sling - uepanishinan

In the days before settlement, the division between work and play was not great among the Innu since children started to chop firewood, gather boughs for the tent floor, pull toboggans, hunt, fish, cook and prepare hides as soon as they were physically able to.

Playing with bow and arrows (atshapi / akashku), sling shots (kashipissipanit/kautshishu), and slings (uepanishinan) was all part of developing hunting skills. Children played with these “weapons,” often using squirrels and small birds for target practice, before they moved on to full-size bow and arrows, spears, rifles and shotguns. In this sense, children's play was not idle time; it educated children into the adult roles they would have once they reached puberty.

Today, many Innu boys continue to play with sling shots, and at times, even adults carry one in a pocket in case they spy a partridge on the path. These modern gadgets require strong rubber in order to work effectively. However, in the days before rubber became available to the Innu, the sling (uepanishinan) was in widespread use. Made of caribou skin, this weapon is much more difficult to use, taking great skill to hit a small target at any distance.

 Listen to the late Tshishennish Pasteen reminisce about playing with the sling in his youth

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