In an ancient cave, enigmatic whispers from spirit shadows thrust Matt and Tanya into a quest: bidding the future to save the past.
They enter the lawless world of the year 1800 Mackinac fur trade. Their skills and technology are constantly challenged. Flint and steel vs a BIC, flintlocks vs a modern handgun, make dynamic contrasts during adventures involving a courageous priest and a threatened Ojibwa village.
Join this nonstop action thriller. Witness impressive Indian skills and societies as well as the deadly competitions of tribes and of the fur trade.
This novel about Indians, fur traders, a wilderness priest, wood craft, time warping Spirits, weapons, and life in a Native village in the year 1800, took two years of research involving over twelve books and multiple interviews.
Sandy MacDonald’s Man- A Tale of the Mackinaw Fur Trade, by R. Clyde Ford, was the most influential piece of my studies. I read this novel as a boy, got another copy (Copyright, 1929) which included a wonderful teacher’s guide by the author. I’ve made a more complete listing of reference texts in my website: Jchager.com .
My admiration for the Indian is massive. Their crafts, society, environmental harmony, family life and spiritualism comprised a near perfect society. Their vulnerability was caused by their perfection, there was no driving need to adapt or change.
They were 5,000 years behind the Bronze Age technologically; no metals, wheels, axles, or beasts of burden, other than dogs. The simple metal sharp pointed awl was a revolutionary tool; stitching with split root fibers or plant cordage became easier, stronger and faster. (FYI, Wattape is Ojibwa for spruce roots—19th century duct tape!) Stitches held the Ojibwa world together: wigwams, clothing, canoes, and moccasins.
White fur traders gave away free awls, needles, and trinkets as introductions to metal objects and various manufactured technologies and foods. Once a woman had a good metal knife, going back to sharp rocks, shells, antlers, bones, and sticks wasn’t going to happen. In one generation the high art of pressure flaking flint and obsidian was lost as a skill. Beaver pelts, fawn deerskin bags of wild rice (a rye) or a mo-cock (box) of maple sugar were happily traded for very useful metal axes, knives, traps, and then blankets, flour, and tobacco. The gun meant more food and better protection. It took an Indian weeks to make a bow—depending on the season, and maybe a year to cut, bundle and dry arrow shafts, to which were secured the arrowhead and the fletching. Ten to twenty good beaver skins got the family a trade gun, much easier to accomplish than to make a bow. Woodland skills and a thousand-year heritage disappeared in one or two generations, lost to the shiny objects of technology.
They didn’t initially have guns or the magical black powder, but Indians could cure scurvy with cedar paste, saving many of the earliest white explorers. Their willow bark teas contained a crude form of modern aspirin. I didn’t put Indian cures into the novel, but it is a worthy and fascinating area to study.
I tried to be honest and respectful while illustrating the tides of change that swept through the Michigan Straits in the novel’s time frame. As you have hopefully read the novel, I can now tell you that many Ojibwa did migrate to Manitoulin Island after the 1815 final ending of the War of 1812. (It was the priest’s mission from the spirits!) They are still there, where they teach and celebrate their rich heritage.
Sandy MacDonald’s Man— A Tale of the Mackinaw Fun Trade.
R. Clyde Ford, 1929
History of the Ottawa and Chippewa – Indians of Michigan
Andrew J. Blackbird, 1887
Life of Alexander Henry – Travels and Adventures. 1760-1776, many articles in diary and journals. Gi Quimby is worthy, also the Central Michigan U. work by Libbee and Stoltman: A year in the Life…
Adventures of Hatchet Jack— Mountain Men Book 4, Terry Grosz
Adventures of Mountain Men— Brennan, Stephen
Journal of a Trapper— 9 years in the Rocky Mountains, 1834-1843. Osborn Russell
The Saga of Harlan Waugh – The Mountain Men, Terry Grosz
Voices of the Winds – Native American Legends. Edmonds and Clark
Birch Bark Belles – Carry B. Massie
Pictorial History of the American Indian, (Pictures and written treasure), Oliver La Farge and Alvin M. Josephy, Jr.
The Untimate Bushcraft Survival Manual, Tim MacWelch and Outdoor Life
All 4 Bushcraft books by Dave Canterbury (Best is Bushcraft 101, Wilderness Survival)