Around 1982, when my parents moved us from La Ronge to Hall Lake, our house and area was a new place to explore for this 8-year-old at the time. There were many trees near and around the house and nipāpā – my father spend days cutting trees down and digging out the tree stumps. I was too small to help with that, but I did haul what scraps I could. I wish I had pictures I could show.
There was a mistik – tree, that caught my eye earlier on because it stood out among the mītosak – popular trees behind the house, it was an ithināhtik – black spruce. I immediately noticed the tree had long branches at the bottom and made a natural umbrella, my sisters and I ran to this tree to get away from the rain many times.
During the winter of the year, nipāpā had trapped and skinned either a nikik – otter or ocīk – fisher. My memory is a bit fuzzy but anyway, he had thrown the skeleton of the animal on the branches of the ithināhtik, maybe about 3 metres high. Over the years, the bones got higher and higher until I completely forgot about them. When I did remember many years later, I could not make it out. Not a trace. I wondered if it was dragged away by ravens and crows or by the squirrel that made the tree it’s home.
In late July of this year, 2019, the tree finally fell after a storm. Right away I went to the tree when I found out and looked for the bones that were thrown onto the branches. I did not find the skeleton. I was kind of disappointed but considering its been 37 years, there was little chance it would still be there. I just thought it would be a good story to tell my children as I held up the skeleton, but that is not to be. Like the readers of this blog, it can only be imagined.
nipāpā – my father (this is how we say it in our “colonized” reserves).
mistik – tree
mītos – popular tree
ithināhtik – black spruce
nikik – otter
ocīk – fisher