Indigenous Arts & Stories - The Hunter

The Hunter

2009 - Writing Winner

News spread across the forest that night about Chinook’s selfish hunting strategy. Already had Chinook killed more than needed, in addition to the deer StormCloud had killed, and the hole of rabbits SwiftEagle captured. The Great White Wolf was summoned to teach Chinook why hunting only for what is needed is what is necessary.

Read Kigen McGregor's The Hunter

Kigen McGregor

Birch Island, ON
Whitefish River First Nation
Age 17

Author's Statement

I am 17 years old, in grade twelve and I am a band member of Whitefish River First Nation. I belong to the Porcupine clan. All my life I have been surrounded by my culture and traditions of the Ojibwe, Odawa and Pottawatomi Nations: those of which I belong to. My family is deeply tied to our aboriginal ways through the language, ceremonies, and life practices. One of my greatest teachers in my life has been my maternal grandmother, Mary Grace McGregor. She is a well-known historian and storyteller in our Anishinabek communities of this area of Ontario. Since a very young age I have spent countless hours listening to her teachings and stories of our people, of the land, and of our cultural heritage. Her knowledge and storytelling has inspired me to write a story of my own that is based upon traditional and gathering laws. Today, our people still hunt, fish and live off the land through gardening and harvesting. It is still important for us to follow our traditional laws that are not written anywhere but are unspoken and made from the understanding that we continue to live in harmony with our natural environment. As First Nation people and first inhabitants of this Great Turtle Island we must still teach all those who live on this Island how to live a good life without greed and conceit and how actions of one can affect the livelihood of others.


The Hunter

Many moons ago, there lived a hunter. He was a great hunter, with talents that exceeded over all his tribe members. He had everything he needed to hunt with ease: accuracy, courage, stealth, strength, and confidence. But what he lacked was compassion and love for all things…

“Chinook!” the village elder shouted “Our food is low and our people are hungry, we need you and a few other hunters to retrieve us only what we require to get us past this time of hunger and need.”
“Fine” said Chinook coldly “We will leave immediately.”

Later that evening, Chinook and his tribal hunting party, including StormCloud and SwiftEagle set out to bring back food to their tribe. Little did StormCloud and SwiftEagle know what Chinook was about to do next…

“We split up.” said Chinook “Our prey will be more bountiful if we all set out in different directions.”
“That will not be needed” SwiftEagle replied “We are only to bring back what is needed.”
“If we catch more than we need, the women can preserve it and we not need to hunt again for a time.” Chinook said “It makes more sense than what we’ve been doing for years.”
“Perhaps he is right SwiftEagle. Hunting is not an easy business, and food is harder to find in the winter months.” StormCloud joined in.
“Perhaps, but this goes against the law of our tribe, not to mention how this will anger the animals. We only kill them to eat, and we only eat what we need…am I sensing laziness in you Chinook? StormCloud?”
“No!” Chinook bellowed “I am only doing what creates the most convenience for our people…we are doing this hunt my way! I am lead hunter, you will listen to me!”
“As you wish” whispered SwiftEagle.

Chinook headed east, StormCloud went westward, and SwiftEagle traveled north.
But their earlier conversation wasn’t exclusive only to them, for a squirrel was listening in as well. News spread across the forest that night about Chinook’s selfish hunting strategy. Already had Chinook killed more than needed, in addition to the deer StormCloud had killed, and the hole of rabbits SwiftEagle captured. The Great White Wolf was summoned to teach Chinook why hunting only for what is needed is what is necessary.
Our story resumes with Chinook at the Great Winding River…

Stupid SwiftEagle Chinook thought to himself. Follow the rules he says! Catch only what is needed! I’ll prove him wrong. All I need is…perfect. A wolf! This will make the tribe so happy! And with that last thought, Chinook released his arrow from his bow. Shortly after, he felt the strongest burning sensation, followed by excruciating pain.

