These texts result from a visit to the Chipewyan of Cold Lake Reserve, Alberta, Canada, from June 28 to July 15, 1911. This visit was made with the desire of obtaining at first hand some definite knowledge of the sounds and structure of a northern or Dene dialect of an Athapascan language for the purpose of comparison with Pacific Coast and southern dialects.
The band which numbers 273 is attached to Onion Lake Agency. They are the southernmost Chipewyan and therefore are closely associated with the Cree. Their manner of life is still much that which has prevailed in the Mackenzie Valley for a century. The winters are spent in hunting and trapping, for which purpose, long journeys are taken into the wilderness to the north, dogs and sledges being used for transportation, and tents for shelter. The food required is obtained from the fur-bearing animals trapped, and an occasional moose. A narrative of such a trip was obtained and is presented in text 15. The summers are spent about the lakes where fish and water fowl are plentiful. Travel is by birchbark canoes and may be continued many miles to the north and east with but short and occasional portages. Recently, grain has been sown, gardens raised, and a few milch cows kept.
The only primitive arts remaining relate to the building of canoes, and the making of snowshoes and moccasins. The moccasins are in one piece of moose skin colored by the spruce smoke with which the hide is cured and have decorations at the instep worked in silk.
The entire band are faithful Catholics. The church literature and ministrations are in the Chipewyan dialect. Father Le Goff has been their missionary for forty years and knows their language thoroughly. No instance of the old religious practices or beliefs was observed. The older people remember an annual spring ceremony called, feeding the fire during which many small pieces of animal food were placed in the fire. Part of an old ceremony was unwittingly obtained in text 8. This was used in fishing, the story being related in accompanying songs. Inquiry resulted in securing one other fragmentary text(9), and accounts of other ceremonies relating to fishing and hunting. Mention was also made of the former use of a tall sweat lodge in which songs were sung and other ceremonial acts occurred.
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