‘Dirt’ McComber relies on his wits and his roots

Eric McComber lives in a community right on the south shore of Montreal – Kahnawà:ke.

But it doesn’t stop him and his youngest son from fishing on the Saint-Lawrence River and hunting to provide for their family.

APTN News spent a day with the Kanien’kehà:kas that live off the land.

The man well known by his nickname – Dirt – is very busy. His days start early so he can harvest as much as possible.

He either eats what he catches or sells it to make money to buy more bait.

He can easily catch up to 40 sturgeon in a day.

Dirt believes more people could be doing what he does but they choose not to.

‘’They got nets and they are in the shed,” says McComber, smiling. “You don’t catch in a shed, right?”

He is proud that for his Mohawk family, these traditional activities are being passed from generation to generation.

Dirt started fishing when he was about 10 years old. He also spent  time with his father on the land to learn traditional ways.

Sharing that knowledge with his children is an important part of their cultural heritage, he says.

His son – aptly named River Flow Teiotién:taron McComber – seems to appreciate what he has learned.

“What we do is all eco-friendly,” says the 19-year-old. “It’s all in the balance of the way the world works, I guess.

“Anything we take, like I say, we have the utmost respect for.”

For the two Mohawk men, being out on the land is the true meaning of happiness, even if it means hard work.

“I live right across from Montreal,” says Dirt, “it’s almost like a sanctuary here, right?”