My daughter Deedee recently drew the shape a bird using a tree and its branches. Very creative way of drawing. I do not know where she saw this picture, but I can tell it required much patience. She did an awesome job.
I mentioned before that nimosōm would sometimes stay with us on the reserve at my parents place during the summer. Those were good times because I got to listen to my grandparents whenever they would talk about the old days.
It was a beautiful summer day when he decided to go on a hike. He told me that there was an old trail he used to take to a small lake east of Hall Lake: “wīcīwin nosim, kiwī itohtāhitin apisci sākahikansīs, itī māna ikī kaskimohtiyān koskinikiyān.” (Come with me my grandchild, I will take you to a small lake, it is where I would go when I was young by cutting across).
So, it was set, we would be on foot and we were actually out to look for spruce grouse and partridges. He had a single-shot .22 caliber gun and I used a straight-bow and carried 5 store bought arrows. At this point, I had only shot small spring birds to make flour soup and missed many more squirrels (which brought in $1 a piece during trapping season). During the winter before, I had gone out on my own and tried to hunt down a partridge which I just kept on missing, it was very disheartening.
About 15-20 minutes into our trip, we came across an old bear snare that was rusted and deserted to hang precariously on a log. He mentioned a name of the person who may have left it there and how they were so inept at looking after their snares. “tāpwī īsa ikī kakīpatiso awa kākī tāpwakwīt, nītha wītha nika tāpakōmoha maskwa.” (This person that set the snare was so stupid, I would have snared the bear).
As we got deeper into the woods, we came upon a group of ptarmigans. Nimosōm flashed his big smile, “watch out pithīw, watch out.” He went sneaking up on them and I heard a shot, bang! He got one of them, “īniyānanicik pithīwak” (There is five partridges). He managed to kill four of them and I got one right through the neck, it was such a proud moment for me.
After our kills, we did end up walking to the small lake, which is actually a part of Hall lake river system. We sat and admired the view from afar as there was much marshland. We had our rest and we went back home. I hope to go back there this summer with my son (unless there are many bear sightings).
A note on my translations: The translations I made on this blog might be off for some people, however, it is the way I understood my grandfather when he talked to me.
I have recently purchased an SSL Certificate for my website. There may be some technical instabilities during the week but I hope it will be brief and not too disruptive for my visitors. I realize this type of info is not what visitors are looking for, but I just thought you would interested in the fact that I care about this website and my visitors.
Ever since Google started pushing SSL certificates on websites, I have been considering an SSL integration to the website. I held back because I do not sell products on my website. However. there has been a nagging icon on the address box that says, Not secure.
I do not like it. It tells visitors that my website is not secure. With some of my donationmoney, I have purchased an SSL certificate and I want to get it done during the week. I hope it goes smoothly.
If I ever decide to sell any products, my website will be ready for business. For now, I will continue to share stories and memes that interest my visitors and potential visitors (spread the word and share).
This year was not a good year for blueberries in my area. I remember three years ago in 2017, there were so many berries that were still on the plants in mid to late September. Large bunches of berries literally falling off the plants when you touched them. My daughter and I went for a long walk that time, and we had our fill of large soft blueberries by the time we were done.
I remember as a boy in Hall Lake, my good buddy and I were admiring our momma’s buckets of blueberries. We decided to get some of our own. We grabbed margarine containers from the cupboards and off we went. We knew the general area where they got their berries from.
We did not venture very far when we came upon a natural garden of blueberries, just bursting off the plants. Okay, maybe not that many but there were plenty. We filled up our containers quickly and picked some to eat right off the shrubs. On our way home, we came to a large gravel pit and walked along the edge with our containers on hand.
As we worked our way down the pit, my buddy tripped over a rock or something. You could see the concerned look on his face as he held up his container and managed not to drop one berry when he hit the ground. We both started laughing. He was okay, he did not get hurt. He would have been hurt if he spilled all his berries, but he was fine.
A friend of mine, Arden Ogg from the Cree Literacy Network, recently suggested that I redesign an image I developed with the Cree phrase, “I Am Cree”. She believes that it is a powerful phrase for learners, and I wholeheartedly agree.
