The Legend

This legend is told by Dan Kennedy of Saskatchewan's Assiniboine Reserve. "In the pre-reservation days, at the turn of the last century, severe epidemics of smallpox almost wiped out large tribes of the Crees. When we first broke sod in the district where the Assiniboia Reserve is now located, it was not unusual to turn over several skulls each day. They were the skulls of smallpox victims. The Crees were winter-bound when this epidemic raged among the tribesmen, but as soon as spring broke, the survivors headed for the Saskatchewan River.

On their way, three of the braves became ill. When the tribe camped at Manitou Lake they were too weak to go any further. They built shelters for the sick men and left them while the tribe moved on. Crazed by fever, one of the men managed to crawl to the shore of the lake to appease his burning thirst and cool his fever. He lay along the shore and drank deeply of the waters, bathed his face and body, but was too weak to crawl back to the shelter. He lay there until the next morning.

To his surprise he found that the fever had left him. He told the good news to his fellow companions and dragged them to the lakeshore. There he told them to drink and bathe themselves until they too were cured. A few days later they caught up with their fellow tribesmen who could not believe that these were the men they had left behind. It took a lot of convincing to make them believe that they were not seeing the ghosts of the three braves."

(Taken from 'Prairie Reflections')

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