Aboriginal Writings from the Land of Water

Edited by Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair & Warren Cariou
Foreword by Beatrice Mosionier
Categories: Literary Collections
Publisher: Portage & Main Press
Paperback : 9781553793076, 416 pages, January 2012

Table of contents





Traditional Systems of Writing in Manitowapow


Anishinaabe 1774–1864

  • A Reply to the Selkirk Settlers’ Call for Help
  • An Open Letter to the Queen’s Representatives

Pierre Falcon

Métis 1793–1876

  • Li Lord Selkirk au Fort William
  • The Dance of the Bois Brûlés

Cuthbert James Grant and the Sioux Chiefs

Métis 1793–1854/unknown

  • Letter from the Sioux Chiefs to the Métis
  • Letter from Cuthbert Grant to the Sioux Chiefs
  • Letter from the Sioux Chiefs to the Métis

Peter Jacobs (Pahtahsega)

Anishinaabe/ Mississauga 1807–1890

  • From The Journal of the Reverend Peter Jacobs

Henry Budd (Sakachuwescam)

Cree 1812–1875

  • From The Diary of Henry Budd, 1870–1875

Louis Riel

Métis 1844–1885

  • Declaration of the People of Rupert’s Land and the North West
  • From “The Métis of the North West”
  • La Métisse
  • Song of the Métis Maiden
  • Palpite, Ô Mon Esprit
  • Shudder, My Spirit

Gabriel Dumont

Métis 1837–1906

  • Episodes of My Life
  • My Wound at the Battle of Duck Lake
  • My Story

Harriette Goldsmith Sinclair Cowan

Métis/Cree 1832–1926

  • On My Father
  • The “Evil One”
  • The 1850 Manitoba Flood
  • On Being Captured by Riel

Charles Alexander Eastman (Ohiyesa)

Santee Sioux 1858–1939

  • The Maidens’ Feast


Swampy Cree 18??–19??

  • Kuskapatchees: The Smoky One
  • How the Flood Came
  • How the World Was Made Again
  • Why the Moose’s Skin Is Loose
  • Why the Loon Has a Flat Back

William Berens (Tabasigizikweas)

Anishinaabe 1866–1947

  • The Boy in the Red Tuque
  • The Priests and the Furnace
  • The Birth of the Winds, Flint, and the Great Hare

Maurice Sanderson

Cree 1877–?

  • Mill Stones at Fairford
  • Reminiscences of St. Paul’s Industrial School
  • Recollections of an Indian Missionary

Alex Grisdale

Anishinaabe 1896–?

  • Death Island
  • Niskesis and the Little People
  • The Torch Woman

The Dene Elders Project


Marisis Aze

  • Early Life
  • Dreamers
  • The Story of Thanadelthur

Bart Dzeylion

  • Using Bones

Helen Joseyounen

  • Childbirth
  • More Than One Wife

Gabriel Tsannie

  • Stories of Crowhead

George Barker

Saulteaux 1896–c. 1980

  • My Early Years
  • Medicine Dance

James Redsky (Esquekesik)

Anishinaabe 1899–?

  • Eagle Feather
  • The Creation of Man

Albert Edward Thompson

Cree/Saulteaux 1900–1973

  • From Chief Peguis and His Descendants

Thomas Boulanger

Cree 1901–?

  • From An Indian Remembers: My Life as a Trapper in Northern Manitoba

Norway House Elders


Irene Muswagon

  • Red Willow Crystals
  • Muskeg Leaves
  • Ginger Roots or Wíhkés

Tommy York

  • Treaty Days
  • Rations
  • York Boats: The Tail End of an Era
  • The First Airplane I Ever Saw

Ruby Beardy

  • Residential School Burns, May 29, 1945

Betsy Muminawatum

  • The Winter Setting at Máhtawak
  • The Travelling Stores of the Fur Buyers
  • Off to the Spring Camp
  • Homemade Jeans and Woolen Socks

David Courchene Sr.

