As told by George Diamond Sr. and Louise Diamond
Interviewed by Christopher Stephen
Translation by Brian Webb
I will talk about what I was asked to talk about today. This was really long ago. Many of the Elders who told the stories are not alive anymore. This happened long ago. I don’t really like what I’m going to try because it was too long ago. Because some stories that are told are not the same. Just like the legends; they’re not all the same. That’s what happens to the old stories. I think the young people should have tried to get these stories earlier. But I guess they didn’t hear the stories that we heard in the past. People will know my name here. My name is George Diamond. And I will try to tell the story of what I’ve heard. I’ll try to tell the story carefully.
At Hannah Bay, there must have been a trading post where supplies were kept with food, guns and ammunition. A manager must have been put there to take care of the post but I’m not sure if it was a white man or a Native. The people around there must have gone there to get their supplies from the white man. They took their furs to trade. And from what they’ve traded, that was how they bought their supplies as they traveled on their hunts.
This event happened long ago. There was a man; I’m not sure of his name. But it’s from the Elders’ stories that I will tell this. They called that old man Kaapischaaukuu. There were two young men with him who were his sons. They accompanied him on the hunts. Then they thought of doing something that they thought. They thought, “We would have many things if we owned the supplies at the trading post.” This was the post where the people took their furs to trade. The Elder called Kaapischaaukuu performed the shaking tent when it was erected for him. He was told from the shaking tent what to do – by the voices that were heard. I, too, have heard this many times – hearing someone from the shaking tent.
Then once while doing this, a spirit talked to him from the shaking tent. It said, “If you are able to do something among your people, you will succeed.” That was to kill one of his people in his group. There was an old woman at their camp. She was very old and unable to do things for herself. She must have been blind because of how old she was and must have been just carried around. This was the first person they killed – the old woman. I don’t think they properly buried the old woman because of how they acted. The whole camp was on the move. They went to the trading post and made camp. They erected their teepees. At night, they built a huge fire.
There was young boy at the trading post, who had been raised there. He had a younger sibling there. I don’t think their mother was alive. That was where they stayed. This young boy entered the teepee with the brightly-lit fire. The people inside were preparing their guns. They were the guns filled with gunpowder; those were the only guns around. There were no rifles at that time. The people were cleaning their guns.
This young boy went home. He was very surprised to see them really cleaning their guns. He told the post manager what the group was doing. “I wonder if these people are trying to kill us,” the young boy said. The manager didn’t listen to what was said. Well, he didn’t know what those people were thinking. These people stayed there for a while and hunted for themselves. Then those people said, “Early in the morning, we’ll go to the trading post.” In the morning when the sun wasn’t still up, they knew the manager was up. They went to the trading post when they knew the manager was awake. The manager went outside. He was the first to go outside. That was where they assaulted him.
They used guns. They killed all the people of the post. The young boy who was raised at the post knew for sure that they were killing the people of the post. His younger sibling was there at the post too. The young boy grabbed his sibling and they ran away together. They were shot at. The young boy knew his younger sibling was hit as he ran with him. His hand was also hit. He saw his blood flowing from his hand. He sucked the blood from his hand. He didn’t stop running. He sucked the blood from his wounded hand and spit the blood on the snow. The ones running after him trying to kill him saw what he had done. They saw his spit was bloody. They thought he was already dying and coughing up blood from his body. But he was only drawing blood from his wounded hand and spitting it out. The ones chasing him were certain he was going to die since they thought that he was coughing up blood, so they stopped chasing him.
That young boy ran to Moose Fort along the coast. It must have taken him a while because it’s a bit far. I don’t know how long it took him to get there. I don’t think it was the same night when he got there. When he reached the place where the people were, he told the manager there of what happened where he came from. The manager at Moose Fort wanted to hear the news carefully. The young boy told everything that happened.
