The Inspiration of “Manitou Island”

The Robinson Treaty made in the Year 1850 with the Ojibewa Indians of Lake Huron, conveying certain lands to the crown of Canada is a stark reminder of a history to regret.It’s very officious, legal and permanent-sounding: “…the sum of two thousand pounds of good and lawful money of Upper Canada…to convey unto Her Majesty, her heirs and successors for ever, all their right, title and interest to, and in the whole of…eastern and northern shores of Lake Huron, northern shores of Lake Superior, together with the islands…” The fact that our history is centered on stories like this – stealing tens of millions of acres of land to bleed it dry – inspired me to write a book some years ago, now being transformed into an illustrated novella: Manitou Island.

“Asawasanay.” Norma poured him a glass of water. “That’s a beautiful name.”     

“I was named after one of my forefathers. His name is on the Robinson Treaty, the treaty that signed away all of these lands.”

“I don’t understand,” Gerbi replied. “I mean, isn’t there some kind of custom to what you’re doing here? Don’t you have rituals or anything like that?”

“What would you have me do? Appear on a white stallion? Or perhaps you envisioned a birch-bark canoe.”  

“How did you get here?”   

“I hitchhiked.”

“You hitchhiked,” Gerbi repeated dully. 

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