Hunting Deer: Sharing the Harvest | The Ways


[chiming music] – Biskakone: In our ceremonies we have talks, and we let the spirits in the forest know that our intentions are to go out there and harvest the Waawaashkeshi (deer). My name is Biskakone. I am a hunter
from Lac du Flambeau. I hunt for the
health of my family and I hunt for
the health of my community. After the deer
presents himself to us– [gun shot] — and give us that shot, we ask for forgiveness
for taking its life. We also speak of how
it’s gonna benefit our loved ones
and our family through the feasting
and the usage of its hide and its wiiyaas– its meat. I don’t think anybody likes
to see a spirit leaving. Then we remember that we’re Anishinaabe, and this is what we do and this is how we live. We’re suppose to do this. We’re supposed to be
in that circle with that deer and his life. When he’s gone, when he leaves, we take all his organs out and we keep the ones that we want: the heart, the liver, sometimes the kidneys. Once those insides, those organs and everything
are out, we make an offering. That moment right there when you drag that deer up out of the forest and you’re bringing it home
to your people, that’s my favorite part
of the whole hunt. That little trail right there that you create from where he fell, to me, that’s
a very sacred time. [car engine running] When a person has
the ability to hunt, part of that responsibly
of hunting is sharing your harvest
with your people. We get the hide, and then we get all the different cuts of meat. Everyone else cuts the meat. Somebody would like it. There’s an elder
that likes the neck. I have another friend of mine, he likes the ribs, you know. A lot of people love the tenderloins and the hindquarters
and the shoulders, and we save
the hooves sometimes. There’s a lot to use
on a deer. That venison,
that Waawaashkeshiwiiyaas, there’s medicine
in there. All the stuff that
we don’t ingest today, all the natural things, the grasses
and all the medicines that grow in your waawaashkeshi, he eats that. We eat him. He gives that to us. We want to spread that medicine to our community and our elders, and give them
that original food. Once the hide
comes off the deer, the tanning process has begun. The hide can be used for many different applications: tobacco pouches, moccasins. Those hides are very, very valuable to Ojibwe people and a lot of other
Native people. Say a baby
is gonna be born. We make their first moccasins out of that buckskin that we just tanned up. Or a wedding
is gonna happen. A gift is gonna be
made out of that to represent that new life
with their partner. I work a lot with velvet
and buckskin. When velvet was first introduced here in the 1700s, it became a big part
of our dress in our Ojibwe territory,
Anishinaabe territory. That represents a time when our art was as its most fantastic and glorious. That’s when
every family did it. Today, there’s only a handful
of people left that do that. When we first signed
our treaties, there was land areas
that we outlined, saying “We’ll share the land with you, but we’re gonna retain “our hunting and fishing rights here, forever.” I credit our ancestors for preserving that for us today. The role here as Ojibwe people, it’s an important role. We’re the keepers
of the natural world. It’s our job to maintain this traditional lifestyle
for our families, and for our reservation, for our elders,
and for our babies. Without it, we wouldn’t know
who we are. We wouldn’t know
where we come from.

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