October 25, 1928
The caribou arrive to the East provoking great joy and dancing among the hungry Caribou-Eaters.
The Land of Feast and Famine
Topics: (click to open)
Then comes another evening early in October. In the largest of the tepees the hunters are seated, staring into the open fire. Now and then one of them pushes aside the tent-flap and glances out. Down on the beach the squaws are standing in groups, peering out into the darkness. The mood of the night is definitely autumnal, with a gurgling from the river and a soft murmur from the lake. We are awaiting the moose-hunters. Three days ago they departed into the east, and tonight they must surely return. The eldest of the squaws has predicted it so, and thus there can be no doubt in our minds, for she feels it in her bones, and her intuition has seldom proved false.
As we are sitting there, we hear a sudden cry from the beach. Like one man, we leap to our feet and race outside. My, but those squaws have sharp ears! Every now and then the wind ever so faintly brings us the sound of distant paddles. These sounds increase in intensity and duration and, at length, the canoe grounds on the beach. The women run over to it. Suddenly a stir runs through the crowd, immediately followed by a wild cry of jubilation: " E-then! E-then! (Caribou! Caribou!) " Then it seems as though the devil himself is let loose. " E-then! E-then! " they all cheer together, dancing round and round in each other's arms like crazy folk, slapping each other on the back, smiling and laughing. Antoine puts both arms around me and whirls me away, the end of it being that I tumble over backwards down the sloping bank of the river. After regaining my balance somewhat, I do not hold myself aloof from these Indians. The last trace of civilization is blown to the four winds. I clutch little Antoine in my arms, and round and round we dance until our breath gives out, and then we shout, "E-then! E-then!" until our throats are raw.
Yes, the caribou had arrived. East of the mountains the hunters had encountered the herd streaming out of the northwest.