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paddle (model)

Catalogue number: III-B-149

Name (English): paddle (model)

Name (French): aviron

Name (Innu): apui

Culture: Barren Ground Innu

Institution: The Rooms, Provincial Museum Division

Place made: unknown

Maker: unknown

Collector: unknown

Date Collected: unknown

Description: Wooden carving of a single bladed paddle. Blade has both faces ridged through enter. Si es are slanted and the tip is r unded. Arm of paddle tapered, widening a little at the end, edge rounded. Blade decorated with two blue bands approximately 3 apart), one band bordered by red triangular pattern.

Innu narrative: I helped him (Joseph) when he put canvas on [the canoe] and when he nailed it down. And when he painted it, I helped him on that too. And when he made his paddles, I painted them when he finished them - Matinen (Rich) Katshinak.

The following is from Manian (Ashini) Michel and Shimun Michel:

peshkutamuan - paddle handle
ushuimishku-apui - beaver tail shaped canoe paddle
apui - paddle.

In the old days, we used to make three paddles and each of us would have a paddle - my husband, Shimun, my son, Penute, and myself. They were different sizes but they were made in the same style. The style is called ushuimishku-apui (beaver tail shaped blade of the paddle). It is similar to the store bought paddles. [MacKenzie lists ushuimishku as "beaver tail]. There are two parts of a paddle: handle - peshkutamuan

Usually the men control the steering, and they paddle in the back. This is called takuaikan or takuaitsheu (he is steering). He makes sure that the canoe doesn't tip over. Also he turns away from the rock when he sees it. Then, there would be someone who paddles in the front. He/she looks out for rocks ahead of them. This is called kanishtamitakutshet. The child is put in the middle and paddles along with the adults. He/she is learning how to paddle by watching and it is how you teach a child to paddle. Different strokes are made when the currents turn swiftly. The paddler behind or who is in the back of a canoe takes over the controlling of the steering.

nipimishkan - I paddle [MacKenzie lists pimishkau as "she/he paddles"]

When you are paddling on a river and the currents are strong, you pole a canoe. To do this, you have to stand up in your canoe. You push your pole deep into the water and push from side to side of the canoe. This is called kuakushu - poling a canoe. [MacKenzie lists kuakushuakanashku as "canoe pole, used for poling upstream in rapids"] A paddle can also be used to pole if the water is not too deep. The canoe goes fast if you come to rapids. Sometimes the rapids are very strong.

I am poling with a paddle - apui nikuakushuatshen

You push with a pole where the currents take you by standing up on your canoe. The pole has to be a very long for deep water. If it is shallow then you can use your paddle.

Other info: Alika Podlinksy Webber obtained a model birch bark canoe and two paddles from "old Pokue" (fieldnotes, 7 June 1961).

"The paddle has a single blade with a handle scarcely more than half the length of the paddle. It is used with both hands, the strokes being given on alternative sides as it glides through the water...The paddles used with these canoes are about 5 feet long, having a blade about 30 inches long and 4 ½ wide. The handle terminates in a sort of knob" - Turner (1979[1894]:142-143).

"Accompanying this canoe model are two small paddles, their blades decorated with designs in indelible pencil...The collection contains seven canoe paddles, with handles approximately half the length of the blades or slightly less. The blades are flat or have a slight ridge down the center and vary in width from 7.5 cm to 11.5 cm. The handles widen slightly and are flattened at the end...The blades of five paddles are decorated; the decoration on the illustrated specimens, in orange pigment, red crayon, and indelible pencil, is typical..The partridge design and a motif which Strong...called 'whale tails' occur on one paddle...These bands of decoration appear to be a common feature on paddles, at least as far west as the Cree around Great Whale River" - VanStone (1985:20-21).

References: Lucien M. Turner. 1979[1894]. Indians and Eskimos in the Quebec-Labrador Peninsula. Quebec: Presses COMEDITEX. Alika Podolinsky Webber. Canadian Museum of Civilization. Coll. (III-X-42M). Field Notes from N.W.R. and Davis Inlet, Labrador (Naskapi), Summer 1960. B170R f.8. James W. VanStone. 1985. Material Culture of the Davis Inlet and Barren Ground Naskapi: the William Duncan Strong Collection. Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History. Fieldiana, Anthropology New Series No.7.