Category Archives: Stories

Treaty 6 Territory, Our Territory

Growing in La Ronge, Pesiw Lake and Hall Lake, I never heard of the term, Treaty 6 Territory. I would hear of Treaty Days and I enjoyed the events that would happen on that day. The whole community would get together and have events such as sack races, plank races and various other fun events. I do not remember hearing about the numbered treaties until I was in grade 10, at Sally Ross School, where I now teach grades 5 and 6.

The Numbered Treaties

I have taught my students about treaty 6, where and when it was signed, and about the year our band, the Lac La Ronge Indian Band (LLRIB), signed an adhesion in 1889. I have showed them the poster of the timeline of chiefs, which is available on the LLRIB website – History of the LLRIB Chiefs. I showed them the videos on the page to make them more aware of our first chief, Chief James Roberts and where he is buried. A few students were actually at the headstone ceremony this past summer. The ceremony is also on video, on the linked page.

Opens new page to LLRIB website

The students were engaged and very interested in the information. Questions came up such as, what I remember about the previous chiefs and which ones I met. I told them I had met Harry Cook when he was chief and that former chief, Miles Venne came to my high school graduation in 1995 at Senator Myles Venne School.  For some reason, his first name was misspelled, but I have not asked about it either.

I would have loved to hear about our history when I was in elementary school because I was always curious about it. Stanley Mission also has a great history, and their church, Holy Trinity Anglican Church, is known world wide – https://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=2917

Books were more about the southern Saskatchewan Indians regarding the buffalo and the hardships of land being stolen and ripped away from them. After hearing so much about the atrocities of the treaty signings and the lies perpetuated by the government, I started to wonder about our history, where do we fit, in the timeline of Indigenous events.

I completed the work for the LLRIB during my time as web developer. Recently, I decided to go to an outside source for more information that I may not have heard about. I asked a friend of mine, Samuel A. Hardlotte, about what he knows of the treaty signing, below was his response:

Our 1889 Adhesion to Treaty 6 was signed at the North end of Montreal Lake it was Not signed at molanosa. The settlement of molanosa did not exist in 1889 and it later began when some white men, began harvesting trees in that area and set up a sawmill, inland, from Montreal Lake.
Our Acting Chief Sam Roberts, Hope and I visited Little Hills on Sept. 28th/19 to commemorate the historic event of the very 1st Annuity Payments. Tubby Bell was the person that took us out there.
It was an emotional day for all of us.
It was also an honour to be at Little Hills on that day.

Mr. Hardlotte is very passionate about the history of our Treaty 6 Territory. I joined him and his wife, Hope, with the Treaty Day display at the JRMCC, where they handed out T-shirts marking the anniversary of the treaty adhesion.

It was a showcase of historical documents, pictures and articles about LLRIB. It was very informative, and I did my part by displaying the video or our history on a projection screen.

I had an interesting but friendly debate with Hope during the event. She said that the separation of Stanley Mission in 1910, meant that they should not be included in the timeline of chiefs because in 1900, Peter Ballantyne separated from the Paylist to form their own band under his name, and they are not on the timeline. I argued (in a nice way, lol) that Peter Ballantyne Band is not in the timeline because they did not rejoin us at some point like Stanley Mission did. Anyway, it was a good discussion. Discussions and debates should be encouraged without the bitterness of arguments and escalated disagreements.

I am sure there is more to our history that has not been written, I hope one of these days that there is a project set up, to gather this information and present it for free, to all our schools, the LLRIB membership and the general public.

 

Lac La Ronge Indian Band – http://llrib.com/

Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation – http://www.peterballantyne.ca/

Montreal Lake Cree Nation – https://mlcn.ca/

 

 

Blurb about my Storytelling and nimosōm – My Grandfather

nimosōm – my grandfather used to tell me so many stories about people that lived here or near here. He was a great storyteller and may have taken many liberties with the details. I loved to hear those stories and made my imagination very active with thought and wonder. I give credit to those stories to the storytelling I do with this website, passing on a tradition in a modern way. I also used to tell stories to my children off the top of my head, just to entertain them. I have forgotten more stories than I have on this website.

