Niitsitapiisini: Our Way of LifeHome

 

Picking Saskatoon Berries

How we lived with the Land

Picking Saskatoon Berries

With the lengthening days, more and more plants began to ripen. We were always on the lookout for Saskatoon berries growing in coulees. Some places in our territory were known as good berry grounds. But the weather could change quickly. We were flexible in our movements so that we could adapt to changing conditions and go to where there were a lot of berries.

Camp Sites

Our people moved frequently throughout the year. They did not wander aimlessly. They knew where the berries and other plants grew and where animals were likely to be found. Clans kept in touch with each other all of the time and shared information about the environment. All of our moves were well planned.

Our clans camped along streams and near springs where water and wood was available and where it was safe.
Tipi

Blood woman with dog travois, ca. 1924, W.J.Oliver, Glenbow Archives NA-1093-2

Glenbow Archives NA-1093-2

   

Picking Saskatoon Berries

Women and men picked saskatoon berries while men kept constant vigil against foreign intruders. The berries were spread on the ground and dried.

Saskatoon berries are very rich in vitamins. Our people knew this and the berries were an important part of our diet. Saskatoon berries were dried, crushed, and mixed with dried meat and fat to make mookimaani (pemmican). This food helped us survive when we could not find fresh meat. The berries were also made into soup. We always made an offering to the plants and thanked their spirit for allowing us to pick them.
Picking Saskatoon Berries

Annora Brown, Saskatoon (Amelanchier alnifolia) (detail), 1959, Collection of Glenbow Museum

Annora Brown,
Saskatoon (Amelanchier alnifolia) (detail), 1959,
Collection of Glenbow Museum

   

Storing Dried Berries

Dried berries were packed into storage containers made from fetal deer or buffalo bladders.
Storing Dried Berries

Storage container made from fetal deer, 20th century, Collection of Glenbow Museum; Storage container made from buffalo bladder, 20th century, Collection of Glenbow Museum

Collection of Glenbow Museum


Tanning Hides

Women dried meat, tanned hides, and sewed. There were always hides in various stages of being tanned and garments being made.

Women were always working with hides. They often worked together, making it a social occasion. This was also a time when girls were taught the skills they would need throughout their lives.
Tanning Hides

Blood woman tanning hide at Blood reserve, 1931, T. Reiss, Glenbow Archives NA-5425-137; Blood woman, southern Alberta, treating hide, 1904, Glenbow Archives NA-2313-16

Glenbow Archives NA-5425-137

Glenbow Archives NA-2313-16


Staking Hides for Tanning

Buffalo hides were staked on the ground using pegs made from black birch.
Staking Hides for Tanning

Tipi pegs, Courtesy of Glenbow Museum

Courtesy of Glenbow Museum


 

"The leaders of our sacred societies have selected the place for our akoka’tssini where our clans all camp together."
Moving camp

 

"Tomorrow we will start moving towards the akoka’tssini."
Moving camp


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