WEB GRAFFITI ZINE
Zine 20: First Nations
Collated by William Hillman
Assistant Professor ~ Faculty of Education ~ Brandon University
Native American Words of Wisdom
Westfall/ Castel Memoir 1:
"Brother, you say there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit.
If there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it?
Why not all agreed, as you can all read the Book?"
"If the white man wants to live in peace with the Indian, he can live in peace.....
Treat all men alike. Give them all the same law. Give them all an even chance to live and grow.
All men were made by the same Great Spirit Chief. They are all brothers.
The Earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it.......
Let me be a free man, free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade....
where I choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to think and talk and act
for myself, and I will obey every law, or submit to the penalty."
Sitting Bull über alles
Bush-hating Germans might not sing "Hail to the Chief,"
but they're infatuated with the first Americans.
By James Hagengruber
Salon dot Com
German engineer Alex Biber poses as his alter ego "Beaver."
Alex and his wife, Kathleen, outside their home in
Oberriffingen, Germany, show off some Indian artifacts
they created using traditional Native American techniques.
OBERRIFFINGEN, Germany -- Alex Biber's day job is designing semiconductor technology. Away from work, he becomes Beaver, a Cheyenne warrior.
Biber the engineer drives on the autobahn and wears blue jeans. Beaver the brave wears hand-tanned buckskin and rides a horse, commanding the steed in an ancient language once used by Plains Indians. Biber, his wife and two daughters live in a 91-year-old farmhouse, but the family vacations in tepee villages in humid Central European forests.
While Germans may scoff at George Bush, they have an abiding fascination with the first Americans. In fact, if beadwork, horsemanship, tepee building and traditional dancing were Olympic sports, the German team would be medal contenders. Biber would likely be one of the team captains. The soft-spoken, blue-eyed man is one of Germany's weekend warriors, a tribe that numbers some 40,000 strong, according to hobbyist organizations.
By dressing up and living like an Indian, Biber and his compatriots are able to travel to a simpler time, far away from Germany, where 80 million people are crammed into a space the size of Montana. During summertime Indian camps, men wearing breechcloths have contests of strength, women prepare meals from dried meat, and bonfires crackle long into the damp night.
"I feel at home there," Biber said. "It is exactly the way it once was."
German Indian enthusiasts, known as "hobbyists," are so dedicated to authenticity that some real American Indians have approached them seeking information about their own culture. In fact, some dying Indian languages may end up being preserved by German hobbyists. But not everything is peaceful under the ersatz tepees. Some hobbyists have gone beyond the mere trappings of Indian life and have copied sacred ceremonies, angering Indians. And in a ludicrous twist, some literal-minded hobbyists have criticized actual Indians for not living up to their idealized image as ecologically aware noble savages.
At a recent powwow in Germany, for example, make-believe Indians shouted complaints about the visiting American Indian dancers' use of microphones and brightly colored feathers. The hobbyists were also annoyed that the dancers wore underwear beneath their breechcloths. The dumbfounded guest dancers protested the protests. The hobbyists lost the battle. They were kicked out and told not to return without open minds and underwear, said Carmen Kwasny, a full-blooded German and the press secretary for the Native American Association of Germany, which hosts dance gatherings near a large U.S. military base in Kaiserslautern.
"As long as [the hobbyists] stay in their little camps, we don't worry about them, but the problem is, they go into schools and get interviewed on television and they show up at our powwows and create trouble," Kwasny said.
The Native American Association's Web site now includes a list of powwow protocol. "Native Americans do not appreciate you or your children showing up in fake Indian outfits," state the guidelines. "Toy guns, plastic spears, and tomahawks should also be left at home."
"During a powwow, you will have opportunities to participate in the dancing. Please watch out for the other dancers. Do not touch their regalia."
If hobbyists insist on appearing in breechcloths, they are asked to wear shorts or cycling pants underneath.
The sizable German new-age movement has adopted aspects from traditional Lakota spirituality, Kwasny said. There are weekend vision quests with people searching for their power animals. When the animal is revealed, its image is drawn on a drum or a rattle for use in meditation. "Of course, the power animals are always wolves, buffalos, eagles, which are not very common here. They never use an ant or something like that," Kwasny said.
The Native American Association of Germany was started nearly 10 years ago to provide fellowship for American Indian soldiers stationed in Germany and to facilitate cultural exchanges. The group is spending more and more time, however, trying to help hobbyists separate fact from fiction, Kwasny said.
