View topic - Wabakimi Pictograph Locations

It is currently October 14th, 2019, 1:05 pm

All times are UTC - 5 hours





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 15 posts ] 
Author Message
PostPosted: March 19th, 2006, 8:57 am 
Offline

Joined: July 30th, 2004, 1:17 pm
Posts: 11
Location: Albert Lea, Minnesota
Looking for any information on pictographs and the like in Wabakimi park.(The more remote the better) I have taken half dozen trips or so but have been unable to locate any. I have heard and read about their existence but never seen a location listed. I made contact with someone in the ministry last year and they said the information about pictographs and other remnants of the indian life was too "sensitive" to share. I was taken aback by this since I look at these artistic records in a very reverent way,(as Im sure all of you do) Anyway, any help would be much appreciated.

scooter


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: March 19th, 2006, 9:08 am 
Offline

Joined: May 11th, 2004, 9:29 am
Posts: 166
Location: Woodstock, NB
when are youo heading into wabakimi scooter?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Wabikimi Pictographs
PostPosted: March 19th, 2006, 12:57 pm 
Offline

Joined: April 23rd, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 434
Location: Two Harbors, Minnesota USA
I don't know why the MNR would keep remote pictographs a secret, as all the known sites in the Quetico-Superior are made available to the public, and many are well visited.

As for Wabikimi, the best sites I am aware of are on Cliff Lake in the headwaters of the Pikitigushi River northeast of Armstrong. The lake has one of the greatest concentrations of pictographs on the Canadian Shield. I passed through there in late May 1986 while on a canoe trip from Armstrong to James Bay. We spent two days on Cliff Lake checking out numerous pictographs at about a half dozen different sites. Most of the lake is lined with cliffs, hence the name.

Cliff Lake is a bit off the beaten path. It took us three days to paddle there from our put-in at Little Caribou Lake via the Big River, numerous lakes, and up the Pikitigushi. One of the portages, the second one below Cliff Lake as I recall, is about as tough a carry as you will find anywhere, even though it is only 450m long.

You can make a loop trip out of your visit to Cliff Lake by travelling north over the height-of-land into the Raymond River watershed to White Clay Lake, then back to Caribou via some of the main routes through Wabikimi. Be forewarned, though, the route between Cliff and White Clay is very physically demanding... :D


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: March 19th, 2006, 11:16 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: November 7th, 2003, 5:57 pm
Posts: 930
Location: Cambridge Ontario
I will second the Cliff Lake recommendation. We were there in 2000 and spent two nights on Cliff so we had a full day on the lake to explore. I didn't find all the pictographs that are documented so a return trip is in the future. It is an otherworldly, beautiful place with the high cliffs looking like dark blocks bunched and stood on ends, seemly out of place after paddling out of the lowlands around Whiteclay. The sheer number of pictographs on this lake tell me that it must have been special place to the aboriginals.

The portage out of Whiteclay was full of blowdowns looking like pick-up-sticks. With temperature at about 30C and mossies, blackflies, and friends, it remains the most physically challenging portage we've ever done.

_________________
"Nature used to surround us, now we surround nature and the change hasn't necessarily been for the better."
Margaret Atwood


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: March 19th, 2006, 11:30 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: May 22nd, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 1431
Location: Brampton, Ontario Canada
The MNR andpeople in the knowkeep many of the sites in Ontario and in Canada a secret due to vandalizum. Take Temagami,mostsites are kept secret except for a few due to people placing graffiti and doing other destruction to some of the sites.
Bill

_________________
Temagami Area, a paddlers Heaven. Canoe Temagami, then you will understand.
www.ottertooth.com
SAVE Temagami Old Growth Forests donate to Earthroots www.earthroots.org/
www.friendsoftemagami.org
www.friendsofchiniguchi.com
www.wildernesscleanup.com


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: March 19th, 2006, 11:45 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: August 19th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 1879
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada
Scooter and others:

There are more pictographs in Wabakimi which I am familiar with, having paddled there. But I won’t tell you where they are because it would only diminish your adventure. I can tell you from personal experience that it is far more thrilling to find them on your own.

Put your head in the space of the travelers of the time they were there. It’s all about flat rock faces along travel routes, and the only ones surviving that you can see are those where the lichen has not covered the rock.

You can find some clues from looking on your 1;50,000 topo maps for tight bands of contours along the water. Most won’t have picto’s, but occasionally you can find them. You can also find the occasional faded ones too that have weathered out. Some were made poorly with substandard ochre mix, and I think the first few rainstorms washed them out a bit, although those might be an iron oxide stain as well. Sometimes contours will not be obvious where picto’s are. If you spy a big flat rock face without lichen on it, it is always worth while to detour over and check it out. It makes the trip more about just getting from A-B. Looking for rock faces that are suitable for painting suddenly puts you into a different perspective. It's better than searhing a GPS point someone gave you.

