The announcement was huge, reservations all over the United States and reserves across Canada were shocked and bewildered – NASA will be sending a rez dog to space. The big question was: why?
Chuck, a big shot at NASA, was given the task of researching how a dog can stay in space and survive. The dog would need to eat and use the bathroom in space. Chuck needed to hire a young Indigenous man to take the assignment.
One of three young indigenous astronauts would need to be trained to ride spaceships up to a space station and take care of the dog there.
A search commenced across Canada and the US, to find the perfect dog to train. They had to choose a dog that would be trainable and be very versatile. Strong enough to handle the stress and pressure, to handle the difficulties of being in space. The dog would have to float around and be calm enough to not freak out and to survive. For some odd reason, they would need to get a rez dog.
Chuck interviews three young astronauts. They would need to have patience and have a love for dogs. As it turns out, all the young men are perfect. Reserves and reservations all watched the announcement on social media and news outlets. Every one of them was very happy with the choice.
The astronauts are excited about going to space and riding in their spaceships. One of them would take the dog with them. After several days of training, it was time to travel into space.
The dog floats around the space station. Looking casually at the astronauts and not causing a fuss. He eats balls of Bannock as his source of food, and is fitted with a shining silver pamper whenever he needs to “go.”
Chuck celebrates with the rest of NASA as if they landed a man on Mars.
When I was a boy staying at the trapline in Pisew Lake, I rarely ever heard about April Fools Day. It was not something nimosōm would talk about so much but when he did, he called it kithāskīwi kīsikāw, literally “lying day” or “day of lying.” Even then, I do not remember any jokes or pranks being played on anyone.
My memory is very faint on this one, but nimosōm might have asked the family in the cabin if it was April Fool’s Day, “ī- kithāskīwi kīsikāk cī ōma?” I believe one of my uncles answered or it may have been one of my aunties, that it was April Fools Day. I cannot verify if this is how the conversation went, it was so long ago. I wish I could remember who nimosōm was talking about regarding kithāskīwi kīsikāw, it must have been funny because nohkom was laughing at his story. I wish I could go back and hear all the stories again. I missed out on so many stories, at least remembering would be great. I could see nimosōm’s shoulders bounce up and down as he laughed a hardy laugh at his own stories. Great times.
This time of year would be when our family would be waiting for mithoskamin – break-up. I spend many evenings looking out on the lake watching the possible unsafe ice that my parents warned me about. I listened to their warnings for the most part. I could not imagine being able to pull myself out of broken ice and from the freezing cold-water underneath.
Already things were winding down with our stay, my parents were already talking about going back home. My sisters, Susan and Mary, and I would be missing our cousin Flora-Jean and our auntie Elsie. It may have been that previous winter that Elsie took us sliding for new year’s day, down a very steep hill. Our aunt Alice would take us trapping nearby for martin.
In the cool evenings, nimosōm and I would be sitting around in the cabin. He would tell the most interesting stories that kept me intrigued for many hours over the course of the previous winter. After break-up, it would soon be time to go back to the rez and back to school in La Ronge. Nimosōm would be sad to see me go.
kithāskīwi kīsikāw – April Fools Day (literally lying day)
“i- kithāskīwi kīsikāk cī ōma?” – Is it April Fools Day?
Today I went for a walk to one of the places where I would hunt ducks and do a bit of fishing: Sanderson Lake. It was a great experience, great that I actually walked that far from my house and great because the beauty was awesome.
The first thing I saw when I got on the lake was a small island. I looked all around the lake. It was deafeningly quiet. No sound and no other people in sight.
It had been years and years since I saw the place. I was going to walk back from there but I decided to walk to a peninsula to the right.
I remember as a boy, my father would take us through this lake to take us to La Ronge on a snowmobile. We would be bundled up in the back in a sled and covered in one of his huge blankets. The trips would be long and bumpy, but I would feel alone in my thoughts. I am not sure what my sisters were going through, but I doubt they were sleeping with the rough ride. During this time as a small boy, I would never see the trails or portages because we were obviously covered up. Almost each time, we would stop at a cabin to warm up. My late grandfather Moses would have a fire going and a fresh pot of tea. Sometimes there was food to eat. Those were great times.
As we got older, there were fewer trips because my father would hire a taxi to take the family to La Ronge and he would travel by snow machine himself and we would meet him there. We usually went to Bigstone or 101 Reserve.
The few times we travelled together, my father and I would take off before sunset. The one time, it was a warm, breezy day and as we were about to go down a hill, he said, “Look, no hands.” Before he could grab the handlebars, he hit a small spruce tree and dented the bumper bar. He was not going very fast, so it was fine. He straightened it out when we got home.
As a teenager, I used to walk through the portage like I did on this day, January 31, 2021. Of course, it looked exactly as it did because nobody lives there. The beautiful shorelines in all their glory, quiet, undisturbed, and seemingly very welcoming. However, I did not have snowshoes to explore the shore. The weather has not been favourable lately because it has been so cold. My father has snowshoes that I can borrow, so I hope I can go soon.
Another story about Sanderson Lake, a friend of mine and I went for a trip to the next lake to look for ducks or beavers. We scared up a small flock of ducks and we did not get a shot. We did not take the canoe over the portage because it was getting late. On our way back to Hall Lake, we were on the lake during a stunning sunset. As we paddled along, there was a small bat flapping around us. My friend quickly got annoyed and proceeded to blast the air with the shotgun we carried. Suffices to say, the bat went away.
One other time, another friend of mine wanted to check out the lake and do some fishing and to look for beaver. We hoped to see ducks too but were we too noisy to get close enough for a shot. During this trip, we took the canoe over the portage and explored the shores of Sanderson Lake in our borrowed canoe.
It was a beautiful sight in the clear summer day as we paddled around. He knew about the place more than I did and told me about some of the people who had camped there. We stopped at an island and it felt surreal to get on the small piece of earth in the middle of the lake. We talked about how our ancestors might have stopped here during long trips to eat food and drink tea, before moving on to other destinations.
My first trip to Sanderson Lake by myself when I was a teenager, was by mistake. I was across the lake on the shores of Hall Lake when I decided to venture into the woods to look for grouse, I parked my father’s snow machine and off I went. The snow was knee deep but light enough that I could wade through it. I hoped to see a grouse right away because it was snowing.
As I went along for a few minutes longer, I decided to turn back before I lost my trail. I thought I would cut through my winding trail because it looked to go in a curve. About 20 minutes later, I came out of the shore and did not recognize the area I was standing. Thankfully, I figured it out and went back to where I came from and finally arrived on the shores of Hall Lake again. It was about half to one-third of a kilometre away from where I left my father’s snow machine, but I was happy to see it. I remember not being that worried about it because I was too young to realize that it could have ended tragically. I took too many chances as a young man.
On my way back, I noticed some strange tracks and I enhanced the next few images so you can see what I see. Take a close look and I think you may notice that maybe a fox or coyote may have caught fowl of some kind and took it to the bush. I did see some feathers, but they are not clear in the pictures I took. Anyway, something happened and it is too bad I was not there to see it.
The images are not clear, it was getting dark by the time I started walking home.
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).