"People are overdoing it," she said. "They are acting like Native American people have solutions for all our problems. They need to learn to accept Indians as human beings."
Many Germans dream of traveling to the American frontier to see "real Indians," but their romantic notions are often far from the reality of life on a modern reservation, Kwasny said, recalling her first encounter with an American Indian. The free-flowing humor and jokes were especially uncomfortable for her, she said. "They were teasing me and they had a big party with plastic forks and knives. I was so shocked. I thought they were all so environmentally conscious."
American Indians can be equally surprised when they encounter blue-eyed Germans wearing war bonnets.
Ben Cloud, a Crow sun-dance leader and a member of the Montana-based tribal legislature, was skeptical the first time he was invited to visit hobbyists in Germany. He was particularly concerned when he spotted a sweat lodge in one member's yard. Sweat lodges are central places of worship for many in the Crow Nation and their construction and maintenance are guided by sacred tradition. Though Cloud was dismayed at first, he learned the lodge had been properly built by another American Indian and was being used in a manner Cloud considered acceptable.
"It was unbelievable," he said. "I was so impressed by them, the way they took care of the lodge. It was good to see that. They really respect the Native way."
German fascination with the first Americans stretches back decades, and generations of children have grown up playing cowboys and Indians.
Steven Remy, an author and assistant professor of German history at the City University of New York in Brooklyn, attributes the fascination with Indians in part to German obsession with all things American. "Historically, many Germans have been captivated by American culture, from the lore of the West to jazz to modern methods of production," said Remy. "But there's also a more ominous explanation. I think it represents the long-standing German fascination with and fear of frontiers. There may be a parallel between the conquest of the West and its sometimes violent clash of cultures and Germany's drive for expansion and a 'new order' in the first half of the 20th century."
German obsession with the American frontier exploded in 1896 when huge crowds were drawn to Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, which toured Europe. At about the same time, an eccentric German schoolteacher wrote a series of pulp novels about the exploits of Winnetou and Old Shatterhand. The Apache warrior and his German frontiersman blood-brother roamed the Great Plains fighting bears, rattlesnakes and the injustices of land-hungry pioneers. The author, Karl May, penned some of his work while in prison for fraud and never visited the West. Although the details are often comical (Apaches living in pueblos?), more than 100 million copies of his books have been sold, according to the Karl May Museum. His fans included Adolf Hitler, Herman Hesse and Albert Einstein. The characters are still so popular that some Germans name their children Winnetou.
Indian hobbyist groups began forming in Germany during the 1920s. They copied Indian dancers in German circuses and studied museums well stocked with artifacts from Montana and Dakota tribes. Many of the items date back to the 1830s, when Prince Maximilian of Wied explored the High Plains.
Biber represents a particular faction of Germans who love Indians. On a recent afternoon at his home in the south German countryside, he agreed to talk about his passion. But first, he wanted to make some things clear. Not all hobbyists are alike. Some dress up in garish war bonnets once a year to dance around tom-toms and whoop like Hollywood clichés. Others seek enlightenment through chanting, sweating and chasing visions. The serious hobbyists, himself included, take great pains to be sensitive to the cultures they copy, which is a sign of respect, he said. Serious hobbyists also know better than to conduct traditional spiritual ceremonies, Biber added.
Not all Indians interest the Germans. Most hobbyists focus on the American Indian culture of pre-1880, when the last tribes were forced onto reservations. Biber rejects the criticism that hobbyists need to be more concerned with contemporary Indian issues, such as widespread poverty or the fight to protect wild bison in Yellowstone National Park.
"What we do has nothing to do with the Indians today," he said. "What we do has to do with a culture that is already gone, like the Romans. It's not necessary for me to go to Rome and get permission to study the Romans."
Gothic monasteries and crumbling castles dot the hills surrounding Biber's home. But a slice of Indian country exists inside Biber's front gate. Among the lettuce, radishes and gladioluses in his garden grow sweetgrass and sage. Two horses bearing Lakota names -- Itampi and Sapaska -- munch grass in a stable behind Biber's home. In his barn sit stacks of hand-peeled tepee poles and a wooden travois.
Biber's daughters -- Buffalo Robe, 4, and 6-year-old Winona -- play nearby. The girls are known to their friends as Anna and Maria. These "civilian" names were given in case they outgrow the hobby, Biber said. "Many children do when they hit the awkward teenage years."
