The Cry of the Chickadee

The Cry of the Chickadee
In the fall when leaves on the trees are changing colour, a great number of families go out on the lakes and rivers to their traplines.

 

 


The Cry of the Chickadee

Long ago, one family went to a certain place every year because moose, muskrat, beaver, caribou and rabbits were plentiful there. Life was good for these people in the winter and by the time spring had come, they had trapped many muskrats, beavers and rabbits.

 

 

The Cry of the Chickadee
The family had so much meat that they did not know what to do with it. The father did not want to leave it behind to rot. This meant that he would have to make two trips in order to haul everything to their summer camp. He decided to leave his children behind and take his wife and most of the meat with him on the first trip.

 

 

The Cry of the Chickadee

The man and his wife started on the journey to their summer home with the meat. The trail was unbroken, deep with snow, and the trip took much longer than they expected. They were not worried about their children because there was food for them to eat, and there was little danger from wolves and other animals.

 

 

The Cry of the ChickadeeOne day after their parents had left, the boys awoke one morning to find that their little sister had wandered off into the forest. They began looking for her in places in which she liked to hide, but they could not find a trace of her.

The boys wondered if the little girl had followed their parents, but they were afraid to follow the trail because it was a great distance and they were too small to use bows and arrows if wolves attacked them. But the boys were worried about their little sister.

 

The Cry of the Chickadee
That night as they sat by their campfire outside the lodge, two owls in the forest began hooting back and forth to each other about the little girl. When it was completely dark, the boys went into the lodge.

 

 

 

The Cry of the Chickadee
During the night, they heard footsteps around the cabin and they were very frightened. They could hear growling and barking and howling as wolves came closer to the camp.

The boys picked up their bows and arrows and waited at the back of the cabin ready to protect themselves. But nothing appeared and the barking and howling faded as the sun rose in the east. The boys waited until the sun was high in the sky before they went out to look for their little sister.


The Cry of the Chickadee
They cried and cried for her”, , !”

Suddenly they started to shrink in size and grow feathers. They were changed into two tiny birds. They flew into the camp and picked at the meat until they were full with food. Then the two little birds continued to stay in the camp because there was food available for them.

 

The Cry of the Chickadee
Several days passed and the father returned to the camp to get his children. When he was near the cabin, he listened for their voices, but he could hear nothing. He ran the rest of the way to the cabin thinking that the children might be hiding from him. He looked and looked everywhere for them.

 

 

The Cry of the Chickadee
After he searched for days, the father gave up because he thought his children might have been eaten by wolves or bears. The meat still remained in the lodge where the father sat down to think. He was very sad because he had lost his children.

 

 

The Cry of the Chickadee
Suddenly he heard someone outside calling, “, !” He was so happy that he jumped up and hurried out of the cabin thinking that it was his sons. But all he saw were the two little birds.

“Why are you crying like that, little birds?” he asked.

The birds chirped, “Oh, father! We have lost our little sister.” Then the birds started crying again and flew into the forest. That is why chickadees cry differently in the spring than they do the rest of the year. It is the cry of two little brothers searching for their lost sister.

 

WILL SOON BE AVAILIBLE IN CREE (pending translation)

COLLECTED AND ILLUSTRATED BY: James Ratt
TOLD BY: Ida Ratt
EDITED BY: Minnie McKenzie
COLOURED BY: Charlie G. A. McKenzie
© Lac La Ronge Band Education Branch 1983
Edited & Revised: 2005