Finding The Lost Bundle

Manitou's Greeting Rock
The Manitou’s Greeting Rock. Photo: Norm Dokis.

Recently an elder from our community told me that there is a hidden bundle* around the Cradle Rapids which is below the Chaudière Falls at Dokis First Nation.

He told me about this after I showed him pictures of the rock paintings and rock reflections which are a spiritual guidance to our people.

*bundle – a collection of medicines, tools, musical instruments etc all used in ceremony.

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 .

Rock painted and cracked with shelf below and juniper above.
The Miidewiin Rock with Offering Shelf. Photo: Paul Kirtley

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.

Graveyard.  Photo: Norm Dokis.
Graveyard. Photo: Norm Dokis.
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 Bundle

I’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.

Medicine Bundle.
Medicine Bundle.
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.

French River Rock Pot
Rock Pot. Photo: Norm Dokis.

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.

Chert tools.
Chert found near Cradle Rapids at Dokis . Photo: Norm Dokis.
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.

Head of Nawash.
Head of Nawash.
Merman Clan.
Merman Clan.
Muskrat (Restoule).
Muskrat (Restoule).

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.

Norm Dokis at Miidewiin Rock.
Norm Dokis at Miidewiin Rock. Photo: Ray Goodwin.

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Norman Dokis

Norm Dokis is an expert in nature interpretation for the French River area who joins part of the Frontier Bushcraft French River Expedition as a guide. He is a member of the Dokis First Nation and has a keen ability to animate his culture and its history via the stories he tells. Whatever the programme, time spent with Norm is always captivating and highly informative.

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10 Responses

  1. hedgey
    | Reply

    Outstanding, very interesting to read and well presented. I love to read articles like this, great stuff, keep it up.

    THANKS Norm, Paul.

    • Paul Kirtley
      | Reply

      As always Hedgey, you’re very welcome.

      Thanks for reading and thanks for commenting.

      All the best,


  2. Toby
    | Reply

    Fantastic stories and insight into Norm’s life and surroundings. I would love to read more. So interesting. Thanks Paul and Norm!

  3. Alex Strachan
    | Reply

    Hi Paul,

    That is a great post and I will be contacting Norm to tell him so. Thank-you for providing Norm Dokis with the chance to post on your site. It means a lot to me that you have connected with him because, as we both know, he is a special kind of guy.

    All the best,

    • Paul Kirtley
      | Reply

      Hi Alex,

      It’s great to hear from you. I’m glad you liked Norm’s post. You know Norm and, as you say, he is a special individual.

      I’m really thankful to have been introduced to Norm.

      I really enjoyed his post and so did other French River expedition members who have had the pleasure of spending time with Norm. The article really struck a chord with them as well as other readers of this blog.

      All the best,


  4. Buck
    | Reply

    Hi Paul,
    My grandmother was full blooded Algonquin from Mattawa. I am sure there was an ancestral connection with the Nipissings back in time. My mom would speak a Metis language (mix of French, Algonquin and English words) which needs to be revived as well. I strongly believe in ancestral memories, and each time I get to the bush, I feel connected and at home with it, especially out east (I am in Alberta now and the connections is not quite the same). Perhaps this is what bushcraft is: a memory jog to our ancestral ways, and the satisfaction is ingrained in our genes when we achieve something our elders did daily to exist. It connects us to our elders in a physical, tangible way.

    Hope that doesn’t sound too strange.

    Thanks for the post.


    • Buck
      | Reply

      By the way, my Mom greeted people with “Boozhoo” all the time. 😉

      Boozhoo my friend.

      • Paul Kirtley
        | Reply

        If it’s not inappropriate for a mayagwewinini to use “Boozhoo”, then boozhoo from the UK my friend 🙂

  5. Alex
    | Reply

    Thank you Norm for sharing this. Safe travels on your journeys.

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