The career of producing and directing television documentaries and television series has to be one of the greatest and creative jobs in today’s world.
We can tell and share stories to a national and sometimes international audience. The really beautiful part is getting to travel to places you could only read about, meet and work with amazing people who are doing important and relevant things not just for First Nations but all people. We also get to hear incredible stories of courage, hope, love, forgiveness, change, sacrifice, compassion, mystery and the unusual.
The elders are in a special class of their own – wise, fun, quick to laugh, teachers and knowledge keepers to their tribe and people. Without question, we were blessed to meet and interview many of them and they told us amazing things about the past and sometimes things that are to happen in the future. Sometimes, the most amazing things were said when the cam- eras were turned off and we were having bannock and tea, talk- ing and trading stories.
I happened to meet just such a elder who has since passed on, she was the first Dene person I met in Calgary. She was the director of the Tsuu T’ina Museum and also a historian. The Tsuu T’ina are a Dene tribe in southern Alberta who became members of the Blackfoot Confederacy in the past.
The elder related to us the history of the Tsuu T’ina for the TV segment we were filming and in many ways she reminded me of my granny Harriet from Tulita – same facial looks, size, spirit, personality and sense of generosity and humour. We talked easily about many things but I was surprised when we talked about the unknown in the NWT and I related to her what I knew and heard. She asked about the Sasquatch or in my Sahtu region the Nahgunne or Bushman. I told her I had heard different stories while growing up and that our elders talked of them as special beings with unique powers but my knowledge was limited in this area. They never wanted anyone to harm them and so never talked openly about them to the white man. She nodded and said she understood as it was the same concern the Tsuu T’ina had in their feelings toward this being. She told to tell me this story which I will share.
It was in the fall, when her husband and his friend went hunting in the Rocky Mountain foothills.
They were successful and they began the skinning and dressing process. Her husband did the skinning and was on
his knees and his friend was holding the legs when he noticed something watching them from a distance. He looked up slowly to get a better look and realized it was a Sasquatch, hairy, with a man-like appearance intently watching them.
Speaking quietly and softly to his friend, he said not to make a sudden move and not to be alarmed but that they were being observed by a creature they all knew and heard about. Thinking it might be hungry, he cut a good-sized piece of meat and gave it to his friend. He told him to not look up but to keep his eyes on the ground and he would guide him to the tree where the Sasquatch was standing and leave it there on a branch.
No sudden moves.
His friend did as he was instructed to do and placed the meat at the tree and came back to help finish the skinning pro- cess. They carried on as if everything was normal. When they began to pack the meat out, he looked at where the Sasquatch had stood watching them. The meat and the creature were gone! This encounter was the first I had ever heard in regard to a vis- ual sighting of this creature. She looked at me after finishing her story and said, “UFOs, Sasquatch and Little People, these three are all real.” This story opened my eyes wider when we speak of the unknown and the mysterious.
My friend, after a lifetime of instruction, observation, questioning and listening to many others offered to me some of her conclusions of her life. Today, I am thankful for this and to pass this along. I also like to conclude by saying it is important for people to speak openly about the unknown if we are ever to know and understand things that shouldn’t happen, but do hap- pen.
People sharing stories and information bring us closer to knowing the unknown.
Be prepared for the unexpected, it really is a beautiful world with some mysteries thrown in but hey, there are also a few clues … enjoy it.