Although Barnum Creek Nature Reserve has been occupied by European settlers for the past 150 years, it had been visited and stewarded long before by Indigenous First Nations. The first inhabitants to this general area were hunter-gatherers, and likely the ancestors of the present-day Mississauga peoples. Evidence of Indigenous life here can be traced back to the last ice age some 12,000 years ago when the region looked very different….more like the present-day tundra. As the ice sheet slowly retreated, the habitat also changed, first to a boreal coniferous ecosystem, and finally to the mixed or deciduous woodlands you see today. But archaeological evidence of early Aboriginal life here is scarce. It is thought that this is because many of the areas most used by these people were along lake shores where water levels have risen over the years, submerging much of the evidence. The other reason is that these hunter-gatherer societies lived so lightly and respectfully on the land that they left very little trace of their presence.
The original name for the area of Haliburton Highlands is Ogidaaki, or Gidaaki in the Mississauga pronunciation. Gidaaki can be broken into two words - Gidaa meaning upwards and Ki meaning earth. “Upwards Earth” is a perfect description for the rolling landscape that is present day Haliburton County, and even Barnum Creek Nature Reserve on a micro scale.
Today, Haliburton County is situated on the Anishinaabe lands covered by Treaty 20 Michi Saagiig territory and the traditional territory of the Michi Saagiig and Chippewa Nations, collectively known as the Williams Treaties First Nations. This territory is protected by the “Dish with One Spoon” wampum agreement between the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee Peoples to share and safeguard the land in the spirit of peace, friendship, and respect. The Haliburton Highlands Land Trust respectfully acknowledges that the Williams Treaties First Nations are the stewards and caretakers of these lands and waters in perpetuity, and that they continue to maintain this responsibility to ensure their health and integrity for generations to come. HHLT is grateful for their wisdom and leadership and is mindful of broken covenants and the need to learn, heal and reconcile with all our relations. The Land Trust is committed to caring for this land and each other, in peace and friendship, for the sake of generations to come.