Ashuapun-shipu Junction

Episode 2

After the fall hunt, the group had moved camp to the west side of Mushuau-nipi where there were more trees for firewood, and better shelter from the biting, blasting winter winds. By March, the time had arrived to make the move towards the coast. Frozen fish, dried caribou meat, clothing, guns, axes, cooking pots, and other belongings were loaded onto the shumin-utapanashku (toboggan), and tied with a pishakaniapi",1); ?> (skin rope). The caribou skins and canvas were stripped off the tepees and tied to the toboggans, leaving the skeletal frames behind to stare at the Innu as they trundled away across the snow.

The route towards the rising sun was a familiar one. First Mushuau-nipi, then Meiapeu katshitaimatshet*, then Ashuapun-natuashu, followed by a steep portage down into the valley where flowed to the sea. Shimiu pulled his own toboggan behind him, as he marched along behind his father. His asham (snowshoes) filled the tracks left by his father’s snowshoes almost perfectly, a sure sign that he was fast on his way to manhood. "I bet I know this route by heart now," he whispered to himself. "I’ll be leading the group one of these years."

Often, in the early evenings, his mother, Shanimen, and sister, Shushepin , hunted uapineu (willow ptarmigan) and kaku (porcupine) with atshapi (bow) and akashku (arrow) . The group had several guns with them but why waste valuable ammunition when the ptarmigan were easy to kill with bow and arrow?

In April, they decided to camp at the junction of Ashuapun-shipu and Kameshtashtan-shipu. The men fished at the rapids nearby, while the women repaired the webbing on some of the asham (snowshoes) that were badly worn from all the traveling they had done. Pitshu and her pup, Nipishapui, had feasted on the lacing in one pair after they had been left accidentally on the ground over night. These had to be laced all over again.

Early one afternoon, Shimiu was in the woods cutting standing dead sheshekatiku (spruce trees) for firewood, when he heard shrieks from down on the river. "Come quickly! Mother has fallen through the ice. Tshinipik maku Innuat petutek ! (Hurry, hurry, come) Before it’s too late!"

By the time Shimiu got to the river, Atika was already there. "Stay calm, Shanimen. Hold on a little longer. I will get you." Much to Shimiu’s amazement, grandfather took off his caribou hide coat and spread it over the thin ice beside where mother had fallen through. Walking carefully over the coat, he reached out to mother and grabbed her hand. Before she knew it, she was up, out of the hole, and rushed off to the warm tepee, to dry off and get warm.

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