Boozhoo Mishomis (greetings grandfather – did you see him?)Nana-Boozhoo or better known as Nanibush has left his mark throughout out lands and he has also left us stories which on most occasions have deep profound meanings. Nanibush was part Manitou and part man, he is our best known of the Manitou’s because he much resembled us and he carried our same flaws, we best connect with him. Nanibush taught us how to dance, tell stories and brought much peace to our peoples unlike his brothers who rather bash heads and wage war. Nanibush is long gone but he hopes that we can continue his stories – this is why when we greet each other we often say “Boozhoo” in honour of Nanibush; this means “did you see him”.
Miidewiin Rock with “Offering Shelf”Adjacent to the Miidewiin** Rock at the Cradle Rapids are 2 small narrow elongated caves which used to house 2 round stones. **Miidewiin – grand medicine society and secret religion of some aboriginal groups . These caves are on top of a cliff that was used as a lookout and I was told that these stones were used to clap together and ring a warning tone to the local families and warn them of approaching visitors to the area. At the base of the caves is also a flat rock which when stepped on rings a loud bass tone which can be heard for miles and it sounds like thunder. There is undoubtedly an abundance of history in this small geographical area of a square mile including the ancient village and a rather large historic graveyard.
Quest For The Lost BundleI’m about to embark on a quest to find the lost bundle. However, I feel torn between two worlds. In one world I feel that I’m enabled to find it and bring it back to the community and in the other world I feel that it needs to remain hidden until I’m ready for the journey that it will take me on. This journey will result in me truly identifying and committing to follow a traditional path. I want to travel this path but taking the first step is difficult for me so instead I walk in two worlds. I have powerful dreams in where my ancestors and spirits call to me and they help guide me. I know they appreciate my work because of the gifts they lay at my feet at almost every turn. The spirits also call on me to tell their stories and preserve our ways and when these teachings flow from my conscience a single hawk feather drops to me in appreciation and a whistle is blown in my honour. Okikendawt Island is where we live and it means land of the pots; these were created by historic water flows which work in conjunction with whirlpools and spinning rocks to carve out a rock pot in the granite. The rock pots vary in sizes, but the ones at the Chaudière portage are consistently around 2’ (60cm) in diameter. Often time offerings were placed into the pots as a prayer for a safe journey. To the aboriginal people of the area the pots were compared to pipe bowls and tobacco was placed in them. I’m told by an elder that there are pots out there with much more than tobacco in them and maybe the bundle is within one. The Dodems of our people is a signature of our clan, I’m of the eagle clan and many of my relatives are of the muskrat clan. I have not seen or heard that these rock pots are a signature of our people but rather they are a shared resource much like our view of lands in general – we don’t own them. The acidity associated with granite and pine needles which are in fact the majority of the composition of the French River will melt most artefacts with ease. Birch bark and chert remain resistant for the most part, so artefacts of these materials could easily endure. Another question remains pertinent to the lost bundle and that is – who would have hidden it and why. There is some question as to who the people that lived near Dokis were prior to the late 1800’s but for the most part it was the Nipissings. The Nipissings and Algonquins embraced the fur trade and guarded the Chaudière portage from rival Iroquois tribes in such times as the beaver wars. Below are representations from the Michel Dokis book circa 1860’s.
Prior to the European advancement into these lands and without subdividing archaic Indian groups we will assume that it was mostly the Nipissings who inhabited the area. Perhaps the bundle was hidden from Jesuits or rival tribes. I can only speculate that since the Miidewiin hand-washed red ochre near their symbol at the cradle rapids to signify a special area that they were hiding it from the white man. Not too many people are aware of this, but the Miidewiin have successfully preserved much of our teachings, customs and rites. For us, our identity as a people is being resurrected.