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Life in Southern Ontario, Somewhere Around 11,000 years ago continued…

The day is starting to get late and you realize that you had better get back to work. You’ve been making traps for the rabbit and fox that run among the reeds beside the marsh and you need to finish up soon. Your mother showed you which spruce saplings made the best snares this morning while you were helping her fish, and tomorrow she is going to teach you how to identify their tracks in the mud so that you can trap one. Caribou meat is great and all, but with so many good things to eat, why would anyone just eat the same thing over and over? So you learn to trap the smaller animals like birds and rabbits, and to fish, and to find berries and other things when you can. You like seeing your family enjoy eating the food you brought home yourself.

Still, father says your family must follow the caribou because it looks like they are moving towards the swift river that pours into the lake, and that is where you are supposed to meet your aunts and uncles and cousins when the nights get short again. It has been many days since you last saw anyone, other than those people you spotted far across the open plain. Your home and land is large and the people are few. And so you travel vast distances with your family in this land that you already know so well, even though you are still young. You sometimes think that you have seen every single part of this vast land between the lakes, but your cousins talk about stories they have heard from people they have met in their travels, who tell of very large hills and a lake without end, whose water tasted salty. Maybe someday you will travel there, but for now you are staying close to the caribou.

Paleo-Indian Point
Paleo-Indian Point

As night falls you and your father and sister start to talk about the spear points that you hope to learn to make when you are more skilled. You hold one of your father’s finest examples in your hand and admire its straight sides and sharp point. But most of all you admire the shallow, long groove that runs along both sides of it. Your father says that this is the most difficult step in making the point. It does not take strength but great skill to know how to break it away without snapping the point in two. And if that wasn’t hard enough, you then have to do it again on the other side! Your cousin, who always seems to know everything, told you once that these grooves are needed to let the blood flow more easily from the caribou, but your uncle just shook his head and said the groove only makes it easier to tie the point to a spear. You think your father is right, though, when he says that he makes his points that way because he has always made his points that way, as he was taught to do by his father, and being good at making these points is a way to show how skillful you are when you sit with other toolmakers.

You think about this as you drift off to sleep. But you are jolted awake when you hear a loud crack. You look over to your father sitting near the fire. He has just smashed his finest spear point into a dozen pieces. It may have been his best work, or perhaps because it was, he felt that it needed to be offered as sacrifice to the caribou .


Spear points are really interesting.  You can read about two Paleo-Indian sites right here in Ontario and discover more about stone points in The Crowfield and Caradoc Sites, Ontario: Glimpses of Palaeo-Indian Sacred Ritual and World View by Dr. Ellis.

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