By the time you read this, the Olympics may be nearing the end of its scheduled events way over at the other end of the tunnel to China. I always wonder why we Cree don’t have any contenders for the Olympics, so I have come up with some possible reasons.
Reason 1: Hockey doesn’t qualify for summer Olympics, so the Crees’ favourite pastime cannot be accepted as a legitimate sport. And 2: Dog sledding is now long gone past time, and again, it’s a winter sport. The same goes for snowshoeing, sledding and so on. So why is it that Crees only seem active in the winter months?
Well, first of all, the summer months are a time of relaxation and recovering from the harrowing and tedious winter months of toiling just to stay warm and cozy, that’s why. Perhaps that is why the term “lazy Indian” came to be, when the fur traders were around to witness the summer vacation of the Cree (and possibly other First Nations), and determined that that was the way it was year round, with everyone just setting nets, picking berries, staying up all night and getting married.
Of course, those were lazy summer days, with every other animal that we lived off doing the same thing: geese were moulting, fox furs (and every other fur bearer) were horrid, ducks and other waterfowl were busy tending to their young. Besides, mosquitoes and black flies were just intolerable, so any breeze off the shores of lakes, rivers and bays were more than welcome.
So, any summer sports besides those involving paddling we could rarely qualify for. Perhaps we could invent a few other sports we might excel in.
A slingshot competition might be something that could be introduced, with little plastic birds to use as targets. Perhaps fishing using a primitive stick and handmade materials and lures, with criteria of casting, not losing your hook, best bait, and of course, largest fish (with extra points going for quickest and tastiest cooked fish). Chopping down trees could be an Olympic sport, providing that the whole tree would be used to appease the tree huggers, or perhaps a gold medal could be given to the fastest tree planter and for the most number of trees planted per hectare.
A major event could be called the gruelling portage, where the competitor would fashion a canoe out of materials from the land, using only an axe (no nails allowed); the lightest and most durable paddle would gain points. The portage could be a combination of carrying the canoe up and down hills, shooting rapids to save time and, finally, across the finish line. How much water seeped into the canoe over the last leg of the trip would lead to deductions. Extra points could be made if fish were caught on the way.
Or, we could go the Mohawk route and have competitors run the gauntlet. Whoever survived the ordeal would be allowed to live to compete again.