Namebinikaa! Nay Ah Shing Students Learn Spearing Tradition


Li Boyd Mille Lacs Band Member and Brett Larson Inaajimowin Staff Writer

Nay Ah Shing students tried out spearing for the first time on May 7 under the watchful eye of fisheries biologist Carl Klimah, fisheries technician George Big Bear, and Nay Ah Shing staff members Larry Hansen, Ace Collie, Megan Nelson, and Noah Johnson.

Pods of namebinag (suckers) teemed beneath the bridge, and five courageous girls (Ronni, Mia, Chase, Shakoka, and Dayaunna) were the first to don the waders and step into the cold waters of the creek mouth at Wigwam Bay. Ronni was first to succeed (see cover).

By the end of the morning, each girl had speared at least one fish.

Fifth graders Adrian, Alvin, and Blade spent the warm afternoon with spears in hand under partly cloudy skies.
Carl noted that this is the latest he has ever seen the suckers run; they're the first fish out, followed by pike and then walleye, and they usually move at the first sign of ice melt. After an icy opening weekend, all local anglers know it hasn't been a typical spring for the region.

That didn't stop Adrian, Alvin, or Blade though. Despite never having speared before, each of them speared at least one fish. Adrian said he liked the experience, especially on a spring afternoon on a school day. They all plan to go spearing again someday.

Teacher Larry Hansen gave the boys pointers and encouragement throughout the afternoon. After the students boarded the buses at the end of the day, the fish were cleaned, smoked, and brought to Elders at the District I ALU.


Above: Chase Sam, Megan Nelson, Dayaunna Nadeau, Mia Sam, Shakoka Smith, Ronni Jourdain, and Ace Collie enjoyed a warm day at Wigwam Bay.

Below: Adrian, Alvin, and Blade learned spearing techniques from NAS and DNR staff. Chase, Ronni, and Dayaunna each speared at least one fish.