I had been in camp for two days when the girls asked if I wanted to see their Little People house. Absolutely, I replied. We walk up the path and by the sweatlodge and into the bush following the trail where fasters make their camps. I point out the small fire pits to the girls and tell them that I had fasted in this place a few years ago.
I am reminded about my experience with the Little People when I was fasting. I had a small red flashlight with the Metis infinity sign on it. It was taken from my camp and I knew it was Little People. I had planned to put out small offerings of candy before I started fasting and then I forgot. On the last night my flashlight disappeared.
Two months later when I returned to the Culture Camp I found my flashlight placed upon my pillow.
Not far from where I had fasted the girls and some of the boys had made a teepee about 3 feet tall and covered it with clumps of moss. Inside they had place three to four inch birch stumps and on each of those they had placed mushrooms caps. It was really cool and quite beautiful.
On the walk back to camp I told them my Little People story and there were expressions of fear or concern. I said, I have never seen Little People, although I know that children and Elders see them and that one should consider it an honor to see such a spirit.
As we were walking back I realized that my other visitors had not been seen. The Whiskeyjacks which had kept me company throughout my fast were nowhere to be found. This thought bothered me as much as the thought of seeing Little People bothered some of the girls.
It was Bobby Brightnose who told me that the Whiskeyjack was the first representative of the animal world to greet the human beings when they came into the forest. The Whiskeyjack will always be the first to come around when you are cutting wood or if you are cleaning a moose or once you have set up camp. He is the one that likes the human beings the most.
Later that afternoon as we were readying the sweatlodge I mentioned to Andrew Jacobson that I had not seen a Whiskeyjack. “That’s right,” he said. “Now that you mention it.” He thought that perhaps the bird had a 7-year cycle like other creatures and that this was the point in the Whiskeyjack’s cycle when their numbers are small.
As I stood doorman to the lodge I could hear Andrew offering prayers and Herbert Sanderson from Moose Lake was singing the songs. It was the fourth and final door and I was thinking about how Andrew was concerned about his fishing prospects over the next few weeks before the fall season closed and how there was no pickerel this year.
It came to my mind that perhaps the Whiskeyjack was not happy with the human beings and that we weren’t taking care of the water and the forest like we should. As this thought came to mind I heard a “peep beep peep” and looked up to see a Whiskeyjack fly across the northern sky. Then immediately a hawk flew right above and I lifted my head to follow it. Directly above there was a partial rainbow. It looked like a rainbow smile in the sky.
Behind the rainbow there was a wispy Cirrus cloud that looked on one end like a herd of deer and on another end like a school of fish.
The next day the Whiskeyjacks were back at camp.
I told my mother this story and she said, “Don’t call him Whiskeyjack that is the White man’s word. He is called Weesaykayjak.”