Tree Squirrels General
Tree squirrels were a minor part of the diet for many cultures, and was usually consumed when other food sources were scarce. Some cultures considered it child’s food. The Mistissini Cree sought tree squirrels more for sport: the flesh was usually only eaten by children . Upper Liard Kaska children are reported to have hunted and cooked tree squirrels over a fire  and tree squirrel was mainly captured and eaten by Kalispel boys .
Snares and bows and arrows were most commonly used to hunt tree squirrels. Cultures that used snares included the Lillooet, Thompson (N'laka'pamux), Interior Salish, Tutchone, Inuit and Mistissini Cree [6, 15, 21, 22, 34, 37, 38]. The Tutchone checked the snares once or twice a day . Mistissini Cree boys used stationary snares connected to a pole set at an angle in the ground, crossing the entry to a burrow; adults used guns and slingshots. Tree squirrels were also sometimes caught in traps intended for mink [21, 22, 39]. Tutchone also shot tree squirrel with arrows  and Shuswap used blunt tipped arrows .
The Shuswap are reported to have skinned and roasted tree squirrels whole . The Tutchone cooked three squirrels at a time: they skinned, gutted and boiled them (without the head and feet) in a large pot of water for at least one hour. Chopped onion and salt were added to attenuate the strong flavour. When the meat was soft, it was removed from the water and fried with lard [10, 34]. Upper Liard Kaska children cooked tree squirrels over tiny fires . The Cree first skinned, then cut the squirrel into parts with the heart, lungs and kidneys connected . The Mistissini Cree also skinned tree squirrels and usually cooked it on a spit, but sometimes pan roasted it [22, 39].
Although abundant and widely distributed in the boreal forest, red squirrel meat was not well-liked and therefore seldom reported to be eaten. The Chalkyitsik Kutchin (Gwich’in) of Alaska consumed red squirrels in earlier times, but more recently, when accidentally captured in rabbit snares, the animal was discarded . The Plateau Salish, Tutchone, Tagish, Tlingit and Ahtna ate red squirrels in times of scarcity [41-43]. Faunal remains suggest they were eaten on occasion by the Onondaga Iroquois  and within Tlingit territory . Other cultures that hunted red squirrels include the Han, Ingalik, Red Earth Cree of Saskatchewan and Omushkego Cree of Ontario [46-50].
Tutchone, Tagish and Tlingit men and women hunted red squirrels, but it was usually the women and children because it was possible to hunt close to home . Plateau Salish boys hunted for fun . Snares were usually used. The Chalkyitsik Kutchin of Alaska set fixed-toggle snares along squirrel trails. They also used steel traps positioned at the entrance of holes or along tree bases, but squirrels were often accidentally caught in rabbit snares because they usually followed hare trails . The Tutchone, Tagish and Tlingit snared red squirrels with a simple loop constructed of wire hung over the squirrel runway from a dried up drag-pole. They usually did so because the snare wire was cheaper than gun shells, and unmarked pelts were worth more. They also used commercial number one traps or rifles. A few hunters lured them by making the whining sound of a young squirrel . The Red Earth Cree of Saskatchewan often shot them with guns .
The Tutchone, Tagish and Tlingit economy did not rely on red squirrels until the 1940s, because their skins were too thin to make clothes and other items. When new methods of processing the skins were developed, the skins became marketable and fur traders began requesting them. In 1950-51, red squirrel skins sold from 25 cents to 75 cents per skin, and at times, a dollar . The Red Earth Cree of Saskatchewan also trapped them for their fur . The Tutchone, Tagish and Tlingit used red squirrel nests, after being smoked to remove fleas, as menstrual pads and baby diapers .
Beliefs and taboos
It was taboo for a Tlingit woman to knock a red squirrel nest down herself; she was obliged to get a young boy to do it for her . In earlier times, a Tutchone, Tagish or Tlingit woman suffering from excessive menstrual bleeding would take a squirrel’s nest which she had used as a pad and place it in a different squirrel’s nest and say “Help me, grandfather”. The wrung-out red squirrel gut was used to cure bed-wetting. It was secured around the child’s waist for four days and later removed and fastened under an old stump. At times, red squirrels were used to create spells for warm weather. They were not of high importance in the animal spirit world: they were born of Animal Mother, but are not mentioned in any other collected myths .
Eastern gray squirrel faunal remains were found at the Cabin and Furnace Brook sites of Onondaga Iroquois settlements, suggesting that they used them . The Micmac (Mi'kmaq) of Richibucto also ate gray squirrels and used the fur .
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