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Okanagan First Nations

 

hokanagan2Hunting

The weapons that were used in the chase were either bows and arrows or knives.  The knives being used for stabbing the wounded animals and cutting them into small sections that could easily be carried home. Clubs and spears were occasionally used.  Arrows were either of flaked stone or bone.  Nearly all the bows had a double curve and were strengthened with sinew and covered with snakeskin.  They were about three feet in length and the wood used was either juniper, service berry or wild rose.  The horns of rams were sometimes used to make short bows.  The curved bows were held vertically, the flat bows horizontally.  All hunters used wrist guards.  The quivers for holding the arrows were made from the skins of wolverine, fisher, otter, cougar, and young fawn.  In the hunting of beaver, spears were generally used.  The largest animals hunted were deer, elk, big-horned sheep, caribou, black bear and grizzly bear.  Smaller animals included rabbit, beaver and marmot.  The young boys delighted in hunting ground tree squirrels.

 

There were four big hunts every year.  In the spring they hunted for sheep and deer.  In the fall long distances were covered for sheep, elk, bear, and deer.  Sometimes the hunters would be away for two months.  In the middle of winter, another hunt took place for deer, and in the early spring the last hunt was vokanagan3taken for sheep.  Dogs were used and kept on leashes made from Indian hemp.  The winter hunts were conducted on snowshoes and when a good road had been made, the carcasses were cut up and carried out to as near the homes as possible.  In the bush parts of the country, nets would be placed for the corralling of the deer.  At daybreak the people would form a half-moon with the ends moving toward the corral.  Then they would all start shouting at the top of their voices; the frightened deer would rush ahead and in the dim light would quickly become entangled in the nets.  This style of hunting was mainly for the white-tailed deer because of their grazing habits, and lesser jumping ability compared with the mule deer.  The nets were from six to nine feet in height and from 30 to 180 feet long.  Fences and snares were used for entrapping caribou and pits covered with small branches were used to catch bear.

 

vokanagan4

Fish were an important means of sustenance and were caught in many ways.  Dip nets were used in the rivers, while floats and sinkers were most commonly used on the lakes.  Fishing was carried out either by canoe, raft or from the rocks of the shore.  In winter a hole would be made in the ice and the fish speared.  People also fished at night by the light of fir or pine torches.  Small fish were caught by hooks and lines, larger ones by both single and double pointed spears, which became loose when they entered into the flesh.  They were joined to the poles by means of a rope cord of hemp.  Weirs and traps were used in the shallow streams and the outlets and inlets of the lakes.  When the salmon crowded against the side of the weirs they would be gaffed.  The chief fishing place was at Okanagan Falls.  Only a part of the catch of fish could be eaten at once, so the remainder was dried.