Tag Archives: Trapline

Making a Cabin in the Trapline – My early memories

As a very young boy, I remember when nimosōm – my grandfather, started getting his cabin built across the lake from the Pisew Lake landing. Before that, we had been staying in canvas tents up until freeze-up. That next spring, nimosōm and okosisa – his sons, started preparing the area where the new cabin would be built.

I pretty much stayed out of the way because I was too small to help with anything. I wanted to get in on the action that was happening, but I just listened and observed from time to time. I remember the bark being peeled off the logs and the ground getting leveled. nipāpā – my father, is a carpenter so he was very busy with everything that needed to be done. nohkomisak – my uncles, Simon and Abel, were also helping with the cabin and I saw much hauling of logs, boards and sand.

The sand was a curious thing for me at the time because I wondered what the heck they would be using that for. I noticed later that they were putting it on the roof to absorb rainfall. Right away, I thought that maybe the sand would be too heavy and fall through, but the logs they used for the roof were strong enough. It was all very fascinating to me at the time. To see this kind of cooperation was great. They had their little conflicts, but they seemed to resolve them adequately, I did cower a bit when their voices were raised but it was all good.

When it was all done, it looked beautiful. It was bigger than the other old cabins that were nearby. In the winter, it had a canvas tent porch, so that the cabin would have a type of insulation from the bitter cold.

I remember one winter, nohkomis – my uncle Abel, told nisikos – my aunt Elsie, to make a pair of boxing gloves out of cloth and foam material. nohkomis Abel, challenged me to a friendly boxing match. I put up mu dukes and we battled it out and had fun. Unfortunately, my uncle got a bit too zealous and started punching me a little too much. His last punch knocked me on my butt and I banged the side of my head on a small stove. There was no fire at the time, but I was bawling my head off. nohkomis and nisikos, quickly got me some snacks they had stashed away, they needed to keep me quiet and not to tell on them. Great times.

My sisters and nitawīmāw, my cousin, Flora, would still walk back and forth from the cabin to the tent site to visit family. nohkomisak stayed in the tents during the fall and we had to walk along the shore to get there. kotak nisikos, my other aunt, Alice, may have noticed we were getting bored because after a while, she told us that we were going to learn how to set traps for a sākwīsiw – a mink.

I had watched traps being set by my uncles and grandfather and I had set rabbit snares, but I had never set a trap before. I remember feeling unsure about myself because I did not want to get my hand trapped on a leg-hold trap. I reluctantly went along as my sister and cousin seemed more enthusiastic, although they might have been faking it because Alice was a disciplinarian, and we did not want to set her off. Of course, now I realize that she has a kind heart and to this day, always does well at the fish derbies we have in our community. By the way, we never did catch the mink because we soon had to go back to La Ronge. I never asked my aunt Alice if she caught the mink.

I asked nipāpā about the cabin last night, and he said it had burned down. There was another cabin built but it had rotted away somehow. A third cabin was built with the help of my old pal Adam Joe and my cousin Richard. My grandfather loved staying at the trapline, and he went until he couldn’t go there anymore.

nimosōm – my grandfather

okosisa – his/her sons

nipāpā – my father

nisikos – my aunt

nohkomis – my uncle

kotak – other, as in “my other” or “the other”

nitawīmāw – my female cousin (father’s brother’s daughter)

sākwīsiw – a mink

 

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

 

 

 

 

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)

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,

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

Nimosōm wihthōwinis nimīthik – My Grandfather gives me a Nickname

From as far as I can remember, nimosōm called me “cīpic,” which is a reference, to a man named David, a man who lived across the lake from my grandfather’s cabin. All the way from seeing him in La Ronge when I was a boy living on 101 reserve, to his cabin in Pesiw Lake and to his new house (at the time) in Hall Lake, he called me “cīpic”.

I remember my parents discussing this when I was a boy and they suggested that it was because nimosōm did not want to say his own name, Charlie. “īkwīmīsiyān nimosōm” – I have the same name as my grandfather.

That was the understanding I got, and I stayed by that explanation since. Whenever he was proud of me for something, he would say, “wahwā cīpic,” or “wahwāy cīpic.” It was a term of endearment that I appreciated and wondered about, as a boy.

During the summer of one of our duck hunting trips, we went up to a mīnistik (an island) with the intention of landing on it and crossing to the other side. We were sneaking up on what had to be at least 200 sīsīpak (ducks) spread out over a sparse wild rice patch.

Before this, he been giving me one .22 “mōsonīy” bullet at a time when we were shooting ducks, and only after he shoot at a group of ducks with a shotgun and some getting injured. We would shoot at them before they would dive in.

