November 22, 2013

Pīsim finds her Miskanow

Pīsim finds her Miskanow 

By Kevin Brownlee
Past Curator of Archaeology 

I have to share with you about the results of a wonderful project that I have been working on for the past 6 years… actually more like 20…

Open pages of the book Pīsim Finds her Miskanow showing text with diagrams, and artistic illustrations.In 1993, the remains of a woman were found at Nagami Bay (Onākaāmihk) west shore of Southern Indian Lake. The following year, community members from South Indian Lake and archaeologists worked together to recover our ancestor in a respectful and honourable way. The story of her miskanow, life journey, was pieced together from her remains and her belongings and told in the book Kayasochi Kikawenow, Our Mother from Long Ago, which I co-authored with E. Leigh Syms.

After Kayasochi Kikawenow shared her teachings, she was respectfully brought home for reburial in the community of South Indian Lake in 1997. Now, 16 years after her reburial, her story is being retold in a new way for young people. Using historical fiction, William Dumas brings Kayasochi Kikawenow to life as the main character, Pīsim, in Pīsim Finds Her Miskanow. This book shares a week in the life of Pīsim as a 13-year-old living on Southern Indian Lake during the mid 1600s just before Europeans arrived into the region. The book was reviewed by renowned archaeologist Brian Fagan, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, University of California) who states the book is the result of brilliant teamwork between archaeologists, the Cree, and an accomplished storyteller… the book promises to be a classic of Canadian history. 

Councilor Esther Dysart speaking into a microphne at a podium. Kevin Browlee stands to the side.

In September the Museum hosted a book launch that brought together the research team, members from O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation (South Indian Lake) including youth, the author and illustrator and many dignitaries including a councilor from the community. It is rare to have over 200 people attend a book launch but this is no ordinary book. Buy your own copy from the Manitoba Museum gift shop.

Image: Kevin Brownlee and Councilor Esther Dysart at book launch.