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1810 - 1828: Trapping at Trout Lake, Island Lake, and Oxford House

The following records provide information on the Nabaise Family.
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Nappish was listed on the Indian Debt List at York Factory in 1810 (Provincial Archives of Manitoba [PAM], Hudson’s Bay Company Archives [HBCA], B.239/d/153, folio [fo.] 10, York Factory Indian Debts, 1810-1811, microfilm [mf.] 1M680) This early reference is to Mark/John, the patriarch of the Nabaise family.

Nappish was missing from the York Factory Indian Debt List in 1812-1813. (PAM, HBCA, B.239/d/159, fo 29d, York Factory Indian Debts, 1812-1813, mf. 1M680) Either Mark/John had no debt that year, or he did not trade at York Factory.


Nappaish “An indifferent Indian and trades with us when he can’t help it.” (PAM, HBCA, B.220/d/3, fo. 14d/15, Trout Lake Indian Debt, 1814, mf. 1M613) This reference suggests that Nappaish was inland in the vicinity of Trout Lake.


Napuesh. (PAM, HBCA, B.220/d/4, fo. 3d, Trout Lake Indian Debt, 1815, mf. 1M613)

Na pish was listed among the Indian debtors at York Factory in the fall of 1814, but he was absent from the list compiled 1 June 1815. (PAM, HBCA, B.239/d/176, fos. 4, 21, York Factory Indian Debt, 1814-1815, mf. 1M681) Sometimes the debt lists were organised according to hunting parties, which makes it easier to determine associations and relationships, but this debt list was arranged alphabetically, so it is impossible to make such inferences.

The absence of “Na pish” may have an explanation. There was an exodus of York Factory Homeguard Cree from Hudson Bay inland beginning in about 1811-1812. Not only were hunters leaving the coast, but fewer uplanders were going down to trade there, including Nappish, who was now in the Trout Lake region. See the following evidence.

In a letter from Thomas Thomas, Chief at York Factory, to Thomas Vincent, Chief at Moose Factory, “ I fear we shall for one or two years require a supply of meat from England, the Goose Hunts here having very much declined, in consequence of the Indians having left this Part of the Country, some of them have even gone above the Winnipeg to the Swan River Country & others who traded at Oxford House a Post formerly belonging to York, have, since it was allotted to Winnepeg, seldom visited the coast, it is now an outpost of York District. (PAM, HBCA, B.239/b/85, fo. 15?, York Factory Correspondence, 1814-1815, mf. 1M258)


Nappish was listed at York Factory, but his account was inactive, like many others who had formerly traded there. (PAM, HBCA, B.239/d/176, fo. 32d, York Factory Indian Debt, 1815-1816, mf. 1M682)


Nappish was probably in the Island Lake District, either at Oxford House or Island Lake Post. He had some association with Waketch, a Native HBC employee, either a family connection or work-related.


“Nappish” was mentioned on 14 and 17 May 1820 at Island Lake in company with Waketch, a labourer working for the HBC at the time. (PAM, HBCA, B.93/a/2, fo. 27d, Island Lake Post Journal, 1819-1820, mf. 1M65)

“Napesh” was listed among the Indian debtors at Oxford House. (PAM, HBCA, B.156/d/?, fo. 6, Island Lake District [Oxford House], Indian Debt, 1 June 1820, mf. 1M567?)


20 Oct 1820: Two Indians came from Island Lake; 23 Oct 1820, Tuesday, White Govr & Wackatch went off for wood, for snow Shoes. 27 Oct 1820, Friday, The White Govr, and the other two Indians go off for wood; 30 Oct 1820, About noon one Boat, with the White Govr, Stove, Musquashish & Wackage? go off for wood…Wackag returns with the Boat having cut his foot, is unfit to work, the rest of the day White Govr making Snow Shoes.  (PAM, HBCA, B.156/a/8, fo 4/4d/5, Oxford House Journal, 1820-1821, mf. 1M115)

14 Nov 1820: Tuesday, Wacketch & Musquashish set off with a packet to Island Lake, with two Sleds & Dogs. (PAM, HBCA, B.156/a/8, fo 6, Oxford House Journal, 1820-1821, mf. 1M115)

20 Dec. 1820, Wackage arrived from Island Lake. 24 Dec 1820, Wacketch arrives from Island Lake (PAM, HBCA, B.156/a/8, fo 8d, Oxford House Journal, 1820-1821, mf. 1M115)

26 December 1820, Wusketcheakay [Whiskeyjacko?] (an Indian) arriving at the house with a few Furs from the North River; 23 Feb 1821, Friday, Two Indians Wusketcheakay [Whiskeyjacko?] & Napaish came in with a few furs & a little meat.; 26 Feb 1821, The Indians who came in on Friday go off to their tents. (PAM, HBCA, B.156/a/8, fo 8d, 13, Oxford House Journal, 1820-1821, mf. 1M115) Evidently, Napaish was in the Oxford House region, possibly at the “North River” in company with “Wusketcheakay.”

Napaish or Nappaish was listed with a debt of 11 M.B. [made beaver] at Oxford House. (PAM, HBCA, B.156/d/36?, fo. 25, Island Lake District [Oxford House] Indian Debts, 1 June 1821, mf. 1M567?) 


Among the Native Population Trading at Oxford House in 1823 was Napish with one wife, three sons, and one daughter. (PAM, HBCA, B.93/z/1, fo. ?, Island Lake, Miscellaneous, 1821-1871, mf. 1M1660)


14 April 1828, “& in the afternoon EthinuesKees’s daughter with Nabaise & the Rat’s Sons arrived from the Wepinapanes[1] with 4 Sledges for the same purpose as those who came yesterday [came for fish because they were starving]. Had not these Indians at several times during the Winter been Supplied with Fish from the Fort a number of them would have starved to death.” 15 April 1828, “delivered EthinuesKees daughter & the two Boys what fish are remaining of the old stock.” (PAM, HBCA, B.156/a/10, fo. 22-22d, Oxford House Journal, 1827-1828, mf. 1M115) Evidently Nabaise’s son was old enough to help haul home the fish.

28 April 1828, “3 others arrived from the Wepinapanes, Nabaise, EthinuesKees & the Rats first Son – They were nearly able to pay off their accounts (PAM, HBCA, B.156/a/10, fo. 24d, Oxford House Journal, 1827-1828, mf. 1M115) Nabaise was evidently trapping at the west end of Oxford Lake with Ethiniskees, a leading hunter there, whose wife was Sophia Colen, a daughter of Chief Factor Joseph Colen. The Colons of Oxford House and Norway House are descended from this man. Nabaise’s connection to this family is unknown.


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[1] “The Wepinapanes” was the region around the Wipanipanis River, which was the local name for a section of the Hayes River connecting Windy Lake with Oxford Lake along its southwest shoreline. It was significant because it was along the HBC river route between York Factory and Norway House. “EthinuesKees” and his Colon descendants have trapped in that area for at least 190 years!