When we were done crossing the island, we got to the ground and snuck up to a huge flock. My grandfather slowly brought out his shotgun and BOOM! Many ducks went flying up in all directions as he continued to shoot with his pump-action.

After the blitz of birds, my grandfather started to pick off the injured ducks that were trying to dive in. At this time, he handed me two .22 bullets, he looked at me and said: “wahwā, cīpic ikwa iwī nipahīw sīsīpa” – Wow, Charlie is going to kill a duck now.

I was so happy to get the bullets, I tried so hard to concentrate and make a kill, but I ended up missing. I was sad but the exhilaration of getting not one, but two bullets was great.

cīpic

nimosōm – my grandfather

pīsiw sākahikanihk – Pesiw Lake

wahwā cīpic – Wow Charlie

wahwāy cīpic – Wow Charlie

mōsonīy – bullet

sīsīp – duck

sīsīpak – ducks

wahwā, cīpic ikwa iwī nipahīw sīsīpa” – Wow, Charlie is going to kill a duck now.

īkwīmīsiyān nimosōm – I have the same name as my grandfather

Related pages:

NIMOSŌM – NĪSTĀW AND I, FELL THROUGH THE ICE

BIRDS IN WOODLAND CREE

niwītawīmāwak niwahkōmākinak – I play games with my family

When I was a boy back in the trapine, my siblings and cousins and I, would entertain ourselves without the modern devices we have today. We had many outdoor games like “tag” and others that involved running around and catching or tagging others in teams or individually. We would have slingshot targeting contests with old cans and bottles. We would make our own bows and arrows and shoot at targets or objects.

There were other types of games we called maci-nocikwīsīs –witch, I am sure there are many variations that other communities played. We would have a witch going after the children of a mother. The mother would have all the younger and smaller children lined-up behind her and the witch would try to get around the mother and snatch a child. This would go on until all the kids were snatched, it would get pretty intense towards the end, great times.

Another game we played was indoors, in my parent’s cabin at the trapline. nisīmis ikwa nitawīmāw (my younger sister and female cousin from father’s brother), would play a variation of “house,” my sister would be my sister and my cousin would be my wife. At the time, we called our cousin, pithōthā, Flora, or pithōthā cīn which means Flora Jean, my sister would sometimes call her pokopoy but I don’t know why.

We called the house game, “Isiah.” I would be Isiah and Flora would be my wife. We would start by living together until I decide to burn down the house and my sister would help her get away and to another house, along with luggage and children. Once they moved into a new house, I would come along and find them and burn that house down too. Be aware that we were between 5 and 7 years of age and did not know the how disturbing it would sound the if the story was put on paper or a website, just like I’m doing now.

My family had been living in Bigstone Reserve during the summer months and during that time, we saw a house on fire. It belonged to our auntie Annie and her husband Isiah. We heard a rumour that Isiah had accidently burned the house down and they ended up losing their home. Now in order to add a character element to our house game, we decided that Isiah did it on purpose just to terrorize his family, as in a “bad guy.”

One day, nipāpānān – our dad, told us namowitha ikosi takī isi mītawīk – you kids shouldn’t play like that. We stopped for awhile and pretty much discontinued, until he was gone, and we started up again. It was too much fun to stop. Our dad was right though, it was very disrespectful to our auntie because they lost their home in La Ronge. I’m glad we never told him about the time we were walking on the ice kākī mithōskamik – when it was break-up.

maci-nocikwīsīs – witch

namowitha ikosi takī isi mītawīk – you kids shouldn’t play like that

kākī mithōskamik – when it was break-up

pithōtha cīn – Flora Jean

pokopoy – nickname for Flora from my sister Susan

 

nōhkom wāpahtam machi-pimithākan – My grandmother saw a UFO

nohkom – my grandmother Emily Ross

When I was a boy, nōhkom (my grandmother) from my father’s side,  told us a story a story about how she saw a UFO. It was skimming over the trees across from nimosōm owāskahikanis (grandfather’s cabin). She was with nitawīmāw (my female cousin from father’s brother) when they were at the shore and saw the UFO. I believe this was before I was ten years old.

I was fascinated at the story nōhkom was telling me at the time because UFOs were all the rage on the kithāskīwi masinahikana (lying books) tabloids, such as The National Inquirer and Weekly World News. I could only imagine what it might have looked like and her story is actually where I got the idea for one of my many stories on this website: Machi-Pimithākan – UFO (http://firstnationstories.com/?page_id=1582).