I remember one story about Hall Lake, where he told me that when he arrived on the lake from a portage, he heard a moose splashing around the shore of the lake. He went further and heard another moose going into the lake in another part of the lake. He heard one more near the mouth of one of the rivers, we have two but he didn’t say which one. I could not imagine that happening in this day and age, nor the time he was telling me the story because there were already many houses and people on the reserve. By the way, Hall Lake in Cree, is mōso-sākahikanisīsihk, according to my late grandfather.

Hall Lake – mōso-sākahikanisīsihk

nimosōm  – my grandfather

 

 

 

 

Thank you for reading my stories

Since November of 2018, views and visitors have gone way up for my website. It all started with stories about nimosōm – my grandfather.

Please visit us on Facebook –

Opens Facebook page in new window

Halloween at the Trapline – cīpay tipiskāw wanihikīskanahk

As a boy, kāmikiskak – freeze-up time, was hit and miss at the trapline because during October we had to stay on land. Sometimes we were grounded for weeks on end. One year, we were actually at the trapline for a Halloween. nimosōm ikwa nōhkom – my grandfather and grandmother, kept bringing up cīpay tipiskāw – Halloween (literal translation is ghost night).

There would be talk of ghosts coming around and how they would move things or make noises in the dark corners of the cabins. It was all very scary for a boy and my imagination ran wild with fear when I thought too much of it. My father had made us a bunkbed and I got the top of this makeshift bunkbed.

That night, I kept thinking of all the little things that I heard that day about ghosts and demons and started imagining these things. Suffices to say, I had a very scary night that night and wanted so bad to sleep so it would be over and done with.

kāmikiskak – freeze-up time

cīpay tipiskāw wanihikīskanahk – Halloween at the Trapline

cīpay tipiskāw – Halloween (literal translation is ghost night)

 

Sources:

SIX SEASONS IN WOODLAND CREE (LA RONGE, SK)

māsihkīwin – Wrestling, Wahoo McDaniel

I remember as a boy watching wrestling with my parents, along with nisīmisak – my younger siblings. There was this Hawaiian wrestler named Dean Ho and his buddy Moondog Moretti. Dean was an old man by that time, but he was the main good guy. I must have been 5 years old at the time, it is mostly a blur but the times he won his matches were exciting because we were all cheering for the good guy.

There was another wrestler, but I cannot remember his name. He was an “Indian” wrestler, an Indian or First nations. He would get the beat down but then a drum would start beating in the background and it would give him “power” to get out of the hold. Great times to be a wrestling fan. This was all on a channel from British Columbia called All-Star Wrestling.

As I got older, I noticed another Native wrestler, his name was Wahoo McDaniel. He had a spectacular presence and a “tomahawk chop” that almost broke the sternum of any hapless man to get in the way. In 1986, he had this memorable feud with a Russian wrestler named Nikita Koloff. The feud was called the “tomahawk” vs. the “sickle,” which was a reference to the Russian sickle on the flag. I searched for this match online to no avail, so sad.

They both had their titles on the line, the National Champion, Wahoo and the United States Champion, Nikita. The winner would then amalgamate the titles into one because the company thought there were too many belts on TV, WTBS channel. I personally thought Wahoo should have kept the title because it was cool to have an “Indian” as champion. I could not find a free image of Wahoo, but at the bottom of this blog, there is an embed video of Wahoo vs Ric Flair in a “chop” battle.

I had such high hopes for a Wahoo win, but he was beaten. Wahoo was in the twilight of his long successful career and the so-called, Russian Nightmare, Nikita Koloff, was hotter that a firecracker on the fourth of July. He was being groomed for bigger things and Wahoo was used as a steppingstone, which I am sure he gladly did because even he knew that he had to job to the raising young star.

He wrestled 10 more years until his retirement in 1996. Unfortunately, he died of kidney failure “on April 18, 2002 at the age of 63” (https://wrestlerdeaths.com/wahoo-mcdaniel-death/). He left a great legacy for other Native American wrestlers such as Tatanka, who went on to became one of the most recognizable wrestlers in the 90s.

māsihkīwin – wrestling

omāsihkīw – wrestler

māsihkī – (you) wrestle, as in a command.

