I’m a storyteller. That’s the bottom line. Even though I’ve worked in the media for more than 25 years, all I ever wanted to do was tell stories about people. I wanted to tell inspiring stories of ordinary people who overcame situations that would have taken others down.
There is a huge difference between writing “journalism style” and the writing of a storyteller. The following story was recently repeated to me by an elder. I almost killed myself laughing when I heard the story in Cree. However, I think I can write the story in English.
A long time ago, First Nations people had no mirrors. They didn’t know how they looked. When European people started to arrive, there was one group of First Nations people that had a camp along the South Saskatchewan River, near where the City of Saskatoon now stands. In the camp were two brothers who were identical twins. Even those who lived in the camp couldnt tell the two apart. When one of the twins was tragically killed in a hunting accident, the other was heartbroken, so much so he stayed in his teepee for days at a time, sometimes even weeks.
Finally, after months of mourning, he decided to go hunting. He walked along the river and then up the banks to look for possible game. He walked for several miles when he noticed something. It was the tracks of a covered wagon. European settlers had passed by. He heard about the settlers, but had never seen one.
He was following the tracks when he noticed something shining. He looked at it, and couldn't believe his eyes. It was a broken mirror one of the settlers must have thrown out. He looked at the mirror showing his reflection. “Hello, my brother,” he said, with tears running down his face.
He sat there all day talking with his brother. He decided to hide the “spirit of my brother” before he reached the camp.
“I have to leave you here,” he said, “because nobody is going to believe me.”
He had a girlfriend who was jealous and extremely controlling. “Where were you?” she demanded when he reached his teepee. He tried to explain he went hunting, but she wouldn’t believe him.
“Yeah, right,” she said. “You were probably at another camp,” she mumbled as they went to sleep. He woke up early to go hunting. He immediately walked to the mirror. What he didn’t know was his girlfriend was following him.
“I have to leave you here my brother,” he said as he hid the mirror and started to walk away. His girlfriend went to the spot where he was and found the mirror. “I knew it,” she screamed out as she attacked her boyfriend.
Her grandmother was watching all this. “What are you two fighting about?” the elderly woman asked.
“He’s got a girlfriend hiding under that tree,” said the young woman.
The elderly woman decided to see for herself. She found the mirror and was stunned at what she saw.
“Why,” she wondered out loud, “why would a young man fight over an ugly old lady?”
That’s the way a First Nations person tells a story. I’m a storyteller and that’s the bottom line.