“Ahhhhh!” screamed Chinook. But what he heard wasn’t his voice, but the howling of a wolf. He looked at his hand. Not a hand, but a paw. He veered at his leg. A bow was sticking out of it. His leg was coated with a red substance. Blood.
“What’s this?!” Chinook shouted in anger, once again hearing that monstrous roar coming from his throat. He was disoriented but he seen himself (his body) staring back at him.
What the…I’m a wolf. He had realized that he and the wolf had switched bodies. Miraculous, but he just wanted to be himself again.
“Whoosh!” An arrow had just flown by him. Run! He leaped and ran into the forest…

StormCloud and SwiftEagle had returned to the village already, without Chinook. The village elder announced that they will give Chinook one day to return, after that they would go after him. Meanwhile, Chinook kept busy on Thunderbird Mountain…

I should be able to see the village from here…Whoa! Stupid rocks, they always have to crumble…stay focused Chinook, just get things straight. Alright, first things first- I am a wolf. How did this even happen? I shot my bow and then it hit me? That’s when I must’ve changed. Alright, the next thing is if I try to return to the village, they might try to kill me…or the elder might see through this skin that’s not mine and see me! Can he do that? Hmmm…hey there’s the village! Should I stay, or should I go? This is so dumb. Think back Chinook…hey, if I changed into the wolf, then the wolf must’ve changed into me! Makes sense. So I should look for uhh…my body.

The Great White Wolf was indeed in Chinook’s body as Chinook was in his. The Great White Wolf has a plan for everything. He wants Chinook to find him. The animals know that Chinook is in the Great White Wolf’s body. Will they help him? Chinook continues this story running, running really fast…

Where do I start…hmm. Hey, a beaver. I wonder if he knows where I am, or where my body is…

“Hey, beaver!” Chinook shouted “Have you seen a human around here?”
“Yes.” Replied the beaver “But I’m not telling you! You’re that hunter! The greedy one!”
And with that, the beaver dived in the Great Winding River and vanished.

How did he know I was the real me? That wolf inside my body must’ve told on me! I swear when I get out of this stupid aching wolf’s body I’m going to…kill him? Is this why I’m in this body in the first place? Because of my hunting strategy? SwiftEagle warned me of this…

The Great White Wolf was pleased that Chinook had realized his wrongdoing. But Chinook’s quest isn’t over. Chinook still needs to let the animals understand that he is a changed hunter. The animals will need extensive convincing though…will Chinook be able to pull it off? As the eavesdropping squirrel approaches Chinook, our story resumes…

“Hey squirrel!” Chinook shouted “Have you seen a hunter around?”
“I have.” The squirrel countered “You are him! You are the greedy killing hunter the Great White Wolf warned us of. I’m not helping you. Nuh uh. No way! You’re crazy!” The squirrel started to run along a branch…
“Wait!” Screamed Chinook “I’m not greedy anymore! I won’t hunt that way anymore! I will hunt sparingly now! Please, STOP!”
“How do we know you’re not lying!?” A chorus of animals appeared all around Chinook “You say you won’t be greedy anymore, but how do we know if this is true?”
“I give you my word” Chinook replied “Here’s the deal, if I ever hunt that way ever again, I will give you animals my life- the most treasured thing I have to offer.”
“This is good” The Great White Wolf appeared- in Chinook’s body of course and started to speak “You have realized that we have lives to, just like yours. We have mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters- families. When you kill without a purpose, you also cause great despair and mourning to a family, just the same as if someone in your family passed away. We are happy to help you with giving our lives so you may survive. This does not mean you can go and kill monstrously like you have. Do you understand my purposes now Chinook?”
“I do. I really do.” Chinook whispered with gratitude “I will never hunt so greedily ever again. Never. In fact I will let my family- my village know about all of this!”
“I’m sure it’ll make a wonderful story for your people to hear about…”

Blackout. Chinook woke up and realized he must’ve passed out. He stood and looked at his paw, but it wasn’t a paw anymore, it was his hand! He had only two legs now! With great happiness Chinook ran and to his surprise, he was just outside of his village…

I can’t wait to tell everyone about my journey! Wait a minute… was there even a journey? Did I really transform into a wolf? Was it all a dream? Who cares! If it was a dream, it was a pretty good one!

“Mom! Dad! Storm Cloud! White Fox! I have a wonderful story for you to hear!”

From then on, Chinook and his people only hunted for what was needed. Chinook loved telling his story. It was always asked of him to retell it over and over again. Chinook even noticed how the birds and woodland animals never ran from him. Especially one little eavesdropping squirrel…