Monday, May 31, 2010

Track Rabbits and Trap Martens Online!

So, how are you at reading animal tracks and hard-nose bargaining?

The neat thing about the Trapping Game is that it involves a lot more than simply catching animals.

First of all, you need to understand animal behaviour, learn how to read animal tracks, and figure out which traps are suitable for which type of animal.

Here I’m triumphantly collecting a rabbit!

Then once you’ve got your furs, you need to negotiate the price of your pelts with the factor at the Hudson’s Bay Company trading post.

That means that not only do you need to have some pretty sharp negotiating skills, but you also need to know what’s a fair price for the different type of furs.

Here I am in deep negotiations:

Oh yes, you also have to do all this while avoiding being mauled by hungry wolverines, falling into freezing water, or starving in the frozen wilderness!

As you can see, I failed to avoid the freezing water!

We wanted the Trapping Game to be entertaining, but we also wanted it to express the cultural significance of ndoho (the Cree word for hunting, fishing, and trapping in the bush); we wanted to explore the First People’s reciprocal relationship with the land and animals.

If you’re a teacher, the Trapping Game provides a great opportunity to talk about the historical relationship between the First Peoples and the Hudson's Bay Company.You can find detailed lesson plans in our Teachers’ Guides.

Good luck trapping! We'd love to hear about your adventures!

(And hopefully you’ll have better success at avoiding the wolverine than I did!)

Collette Jackson, Content and Marketing Specialist at BlackCherry Digital Media, is writing on behalf of On the Path of the Elders, a free online educational resource that explores Cree and Ojibway history and culture, and the signing of Treaty No. 9. 

Check out On the Path of the Elders at

For more information, email us at

Created in partnership with BlackCherry Digital Media, Archives Desch√Ętelets, the Doug Ellis Collection at Carleton University, Our Incredible World (Pinegrove Productions), the Mushkegowuk Council, Neh Naak Ko, the Archives of St. Paul University, Carleton University, and Wendy Campbell, Educational Consultant (Learning Methods Group).

This project was made possible with the support of the Department of Canadian Heritage through the Canadian Culture Online Strategy. Created with additional financial assistance from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and the Inukshuk Fund.


  1. There are three things the player can do to ensure they are getting the best price for their pelts. First, learn to properly prepare pelts. You can learn this skill by giving food to the old woman whose husband is too sick to hunt. In return for helping her, she will offer to help you (what she calls reciprocity) by giving you a knife and teaching you how to expertly prepare your pelts which can double their value. Next, learn the authoritative standard for the price of pelts. The Factor pays a fair price for pelts but if you don’t know what that price is, he’ll try to make more profit from you by offering less money for your pelts. Thirdly, you need to be assertive when negotiating the price for your pelts. That means having self respect, being open and honest and admitting your faults and most importantly, not underestimating your self worth. When you start the game, a silver fox pelt is only worth three dollars. If you use the strategies outlined above, you can increase the price to almost twelve dollars. You can see how much faster you can reach your goal of providing food for your Band if you follow these strategies. If this were real life, you’d want to protect the animals on your trap line and take only what you need to survive.

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