Below are the redesigned versions of the Cree memes with only the Cree words written on them.
For as long as I can remember, I had been making my own bows and arrows. On the rez in Hall Lake, I would use mīcosis – a small popular tree for bows and I would use the blue rope used for fish nets. The arrows would be made from popular trees and it would be heavy wood. When the bow and arrows dried up, they would be warped, which was fine for the bow, the arrows not so much. However, the bow would become too hard to pull and when I did pull as hard as I could, they would break.
I started using waskwāsak- small birch trees for the bows and they worked so much better. I started using cut-up 2X4s for the arrows, and they worked better because they were already dry and stayed straight. I must have been eight years old at the time.
My family would go to La Ronge for long visits and sometimes I would get bored. I had friends from school, but I usually spent time by myself. 101 reserve was our home community in La Ronge before we got a house in Hall Lake, so I was familiar with the area. There were many small birch trees to cut down and use.
I had an older cousin, Johnny Venne, who was one of the cooler athletic types. He seemed a bit obnoxious to me and seemed to bug our other cousins on purpose by teasing them and running away. One time, we were around several of our older cousins and they were smoking cigarettes and he would tell them, “You should be like me. Don’t smoke.”
I rarely hung with him because I was 3-4 years younger and he had many friends his own age, who were so much cooler than I was. One day, he came by nohkomonān owāskihikan – our grandmother’s house, to visit and he noticed I had a bow and some arrows.
He was checking it out and he was asking me who made it for me, and I told him that I made it for myself. I was giddy to get my cousin’s attention, here was my cool cuz conversing with me about something I do. So of course, I offered to show him how to make one.
We spend a good afternoon in the bush with knives we took from somewhere, I cannot remember, but anyway, we found some good size birch and scrounged up some rope. We made our bows and arrows and we had fun shooting at targets, not targets from the store, but old cans and beer bottles that were all over the rez.
Johnny, being as cool as he was, got bored of just shooting at random objects, he wanted some action. 101 reserve is beside Highway 2, and the road curves around the rez to get from the village of Air Ronge to the town of La Ronge. It was late evening in the summer, and many vehicles use the road. It is the only major highway linking the tri-community of LLRIB, La Ronge and Air Ronge. My cool cousin had a wild idea.
He suggested we go to the brush on the side of the road and shoot at the vehicles driving by. I remember thinking it was a bad idea that only bad kids did that sort of thing, but I wanted to stay in the good graces of my cuz who I looked up to. I hesitantly agreed against my better judgement and off we went.
Our first attempt at shooting vehicles, we did not even get to the roadside. Our uncle, who lived in a small cabin near the highway, saw what we were going to do, and he broke our bows in half. I felt so ashamed of myself and wondered if he would tell my parents what we were trying to do. So, Johnny figured we should try again the next day, and I nodded yes.
The brush was tall around the roadside so it would be difficult to be seen by the unsuspecting, innocent drivers. The first few shoots dropped on the pavement. We heard a couple of arrows thumping onto a car or two, but they kept driving. Then there was this big truck, it looked like a U-Haul moving truck. It was getting dark, so we were well hidden. Johnny took a shot, and we heard the arrow loud and clear when it fell on top of the truck. The truck stopped. We froze and looked at each-other for a split-second, and then we ran as fast as we could.
Me, being younger, chubby, and not as athletic, my cuz Johnny was way ahead of me. We ran across the main rez road and I saw him run behind the water well. I finally caught up to him and hid with him. Our hearts were pounding, and I was scared out of my mind, sweat running down my plumpness. While my cuz looked frightened at first, he seemed fine, I think he might have been enjoying the rush of getting away with something.
The next day, I went to the same place where we were shooting the vehicles and he had his posse with him. He had taught them how to make bows and arrows and they were shooting at the vehicles and running away. I did not join them this time. I went back to my usually routine of spending time with myself. My family eventually had to go back to Hall Lake.
Just a note on my cousin Johnny Venne, I told him that I would be writing this blog. I planned on just using “cuz” or “cousin,” but he gave me permission to use his name. Johnny is still athletic and still has abs. He is still the cool kid to me.