I am one of the nay-sayers who demystify picto’s. I don’t recommend getting too reverential about them. Just enjoy and imagine the People’s real lives, and what you may learn from the ways people lived on the land. I think some of the picto’s are simply just children’s doodling. I saw a child's hand print picto in Wabakimi, which changed my perspective. Think of bored youth at the seasonal camp. They take the canoe across the lake and doodle on the rocks. I think kids are the same everywhere, in all times. I also think that parents encouraged this, because on the long, perilous seasonal trips between summer and winter camps, the parents would have had to console kids on the long trips, through hunger and adversity. I think they would have used the doodling places as ways to keep kids spirits up, in having them look forward to revisiting the places they doodled on the year before. The anticipation of finding “your” graffiti , or art, as you left it maybe a few years ago, would have been a powerful emotive experience, I think. The kids would have been bouncing in the boat, anticipating rounding the bend to see their work from last year. And sure some were made by adults too, including Shaman. But Shaman were not the only ones with spiritual visions or messages. For sure some were special places likely reserved for the Shaman. But just like today, graffiti knows no social or cultural boundaries.

Most people don’t like a lot of graffiti. Luckily rock faces free of lichen, along the water, accessible from canoes, are rare. We would not want graffiti everywhere now would we?

Best of luck with your search. I hope no one tells you the places, so that you can plan many trips into Wabakimi to explore and discover.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: March 20th, 2006, 12:01 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: May 22nd, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 1431
Location: Brampton, Ontario Canada
The native peoples almost always traveled close toshore and they made pictographs totell the story. The ones on Obabika Lake in Temagami, to me, tell a story, they say to me that there are moose in the area and a portage and they show the Spirit Rock(s) and a portage. This is exactly what is ahead in the area. Many if not most are there to tell the story of the area. Not just a childs version, eventhought some of the drawings may look likea childs drawing, they were made by adults at the time drawing simple things about the area.
Bill

_________________
Temagami Area, a paddlers Heaven. Canoe Temagami, then you will understand.
www.ottertooth.com
SAVE Temagami Old Growth Forests donate to Earthroots www.earthroots.org/
www.friendsoftemagami.org
www.friendsofchiniguchi.com
www.wildernesscleanup.com


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: March 20th, 2006, 12:49 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: August 19th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 1879
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada
Hi Hillbilly,

I will respectfully disagree with you on picto messages like “there is a lot of moose here”. Moose densities are influenced primarily by the successional age of the forest, i.e. young post-burn sprouting of browse, and deep productive soils. The productive soils tend to have hardwoods (birch and poplar) and mixedwood communities. You can easily see the effect of soil when paddling around Wabakimi: Nil to almost no moose sign in the shallow coarse sand landforms and exposed bedrock jackpine and black spruce areas (those are caribou areas). As soon as you hit deep soil pockets and mixedwood, presto there’s the moose and moose droppings all over.

No one needed pitco’s to express the productivity for moose. They simply looked at the trees and dense understory shrubbery and herbaceous layer, and areas like rich aquatic emergent and submergent plant beds which were summer feeding areas. The vegetation and soils leads you to moose. Picto’s are timeless, but productivity for moose also changed with the maturity of the forest: young being far more productive for moose than old, except in those deep rich sites which always have the understory of browse. Pictos would have been out of sync with fires and the early sucessional age classes, browse-rich that they produce. No need for pictos.

Portage routes were marked by rock cairns, blazes and organic signals of sticks. Before the Christian missionaries completely beat the culture out of the People, the People used to use arrangements of sticks at portages which was an elaborate system of language, imparting info on distance and direction. These organic stick markers are all gone, as is the knowledge of the symbology used.

No doubt that stories were also part of the picto’s. One common theme in many sites is the image of 8-10 people in a big canoe. Since no one traveled like that before contact, (they used smaller canoes), I think those images were the first impressions of voyageur traders penetrating the interior. Most of the surviving images unfortunately are of the last of the traditional period before people started converging into settlements around trading posts, and converting to sedentary existences. Red ochre does not last forever exposed to years of weathering. In caves yes, but not in the open along shorelines. Rock faces also get covered in lichen which dissolves the images and covers them up.

Many of the stories were also about wars, invasion and slavery. Many of the most powerful messages would have been organic, and have passed away. I read about a famous site in NW Ontario (can’t remember the location), of many arrows embedded into a rock face (in the cracks), which was a warning to the northern prairie Sioux, who invaded occasionally, that the woodland Ojibway were on the lookout for them and would fight them.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: March 20th, 2006, 8:18 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: June 20th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 7513
Location: Scarbados, Ontario Canada
What do I know about pictographs - nothing, really. They are alien to my culture and interpreting them with my western/christian/non-spiritual mindset will probably be far off the mark.