I recently chatted with my cousin about it because it never occurred to me to ask when we were growing up. This is what she said:

Well her and I went outside at night…I needed to use the bathroom cause I was scared to go alone…then she said to me in cree…hey what is that up in the sky and I told her it can’t be a plane…so told me to hurry and said there was monsters on that plane that will take us away with them…then we went back in the cabin just scared lol…then late grandpa said they won’t bother u if your inside a house…so I felt better after that ..I always believed our late grandparents [sic]

Of course, at the time, there were no cell phone cameras to take a quick picture, so imagination is all we have for stories like this. We have all seen many pictures online and drawings of such phenomenon, but they always seem so blurry and pixelated. Videos of UFOs are difficult to make out because the objects are always so far away and the good videos look too fake to me. With a little time on my hands, I could make a fake picture or video, but I won’t because it would be too time consuming.

In the chat with my cousin, my grandparents seemed to have an intimate knowledge of such encounters with that type of craft. The reference to monsters, which I take to be the aliens, seems to be a description of a creature they had no words for. The assurance that “they” will not bother you when indoors, tells me that there may be a risk of being abducted when you are outdoors and are close to a UFO. Scary thoughts come to my head when I think about that, considering all the UFO abduction stories in books, TV and online.

Speaking of scary thoughts, one-time, nōhkom told us a story about a family that was living out in tents in late fall. One of the people saw a craft landing on the ice and he/she went running inside. They all laid in their sleeping bags and blankets, cowering in fear when suddenly, a group of small beings went inside the tent. One of the women was pregnant and had a miscarriage from being so terrified. nōhkom said the beings were as short as children. I cannot remember the rest of the story, but my siblings and I, shuddered at the possibility. We were staying in tents at the time because my grandfather’s cabin was being worked on. I had to have been six years old when we were told this story.

The only time I remember having a close encounter, was when my friend and I were walking home from another friend’s house in Hall Lake. We were walking along near a birch bark tree, when suddenly, a flash of light went streaking over the birch bark tree, we saw our shadows on the ground and we quickly looked up. We did not see anything or hear a sound, at least not from what I remember. We tried to rationalize by asking each other what it was, but when my friend told me it was probably headlights shining, I responded with “from up there?” We both looked at each other and ran back to our friend’s house.

When we got there, we told him everything. He told us that he heard that when you see a flying saucer once during the night, you won’t see it again. It wasn’t too assuring for us because we were scared out of our minds. We still had to go home, however, my friend lived closer than I did and so after I dropped him off, I still had a way to go before I got home. I was very paranoid during that walk.

nōhkom – my grandmother

nimosōm – my grandfather

machi-pimithākan – bad flying device or object, UFO, flying saucer

wāpahtam – he/she sees (something)

nohkom wāpahtam machi-pimithākan – My grandmother saw a UFO

nimosōm owāskahikanis – grandfather’s cabin

kithāskīwi masinahikana – lying books (such as The National Inquirer and Weekly World News)

nitawīmāw – my female cousin from father’s brother

ninanāskimon kā ayimihtayin nitācithohkīwina.  I am thankful that you are reading my stories.

 

 

nisīmis ikwa nitawīmāw īpimiskohtīyahk – My sister, my cousin and I, walk on the ice

break-up

piyakwāw kaki sīkwahk (once when it was spring), but maybe it was more mithōskamin (break-up of the six-seasons), nisīmis ikwa nitawīmāw (my younger sister and female cousin from father’s brother) decided to go check out the lake. We were across the lake from nimosōminān (our grandfather’s) cabin waiting out mithōskamin so niwahkōmākinānak (our families) could travel there once the ice was gone.

nisīmis had the ever-bright idea for the three of us tapimiskohtīyahk (to walk on the ice). There were trails of hard snow on the otherwise melting ice. We walked carefully and nisīmis went a bit further than we did. The atimwak (dogs) that followed us around did not follow the trails and would end up falling halfway through the ice and jumping out again. This happened as we were at least 15-20 feet from the landing. We all looked at each other and ever so carefully walked back to shore. nimitho pathīhokonān (we were lucky).

I cringe when I see a child walk on the unsafe ice, I instinctively yell at the kid or kids when I see them. Taking such a chance for adventure is something that, unfortunately, many children do. Please look out for your children and even if you think they will behave themselves because they would never do such a thing, there are always bad influences out there.


I have worded out many of the Cree terms below the way I remember them. If you feel the need to correct me on pronunciation or spelling, feel free, we are all always learning.

piyakwāw kaki sīkwahk – once when it was spring

pimiskohtī – you walk on the ice (command)

īpimiskohtīyan – I walk on the ice

īpimiskohtīyahk – we walked on the ice

nisīmis – my younger sibling

nitawīmāw – female cousin from father’s brother

niwahkōmākinānak – our families (this is how I understood the Cree term, corrections are welcome).

sīkwan – spring

mithōskamin – break-up

nimitho pathīhokonān – we were lucky, something good happened to us (I hope I got that right)

atim – dog

atimwak – dogs