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Wednesday, 06 April 2016 00:00

Minaajim: Good Stories from Curve Lake--Buck and the man called Rose

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As told by Doug Williams to Julie Kapyrka

            Another well-known guy with a nickname in Curve Lake is “Buck.” He was a very strong, athletic man in his youth—like a young buck. He was renowned for his pitching ability.

            But now Buck is known more for his storytelling. He

lives alone and everyone visits him to hear him tell his stories.

            I recently visited him and he told me about these two old guys who were fighting long ago. In our language one guy finally yelled: “Stop. You’re hurting me.”

            “Then what do people fight for?” says Buck.

            Another thing Buck is known for is that he lives at the landing of the winter road. This is the ice road we use as a short cut during the winter—across the lake. Buck’s place is on the Curve Lake side. So he gets to know who’s the first to cross in the fall, and who’s the last to cross in the spring.

            Wellie is the one who holds the record for crossing the lake earliest with a car. It happened on Nov. 7, 1953. And the record for the latest spring crossing was held by a man we all knew as “Rose.”

            Buck told me that in 1982 people stopped coming across the lake around March 20. But then on April 5 at night, Buck saw lights starting off across the lake from the Selwyn side.

            He jumped up and went out on his step to watch, expecting the vehicle to go through the ice—the lake would soon be wide open. But the lights kept coming, bobbing up and down. When the truck hit shore, the driver came by Buck’s place.

            It was Rose.

            No one had ever (or since) crossed the ice road in April . . . ever.

            Alarmingly, this is the first year in my memory that the ice road was not used at all. Because of the constant thawing and refreezing, the ridges were much too big and dangerous.

            Global warming is changing our environment rapidly. The extreme variations we’re seeing in our weather patterns affect our Anishinaabe peoples’ ways of living.

            For example, when it’s really warm in March, the maple sap does not run and we can’t produce maple syrup or maple sugar. There are many teachings and much ceremony when the sap runs. But that is another story.

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