened. -p160 to -p162: Girls watch as an excellent teacher shows how to flesh the hide. -p163 to -p165: The girls try their hands at this difficult task, Alice first, then Angie, then Joyce. -p166: Another good teacher. -p167: A warble fly larvae found in a hide. Warble flies torment the caribou in the summer, laying their eggs in the hide where the larvae develop. -p168: Shaking out loose hair. -p169: Finishing the hide outside. -p170 to -p171: Trimming the hide. -p172: Meat and hides cached on a stage. -p173: The plane will come soon, so the meat is packed down from the stage. -p174 to -p175: The students gather heads and take them to the landing place. -p176: The gear hauled down and piled ready to load. -p177: Waiting for the plane. -p178 to -p179: First a Cessna 185 arrives and takes the meat back to Black Lake. -p180: Now the Twin Otter arrives. -p181: Taking gear to the plane. -p182: Loading the Twin Otter. -p183: A last look at the Selwyn Lake camp. -p184: Arriving home again at Black Lake.

Historical note:

These photographs record a trip to Selwyn Lake by a class from Black Lake School during the Easter break in the spring of 1979 to experience a traditional caribou hunt. The trip was under the direction of teacher Anne Soulnier (Betts), who also took the photographs.
Anne Soulnier (Betts) (photographer)
Open Access
Primary Source
Publication Date
Northern Saskatchewan Archives, DNS Academic Education Branch, DNS-Shelf A3-Binder #16-CaribouHuntingAtSelwynLake 1 - 184; records from Our Legacy site,
Resource Type
Images -- Photographs
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