Mr. Jean-Baptiste Dominique: Interview conducted in 1978

He was born in La Doré and then they left for Chicoutimi.  He said that when he was small he stayed at Ste Anne de Chicoutimi and later they came to live here (Mashteuiatsh) for good. (004-008)

He said that he had always trapped and since he remembers his childhood he has always been in the forest until he was old enough to trap alone.  He said that he had never spent a year at Mashteuiatsh, he was more often in the territory and he still thinks of the territory today. (014-022)

He said that he had often experienced misery.  Like when he had no food and also when he met people who had problems and whom he tried to help by all means he could.  He went twice in the same month to Albanel Lake that is to say in January and February.  He slept outside for eighteen days.  That was what we call real misery and I had nothing to eat.  They met an old man who was the father of Joseph Benjamin at Albanel Lake, and who had nothing to eat so they left him all of their provisions and they left to find other at Albanel Lake. (022-030)

He said that he had often been miserable in the territory.  He said that he frequently lacked food because he had shared with other families who were in need.  He said that he could not just look at the person in misery but also he had to help him to survive. (034-036)

In the past, it was not like today; it was necessary to trap to have money and fur was not expensive.  I remember that in the past we were paid $0.05 for a muskrat skin and for beaver it depended on the weight; if it weighed one pound it was $3.00 and that was the largest. (043-045)

He said that when he went deep into the territory, he had already found traces left by our ancestors.  He says that he has often seen ancient camping sites and has also seen how the ancient campsites were made in the past.  They had no frying pans in the past.  Those tents were made from birch-bark and there was a fire in the centre.  Those people had spent a year in this location according to evidence from the campsites.  Me I never really saw that but I have seen a campsite of this type in the past.  I cannot tell you how our ancestors lived but I can tell you that I have seen traces of what they left behind. He said that he had seen that when he had gone very far into the territory.  (053-063)

He said that he had already heard the elders of former times tell that they spoke to a bear before killing it.  He said he never done it and that he had never seen it but he said that he had heard it spoken of by the elders.  He said that when a bear is asked to come out of his den to be killed the bear listens.  But he had never had this experience. (066-070)

He said that when our ancestors wanted to smoke where they had no tobacco they took ulitsheshk (the bark from any tree) such as black spruce and dried the leaves and then smoked it.  He said that he was not a great smoker so that it did not bother him if he did not have tobacco.  He said that he had never tried.  But he said that he had heard others speak of it. (076-082)

He also told that he made tea with what is called amiskutuki nipish.  He had heard that said.  He said that the elders and his father had already shown him this type of leaf. (085-091)

For a person without anything to eat, there is something which is stuck to a rock and which tastes like hare.  It is soaked in water.  He still had an ancestor whose life had been saved by eating this.  He did not eat it often but only when he had real hunger.  I have heard this spoken of by old people. (092-098)

In the past, when a person was ill in the forest there was no doctor.  He spoke of the time of our ancestors.  He said that they made their own medicines.  They took all sorts of medicinal plants or trees.  The women elders knew all about them.  They knew how to cure all sorts of illnesses. (099-102)

He said that he remembered being very ill in the forest when he was 12 years old.  He was so ill that he could no longer do anything.  He was ill for 1 month.  His father wanted to return.  He said to his father, I do not want to hold you up, if I am going to live I will live and if I am going to die I will die.  There was a very old lady who came to see me.  She camped at the same place as us.  The old lady said to him, I wish to heal you.  She said to him, you see this plant?  Old people call it ka kauatsh. It is a sort of plant that is long and resembles a fir tree.  It grows amongst balsam fir trees. (103-112).  I was sick to my stomach and I coughed a great deal.  She made an infusion and gave it to me to drink.  He said that the liquid tasted bitter and was yellow.  After 1 week of drinking this tisane he said he was feeling better and better every day.  He said that he was better and better but he did not eat and only drank liquid.  He drank this tisane each day.  He saw his father arrive with a white hare.  It was autumn.  Then he thought of hare intestines.  Then he asked his mother if the hare’s intestines were ready to eat, because one cannot eat them at just any season.  His mother asked him if he wished to eat them.  My mother then prepared the hare and that was my first meal in a week.  He ate the hare intestines. At that moment he really began to get well.  He said that hare intestines were very medicinal.  The hare eats all sorts of medicinal trees.  The elder who had made the tisane then told him to stop drinking it.  Then she told him to make a cherry tree tisane (apueiminan) and she incorporated it with a little beaver kidney.  He said that there were all kinds of medicines in the forest and that it was this medicine that our ancestors used for treating sick people many years ago.

He spoke of dancing in the past.  He said that there were no musical instruments long ago.  I know that they came together and danced to the drum.  All of the elders danced their own way in the past.  They said that it had been a long time since they had gone to the place that is called takutaupiss (on the hill) and there were Mistashiniulnuatsh (Cree from Lake Mistassini) and that there were others that he knew and one was called Lopie.  He said that they were often invited to dance to the drum.  He often participated.  He said that nowadays one sees these dances no longer.  He also said that at the bottom of the hill at Mr. François Germain’s they also danced to the drum.  He said that there were many elders from Lake Mistassini.  He had never seen this type of dance and he said that maybe today if someone saw us doing this type of dance they would perhaps laugh at us. (138-150)

He said that he had gone into the territory on the 15th August and he was not alone when he left.  There was Joseph Connolly, Barthelemie Germain and there were many others.  They separated each to go to their own trapping area.  Me I went further than Mushaulagan as it is called.  It was to this place that I went to trap.  He said that he had been to this place twice in one year and he returned only in the spring. Throughout the return he saw no one.  He came to the place where he had left them and in returning he had seen no one.  He saw them when he arrived at Tchetogama. It is true that occasionally it is boring when one is alone and particularly the evening because there is no one to speak with.  But nonetheless it happens that a person who is alone talks to himself when he does something.  He said that he was like that.  He talks to himself above all when he has something to do.  In the daytime one can never be bored because there is always something to do all day.  And when evening arrives there is no choice but to manage because if one does not work one does nothing in the end.  There is no radio either and sometimes one has only a watch to know the time.  Today when people go to the territory they take their own radio with them.  In the past one heard nothing, one heard only the cries of the squirrels.  But no one was bored and no one counted the time that passed because there was plenty of work.  Occasionally one stayed three days at one location and then set out for another. One did not notice the time passing and one did not have the time to be bored.  It was pleasant when one was alone far away when one was fit.  All one had to do was to be prudent with everything one undertook when one was alone and not ill.  If one became unwell when one was alone one could do nothing. (153-194)

He gave the example of Charlot Cleary; he died at the head of the Péribonka.  There was a 1 mile portage and at the other end of this portage he was found dead.  He was alone and ill. (195-199)

He tells of the first time an Ilnu was encountered in Quebec; it was at a meeting site as he had heard say and they were hunting at this place and they were moving to another site called Shatshek.  They were again moving and this time it was to Shekutamitsh (Chicoutimi); there was another site where there were other Indians. This time it is told that there were many whites at this location then they left for Métabetchouan.  Again they moved here and I do not know how long they stayed there this time. (201-209)