In his kitchen, Biber proudly placed a pair of moccasins and a beaded pouch atop the wooden dining table. The leather was tanned by hand with traditional brain-tanning techniques, he explained. Deer tendons were transformed into sinew to join the leather. The beads adorning the pouch are antique glass. The moccasins are covered by an ancient porcupine-quill pattern. The quills themselves were dyed by Biber's wife, Kathleen, who uses plants to make her own dyes. The pouch holds a flint and steel -- during Biber's annual Buffalo Days Camp, matches are strictly verboten.
"We also do not eat chips and drink Coca-Cola. We drink water and eat dried meat and foods," he said.
Biber, who perfected his obsessive search for authenticity over 30 years, now believes his work could fool a modern-day ethnographer, not to mention Sitting Bull or Crazy Horse.
Apart from a short phase with the Crow Nation, most of Biber's focus has been on the Lakota. This is true for a majority of German hobbyists, he said. The Lakota are the Indians most often portrayed in the German western films from the 1950s and '60s. Germans also associate the Lakota with vast grasslands, dangerous buffalo hunts, sun dances, smoke-filled tepees, eagle-feather war bonnets and midnight horse raids. And like the German language, Lakota is filled with hissing and throat-clearing sounds. "It's not so hard for us to speak it," he said.
In recent years, Biber's interest has shifted toward the Northern Cheyenne. They are natural allies to the Lakota, he explained, and their beadwork patterns and traditional handicrafts are dictated by strict family traditions. The patterns today are similar to those of 200 years ago. The Crow, Lakota and Northern Cheyenne now live on reservations in present-day Montana and South Dakota.
"The Cheyenne stuff is even nicer than the Lakota stuff," Biber said. "Excellent workmanship is something very close to Germany."
Stories like this amuse and flatter Dick Littlebear, a member of the Northern Cheyenne Nation and the president of Chief Dull Knife College in Lame Deer, Mont. So long as the hobbyists avoid copying the sacred ceremonies of his tribe, Littlebear said he doesn't worry about Germans fixating on his culture.
The hobbyists might not know it, he said, but their attention to detail could help the tribe someday. As Indian elders die off and ancient languages fade, so, too, dies unrecorded knowledge. Littlebear, who holds a doctoral degree in linguistics, said he once met a group of German hobbyists who were able to teach him lost Northern Cheyenne stitching methods from the 1850s. "They know more than we do about some of these things," he said.
If anything, Littlebear would like the Germans to spend even more time on their interest -- by attending one of the Northern Cheyenne's annual language-instruction camps, for example. Young people no longer seem to care about learning the original tongue, Littlebear said.
"Maybe 50 years from now, if things change, a Cheyenne could go over to Germany and relearn our own language," Littlebear said.
Why has the German fascination with Native Americans endured?
"It's impossible for me to answer that," Biber said. "For me, I guess, it's mostly because of their art. For many others, they have the dream of riding a horse on the prairie with the wind in their hair.
"Indians are really cool, I guess."
Kathleen Biber shares her husband's enthusiasm for the old culture, but concedes that the Indian way can be hard and sleeping on the ground during the family's annual outings is no picnic.
"I really love my bed when I come home," she said. "But I miss my refrigerator the most. You have no idea how hard life is without a refrigerator."
Westfall/Castel English-Cree Dictionary and Memoirs of the Elders
Wild Food, Childcare, Canoes and Guns
By Rosie Colomb ~ 1912-
Pukatawagan, January 4, 1998
Interviewer: Lorna Bighetty
Rosie: The first thing I want to talk about is how we did not have many store-bought things when I was growing up. Most of the food came from the wild. Every fall, my father was given some money to buy me clothing. All our clothes had to last a year. Then the next fall, we had new clothes again. We always used to eat wild food. My father hunted moose and beaver, and he brought in fish, rabbits and ducks. Thatís how he provided for us. We never went hungry. My father was a good hunter. I learned from him. We had no store-bought diapers in those days. We just dug up moss and used it as diaper lining. Whenever we ran out, we just went out and dug up more moss from under the snow. We cut out strips of this diaper moss and dried them. Thatís how we changed diapers. Never did we use Pampers. Once a year we took ten feet of diaper moss, used it with diaper cloth, and it lasted us a year. We laundered it and kept using the moss. When we ran out of moss, we just dug up some more. And birch bark was used, too. There was also a special snow shovel, used for the digging. This is how we looked after our children, and we just fed them food from the wild. All the women breast-fed. There was no store-bought milk. Maybe this was a divine gift, and all the women were so blessed. There was no substitute for real motherís milk. Every woman breast-fed her child for a year, and then he took solid food. All women had the gift, and none used store-bought milk. There wasnít any, and we knew how to care for our children. We were blessed with the wisdom to look after our children properly. Thatís my story, the one I wanted to tell.