Anishinaabe 1926–1992

  • Message of the Grand Chief
  • Problems and Possible Solutions

Alice Masak French

Ninatakmuit Inuit 1930–

  • Grandmother Susie

Louis Bird (Pennishish)

Omushkego Cree 1934–

  • John Sakaney
  • Bernard Gull
  • Our Grandmothers’ Powers

Elders of Moose Lake


  • The Story of East Arm Narrows
  • The Medicine Man, Two Claws
  • The Story of Norris Lake
  • The Origin of the Wetigo

Tobasonakwut Kinew

Anishinaabe 1936–

  • “Let Them Burn The Sky”: Overcoming Repression of the Sacred Use of Anishinaabe Lands

Elders of Grand Rapids


  • We Had a Good Life
  • No Fish Can Go Up There
  • We Helped Each Other

Bernelda Wheeler

Cree/Assiniboine/Saulteaux 1937–2005

  • I Can’t Have Bannock but the Beaver Has a Dam
  • Our Beloved Land and You

The Prairie Call

  • Welcome to The Prairie Call
  • Unity
  • The Rain-Dance and the Car Lot
  • The Importance of Defending Our Culture
  • Outlook in City—Bleak
  • The Damaged Goods

Citizens of Camperville


  • Statement by the Citizens of Camperville

George Morrissette

Métis 1938–

  • Michif Toune Buffalo
  • Le Pique-nique des Purs

Doris Young

Cree 1940–

  • Northern Manitoba Hydro Electric Projects and Their Impact on Cree Culture

Theodore Fontaine

Anishinaabe 1941–

  • Killing the Indian in the Child

Marie Annharte (nee Baker)

Anishinaabe 1942–

  • Hudson Bay Bill
  • One Way to Keep Track of Who Is Talking
  • Penumbra
  • Pretty Tough Skin Woman
  • Raced Out to Write This Up

Jackson Beardy

Anishinaabe/Cree 1944–1984

  • The Revenge
  • The Story of the Giant Skunk
  • The Bachelor

Phil Fontaine

Anishinaabe 1944–

  • Statement to the Pope

Joe McLellan and Matrine Therriault

Métis 1945 and Anishinaabe/Cree 1946

  • Nanabosho and the Cranberries

Ovide Mercredi

Cree 1946–

  • A Different Politics

Elijah Harper

Cree 1949–

  • What Canada Means to Me

Charles Nelson (Mizhakwanigiizhik)

Anishinaabe 1949–

  • “Protection” Conflicting with Anishinabe Rights

Emma LaRocque

Plains Cree Métis 1949–

  • Geese Over the City
  • Long Way From Home
  • My Hometown Northern Canada South Africa

Beatrice Mosionier

Métis 1949–

  • From In the Shadow of Evil
  • From Come Walk With Me, A Memoir

Patricia Ningewance

Anishinaabe 1951–

  • Aabiding E-niibing Gichi-mookomaanakiing
  • Once on a Summer in the United States

Murray Sinclair

Anishinaabe 1951–

  • Suicide in First Nations People

Inmates at Stony Mountain Institution


  • Unemployment & Indians
  • When the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry Came to Stony Mountain
  • The Great Snake and the Boy

Tomson Highway

Cree 1951–

  • From Kiss of the Fur Queen
  • From The Rez Sisters
  • From Iskooniguni Iskweewuk: The Rez Sisters in Cree

Duncan Mercredi

Cree/Métis 1951–

  • Betty
  • Blues Singer
  • born again indian
  • yesterday’s song
  • Wachea

Lorraine Mayer

Métis 1953–

  • Scrip
  • À la façon du pays

Marvin Francis

Cree 1955–2005

  • mcPemmicanTM
  • Pulling Faces
  • Soup for the Hood
  • Air Miles Poem
  • Duncan Donut Cig Poem

Ila Bussidor

Dene 1955–

  • From Night Spirits: The Story of the Relocation of the Sayisi Dene

Douglas Nepinak

Saulteaux 1960–2005

  • Main Street
  • Bone Memory
  • indians

Darrell Racine

Métis 1960–

  • From Stretching Hide (with Dale Lakevold)

Joanne Arnott

Métis 1960–

  • Manitoba Pastoral
  • Migration

Brenda Isabel Wastasecoot

Cree 1963–

  • Down the Flats

Jordan Wheeler

Cree/Anishinaabe/Assiniboine 1964–

  • Sap

Cheryl Smoke

Dakota Sioux 1964–

  • The Hills

Trevor Greyeyes

Anishinaabe 1964–

  • Jupiter and Mars

David McLeod

Anishinaabe/Métis 1964–

  • I write
  • Statement of account #346
  • boy I can’t wait to get my cheque

Paul DePasquale

Haudenosaunee 1965–

  • At the Edge of the Woods Is a Fire
  • School of Hard Knocks

Shayla Elizabeth

Cree 1965–

  • Chief miska muskwa

Gregory Scofield

Cree/Métis 1966–

  • Women Who Forgot the Taste of Limes
  • The Repatriation of Mrs. Ida M. Scofield
  • Prayer Song for the Returning of Names and Sons

