by: Nicholas P. (11)
Tyee the Brave
“Tyee”. I looked up. It was my father. He was wearing leggings and a breechcloth, and a blanket to cover him. My father was holding a pair of bows and some arrows. “Tyee, since you turned 11 you will be able to go hunting with me. “ I could not believe it. I am going hunting!!! Anishinabe are mostly hunters and fishers. We live around the north shores of Lake Superior and Lake Huron and the west of The Lake of the Woods. We live in villages made up from family groups and named after animals. My people hunt deer, ducks, pigeons, moose, fox, wolves, bears, rabbits, beavers, and other small game animals that live on the land overgrowing with lush trees and plants.
The sweet morning breeze is blowing through the forest of the Canadian Shield. As my dad and I walked through the forest, I saw something move. It was a moose! I quickly grabbed an arrow and positioned my bow for the shot. Whoosh…
“Aouie Aouie Aouie Aouie Aouie Aouie Aouie”. Everyone is dancing, singing, having fun at the pow wow. The pow wow is our way to celebrate our spiritual beliefs through song and dance. I am the reason for which the pow wow is being held tonight. Because of that lucky shot in the forest, my village has enough food for numerous days. I feel the strong smell of raw meat from the freshly cut moose. All of the dancers are in the circle following a clockwise pattern. In the middle is our oldest symbol – the eagle staff carried in by a war veteran who has earned the respect of my village. I am looking for my mom. She is dancing with other women in the outer edge of the dance circle bending her knees and staying on one spot. My mom wears a garment that is made of 2 deerskins sewn together with sinew from deer, and very soft moccasins for special occasion. After the dance we had the feast. We ate fish soup and wild rice from wooden bowls, using spoons made from knots of trees. We used knifes made from animal’s bones or ribs to cut dried and salted fish, cooked rabbits, ducks and deer. The sweetness of strawberries, blueberries and wild plums were lingering in the air. The children and younger women were helping around.
After the pow wow everyone went to sleep in their wigwams. We live in wigwams. They are shaped like half a walnut shell with one entrance. To make them we use wooden poles that are deeply pushed into the ground and we cover them with cattail rushes, basswood bark and birch bark. A smoke hole is in the middle of the wigwam. Wigwams are not easily portable. An animal hide usually hangs over the entrance as a door. We occasionally use tipis when we are camping or on short trips. When I went to my family’s wigwam no one was there. I was so tired that as soon as I closed my eyes I fell asleep.
The next morning I woke up to see that my parents were still no where in sight. I was waiting all day, but still my parents were no where. I was very worried. When a misty night came something sparked in front of me. Out of those flames in the middle of my family wigwam appeared a thing. It looked… it looked like a human. Then it said a word. I nearly fainted. “Tyee” the figure said. “Tyee I am your ancestor. From the sky, I was watching your village. I noticed that your mom and dad are not here.” “Yes, I noticed too that my parents are not here” I said. My ancestor leaned closer and whispered: “On the night of the pow wow, while everyone was having fun, there was a man who slipped in your wigwam and took your parents.” My ancestor looked very sad, but the look on his face was nothing compared to my face. I was furious and sad. Then all of a sadden I started to cry.
The next morning, I walked to the chief of my tribe. I told him about the encounter with my ancestor. The chief looked worried. He called the elders to attend a meeting. This is our way to discuss and satisfy group needs. Despite children are not allowed to be in a meeting, I was there listening closely to the debate. 1st man said “Let there be a search to find his parents.” 2nd man said “Let there be a ceremony to please the Creator so he can return Tyee’s parents” The debate continued until the room was spinning around my head. “STOOOP!!” I yelled, “I will go by myself and search for my parents”. Everyone was silent. Nobody talked. Finally the chief said “Tyee, I know you are brave but you are not ready to go and search for your family alone.” The elders went in a huddle. They whispered and whispered. Finally, their decision was made. “Tyee, we know that you are still young and you will probably not survive by yourself. One of our best warriors and your best friend will go with you.” I bowed to show my thankfulness to the chief and the elders.
When I woke up the next morning, I took a deep breath to remember the beautiful smell of my village, the smell of the sweet maple sap cooking in a pot made of clay. My grandma and grandpa brought me a gift to wish me luck on my journey. It was an eagle feather. My best friend and I were looking how the warrior was packing deer hides, bows, arrows and an axe. We were ready to go. Everyone from my village came to wish us a farewell.
We were walking all day long. Our moccasins, made from moose hide, were very strong and protected our feet. That night we helped the warrior built a small tipi using some poles from the forest and the soft deer hides. It was first tipi my best friend and I made. The warrior used flint stone found on the lake shore, some branches and dry grass to start fire. He told us that Anishinabe use fire not only to provide sense of security and comfort, or to scare away dangerous animals. They use fire smoke as a rescue signal. He also told us that watching and helping older is the way how the Anishinabe children learn. Then, as we sat around the fire, he told us a story about how the Creator spread life across the Earth, placing all swimming creatures in the water, all crawling and four-legged animals on the land, giving life to all plants and insects. Then as a last form of life he created “first” man, Anishinabe. All forms of life lived in harmony and circle. Anishinabe always showed respect for all living things and never broke the cycle of life. I was very proud to be Anishinabe. That night I had a dream about how the Creator sent a big eagle to find my parents. I strongly believed in him and his Great Spirit.
And then, a very soft touch touched me. It was my mother that touched. She was calling my name. “Tyee,Tyee wake up”. I opened my eyes. I was in my family wigwam. In a moment I realized that it all was a bad dream. All except my strong feeling of belonging to my tribe, my proudness and my happiness to be an Anishinabe.