 

 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wahoo_McDaniel

http://www.adventuresinpoortaste.com/2014/12/05/art-of-gimmickry-the-native-american-wrestler/

 

First Fall of Snow – instam kāmispok

Today we had the first major snowfall in Hall Lake. I woke up to the world covered in snow. I almost posted a picture for my FB friends who do not have a window but that is a joke I overused already, and I don’t want to get banned from Facebook.

I took a few pictures that I will show here, on my website because I love showing my pictures on my website as opposed to just uploading them to FB. It gives me more control over my own content. I like my intellectual property to stay mine, but I have given up many pictures to Facebook. I just need to keep my tech skills sharp in case they are needed again to make a living.

I remember as a boy looking out at the landscape at the trapline and watching the first fall of snow, I would always get a lonely feeling from it. It reminded me of the old Hank Williams song that my uncle Abel used to sing, “At the First Fall of Snow.” I can still hear him singing and walking along the trail to nimosōm’s cabin. My uncle is still alive today and he lives just down the road. I still see him walking from time to time, but he doesn’t sing anymore.

This reminds me that I have some stories I wanted to share about my uncle, but I will have to ask him first. Maybe he has some ideas too about what I can write, thank you for visiting.

Ikosi,

Joe and the Stranger

Joe is walking down the dirt road about 20 KM from his rez. While he is tired and hungry, he has no wife or kids of his own, which means no real worries. Responsibilities are for his foolish friends, not him.

It is a beautiful night, it is more morning, about 2:45AM. The cold autumn wind and misty clouds lightly cover the moon in wisps. He has not seen a vehicle for over an hour and when he did, they were going too fast, probably a drunk driver. Good ol ‘rez boys and girls, he thinks. He looks ahead further and declares, “niwī atāwākān nitahcahk simāk kita takosiniyān itī kāwīkiyān.” – I will sell my soul to get home now.

At 3:00AM, about 100 metres ahead of him, there flashes a light. It was not a big light, it is more of a spark. It fades and as he gets closer, he sees another hitchhiker meeting up with him. He might be from the same rez but Joe realizes that the hiker does look familiar. When he finally meets up with him, the stranger looks all too familiar. He looks exactly like him.

“tānisi cō, tāpwī kayās.” – How are you Joe, it has been a long time. Says, the stranger.

Joe stands fearful of what he is seeing. “awinōma kītha?” – Who are you?

Stranger, “cō, īmowī nihtāwikīn kāki wāpamitān, ikospi kākī nitowithihtamān kitahcahk.” – Joe, I saw you before you were born, since then, I wanted your soul.

Now fearing for his soul, Joe steps ahead, “namwāc kiwī mīthitin kīkway.” – I will not give you anything.

“kiwi asotamātin kīkway cō, māka kita mīthin kitahcahk” – I will offer you something Joe, but you must give me your soul.

Joe shakes his head as he takes a few steps back.

In the middle of the dark road, appears a beautiful brand-new truck, higher than two regular cars and tires as tall as Joe’s chest. Joe looks in awe as the beast of an engine roars like a lion.

Joe is astonished. In all his 30 years, he never had his own vehicle, not even an “Indian” car. He drove before and loved it. If he takes the truck for the mere price of his soul, his friends would envy his masculine prowess even more. He can ride through the rez with his new sexy wheels while they dragged along their rez chicks and rez rats. He could just imagine the looks on their faces, they would be so jealous.

The stranger smiles as he anticipates the answer he craves. Men like Joe are of a rare breed of warrior. A soul, a spirit that strengthens the possessor. However, the prowess sought by Joe would be short lived, as he would surely dive into the depths of despair in short order. The wine, the drugs and fast woman would be easy to come by. Joe would be, in all his glory for the whole rez to see and then the stranger would have the full soul.