But I have been fascinated by them and try to respect them for what they are. And as Hoop says, finding one on a rock face is a pleasure and a spiritual moment, in my own way.

Two books have helped me to get closer to what they are all about. And I had a little glimpse into Ojibwe culture to give me a bit of perspective.

That latter event was an Ojibwe class in Scarborough (we do have a Native community here, and the language class was open to whiteys like me as well). The teacher told how she acquired her "guardian animal" (you may know other names for that concept): under guidance of a teacher (shaman, in our language?) she fasted for days and eventually had a dream (or vision) where the animal appeared to her. The little reading about Ojibwe culture I did revealed that vision quests of this sort were part of their life, and they were what we could call a religious experience, and every individual would have such experiences throughout their life.

The first book that gave me insights rather than just a catalog of pictures is "Reading Rock Art", by Grace Rajnovich
In it she shows numerous examples of pictographs (including a really nice one from Obabika Lake) and a possible interpretation of what is behind the images. From that interpretation, the pictographs are associated with vision quests and would not have been family entertainment nor hunting information. Grace points at the parallel to the writings of the birch bark scrolls that were common amongst Ojibwe's when their culture was still intact. Such writings were documents by an ethnographer in the mid 1800's, in the Lake SUperior area.

The fellow's name is Johann Georg Kohl, and he stayed for half a year on mostly the south shore of Lake Superior, documenting the ways of the Natives.

He describes that a man would possess a "medicin bag" (an awful word, in my opinion), i.e. a pouch where he would store spiritual tokens of things important to him, including birch bark scrolls. The "song" that such a scroll contained was drawn as a sequence of symbols, and a narration went with it. The "song" was a personal and private matter, that would typically not be shown to others except close friends, or for passing on to a next person when the owner of the song was about to pass away. That may explain the FN's insistence to not reveal pictograph locations even if vandalism is not perceived as an immediate threat.

Some examples are given, and I can readily relate them to the pictographs that I have seen. They are strings of images and a story (or "song") weaves along their progression. Obviously, it can be retold, and there are rules on how it has to be told - some are given by special markings in the images.

It is apparent that the images alone will not allow you to deduce the story, you need the narration to go with it. The images just seem to act as reminder to the story teller as to where the story is going - i.e. there are a lot more words than the images. The images are symbolic and thus an accurate or artistic depiction is not important. Everyone can draw as long as you can figure out what it is. (And obviously, some folks are better at drawing than others). The "song" always seems to present something that was experienced in a spiritual way, not as an actual observation.

If you are curious to read the book, I picked it up at the WCA Canoe Symposium.

The book is called Kitchi-Gami, by Johann Georg Kohl. It has tons of other information about Ojibwe life as well - a real treasure trove if you try to understand the folks that lived year-around where we paddle....


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Wabikimi Pictographs
PostPosted: March 20th, 2006, 5:17 pm 
Offline

Joined: April 23rd, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 434
Location: Two Harbors, Minnesota USA
HOOP_ wrote:
Scooter and others:

There are more pictographs in Wabakimi which I am familiar with, having paddled there. But I won’t tell you where they are because it would only diminish your adventure. I can tell you from personal experience that it is far more thrilling to find them on your own.



Best of luck with your search. I hope no one tells you the places, so that you can plan many trips into Wabakimi to explore and discover.[/quote]



The whole idea behind having a forum like CCR is to share information.
I agree, finding pictograph sites without previous knowledge of their location
is a great thing, but my guess is that most folks who have travelled a great distance to paddle in Wabikimi are on a fixed time schedule, and checking out all the cliff faces which may or may not have pictographs can really eat up a lot of time and can be discouraging. Even when rough locations are given for
pictograph sites it can take quite a while to find them, as they are often faint and in locations where you might not expect them.

There is information on sensitive resources that are easily disturbed or exploited in Wabikimi that should never be broadcast on the internet, such as caribou calving areas, exceptional fisheries, or even specific campsites. But pictograph locations do not fit into this category, and as far as I am concerned should be shared information.

Gordon


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: March 20th, 2006, 5:35 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: February 11th, 2003, 7:00 pm
Posts: 883
Location: Casper, WY
Personally, I think a pictograph, or any other historical location, loses value when kept secret. Sure, the few people in the know get some sense of personal satisfaction from knowing what many others do not, but that's about all that is gained. The general public gets nothing. It's sort of like the wealthy art patrons purchasing Picasso's and Rembrandts for their own private collections. To the general public, it's as if these paintings no longer existed.

I do not buy the arguement that secrecy alone ensures their existance. The Boundary Waters and Quetico are two of the more popular wilderness areas in the world, and both have well-documented and well-preserved pictographs. Woodland Caribou has pictographs not as well documented, but a simple inquiry at the park HQ will yield their locations.

