"Let's start to think about
the human impact."

Welcome to the Virtual Hike of the Pic River First Nation. Throughout the tour, you will encounter wild species and resources that were crucial to our past, are instrumental to our present, and will be vital to our future. The video below offers a glimpse back to the very beginning: back to the creation of the continent.



According to legend, maple syrup once dripped freely from the branches of maple trees. All you needed to do was crack one open and drink it up! But one day, the elder spirit of the first man came across a village, its inhabitants all lying lazily about doing nothing but drinking maple syrup. He didn't like this and decided to do something about it to make the people appreciate the syrup more.

So he climbed each and every maple tree with a giant basket of water, and dumped the water into the tree, turning the syrup into sap. Now when someone wanted the syrup, they needed to do a lot of work just to produce a bit of syrup. In fact, if you picture 160 ordinary drinking cups filled with sap, you will have an idea of how much sap it takes to produce just one litre of syrup!



If you burn a bushel of this long grass, you will be treated to the lovely smell of vanilla, which is where the name "sweet grass" comes from. Traditionally, this grass was used during healing rituals after being braided and burned due to the sacred smoke it produces.

It was also very common to find sweet grass in medicine pouches, which were worn as a sort of protective necklace that guarded the spirit. The grass features very long shoots that can be dried and woven into baskets.



The deciduous (loses its leaves annually) white birch, also known as the paper birch, is notable for its white bark. This native (meaning originally from North America) tree can grow to be 25 m in height. The distinctive white bark peels easily and is marked by narrow horizontal stripes. The heart-shaped leaves are small and toothed.

The strong bark was traditionally for a wide range of things, including lining the insides of canoes and building wigwams (see painting). As the white birch dies, it begins to rot from the inside, leaving the outer shell of the tree hard and intact. There are even legends about people using hollowed-out white birch trees to guard against wild animals, which gave rise to the white birch's status as a symbol of human protection.



For most of their lives, coho salmon are a silvery colour, with a darker brownish colour on their backs. When it's time for them to mate, they transform by taking on a bright red color with a dark green back. It is thought that this helps them to attract a mate. They then leave the main body of Lake Superior and head back to their spawning grounds (where they were born).

This involves swimming up a tributary stream that is flowing downwards, so it's very tiring for them. Some will travel upwards of 3,200 kms just to reach the right spot! After they've arrived, they will either lay (female) or fertilize (male) eggs, and then they die. Traditionally, since it would have been too cold to cultivate crops, Ojibways would move around with spawning season, setting up camp wherever the fishing was best.



Legend has it that the beaver once had a big puffy tail that it was very proud of.

One day, as the beaver was chomping down a tree, it became so occupied with admiring its tail that it didn't notice that the tree was about to fall. The tree fell right on the beaver's tail and squashed it flat! Luckily, this tail now helps North America's largest rodent perform a number of functions. It helps them swim underwater, communicate with other beavers by slapping the water, sit upright as they chomp down a tree, and stay balanced when they drag tree branches back into the water to build their dams.



The Ojibway word for moose means "eater of twigs", which is a very fit description of the diet of this giant herbivore (plant eater). Maybe you can already tell, but the Ojibway word "mooz" formed the basis of the English word "moose."

The moose is the largest member of the deer family, so you wouldn't want to get in the way of the bull (male)'s antlers when they regrow each spring. Despite their huge size, they still face the threat of predators such as bears, wolves, and humans. Traditionally, since moose played such an important role as food for Ojibways, they are often portrayed as symbols of endurance.



Growing in the drier areas of the Pic River First Nation among coniferous (cone-bearing) trees, these small shrubs have leaves that were used to brew a tea that could be used to treat conditions such as arthritis.

Perfect for use during a long day of fishing and trapping. The leaves could also be ground into a sort of paste that was then applied to a wound.



As Ojibway people prayed to the Great Spirit, the eagle was considered to be the messenger, carrying the prayers and illnesses of the people up to the sky so that they would be fulfilled and cured. When a bald eagle turns into an adult, it develops a set of white head feathers that makes it look as if it is "bald."

As a juvenile, however, the bald eagle is brown all over. Traditionally, getting a feather from a bald eagle was a huge achievement and brought its wearer respect among the people. Although bald eagles have a reputation for being majestic, noble creatures, they will often steal food from other, smaller birds rather than bothering to catch their own!

All Species

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