History of Katarokwi

Zoogipon Ikwe is a traditional Anishinaabe woman and Oshkabaywis (helper). She provided this brief history of Katarokwi in an interview with The Journal.

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Image by: Daniel Green
Katarokwi was Ojibwe territory before anyone else settled on this land.

This territory was originally Ojibwe territory way back before anybody came and settled here. The Mohawks were in northern New York state, and then this was Ojibwe territory. It was a territory where we would come and hunt and leave again. It wasn’t really like a territory that we occupied all the time, so then when the Beaver Wars happened—do you know about the Beaver Wars? Well, the thing about the Beavers wars is that you could get a gun for however many pelts was the length of the stock of the barrel. So, England started making these guns with really long barrels so that the Native people had to give them more and more beaver fur pelts and beaver fur was a craze in England at the time. There was a lot of pressure on harvesting beaver in the area of Quebec and sort of north-eastern Ontario. So, we took off to go because of the beaver wars to avoid the conflict and probably some of them left to go hunting beaver. With the empire loyalists coming and 1812 and all that stuff going on, Mohawks moved north and started coming more this way and then during the 1812 when they built Fort Henry and they built the Murney towers and all that. There was a Mohawk settlement right around where the parking lot is across from KGH. They found artifacts there so the Mohawks camped out at the fort around Murney Tower. And they were, of course, trading and moving back. Oh, the word Katarokwi means ‘the place we go to get limestone.’ It’s a Mohawk word. In Algonquin, we call it Awkadanagwig, and what that means is ‘here and beyond.’ So this is a place where people always came. They traded, they trapped what they could, and this is also part of the Treaty with the Mississauga’s and the Mohawks and it’s called the Dish with One Spoon, Wampum Belt. So what that is, is the Dish is the territory and the Spoon is what we use to eat with, and the idea is that we will share this territory for our mutual benefits and we’ll be peaceful and share it. And we’re using a Spoon because a knife is sharp, so it’s this idea of peacefully co-existing and using resources but not overusing resources.

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Indigenous history

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