REGINA – Story-telling is central to First Nations culture – in fact, stories are integral to the survival of any culture – they connect people, pass on knowledge, and remind us of our past.
In this Sask History Capsule, we explore traditional story-telling with Jesse Archibald-Barber, a First Nations university English associate professor:
“My grandpa, George Klynne was a well-known Metis story-teller from the Katepwa area and he told me this story once a long time ago. It was back in the 1920’s or 30’s and it was a really long, cold winter. This one trapper and his family had nearly run out of food. All they had left was this one chunk of bread, but instead of eating it, the trapper decided to try to use it to catch a rabbit. So, he went out into the woods and he set a snare on a large rock and he put the chunk of bread in the middle. The next day when he came back, he saw some rabbit tracks around the rock, but the snare hadn’t been set off and the bread was gone. Scratching his head, he went back home.
“The next day he went back out to the rock and set his snare up and he took one of his boot laces and cut it up into little pieces and put it in the middle. But again, the next day when he came back the snare hadn’t been set off and all the bait was gone.
“He sat there all night and the next morning he had an idea. He grabbed a can of pepper from the cupboard and he went out to that rock and poured a small pile on the rock. Back home everyone thought he was crazy, but when he returned the next day, there it was, a dead rabbit lying beside the rock.”
How did he do it? “When the rabbit sniffed the pepper he sneezed so hard that he smashed his head in right there on that rock,” said Archibald-Barber.
Part of me thinks that it is a true story, but regardless of whether it’s true or not, the moral of the story isn’t that you can catch rabbits with pepper, but that the key to survival is to change the way one thinks. And that’s not just a lesson from the past, but that’s something we face continually today.”