The Moose Fort people set out for the camp of Kaapischaaukuu. There were women there. When they were reached by the Moose Fort people who were sent there, the women were asked what happened. The women told the story completely about what happened. This was how the story was heard. It was the women who told the story of what happened. When the women finished their story, the arriving group from Moose Fort searched for Kaapischaaukuu.
It was said that Kaapischaaukuu was found while he was checking his rabbit snares. He said right away that it wasn’t his orders to do what was done. He said it was his sons who did the killing. But the women told the story of what really happened. It was said that Kaapischaaukuu was shot right there. He was shot while he was tending his rabbit snare. It was said that his jaw hung from the willow that he used to hang his rabbit snare.
Christopher Stephen: Can you tell us why this story of what happened at Hannah Bay wasn’t really told? Was this story kept as a secret? It seems that a lot of people weren’t told the story.
For you young people, I guess you didn’t hear the story. But for us older people, it was always told. It wasn’t kept as a secret. But while Kaapischaaukuu was being pursued and when he was killed, there were people from Eastmain who were related to him. And here in Waskaganish is William Katapatuk; they must have been related. That was when it was kept secret. But I will tell of what I’ve heard. When Kaapischaaukuu’s relatives were searched for, the people were told if they did it again, all of them would be killed. This was the story that I heard.
And for you, Louise, can you tell us of what you know of what happened at Hannah Bay?
I always heard this story also. George’s father told the story and also his grandmother. I will finish what the old man was talking about. When the people wanted to find out what happened, they went to the women of that camp. Many people wanted to find those people who did the killings. The ones who did the killing weren’t found right away. After they killed all those people at the post, they left and moved camp, taking everything from the post before the ones searching for them arrived there. They couldn’t be found right away when they were searched for. Then they were found. The women were there at the camp. They were all asked what happened. All the women told of what happened at the Hannah Bay Post. They went to the post to trade their furs. But when they got there, their actions were very proper. They were all told to tell of what happened. They told everything. They told the story of the old woman who was killed first also. When the ones searching for Kaapischaaukuu found him, they asked him why he did it. He was saying that it wasn’t him who did the killing. He was blaming his sons. But all the women at the camp were saying that it was all his orders that were followed. And that was where he was killed. And when the women told the story, that was how the people found out that he was from this way and had relations over this way. This was what the old woman named Harriet told me. It seemed that they wanted to hide the story. They were afraid that if the others found out who Kaapischaaukuu was related to, something would happen to them. This was the story that was told me.
Can you tell us about the shaking tent? Can you tell us how the old man used It? Did he use it in a good way or a bad way when he did those things In Hannah Bay?
He didn’t use it properly because of the result of what happened – the advice he heard from the voice in the shaking tent. He was first told what to do among his camp. They killed an old woman at their camp first. And he did do what he was told. He didn’t use his knowledge of the shaking tent properly. I saw the shaking tent many times. I, too, erected shaking tents. The Elders I saw perform the shaking tent ceremonies, I knew they used it properly. I listened carefully to what was said from the shaking tent. It seemed that there were many people talking from the shaking tent as we listened to what they said. The one performing the shaking tent was also advised. The one who sits inside the shaking tent always listens intently to what is said by the spirits. This is what I have seen. I cannot say that they used it in a evil manner. They used the shaking tent to help with their hunts. That was how they found out where game was from the voices heard in the shaking tent. After performing the shaking tent, they knew exactly where to go. This is what I know from the shaking tent.
Today, we all know that white people document everything that they hear. I’m not sure if there is a document that exists of that story I told. But if there is one, it must be written with all the facts that happened. And for us who only heard it through stories, there are many versions. I have heard that there are documents out there of things that have happened in the past. I am told of things that have happened from documents which I didn’t know.
For Louise, I want to ask you one last thing. This happened a long time ago. This happened In 1832, as recorded on the Hudson Bay Company archives. Is there anything that you want to say?
