Telling Our Stories: Omushkego Legends and Histories from Hudson Bay
Since the 1970s, Louis Bird, a distinguished Aboriginal storyteller and historian, has been recording the stories and memories of Omushkego (Swampy Cree) communities along western Hudson and James Bays. In nine chapters, he presents some of the most vivid legends and historical stories from his collection, casting new light on his people’s history, culture, and values. Working with the editors and other contributors to provide background and context for the stories, he illuminates their many levels of meaning and brings forward the value system and world-view that underlie their teachings.
Students of Aboriginal culture, history, and literature will find that this is no ordinary book of stories compiled from a remote, disconnected voice, but rather a project in which the teller, deeply engaged in preserving his people's history, language, and values, is committed to bringing his listeners and readers as far along the road to understanding as he possibly can.
- World Rights
- Page Count: 272 pages
- Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.7in x 9.0in
This is an amazing book, carefully produced with helpful maps, glossary, notes, and illustrations. The editors' preface and Louis Bird's own introduction to his life and work orient the reader so everything works together to create the context for understanding the stories themselves. And the stories are wonderful! Illuminating and ranging widely over a variety of topics and themes, they are skillfully told and rendered. This is a moving and comprehensive book. We should be grateful to Mr. Bird and his collaborators for allowing us into this world.
Brian Swann, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
Mr. Louis Bird is a distinguished public intellectual from his Omushkego (Cree) community who has collaborated effectively with scholars from the University of Winnipeg to bring his knowledge to his own community and beyond. Rarely do outsiders have such an opportunity to hear an elder speak in the full range of oral tradition genres: from creation stories and traditional legends to historical memories passed down by previous generations of cultural experts within the community, to personal experiences, to elegiac reflection on contemporary loss of culture and language (which he dates to 1980 when most people stopped living on the land). These narratives are unified by Mr. Bird's self-confidence and pride in his Omushkego ways. He has sought out others with traditional knowledge and incorporated their words in his own synthesis. He records this knowledge, which is the intellectual property of his community, so that future generations will have access to it.
Regna Darnell, Director of First Nations Studies Program, University of Western Ontario
Author InformationLouis Bird is a widely known storyteller and historian of his Omushkego (Swampy Cree) people. A member of Winisk First Nation, he resides in Peawanuck near the shore of Hudson Bay. He has devoted the last three decades to preserving Omushkego stories, language, and history on audiotape. More than 80 of the stories he has gathered, along with overviews of his life story and the Winisk region, are presented on the website www.ourvoices.ca, produced by the Omushkego Oral History Project at the University of Winnipeg.
Jennifer S.H. Brown is a Professor in the Department of History at the University of Winnipeg, Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Peoples in an Urban and Regional Context, and Director of the Centre for Rupert's Land Studies at the University of Winnipeg. She is the author of Strangers in Blood: Fur Trade Company Families in Indian Country (University of Oklahoma Press, 1996).
Table of contents
List of Maps and Illustrations
Preface and Acknowledgements, The Editors
Glossary of Cree Terms
Words and Personal Names
Suggested Language Resources
Chapter 1: An Omushkego Storyteller and his Book
A Quotation Story: "It Must Be Your Thigh Bone that You Hear"
Chapter 2: "Now, the Question of Creation": Stories About Beginnings and the World before We Came
Introduction, Paul W. DePasquale
Mi-she-shek-kak (The Giant Skunk)
Creator Talks to the Animals About the Emergence of the Humans
Chapter 3: Mi-te-wi-win: Stories of Shamanism and Survival
Introduction, Mark F. Ruml
The Dream Quest and Mi-te-wi-win
Guidance and Instruction From an Older Relative
Extra Senses - Mind Power
Introduction to the Shaking Tent, Mark F. Ruml
The Shaking Tent
Chapter 4: Mi-tew Power: Stories of Shamanic Showdowns
Introduction, Mark F. Ruml
The Legend of We-mis-shoosh
The Young Orphan Boy Defeats a Powerful and Feared Mi-tew
Chapter 5: Omens, Mysteries, and First Encounters
Introduction, Jennifer S.H. Brown
The Omushkego Captive and the Na-to-way-wak: A Remarkable Escape
Omens, Mysteries, and First Encounters with Europeans
"I Cannot Have Anything from these We-mis-ti-go-si-wak"
"In the Memory of the Wikeson I-skwe-o"
Cha-ka-pesh and the Sailors
Strangers on Akimiski Island: Helping a Grounded Ship
Wa-pa-mo-win, the Mirror
Chapter 6: "The Wailing Clouds" (Pa-so-way-yan-nask Chi-pe-ta-so-win)
Introduction, Anne Lindsay
The Wailing Clouds
Chapter 7: Arrows and Thunder Sticks: Technologies Old and New
Introduction, Roland Bohr
On Firearms and Archery
Chapter 8: Mi-te-wi-win versus Christianity: Grand Sophia's Story
Introduction, Donna G. Sutherland
Grand Sophia's Near-Death Experience
Chapter 9: Conclusion: Problems and Hopes
Notes on Contributors
Subjects and Courses