If I had come across any in Wabakimi, I would surely share their locations. Alas, none were found on our trip.

Chuck


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: March 20th, 2006, 5:51 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: May 22nd, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 1431
Location: Brampton, Ontario Canada
Hoop
I never said there were many moose in the area, only moose in the area.
Your Quote:
Red ochre does not last forever exposed to years of weathering. In caves yes, but not in the open along shorelines. Rock faces also get covered in lichen which dissolves the images and covers them up.
Explain the pictograph along Lake Superior in Lake Superior P.P. They are near water level and are still there and are estimated by experts to be over 350 to 500yrs. old and that is with the lake wave beating against them.

"rock cairns, blazes and organic signals of sticks."
I agree with you but there were also other means of marking areas and letting your enemy know not to trespass. We do not know all. Much has been lost over the years. Even the experts and the native elders do not know.

Bill

_________________
Temagami Area, a paddlers Heaven. Canoe Temagami, then you will understand.
www.ottertooth.com
SAVE Temagami Old Growth Forests donate to Earthroots www.earthroots.org/
www.friendsoftemagami.org
www.friendsofchiniguchi.com
www.wildernesscleanup.com


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: March 20th, 2006, 8:17 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: July 9th, 2003, 11:48 am
Posts: 1481
Location: Back to Winnipeg
Hi Chuck,

To play Devil's advocate, the idea of pictographs as something "historical" and something that the general public has a right to derive enjoyment from could be interpreted as a little culturally insensitive.

Personally, I think First Nations and the park management need to make a policy decision on what degree to promote or protect which sites. In the absence of policy or knowledge about the First Nation's preferences, I, personally, would share what I know with paddlers who I know and trust, but I probably wouldn't publish it widely.

I certainly wouldn't take any offence or perceive it as a hording of wealth if a First Nations community felt a certain site was culturally significant and wanted to maintain it like a "private collection".

To twist your analogy, if a wealthy art patron does have priceless art of public value that I'd like to catch a glimpse of, I don't feel that I have the right to knock on their door and go for a tour of their hallways.

P.

_________________
Learning to paddle is like learning a language:
It's easy to learn the basics, but will you be understood in a strong wind?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: March 20th, 2006, 9:02 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: February 11th, 2003, 7:00 pm
Posts: 883
Location: Casper, WY
yarnellboat wrote:
To play Devil's advocate, the idea of pictographs as something "historical" and something that the general public has a right to derive enjoyment from could be interpreted as a little culturally insensitive.


Hi Pat,

Hope your spring is going better than here. We're still up to our knees in snow and above freezing temps are a week away, at least.

You're right that I think that pictographs are historical and should be accessible to the general public. As has been pointed out in earlier threads (as well as this one), the original meaning of pictographs has long since been lost and any interpreted meanings are, at best, educated guesses.

While I have the utmost respect for First Nations and American Indian histories and cultures, I do not think everything from these peoples an be considered sacred simply because it's old or it's existence confuses us. Heck, even if they were proven to be spiritiual in design, I'm not sure that restricing access would be the proper course of action. Pictographs were created in well-used avenues and by definition not meant to be hidden, whatever their meaning.

Quote:
To twist your analogy, if a wealthy art patron does have priceless art of public value that I'd like to catch a glimpse of, I don't feel that I have the right to knock on their door and go for a tour of their hallways.


Exactly my point. Once it's behind closed doors and off limits it, for all practical purposes, ceases to exist.

Chuck

p.s. I need a new avatar. I think it's hard to take me seriously with that stupid grin!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: March 21st, 2006, 1:36 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: July 9th, 2003, 11:48 am
Posts: 1481
Location: Back to Winnipeg
Chuck, I like the goofy grin. It scared me at first (the avatar, not in person), but now I'm used to it.

I've been lift skiing, backcountry skiing, snowshoeing and x-country skiing over the past 2 weekends, but it is starting to feel like spring and the rivers are calling - I'd better repair/outfit my boats! I'll probably paddle on Sunday, the club's "summer schedule" has started!

My point on the pictos is that it's not up to "us" whether the sites are historical or what the meaning or purpose of the art is. Families may still know whose relatives did the art, community members may still leave offerings, some of the stories may still be alive. Even though new art is not being added, the sites have current "use" and importance, even if it is historical importance, and it may be valid not to advertise their locations.

Generally speaking, more visitors = more risk for physical or spiritual/cultural vandalism.

Not saying the sites should all remain secret, but maybe some should be. And I don't think that decision should be left to curious paddlers or the general public.

I like your point about them being purposefully painted along traffic corridors.

P.

_________________
Learning to paddle is like learning a language:
It's easy to learn the basics, but will you be understood in a strong wind?


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 15 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 5 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot], MSN [Bot] and 5 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group