Telling Our Stories

Omushkego Legends and Histories from Hudson Bay

Table of contents

List of Maps and Illustrations

Preface and Acknowledgements, The Editors

Glossary of Cree Terms

    Words and Personal Names

    Place 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

    Giant Animals

    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

    Dream Quest

    Extra Senses - Mind Power

    Mi-te-wak Fights

    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



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.