Lorna: What kind of a canoe did they use?
Rosie: Well, you know, I saw canoes in the past, the traditional ones that were made with canvas. There were those, I recall, but very long ago, it is said, people had birch-bark canoes. My father saw those, and so did my mother. Myself, I never saw those birch-bark canoes in use, though. I saw only the ones made with canvas. My father and mother saw and used birch-bark canoes, but that was before my time. They made a living using them.
Lorna: When you butchered a moose, how did you preserve the meat in the summer?
Rosie: We cut it into strips, of course, dried it, pounded it, and prepared the fat. It was frozen and did not spoil. We made birch-bark, whatís that called? I even forget the word myself, although I used it. Ah, birch-bark baskets, of course, that were like bowls and served as dried-meat containers. Yes, we put the pounded dried meats (pemmican) into them. The pemmican never spoiled before winter, when we constructed a food cache, where we stashed our supply of food. We took from it only what we would eat, for example, the moose meat. The meats always remained frozen there, even our pemmicans, these dried meats, you know. They never spoiled before we used them up.
Lorna: Did you do the same thing with the fish?
Rosie: Yes, we used to do it with fish, too. We used to freeze the fish, and we used to dry fish, too. People used to hang up the fish, heads down and ten in a row. They were skewered with a long willow wand like this. So, thatís how they were hung.
Lorna: Yeah, is that the way you cooked them?
Rosie: Not, not these. Letís see! Dogs.
Rosie: They had these for the dogs for whenever it started to get cold. They stored these for the dogs, and there used to be lots of them. They prepared them for the dogs, because thatís what they used for travelling. They treated their dogs really well, so they would be goodnatured.
Lorna: How did you catch a rabbit before the introduction of the snare wire?
Rosie: With a small rope, of course. We used a small rope, and a small stripped tree like this. Or I placed a stick here, standing up like this, with the branches cut off. When I was there, thatís the way we set up a snare. Then, this snared rabbit would fly up and kill himself. He never got clear of the snare.
Lorna: How did your snare wire, how was it ....? [A word, sounding like ďrusted,Ē is misspoken.]
Rosie: When it, what? Thereís no such thing as Ďakwakotitîkí.
Lorna: So that it would not, you know, not collapse.
Rosie: No. We constructed it well so that it would not fall down.
Lorna: Ah, I see. What did you use?
Rosie: You know, these small jack pines. We used them for tying up our snares. We tied a rope there, hung it there, and we tightened this on one side, right? And like this, we coiled it around to form a little door. This is where we put our snares. Whenever a rabbit would run by there, it would be caught. Then it went up, and thatís where it would die. It would not try to break loose.
Rosie: And thatís how we used to snare. But now, today, there are these snare wires. Back then, though, thatís how we always used to snare. These snare wires existed, too, you know, for rabbits only. However, a small rope is what we used. And if we didnít have any rope, we would use natural ropes, made from the wild. We used to coil these up to make a snare.
Lorna: Letís see, guns. What was used before there were guns? What did the people use?
Rosie: I donít know, but there were already guns as far back as I can remember. Maybe my father saw what was used before... I wonder if theyó but he mentioned that guns had already been in use before his time. Once there was this king who sailed across the ocean. He came across to join the people, and thatís when this Hudsonís Bay Company sailed across, too. Even today, it gives us a hard time. It is what brought us all the goods that the people use today, but they did not look like all these things today, according to my father. In olden times, people had to stuff gunpowder into the guns, and birdshot and a firing cap. Thatís when it fired, so he said. But I did not see those guns. When I was young, we already had these well-made guns, and they were in use.
Lorna: Talk about that time. Letís see, about somebody who sailed here.
Rosie: That somebody. Letís see.
Lorna: The one who came and gave us the guns?
