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Carcross exhibition showcases trapping technology and history

There will be live demonstrations in the coming weeks

Out of necessity comes creativity. That’s what Adam Winters says. When he was seven years old, and needed food on the table, he’d head out to his little rabbit snare line on a pair of cross-country skis, carrying his rifle.

“I’ve always had a respect for animals and enjoyed using them off the land in the best way I know how,” he told the News over the phone as he drove back from setting beaver traps on his line on a cold October day.

Winters is one of eight trappers who contributed to Haa G̱aatáa Haa Ḵusteeyí - Our Trapping Our Way of Life. The show runs until Dec. 22 at Haa Shagóon Hídi. It highlights the history of trapping in the southern lakes region.

Sharon Shorty curated the show. She says it was an idea that first came up in 2019, but the pandemic got in the way. This summer, a Yukon 125 grant gave the project the boost it needed to become a reality.

The show opened on Oct. 18, but Shorty says there was an informal gathering just before the reception that was amazing to see. All the trappers involved in the project, including Winters, Keith Wolfe Smarch and more attended.

“It was like this convention with all these really bush dressed guys with their phones, showing off photos of traps,” Shorty says. “It was hilarious being a fly on the wall.”

It also mirrors the point of the show, tracing a line from historical trapping to present day.

“The goal is to celebrate a culture and a way of living on the land that’s been here for tens of thousands of years,” says Shorty. At the same time, it puts a lens on what trapping is today, through a combination of photos, videos, multimedia exhibits, furs and demonstrations.

Shorty says the displays of traps, snowshoes, footwear and clothing highlight the incredible knowledge people had to have of the land—to be able to make tools and clothing that would stand up to it in this way for so long.

“You look at it and wonder, ‘could I do that?’” Shorty says, speaking to both the functionality and the beauty of the tools and clothing.

She says this is her sixth exhibition as curator at Haa Shagóon Hídi. She feels like this exhibit is truly meeting the goal of the space in that it’s for the people of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation.

“For them to be able to come in and see their grandparents in the photos and the articles of clothing sewn by somebody’s auntie?” She says. “It was and is relevant. That makes it a real celebration.”

Community and family are a big part of why Winters loves trapping. For him, it’s about being outside with his girlfriend, his mom or his 13-year old daughter.

“She comes in and helps with the skinning and fleshing,” says Winters, who also works as a land guardian with the Carcross/Tagish First Nation. “She loves getting out on the land and enjoys seeing the animals. She’s getting efficient at making sure we’re ready for the day and properly expedited with all our lunch and proper clothes and all the other stuff that goes into it.”

He says it’s exciting to see trapping will continue, for at least one more generation, with her.

Even when he’s not successful, he enjoys the work. Last year, he says, his cousin came down from Old Crow to go out trapping. They didn’t see anything that day, but that wasn’t the point.

“We still got to share stories and set traps,” Winters says.

He says he hopes that component of the importance of trapping comes across to those who visit the exhibition.

Haa G̱aatáa Haa Ḵusteeyí - Our Trapping Our Way of Life is on display at Haa Shagóon Hídi in Carcross until Dec. 22. It will culminate in a Christmas Fur Fashion Show. The date is to be determined.

Contact Amy Kenny at