Persistence and Change in a Northern Saskatchewan Trapping Community
McNab, Miriam Arlen
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This study was undertaken to discover the major factors at work in cultural change and persistence among a community of trappers in northern Saskatchewan. Using the theoretical construct, the mode of production, change and persistence are examined in terms of the social relations of trapping and other forms of bush production, with specific attention to the family. The author did field research in Pinehouse Lake, Saskatchewan, interviewing trappers and other members of the community and carrying out participant observation during the summer of 1990. Significant among her fmdings was that the major changes to the people's lifestyle were brought about by external influences such as government and the larger economy. These are felt in the community in the forms of mandatory attendance of children at school and dwindling prices paid for furs and escalating costs of living. The combined effect of these influences over the years is to radically change familyoriented trapping to an exclusively-male economic aciviry, and finally to restrict trapping to a smaller group of men, almost bringing an end to trapping altogether. Factors of persistence of trapping and the commitment of some individuals to the bush activities regardless of economic hardships, are also explored in this context. Good health, good food, freedom from the ills of the larger society present in the village, and moral prescription are all found in the testimony to the benefits of bush life provided by the informants.