Rosie: Yeah... yes. This one person who lived here all of a sudden had a dream. He had a dream, and then he told his wife, ďHey, I had a dream!Ē Some people live like that. ďI dreamed that I saw something, something on top of the water. It will go across the water,Ē he said.
A long time passed, many years, and all of a sudden they saw something come into view. Maybe a month passed by, but by and by it drew near. ďDonít, donít be afraid. Donít be scared! They donít know us. We live here, and they came looking for us,Ē he said to his children and his wife. Then this person landed on the shore. ďOkay, stay where you are, and I will go down alone to meet him.Ē He went down the bank, and sure enough, he talked English, although he never attended school. He really understood this person when he spoke English. And he, too, he had a dream over there, a dream about this.
Then he understood him, too, when he spoke Cree. He understood everything that he said to him. They were gifted that way. They found each other, when he sailed across, you know, with the goods they brought.
Thatís when it started, and then our grandfatheróI donít know where he came from, maybe from the trickster Wisahkechahk in this area, because he was the only one being talked about as being hereó Wisahkechahk. Maybe thatís who we are descended from, and thatís why we do not act sensible. He came from the Wisakechahk who... [laughter]
Your forefather, thatís how...
Lorna: Okay, what I was going to ask you, too, is to tell about [the time] when they did not write their names on paper,
Lorna: For the land, do you remember?
Rosie: Yeah.... Yes, yes.
Lorna: Tell that one, too?
Rosie: Yeah. Letís see, they did not have to... Letís see, like this hunting licence everyone has to have, right? Long ago, nobody had to have one. A treaty Indian can kill anything here, but a white man was told to have this document. But a treaty Indian was told that he would not need a licence to kill game. Or even the land that was given us long ago. But they paid for it by land allotments. But it was never signed for by us. These papers that these people drafted, you know, they just invented this law here that all of us have to have a licence to hunt. The treaty Indians were told that they donít need it. This guy, when he talked to the people that he came across, said, ďNot your animals, only your land. If I sell it to you, how much do you calculate its worth? Five dollars, and you have a very good deal...Ē So thatís what he got paid per year. Five dollars! ďAnd you are the boss of all the animals, and you can hunt whenever you feel like it. You will not be accountable,Ē he was told. ďThose are your animals in this land.Ē But thatís simply not at all what happened. Instead, everybody pays for everything, even the sewer. A treaty Indian was not to concern himself with it; rather, he was told he was not to pay anything. He sold this land for petty cash. A lot of money accumulates. It makes a lot of money, this land. There are so many mines. Many were found, and maybe that is why he was not to pay anything, or so he was told.
However, now nobody was paying anything. But before, nobody ever paid for anything. It was just suddenly that people started paying. Even these who were given land, these traplines, you know. Everybody paid for them. Thatís the time people started to pay. Thatís when it started, although your grandfathers wrote protest letters. But their letters were never passed on. This is probably how it happened that everybody was to pay for a licence in order to have it. I remember everything I heard from them. All of the stories I got from them. What I knew I heard from them. They used to tell about them. Okay, thatís enough.
[End of recording]
Westfall/Castelís English-Cree Dictionary and Memoirs of the Elders
Logs, Leather, Straw Mats and Duvets
By Rosie Colomb ~ 1912-
Pukatawagan, January 8, 1998
Interviewer: Robert J. Castel
Robert: You were going to tell a story about something?
Rosie: Yes, the story about how we used to make things out of hide. First, we prepared the hide on a stretcher, to make it into leather that we could use. I made all sorts of things for my children out of the leather, for example, mittens and footwear. For my husband and myself I made all our footwear. We never got any from the store, except for rubbers (rubber overshoes). They were available there. We pulled them over our footwear whenever it rained, but only then. When it was sunny, we just wore the moccasins. Every fall we prepared hides and from them made things for our children.
Robert: You say everything you made was out of hide?
Robert: So, did you make other things out of hide, too?
Rosie: Yes. A jacket and pants, these things we made in the winter. The working men wore them, and we made footwear, too, this high (mukluks), and they were made out of leather, too, but no cloth was used. In the fall, we set out to go to where we had our winter camp. The men made winter cabins and beds there.
Robert: What kind of houses did they build?
Rosie: Oh, you know, those log cabins.