I heard this story from the old women who used to tell the stories. I also heard it from George’s grandmother, Harriet. That wasn’t only story that she used to tell. And this was where I heard that story of what happened. I listened very intently when they told the stories. This is the only thing I can say of those storytellers of long ago.
And what about you, George?
I, too, can tell you where I heard the story from. Many of those Elders who I heard telling the story are not alive anymore. There was one old man named Simon. He was my grandfather. And his brother was named William Katapatuk. I heard the story from him also long ago. There was another Elder named Sandy. He’s been gone for a long time. I heard him telling the story of what happened also. He told the same story as the other Elders. I used to listen very carefully to the stories the Elders told. I found out other things also from listening to the Elders telling their stories. There are still other stories I can tell.
It wasn’t only the shaking tent that I saw. The ones who kept the drum, I saw that too. It worked very well when they used it to find out where game was. I also saw my father beating the drum along with his songs. I saw my grandfathers using it also. The Elder who died, Bertie Diamond, I saw his father using the drum. When he was still able to hunt, he told his sons where to go on the caribou hunts. He knew when the caribou were far and advised them to take a small stove with them on the hunt. He told them that they wouldn’t be able to reach the caribou in one day. He already told the hunters how many caribou there were. He said, “One of the caribou that you’ll kill will have short antlers just about the height of its ears.” He already told his sons how the caribou would look. When they reached the first place where
they set up their camp where their father told them to go, they still hadn’t found any traces of caribou. Then in the morning they left to go to where their father advised them to go. They found tracks of caribou. There were five, which their father had already told them. They killed them all. One of the caribou that they killed looked exactly how their father described it with the short antlers – short as its ears. This was the caribou that they were to give to their father. This was what the Elders were like, those who were unable to hunt anymore. The eldest of that hunting party, he already died long ago.
The next day, they dragged the meat back home. They took all the caribou home. At their camp, they made a cache of the meat. Their biggest dog chewed through its tether as they slept and pulled the meat from the cache. It was their father’s caribou that it pulled off the cache. And this dog ate the meat.
The Elders really knew what was going on. It seemed that they were told. This was how the Elders who were unable to hunt were like. This was what I saw done. I had real trust in it. I would be happy when my grandfather talked about things that were to happen. He predicted exactly how long it would take to reach the game. They really had knowledge of what they did and how they used the things which helped them.
This was where they found out how they were doing also even if they were far apart. If there was one person sick at a camp, the others would know. But I cannot say that they used their knowledge in an evil way. I know the stories that were told. I have seen it for myself also. From where I was raised, the drum was always kept. I trusted what my grandfather said very much. If he said that it would take one day to reach game, it was always true. And when something happened to them or if they were sick, they used to drum to help them recover. This was the knowledge that the Elders were given. They were very careful with the drum. It wasn’t a toy. Boys weren’t allowed to use it. They used it with great respect. This was how they helped the sick person. When someone had a lot of love, his songs of good wishes worked very well. I saw this happen when someone was sick. He would then be well.
When I was already able to accompany my father on the hunt, the drum was still in use. I was used with great respect. When someone brought the drum inside to sing, no child was allowed to make any noise. The one singing and beating the drum would only be the one heard. They were given this knowledge to use long ago. I sat with the elders many times when they sat together to talk. And they always said that they were very respectful of the drum. I knew the elders had a lot of love when they talked to the children and the young people. The talked to them properly. This is how I know they had a lot of love. That was why things when well when someone was sick.
There were times when someone was really suffering before there were things from the white man. There were times when a hunter came home even though he was still close to his camp even if he was hunting for food. Then if he dreamt of making a drum for himself, he did what his dream told him. He used the drum well. This was why they really respected their drum. They respected their drum as if it were their mother and father. The saw the drum used in songs many times. I do this also when I am told to sing with the drum. I do it because I trust it completely. I used to be happy when I heard my grandfather talking. I cannot say that it wasn’t know of what he was saying. They recieved their drums from their dreams.