Warren Cariou

Métis 1966–

  • Going to Canada

Gilbert James Fredette

Cree/Innu 1966–

  • Visions or Screams
  • A Lifetime Ago

Randy Lundy

Cree 1967–

  • deer-sleep
  • ghost dance
  • ritual
  • the trees are spirits

Ian Ross

Anishinaabe 1968–

  • NSF
  • Moose on the Road
  • A Little Dog Wearin’ Nail Polish

Nichola Tookoome Batzel

Inuk 1970–

  • Our Stories Belong Here Too: Manitoba Inuk

Columpa C. Bobb

Coast Salish 1971–

  • From Will Work 4 Home

Nahanni Fontaine

Anishinaabe 1971–

  • Our Cherished Sisters, Mothers, Aunties, and Grandmothers: Violence Against Aboriginal Women

Rosanna Deerchild

Cree 1972–

  • back home
  • crazy horse is a girl
  • northern lights
  • paper indians

Colleen Simard

Anishinaabe/Cree 1972–

  • Listen to the Roar of the Thunderbirds
  • Thanks, Mr. Paul, for All Your Help

Maeengan Linklater

Anishinaabe 1974–

  • Home

Althea Guiboche

Cree/Saulteaux 1974–

  • I Found Myself the Other Day
  • I Dream of Jigging

Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair

Anishinaabe 1976–

  • Water Scroll

Donna Beyer

Cree/Anishinaabe 1976–

  • nichimos
  • backroads

Clayton Thomas-Müller

Cree 1977–

  • The Seventh Generation

Ryan McMahon

Anishinaabe/Métis 1977–

  • Hystereotypes, Eh?

Katherena V​ermette

Métis 1977–

  • nortendgrrl

David Alexander Robertson

Swampy Cree 1977–

  • From Ends/Begins

Wabanakwut (Wab) Kinew

Anishinaabe 1981–

  • Good Boy

Julie Lafreniere

Métis 1982–

  • Adventures in Dating a White Guy

Jennifer Storm

Anishinaabe 1986–

  • From Deadly Loyalties

Suzanne Morrissette

Métis 1987–

  • incomplete thoughts on knowing through place

Rebecca Kantimere

Anishinaabe 1989–

  • A Mother’s Promise

Alyssa Bird

Cree/Anishinaabe 1993–

  • Frustration


Thematic Index

A rich, colourful, and diverse collection of works by Indigenous writers that together tell the story of Manitowapow, also known as Manitoba.


This anthology of Aboriginal writings from Manitoba takes readers back through the millennia and forward to the present day, painting a dynamic picture of a territory interconnected through words, ideas, and experiences. A rich collection of stories, poetry, nonfiction, and speeches, it features: Historical writings, from important figures. Vibrant literary writing by eminent Aboriginal writers. Nonfiction and political writing from contemporary Aboriginal leaders. Local storytellers and keepers of knowledge from far-reaching Manitoba communities. New, vibrant voices that express the modern Aboriginal experiences. Anishinaabe, Cree, Dene, Inuit, Métis, and Sioux writers from Manitoba. Created in the spirit of the Anishinaabe concept debwe (to speak the truth), The Debwe Series is a collection of exceptional Aboriginal writing from across Canada. Manitowapow, a one-of-a-kind anthology, is the first book in The Debwe Series. Manitowapow is the traditional name that became Manitoba, a word that describes the sounds of beauty and power that created the province.


Manitowapow is a must-read, not only for all of Manitobans, but for all Canadians. It brings to life the history and experiences of one of the most beautiful places in the world through images, words, and stories of people who draw their lives from the land and water here. Our home is a storied place. This book tells this story, completing a chapter of history rarely told in books and classrooms.

- Phil Fontaine

These are voices that need to be heard and read. These are the foundations of our culture, foundations which have grown from generation to generation into the imagination and intellect of today. Of the today we will share.

- John Ralston Saul

Rich with prose, poetry, and historical events, [this book would be] invaluable in Native studies, literature, and history courses, as well as for the general reader.

- Beatrice Mosionier