Hunters and Hearts: The Last Hope
by Steve Moyer Iverson and James Iverson
by Steve Moyer Iverson and James Iverson with assistance from Tom Iverson and John Iverson
Chapter 26 The Last Hope
The Chief and Ahnung Ikway already felt the ever-present cold replacing the warmth in fingers and toes as they started off towards Winton. Together they pulled the sled, pausing to rest only when absolutely necessary. But now - with almost a full day behind them, the temperature went from uncomfortable to unbearable. Only the thought of saving their people prevented them from giving up.
The Chief could hear the frosty murmur of temptation, soft phases that all men hear, before proceeding to freeze to death. "Come now, why fight it. . . just rest a while and sleep. . . just a few minutes. . . think about how good it will feel."
He shook the voice from his head. There could be no sleep, no rest of any kind, until arriving at Saganagons Lake. He was sure they could get that far, as there was only a few miles to go. He paused to find out how his wife was enduring the cold. He was saddened to see that she was beginning to show symptoms of the disease. He gave her all the hope and encouragement that he could muster
"Do not leave me alone Ahnung Ikway and go to the next life so soon," he said as he bundled her up with another blanket and made her drink some water. The liquid came back up faster then it went down, with lungs expelling the water amid a withered stream of choking gasps.
He was very concerned that the health of his wife was failing and the possibility of having to make the trek alone. He forced the thoughts away, keeping to himself, his own drain of energy and fever sparing her of his agony. "What good does it do to worry my wife?" he thought as he trudged on.
Several hours passed. The Powell cabin on Saganagons was now visible through the barren trees. When they got to the cabin they both felt a surge of vigor and relief. However. . . neither feeling lasted. The Powell site had no radio and lacked any other means to communicate the plight of the Ojibwa people to the rangers.
The Chief and his wife rested for a spell and tried to force down water and food, which again, proved to be no easy task. Turning down the Powell's offer to stay longer, they did the only thing left to do. Proceed to Winton. Because of the delay, they needed to move at an even quicker pace.
Both the Chief and his wife knew that trying to move so fast and that far might surely put their own lives at risk. So reaching deep into every cell and fiber, last reservoirs of energy were found and inserted into legs and lungs.
It was on Cache Bay that they first became aware of the wolf pack following at a discreet distance. The Alpha and Beta pairs wove in and out of the treeline, keeping the pack's silhouette to a minimum.
The Alpha still had his deal with the Raven - "not to harm the bird in return for taking the pack to prey." But the Wolf had no such deal with the Uprights. To the Alpha, "the Chief and his wife were fair game and judging by the stumbling gait of the Uprights, an easy opportunity for throat tearing."
The Chief kept his rifle at the ready, but doubted he could protect his wife if the pack attacked all at once and from different flanks. But if they kept moving, without taking turns sleeping, alertness would suffer and then both he and his wife would be too weak to fend off the pack. Pulling the sled to an island jutting up above the ice, they erected the shelter in a circle of trees, and lit a bundle of wood - packed by Two Rivers.
The Chief took the first watch. Howls poured from the night as fear poured through veins. Not fear for himself, but fear for the future of his people if they were to be killed by the hungry wolves.
It was two hours later, when the first wolf made his stealthy approach. The subordinate Omega thought "this could be my chance to rise from the bottom of my canine chain of command. If I attack first I will obtain a more respected position, just below the Alpha and Beta pairs. I will make the first kill."
Breaking from the pack he crept across the ice towards the island. The Chief had fallen asleep on watch and was unaware that death was a mere stone's throw away.
The Fire Element shimmered and probed within the flames of the burning wood, releasing jets of heat into the cold air. He was the last of the spirits to depart the continent. Soon he would be headed to the rain forests of Brazil, seeking a place where the inhabitants still believed in magic and revered the Elemental world. But before leaving, Fire took pity on the brave couple and decided that it would not let "this wolf. . . take. . . this man."
It was at that moment that a glowing ember leapt from the flames, landed on the Chief's wrist, burning him awake. He snapped to alertness, just in time to catch a glimpse of the Omega in the dancing firelight. One shot made one kill. The Omega died only a few feet from the island, but not before howling a warning to the other wolves.
The Alpha heard the shot and heard the warning. The wolves bolted into the forest and ran far away, leaving the Omega on the frozen lake. The gunshot woke up the Chief's wife. It was agreed that it was time to break camp and finish the journey to Winton, before the wolves could regain their courage. They prepared the sled and put out the fire, putting in motion journey to Winton and the Fire Element's journey to Brazil.
It was afternoon of the next day when they arrived on the outskirts of the town. They immediately made their way to J. Russell's store. Russell had a reputation for treating the native people fairly and the Chief considered him to be a friend.
Upon hearing of the Kawaiwagamaks' plight, Russell wired the Canadian Mounties and attempted to secure a rescue or another form of assistance. His request was denied.
Maybe it was the blizzard that caused no attempt at rescue to be made or maybe it was the fact that it was only Ojibwa people dying, either way, nothing would be done until the storm broke.
The Chief knew that a break in the weather could take weeks. But there was more bad news to come. Russell was told to pass along a message to the Chief, "there is no cure or medicine to stop the disease. It had to run its course and you either died or if you were lucky. . . you didn't."
There was no use in sticking around while their people were dying. "If we are going to die then let it be among our own people," the Chief told his wife. Russell re-supplied them, giving all the food that would fit on the sled, while still remaining light enough to be pulled by people in their weakened condition. If his dog-team were not already on another job, Russell would have gladly given the Chief the use of his team.
It was determined by the Chief that they would go north, through Lake Louisa and Agnes, to get back to their village. It was on Lake Agnes that the Chief succumbed to a combination of exhaustion and a devastating fever. His wife buried him on the shoreline.
She was too weakened to construct the four sided grave and totem that was the custom of the Ojibwa people. The Chief's last words were "go back to Winton and seek warmth and shelter, make one more plea for help."
Ahnung Ikway had proven to be every bit as brave as her husband. But now she must follow his final instructions and backtrack to town. There is no record of her being responsible for convincing the Mounties to intercede and eventually send a rescue team to Kawa Bay.
Be that as it may, in early spring a group of Mounties were sent to bring the survivors of the tribe out of their village. This would be the end of the native people located on the land situated around Kawa Bay, near the mouth what is now known as the Kawawiagamak River.
Subsequent weeks will feature a few more chapters from the book. For information about the book and movie plans, contact email@example.com or Steve at 847-322-3160.
I tried to copy and paste, but Google seemed to come back saying such and such "address did not match any documents"
I would love to read the article if I can find it.
or you could just copy and paste
That web address didn't work for me. Could you try and post that as a link?
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