Joe explores the vehicle further; he runs his hand over the chrome bed railings. He was always the handsomest, fastest and strongest of his friends. However, they always had something over them, they had wheels and he did not. This truck would put him over the top. He reassured himself that a truck like this will make almost godlike, on the rez.

Joe turns to face the stranger that looks like him, and flash! He sees himself in a drunken stupor, squeezing an alcohol ravaged woman. Flash again! He sees himself fighting another native man as they stumble around like idiots, getting videoed from bystanders on their cell phones, going live on social media. Flash again! Joe sees the stranger standing and waiting for his answer.

The stranger stares at him: “tānihkōma cō?” – What is the matter Joe? Flash again! Joe sees himself inside the crumpled truck, his body halfway out of the windshield: Dead.

Joe stares ahead and in disbelief. Would he really go down that path? Can he trust this stranger that looks like him, to even actually follow through with his gift? Joe opens his mouth and shakily states: “namwāc!” – No!

The stranger glares at Joe, “kihtwām kawāpamatin cō.” – I will see you again Joe. Poof, he disappears.

 

Thank you visiting, please check out our many other stories.

 

mistāpiw namīhtāw – Bigfoot has left tracks

Going through my Facebook feed this morning, I noticed a shared post by Jarome Stpierre and it showed a picture and a video of somebody leaving huge tracks. I was intrigued and decided to share with you what his father has taken footage of.

Seeing tracks like this must be awesome. I can only imagine what the feeling was like to see something like that. After hearing stories about wihtikō (wendigo from other bands) from nimosōm – my grandfather, I would always be on the lookout for strange tracks or any anomaly whatsoever. Unfortunately, I have never seen anything remotely resembling a mystery such as the tracks posted above.

I have seen bears that looked like a humanoid of some kind and realized that it was a bear upon closer inspection. I have even seen a bear from afar on the side of the road and told my son, “Charles, look, that’s a bear over there.” Only for the bear to fly up to the trees because it was a raven. He had a good laugh, as I laughed with a red face (I didn’t tell him I was embarrassed).

My eyes may not be the best proof of anything. I would like to find something as tangible as the tracks from Jerome’s father. Maybe I will go for a walk today and look for something.

mistāpiw namīhtāw – Bigfoot has left tracks

wihtikō

nimosōm

 

nitīm – my dog

nimosōm – my grandfather Charlie Ross

I remember when I was about 10 or 11 years old and nimosōm – my grandfather told me that he used to have a dog team. It was fascinating to hear about the places he travelled with his team. It was places nearby but hearing it as a young boy, it sounded so much more glamorous and seemed to be in faraway places.

It was all well and good when he told me about what he used to do, but he started telling me that he was planning on getting a NEW dog team. I remember being very excited about it and thought I’d be able to see it happen and maybe try it myself the next winter.

He was able to get a big male and a female husky. We were in Pesiw Lake that summer when he acquired the dogs and we moved them to Hall Lake in the early fall. By the next spring, there was pups, many with big feet that nimosōm said, meant that the dogs were going to be big.

I picked out a puppy myself and it turns out nimosōm picked the same one. piyakwan awa kōtinahk, kitīminow awa – we picked the same one, this is our dog. I honestly didn’t know how that was going to work, but nimosōm seemed happy about it and I didn’t ask how it would work if he had to go back to the trapline.

It might have been a week or two later that the situation did not matter. I went for a walk with my friends and near a culvert lay a dead puppy. I was not sure at the time, but it kind of looked like mine. I was upset; however, I hid my feelings from my friends and just went home. I’m glad they didn’t ask why I had to go home, back then; we hid our feelings from each other because only we thought only little kids cried.

Later that evening, it turned out that my puppy had gone missing. A man we called mahkistikwān – big head, had killed and ditched it near the culvert where my friends and I saw it. It was very disheartening for me. I have never had a dog since, not because it was so heartbreaking, but because I decided that maybe it’s too much responsibility.

nimosōm – my grandfather

mahkistikwān – big head

atim – dog

achimosis – puppy (little dog)

nitīm – my dog

kitīm – your dog

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay