Editor's note: Author Rick Revelle's latest novel, Algonquin Legacy, published by Crossfield Publishing, the last in his series of four Algonquin Quest novels, was published on August 11, 2021. The series takes place on both sides of the St. Lawrence River Valley and the Great Lakes, and west to the Rocky Mountains, during the period of the 1320s to 1350s. It follows an Algonquin family unit, as they fight to survive in the harsh climate of warfare, survival from the elements, and the constant quest for food, in this pre-contact era. His readers are introduced to the Algonquin, Anishinaabe, Lakota, Mi´kmaq, Mohawk, and Lakȟóta languages as they are used in the vernacular. The previous three novels I Am Algonquin, Algonquin Spring and Algonquin Sunset were published by Dundurn Press.
Thousand Islands Life Magazine is honoured to present this excerpt. It is thought-provoking, timely and appreciated.
To Kill a Legend
As we left the teepee, I hesitated for a quick moment to let my eyes adjust to the brilliant sunlight. This pause was all the excuse my guard needed to whack the back of my legs with his spear.
This irritated me and I lost my temper. Spinning on the dusty ground, I recognized my abuser as Ki’somm Áwákaasii (key-som ah-wah-ka-see: Moon Deer), who had been my constant overseer on our trip to the village.
With lightning reflexes, I grabbed the spear out of the warrior’s hand and took his feet out from under him in a single motion that completely caught him by surprise. He fell with a thud, a grunt and an expulsion of air from his lungs. As he quickly bounced back up to his feet, Ki’somm Áwákaasii unsheathed a bone knife.
Just as quickly, I cracked his hand with the bladed end of the spear, causing him to yelp in pain. His hand was sliced to the bone and the gushing blood reddened the ground around him. I tossed the spear on the ground at his feet and spat.
No sooner had I tossed the spear than Ííksspitaawa Kiááyo (iik-sspitaa-wa key-i-o: He Is Very Tall Bear), the Blackfoot warrior leader, walked up to Ki’somm Áwákaasii and started to laugh.
This made the bleeding man glare at me with clearly murderous thoughts.
Ííksspitaawa Kiááyo said, “Ki’somm Áwákaasii, you should know that you never poke a kiááyo (key-i-o: bear) with a stick unless you want a fight. Go now and find the healer; you need care.”
Looking at myself and the Cheyenne, Ííksspitaawa Kiááyo called us by our Blackfoot names, “Come with me, Mai´stóó Nínaa (may-stew knee-nah) Crow Man. Today you and the Imitáá Nínaa (e-me-ta knee-nah: Dog Man) die.”
Oak-key-whoa-a-mast looked at me and I just shrugged. Neither of us understood what our captor had just said, but a push from our guards gave us the idea that we were to follow him.
My inner senses always became keen whenever danger was near and, right now, my sense of smell was overwhelmed by a mixture of odours from within the village. The rancid scent of dog urine, the musty odours of unwashed bodies, smoky campfires, the pungent wafting of food cooking and the putrid stench of drying
buffalo meat all filled my nostrils and rejuvenated my inner spirit. I was now on edge and ready to face what was in store for me. I would not go willingly or easily. I looked to my new Cheyenne friend and saw that he showed no fear whatsoever in his body language. He was a willing ally and a true warrior.
Like our first arrival, women and children started to emerge from their lodges and shower us with sticks, rocks, clumps of dirt and feces as we were led through the village. Elders came up to us and hit us with switches, leaving red welts all over our bodies.
And although this was not as brutal as a Haudenosaunee gauntlet, it was a demeaning experience.
Ííksspitaawa Kiááyo came up to us and said, “Take off all your
clothes and your moccasins!”
We laid my shirt, as well as our leggings, breechcloths and footwear on the ground. Ókȯhkevó’omaestse and I stood there in the dust of the village centre, naked as the day we were brought into this world. Flies were landing on my genitalia and chest, women laughed at us and dogs came up to sniff at our rears and private
When I looked over at Ókȯhkevó’omaestse, I noticed that a few of his wounds had opened up and flies were gathering around the mixture of blood and honey that covered his seeping lacerations.
A couple of the dogs were licking the blood off his legs as it trickled
down his body.
He returned my look and grinned, and I quickly signed for him to stay close to me when our death ordeal started.
Ííksspitaawa Kiááyo walked up to us and, using a combination of signing and his own language, said, “Our council has spent the past few days trying to decide how best to end your lives. One of our Elders talked about the weasel and how he hunts the ááattsistaa (aah-tist-ta: rabbit). He talked about how the rabbit tries to outrun the weasel, but the weasel wears the rabbit down in the chase and catches him. The rabbit’s only weapon is its speed while the weasel has speed, sharp teeth and cunning. The Elder then talked about how the weasel is a sacred animal to our people and that we should follow its ways in our treatment of you two.
“Since the weasel always trains its young to hunt at a young age, the Elder suggested that we should train our own young warriors in a similar way by slaying two great warriors in a hunt. So, we have decided that our young warriors will hunt you down in a death run. You will be given a head start with only your ability to outrun your pursuers to survive, just like the ááattsistaa. The young men will have their speed and cunning to catch you, and their teeth will be the weapons they carry. Out-distance them and you live. If you do not, then your scalp will hang in a young warrior’s lodge and he will have a fine story to tell to others around the winter fires.”
I looked at Ókȯhkevó’omaestse and said in my language, “We are not rabbits and they will soon find out that we are the weasels!”
The Cheyenne looked back at me, nodding his head like he understood every word I said.
Excerpt from Algonquin Legacy, By Rick Revelle
Rick Revelle is an Algonquin living north of Kingston, ON. He has written three books in a series called The Algonquin Quest Series. The books take place during the 1300’s pre-contact era. I use the Native languages in the vernacular. The books are I Am Algonquin (2013), Algonquin Spring (2015), and Algonquin Sunset (2017). They can be purchased at any book store or online though Amazon. The languages used in the books are as follows: I Am Algonquin – Algonquin; Algonquin Spring – Algonquin, Mi´kmaq, and Mohawk; Algonquin Sunset – Algonquin, Anishinaabe, Huron, Lakota, Mi´kmaq, and Mohawk. Each novel contains a glossary. The stories are about how an Algonquin family unit survives through the course of 18 years, trying to live in the harsh climate of seeking food and battling their enemies.
Editor's note: We hooked up with Rick Revelle again this summer, just in time for him to share an excerpt from his latest book. Watch in the future for an excerpt from his 2022 novel, The Elk Whistle Warrior Society, as well as a more in-depth profile.
· Shoeless Joes - Napanee – Saturday August 28th – 1 to 3 PM.
· The Elf Inn Express and Rocking Ricks Record Store – Elphin Ontario – Friday September 3rd – 4 to 6 PM.
· Novel Idea – Kingston – Saturday September 4th – 2 to 4 PM.
Posted in: Book review, Volume 16, Issue 8, August 2021
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