Sacred Harvest, Sacred Place
Mapping Harvesting Sites in Wasagamack First Nation
This paper tells a place-based story of food in the Wasagamack territory in Manitoba, Canada, through traditional land-use map biographies with 49 active Indigenous harvesters, video interviews with eight key informants, and input from community workshops. Although harvesters in Wasagamack First Nation do not depend solely on wild foods, map biographies show that traditional land uses remain important and occur throughout their ancestral lands. This land remains pristine, with virgin boreal forests, natural flowing waters, and abundant wildlife, and occupied almost exclusively by Indigenous people who continue to harvest wild foods and speak their language fluently. All Wasagamack people interviewed (N=57) regarded the land to be perfect as the Creator made it, and sacred; they did not want development interfering with their traditional practices of hunting, gathering, and fishing and with their land-based spirituality, despite the community economic and infrastructure poverty. In opposition, the province of Manitoba, which governs natural resources, favors mining and settler development and is unsupportive of traditional stewardship of the land. Mapping traditional land use enabled the exploration of the cultural and ecological dimensions of Wasagamack food over time and territory, providing an important tool for food researchers to explore food sovereignty, wild food access, and foodsheds.
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