A Place called Cramahe: Its Geography, Environment and Ecology
Aboriginal Settlement
Between 1300 and 1400 A.D. Iroquoian (Haudenosaunee) cultures lived in the Great Lakes region. Huron-Petun and Chonnonton (Neutral) cultures then moved into the area with Ojibwa (Anishinaabek) cultures later relocating here as well. These different cultures possessed in-depth knowledge about the resources of the land, trees, plants, and animal life that sustained their families and communities.
The Iroquois lived in longhouses approximately 12 meters long which were constructed with frames of cedar saplings and clad with hemlock, elm or white pine bark on the exterior. Local clays were transformed into ceramic vessels while stone was shaped into tools such as points and adzes. Aboriginal men built exceptional birchbark canoes for hunting and travel.
Exhibit, Gathering Wild Rice by Charles Eastman
Exhibit, Gathering Wild Rice by Charles Eastman Details
Agriculture was based upon the cultivation of distinct varieties of corns, beans, and squash - these foods continue to be important sustenance for many Aboriginal communities today. Hunters built seasonal hunting and fishing camps for their pursuit of game such as deer, bass, and pike. Aboriginal women gathered fruit and nuts including strawberries, raspberries, acorns, beechnuts, and black walnuts. They also made maple syrup in the spring, a highly valued addition to their diets. The harvesting of wild rice was especially significant for Aboriginal cultures just north of Cramahe Township. Aboriginal people also knew the medicinal properties of plants including white cedar to counteract the effects of scurvy caused by a lack of vitamin C and sassafras that helps to heal wounds. The abundant fresh water lakes, streams, and rivers provided water for everyone.
Aboriginal economies were fundamentally self-sustaining. Local Aboriginal communities such as the Ojibwa and Iroquois produced enough for their own needs and surplus goods were traded regionally with other Aboriginal communities as well as non-Aboriginals.
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