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The Conjuring of Loud Voice

The following is an excerpt from Indian Tales of the Canadian Prairies (1894), by James Francis Sanderson.

The Conjuring of Loud Voice

Kak-she-wey, or Loud Voice, was one of the most noted chiefs that the Crees ever had. Certainly he was the most noted of those who led their young men on the warpath within recent years. He was distinguished no less for his bravery than for his sagacity and the sound judgment he showed in avoiding a contest where defeat was likely to be the result of battle. His particular following consisted of the Pot-eh-p’wayu-seepe-eh-new-uk, or Qu’Appelle Indians.

About the year 1857, Loud Voice left Qu’Appelle with a war party for the west. His band consisted of the chosen warriors of his tribe and they set out on the expedition full of hope of returning in triumph with the scalps of many Blackfoot at their belts. Not only was their leader a warrior of approved skill and courage and one well worthy to be followed on the warpath, but he was a great medicine man as well, and one whose divinations, when he made medicine, always came true. But on this occasion they were doomed to disappointment, even though the failure of the expedition was not due to any fault of Loud Voice’s, either as a warrior or a medicine man.

When the party reached Old Wives Lake, Loud Voice chose for his conjuring as medicine man, a spot on the east side of the North Lake, where a fine spring rises near the summit of a small butte and runs eastward in a little stream over the prairie. The spot is known to this day among the Crees as Ka-ke-mun-too-kasuchk, or “the place where the medicine man conjured”. The Canadian Pacific Railway runs today within half a mile of the place.

Old Wives Lake, Saskatchewan, not far from where this story takes place.

Having finished his medicine-making or divination, Loud Voice announced the result to his young men. It was to the effect that, as their Blackfoot foes were close at hand, none of the party should leave the camp next morning. If anyone should be foolhardy enough to do so, Loud Voice assured them that the man would pay the penalty with his life.

There were a few Assiniboines in Loud Voice’s band, and one of their number, a hotheaded young brave, either doubting the truth of the prediction made by the chief, or anxious to show his daring and disregard for the risk he ran, mounted his horse at daybreak and rode off from the camp. Striking out to the westward, he came to some buttes in the neighborhood of Rush Lake. Riding towards the nearest one with the intention of ascending to the top to reconnoiter, he suddenly saw the figure of a warrior shown on the summit. Instead of turning round and making all haste to the camp he had left, the young brave, trusting to the speed of his horse, approached nearer to the butte in order to assure himself of the identity and number of the enemy. As soon as he came within gunshot, the Blackfoot opened fire on him and one bullet broke the foreleg of his horse, bringing him, with his rider, to the ground. The Blackfoot braves then rushed at him and, before he could make any defence, dispatched him with their tomahawks. The spot where he was slain is called, to this day, by the Crees, Oop-wassie-mu-ka-ke-ouk-a-ma-hucht, or “the place where the Assiniboine was killed with the tomahawks”.

When Loud Voice learned of the fate of the rash young brave, he knew that his “medicine” was broken. He realized that his followers, even if he asked them, would not have the heart to advance on the enemy, so he retired with his party to Qu’Appelle. But, though this raid ended unsuccessfully, it is said that within a week after, Loud Voice was on the warpath again.

 

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I'm a Western Canadian writer, carver, and fiddler who has a special place in his heart for history and the unexplained.

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