________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 24. . . .February 25th, 2010.


The Caribou Feed Our Soul =
?étthén bet'á dághíddá.

Pete Enzoe & Mindy Willett. Photographs by Tessa Macintosh.
Markham, ON: Fifth House/Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2010.
32 pp. hardcover, $16.95.
ISBN 978-1-897252-67-3.

Subject Headings:
Enzoe, Pete-Juvenile literature.
Caribou hunting-Northwest Territories-Juvenile literature.
Chipewyan Indians-Hunting-Northwest Territories-Juvenile literature.
Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation-Biography-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

*** / 4




My grandfather taught me many other games. He once made me a caribou bone game called k’éguwi. It is a stick attached to a string of hide. On the end of the hide string are several hollow caribou toe bones. There is also a piece of hide that has holes in it. To play, you have to get the bones onto the stick or the stick into the holes of the caribou hide. The more bones you pile onto the stick, the more points you get. You need a lot of patience to do it well.

The sixth book in “The Land is Our Storybook” series, The Caribou Feed Our Soul focuses on the caribou harvest. Pete Enzoe is Dénésôliné (Chipewyan) from the Northwest Territories’ northernmost Chipewyan community, Óutsël K’é, population 320. Written in the first person, the text introduces readers to Pete, a trapper, hunter and fisher. Pete comes from a large family, and though he has no children of his own, he helps to take care of his nieces and nephews and teaches them (and, occasionally, the school children) the traditional ways and values of his people. He believes that the Déné are descendants of the caribou, and he explains the importance of the caribou for food and clothing. When hunting, the people express their gratitude to the caribou for having given its life. Pete explains that nothing on the caribou carcass is wasted. After the hide is removed from the animal, Pete’s aunt, Madeline Drybones, tans the hide for later use in making clothing. Steps in the tanning process are shown, beginning with scraping the hides, followed by soaking them in a solution of caribou brain and water to make them pliable, rinsing them, then hanging them to dry so that the sun can bleach them. If a tan color is desired, the hides are smoked over a fire.

     The remainder of Pete’s story tells about his work with scientists to monitor the caribou herds and to collect data, and his association with Parks Canada to ensure that Aboriginal harvesting rights are guaranteed in the area. Also included is “The Legend of Ts’qkuí Thédá” (The Old Lady of the Falls) which Pete's aunt Madeline has shared with him, and a double-page spread entitled, “All the Details!” which provides definitions as well as brief information about a variety of topics in the book and a photo showing the caribou’s adaptations to the cold. A map shows sacred sites and the caribou range, while colour photographs of varying sizes (and some aerial views) give readers an authentic look at life in this community.


Gail Hamilton is a former teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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