Cradleboard by Donald Hemlock (Mohawk, Haudenosaunee)

Cradleboard by Donald Hemlock (Mohawk, Haudenosaunee)

Saw this at the Heard Indian Art Fair in Phoenix. I think I was particularly drawn to it, because it reminded me of my Boston Mi’kmaq family and how my Grandpa was born and grew up in that world. Boston Mi’kmaq, much like the New York Mohawk, were charged with some of the most dangerous jobs in the city. Here’s a taste of a great documentary about it: “High Steel


The Story of the Pinn Name – by my Father, Lionel Pinn Jr.

PinnLdSha (pronounced Pinn La Shaw) is the story of the origin of our name and thereby the story of us.  It was gifted to me by Uncle Wally in 1988 while I was visiting him in Washington DC.  Note this is not my dad’s Wally but my Dad’s cousin Wally (Iwaldo). We some time referred to him as “fat wally”.

The Story of Pinnldsha

Once, before there were any human beings on the earth, where there are animals there is closeness to the natural way of the earth and there was a great peace that existed in all of the land.  The animal ruled the world in a good and fair way.  There was a great and beautiful harmony among all creatures, big and small, flyers and swimmer, four legged and the winged ones.

One day while deer was walking through the meadow, enjoying the beauty of what was there he was struck on the head by a small rock.  “Ouch!” said deer.   He looked up but saw nothing and continued on.

Another day the horse was galloping through the meadowwhen he saw a shadow from above and then before he knew he was stuck on the head with a large rock.  He had seen the shadow but was unable to see what it was.

Soon other animals had the same thing happening to them.  They walked around the village and forest with bumps on their head from the rocks that had been dropped on them by the strange shadow.

In time Rabbit reported that he had seen the shadow and it was a “Flying Turkey”!

You see in those days, before the human beings were here, the Turkey was a magnificent creature, He could fly higher than any eagle and as fast as any hawk and he could see better than any other animal and his feathers were of various glorious colors, reds, and blues and bright yellow, streaked with greens and purples.  His strong beak was bright white and beautiful.

The only problem was that this bird had become a dis-harmony among the many creatures of the forest and they had never had a dis-harmony such as this before.  They knew that this was not a good thing and they knew that they would have to do something to correct this issue, this dis-harmony.

There was a great council called and all the animals gathered in the forest to debate what should be done with this once great bird, who was now a mean and disruptive bird.

Bear, the leader of the council,called the meeting to order.  “There has been a great dis-harmony within our forest…” with this he ask all the creatures to tell what they knew about it.  One by one they shared their personal stories of injury and trickery by the Flying Turkey.

After each had shared their disturbing stories the Council agreed that something had to be doneabout it and that was the end the reign of terror that the bird had brought to the animals.  There would be a plan to rid the forest of the bird.

“Who will be among the group to take care of this problem?” announced the Council Beaver from the edge of the pond.  No one answered for a long time and then eventually the Rabbit stepped up and said that he would be glad to help.  He noted that he had enough speed to outrun the mischievous bird but he did not have the powerful medicine to stop the bird.

“Who has the medicine that can stop this bird?” announced councilor Raven.  No one spoke up for a long time and then eventually, from under the low branch came a shaking and a hissing and with a deep voice the rattle snake announced “I have the medicine that will stop the bird… forever!”

Everyone knew that this was a good plan and that the speed of the rabbit and the power of the rattlesnake would end the dis-harmony that was in the forest.

Finally the day of the plan arrived.  Only Rabbit and Rattle Snake arrived to begin the plan.  Rabbit ran carelessly (but with all the care in the world) to the center of the meadow where flying turkey had been seen and caused all his problems.  Eventually he saw a shadow and then he began to run in circles around the meadow.  Flying Turkey drop a large rock but it missed rabbit!  Again he ran about the meadow, baiting the bird, once again the he dropped another bigger rock in the direction of the fury fast rabbit and again his aim was too slow and he missed.  With this missed the rabbit looked up and smiled at the badgering bird.  This made him very angry and he retrieved even bigger rock and with all his power he began to fly toward the rabbit with the purpose of killing him.  Rabbit knew that the big rock would slow the bird down and even lower his flight to a lower level.

Rabbit dodge, ran, jumped, hopped and laugh his way all over the meadow.  Finally the great bird was right on the fluffy tail of the rabbit, real low to the ground!  Rabbit darted into a low branch of trees and then to a lower group of bushes.  Flying Turkey yelled, “you can not get away Rabbit I am too fast and to smart to be tricked by you!”

Right then, as the Rabbit and the Flying Turkey went by a small group of bushes the last piece of the plan developed, Rattlesnake jumped from his hiding place and with one powerful strike he hit the Flying Turkey in his neck.  The bird never knew what hit him and tumbled in a fluff of colorful feathers to the ground rolling to a stop.

Rabbit, panting from his run, came up to the bird, as did the Rattlesnake, flickering his tongue.  The menace of the forest, the dis-harmony of the families, was dead!

This is the story referred to in our family as PinnLdSha or translated it means “Flying Turkey Killer”.  In addition to the death of that bird all his ancestors were forever cursed.  Now the turkey is not so glorious or beautiful.  He cannot fly to the highest peaks at the fastest speeds.  He can only fly for short distances and only as high as a tree top.  The Turkey is now considered one of the dumbest birds of all.

PinnlaSha has been described as the Rattlesnake by some of the family; others have referred to the Rabbit and the snake as a team and that being the translation. Some believe that the entire conspiracy equals PinnLdSha.  For this PinnLdSha, it is the story of our name.

Time has shortened the name to Pinn but I will know it’s origins as my sons and daughter will also know. Family bracelett

It is not the d…

It is not the difference between aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people that is crucial to maintaining Aboriginal identity as much as protecting what makes up that Aboriginal identity.

Pam Palmater

I got homesick …

I got homesick a feeling, which I could not instantly identify. I’d left the reserve in haste, as if fleeing from something. From what, I do not know. Much later I found out what values I’d left behind. The reserve was where I had a sense of belonging. It was where I made connections to the earth, and to the people. I missed speaking my language.

Rita Joe