Rosie: Little houses, cabins, they were. They were made out of trees, just like these here, all next to each other. Thatís how they used to build our winter cabins. They made beds, too, using logs. They cut boards out of the logs and squared them. When they finished the beds, we took straw, dried grass, and stuffed it inside sacks, and these
became our mattresses. The cold did not get through. One bed was made for my children, and they all slept together in it, and one for my husband and me. And, oh yes, we made blankets with duck feathers. We stuffed the down inside duvets to make quilts. We had to make everything on our own. Nothing was ready-made, not even childrenís clothing. Material for making pants was available, but we had to make them, the pants.
Robert: Was there a store then?
Rosie: Yes, there was already a store. I recall seeing the store. It was there, but it did not have many things in it. We mostly made our own things, for example, with this yarn, rolled up for knitting, you know? There was almost no clothing ready to wear, and we had to make our own shirts. When I wanted to have something for myself, like this jacket, I made it. Only these sweaters were ready-made, like this one, that we purchased and took with us to winter camp. Picture this! All winter we stayed there, and I stuffed the straw. We never crushed the mattresses, and the beds were extremely warm.
Robert: At the time the story took place, Granny, how old were you? I know that you were already married because you mentioned your children, right? How old do you think you were at the time?
Rosie: At that time? I was maybe twenty years old when I got married. I was certainly not a child when I was married! [laughter] I got married when I was twenty, and thatís when I started to have children. I was maybe thirty years old when was working on all these things for my children so that they would be dressed this way. We made patterns, too. Right away a woman would come running to me with something for her to cut, like footwear, mitts or pants. Then I made patterns for her and the others, for the young women, you know, who were just starting out and did not yet know how to do things. We were starting to teach them.
Robert: You mention young women. Do you remember when you were a young woman yourself, when you were taught, too? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Rosie: It was the only way I had to learn. Our parents brought us up and showed us how. They showed us the way, and when we were on our own later we did things the way they had taught us, even how to prepare hides. My mother taught me how to make them while I was still living at home with my parents. I was skilled at everything I made before I left my parentsí home, and that is how I knew about life. And young women came to me, then, for me to cut them patterns for footwear, mitts, pants, and all sorts of other things. Thatís what my mother had taught me, too. To this day, I have this knowledge.
Many times people will ask me to teach them how to live a good life. It pays for a person to listen to his parents. He will live long if he heeds his parents when he is growing up. I know how to do right. You should know what your parents teach you, and you should follow the path they show you. That is how I learned everything. For instance, I said that for winter camp we had to make everything for ourselves. Your grandfather, too, made a bed by splitting the logs, cut out of trees. No ready-made boards were used.
Robert: Whenever you went out to winter camp, where did you usually go to live?
Rosie: Everywhere, you know. We even used to go to overwinter at ďOur GrandfatherísĒ or Old Manís Bay, as it was called. Maybe you know the place. Thatís where we used to go to stay in the late autumn. When Midnight Mass approached, we used to head back home. Sometimes when we overwintered we did not come home. Loon Lake is one place where we stayed, and also McKnight Lake, ĎTrout Lakeí, as it was called. Oh, and your grandmother Marie Louiseís land, thatís also where we spent the winter twice while my daughter Margaret was small. I had only four children at the time. And, letís see, we also stayed at Loon Lake when I had three children, my son who died, Margaret and Harry. At one time I lost one son. I had four children at the time I am talking about. You know these kinds of footwear? When you put them on, rabbit furs were used for socks, so that peopleís feet would not freeze. The cold could not get through. I usually had those. Myself, I used to sew the rabbit furs around the jackets so that they stretched out, even when we moved camp, because it was very cold long ago, not like now, when itís warm. And thatís what we used, these rabbit furs. We even made blankets with them. They used to be strung up just like a rope, and they were laced together. Whenever I made a blanket, it was a really good-sized one.
Robert: At the time, what did you use to travel around with?
Rosie: Dogs, of course. Nothing else! [laughter] Certainly no snowmobile, eh? [more laughter] Only dogs. We raised them, too, about four of them. Your grandfather used to have good dogs, so we took them, and I raised them. These were the ones that he used whenever we moved camp. We used to move over there toólet me thinkóLynn Lake, way over there to the lakes. We started back home at spring break-up. Just imagine! We stayed all winter, and in the spring until trapping season was over. Then we came home, when I already had my sons Jerome and John, and Celestine. Those were the small ones at the time. Thatís where we used to spend the winter then, and we used only dogs, two sleds.
