Friends, the title here refers to this author, Kieran Moore’s adventures amongst the Northern Dene of Deline.

As a novice on the land in the early 1970s, the Irishman had to be taught everything about our ways of doing things.

This one has to do with how we scoop away the top, drifted, layer of snow to get at the lower, crystallized bottom, to make tea.

The top part gives you a burnt taste to your tea.

Burnt Snow makes for some fascinating reading, at least for myself.

Charlie Neyelle, left and Kieran Moore. Charlie drew a map on a pack of cigarettes for the dog-mushers first run, to Gameti.
photo courtesy of Antoine Mountain

My generation was born right on the land, so whatever has to do with these kinds of real-life experiences is what I live for. And for Kieran Moore, apparently.

Having moved to Canada from the Green Isle at an early age he just wanted to taste for himself every adventure to be had out there. One of his best involves Bear Lake Alexie. As a log builder for hire the author was on the roof of the to-be community hall, busy shingling. One of them noticed a speck way out on the Rae lakes, now Gameti, thinking that it might be a lone wolf or lost caribou. But when it began weaving, as a dogteam does, they were surprised to find that it was actually a man coming into town with dogs, in the middle of the melting spring.

In a while the whole community came to see what was going on. Someone went in a canoe to the ice’s edge, to help the driver load up his team to get to the shore. It was then that Kieran Moore got to be smitten by the driver, one Bear Lake Alexie Tauye, a well-known medicine man.

One of the stories told around campfires was of the man being threatened in a Yellowknife bar by another Dene, to buy him a drink. Without a word the medicine man scooped up a bunch of change from the table, presenting his accoster with a single block of metal!

Among the countless stories to while away the rest of your Covid-19, is the one of this Bear Lake Alexie mysteriously leaving Rae Lakes to go on to Deline, Fort Franklin, at the time.

A search party was sent out to find out what happened to their guest.

It was only later, when the author got to Deline himself did he find out that the way the medicine man made it all the way there in the melting Spring was to wait, each time, for the ice floe to get to his end of a lake, get his dogteam on board and sail off to the other end!

Even upon arriving near Deline without the wind to make it there, he simply piled up his supply of spruce boughs, firewood and tent poles, setting the entire mass on fire, on a melting ice floe!

Luckily enough a local, Charlie Neyelle, just off work as the school’s janitor, saw the strange light far off from shore, on the water and came to the rescue!

The photo is of Moore and Neyelle, Charlie having drawn a map on a pack of cigarettes for the dog-mushers first run to Gameti!

These just barely touch on a volume chock full of the amazing daring-do’s of our Kieran Moore, in Burnt Snow! Mahsi, thank you.

Antoine Mountain

Antoine Mountain is a Dene artist and writer originally from Radilih Koe/Fort Good Hope. He can be reached at www.mountainarts.com.

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