Billy Joe Laboucan: Cooperation Bush-style

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Thanks to Billy Joe Laboucan for letting me share this great little story. Mary Cardinal Collins calls it a great example of “mâmawohkamâtow sakâwiyiniw style” (cooperation, bush-(people)-style). And it would make a great story for kids. (Now, if he’d only record himself telling it again in Cree!)

One time when we traveling along in our wagon and a team of horses. The wagon was loaded down with us kids sitting on blankets in the back and mom and dad on the front seat, and dogs were tied behind with a couple of dogs running loose. They were dad’s hunters, a header and heeler.
Dad always had his 30-30 close at hand, leaning to his left on the corner of the wagon box; and luckily too, cuz’ a mule deer doe ran right across the wagon road in front of the horses. He handed the lines to my mom, picked up the rifle and fired clipping the left front leg of that running deer all in one motion. Then, the dogs were off chasing it into the bush to our left with my dad right behind them in hot pursuit.
My mom held the horses til they settled down. And in the quiet, we could hear the dogs barking and my dad shouting to them. Then we could hear them turn to the right in a large circle, and suddenly, the deer came running towards us with its front leg dangling as the hunting dogs nipped its heels. In a flash, my mom jumped off the wagon and grabbed its head and flipped it down, crimping its neck. I grabbed the reins just in case the horses moved in the commotion.
She shouted up to us on the wagon, “pītā mōhkomān!” (bring the knife!) Both my sisters were rummaging as quickly as they could in the grub box for my mom’s butcher knife, then my older sister, Cheechit jumped off the wagon with it and handed it to her as my mom struggled with the kicking deer, then she slit its throat, quickly killing it.
Right then, my dad came running out of the bush and yelled at the dogs, “kīyām’pik!” (Quiet!) Then finally, it grew quiet …
Then we all started laughing!
And my dad praised the two hunting dogs for bringing the deer right back to the wagon….
As he looked at my mom, who had already started skinning the deer, … we laughed even more.

About Arden Ogg

Arden Ogg is Director of the Cree Literacy Network, launched in 2010 with the goal of creating Cree language literacy materials suitable for use by learners of all ages.
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