Robert: Do you know what years we are talking about? [At this point, a few repetitive, nonessential words in the recording are skipped.]
Rosie: I donít know, because I did not speak English and did not attend school. My mother taught me only practical things. It was the school of practical experience that I went to!
Robert: You never attended a school?
Rosie: No, not once. My brothers and sisters all went, but I never did because I was the only one left to take care of my mother as soon as I was old enough. I even took care of my brothers and sisters after they were born. It was my job. I am the oldest sister, and so I tended them. Thatís why I did not have any problems when I had my own child to care for. I had been taught how to handle children, and what to go and make. My mother had taught me everything.
Robert: When were you at Pukatawagan as a young woman? How many people do you think were here then?
Rosie: Oh, there were lots of them, lots of old people, people who are old now. But there are not many of us left. Your grandfather was John Sinclair, right? Your grandfather, your uncle, and Hyacinth ďJewish.Ē Those people have been here a long time, and your grandmother Suzette, who is the same age and whom I used to work with, caring for our parents.
Robert: Suzette Francois?
Rosie: Yes, that one; sheís the one I used to [work with]. You know, when I got up in the morning, I never used to drink tea. Later on when I was living with your grandfather, thatís when I drank tea more, more or less for the sugar.
Robert: Does this mean that you worked very hard?
Rosie: Thatís right! I did not use many things because not much was available. I ate first, helping myself to a cup of water, and then I got dressed and went outside, where I cut wood across the ice over there. [laughter] We used one sled and dog, and he used one sled and dog, too.
Robert: Those were the good old days!
Rosie: Just imagine! We used to dress just the way I am dressed now.
Robert: Just like women?
Rosie: And nothing but! It was only recently that women started wearing these clothes on the outside. [laughter] I always wore them inside. My mother told me to make socks for myself so I would not get cold in here, and thatís all, and moosehide footwear. Just imagine, we walked around in deep snow, wearing only those. We made a fire eventually. When I got cold, thatís when I went to warm myself up.
Robert: What did this area look like then, compared to today?
Rosie: It was different. There was very dense bush, and there was a little trail that looked not at all like right now. Now it has been cleared, and even across the water there was dense bush. Nothing had been cut. There was no cleared land. The trees were huge, and today, over at the Point, maybe two trees were still standing when I moved over here by the shoreline. And maybe now there is not even one left.
Robert: Right here. [Rosie is reaching for her tea.]
Rosie: Yes, this is my tea.
[Rosie takes a sip of tea. End of recording.]
If you honour old people, the young people will
respect you when you grow old.
If you disrespect the old people, the young will mock you when you grow old.
If you steal your neighbour's wife, the neighbours
will steal your wife.
If you respect your neighbour's wife, the neighbours will respect your wife.
If you kill your brother, someone will kill you.
If you respect your brother, your brother will respect you.
If you accidentally kill your neighbour, someone will accidentally kill you.
If you kill a baby moose or a baby animal for
no reason at all,
Kisimanito will take one of your children away from you.
If you take all of the berries from the animals,
the animals will leave you none on your next berry gathering.
If you laugh at other's mistakes and misfortunes,
others will laugh at you for the same cause.
If you refuse to defend the great river,
you wil be chased out from the river
or be killed by mourners who lost their braves in the war.
If you pretend to be sick in order to get free
another will play the same trick on you.
If you hog your food, people will not feed you if you become hungry.
If you allow your baby to cry,
Kisimanito will take him to the Happy Hunting Grounds.
If you cheat, another will cheat you.
If you refuse to kill your female twins at times
of community harships,
the female twins will jinx your life.
If you refuse to honour andcrespect Kisimanito,
Kisimanito will not respect and honour you.
If you play with the cold by not dressing up war, the cold will still you.
If you sleep long in the mornings on account of laziness, death will come to you soon because you prefer sleep instead of life.
If you don't feel sorry for orphans, you will lose your parents.
Pukatawagan: Reflections of a Wimistikosiw Visitor
Recommended American Indian Websites
Index of Native American Resources on the Internet
UBC First Nations House of Learning
Aboriginal Resources and Services at the National Library of Canada
Kootenay Digital Photo Albums
David Westall's Northern Manitoba Mosaic
From the Past: Archive
Elders ~ Work & Play
WEB TRIVIA ZINE ARCHIVE
Hillman Eclectic Studio
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