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