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The Birchbark House
Transcript of The Birchbark House
by Louise Erdrich
Omakayas's name means "little frog," because her first step was a hop. She was a girl of seven winters, and was missing her two front teeth.
Her older sister, Angeline, was a girl of sixteen winters. She was nice to Omakayas... sometimes.
Nokomis, Omakayas's grandmother, knew all the tricks for making a birchbark house.
Old Tallow was six feet tall, very thin, and had feet half the size of snowshoes.
She stood out in the village of LaPointe because of her personality. It was so strange, she was isolated from the rest of the villagers.
On her way back home from Old Tallow, Omakayas came upon two bear cubs. Then along came the bear cubs’ mother, a fully-grown female grizzly bear. Omakayas was almost killed by the bear, but she escaped.
Omakayas was visited by the mother bear. She knew this only because she could feel the female bear’s presence - she couldn’t smell, see, or hear the mother bear at her shoulder.
This encounter changed the life of Omakayas by altering something inside of her. She became more quiet and hardworking.
Deydey, Omakayas’s father, came home and told a story he called “Deydey’s Ghost Story.”
Two men named Albert LaPautre and Fishtail, Deydey’s friends, visited him and worried about the chimookoman (non-Indians) taking the Ojibwa’s land.
In some bushes, Angeline and Omakayas overhear the men’s talk, and start to worry themselves.
Pinch, Omakayas’s younger brother, got in trouble because he ate almost all of the extremely ripe chokecherries his mother picked two or three days earlier.
But before he got in trouble, he lied to his mother that Andeg, Omakayas’s crow, ate the berries, not Pinch.
The entire family got up early and prepared for the move to their winter cabin, at the south end of LaPointe.
After the first snow fell, Pinch ran out to slide on the ice. However, the ice wasn’t entirely solid yet.
Ten Snow, Angeline's best friend, made a handsome bandolier bag for her husband, Fishtail. The bag was beaded in a pattern of beautiful crimson flowers, which stood out against the white backround.
A man came to the village of LaPointe, bringing with him a deadly disease called ”smallpox.”
The family was almost out of food. Andeg found several squirrel caches full of nuts.
The lake ice began to melt, and the maple sugar inside trees started to rise up from the roots to the trunk, signaling the beginning of spring.
After Omakayas said her goodbyes, Andeg left to build a nest with a female crow, and have offspring.
Omakayas was told her story of when she was a baby, and everyone on Spirit Island had died of smallpox except her. She was shocked to find that she wasn’t truly part of what she would call ”her” family.
During the maple sugar harvest, Pinch was badly burned when a pot of hot maple sugar spilled onto his foot.
After they finished the move, Omakayas and Angeline were outside in the snow and saw Fishtail emerge from the school. They learned that he was there to learn English.
One Horn, the great buck, gave his life to feed the family for a week. By then, spring will have come.
She finally realized that she was the girl from Spirit Island, an island where everyone had died of smallpox except her. The next day, Omakayas went outside and somehow… she heard Neewo, comforting her.
The man first spread the disease to the villagers, then died of smallpox. Baby Neewo died of the disease, along with Ten Snow.
It explains how he escaped from two sister ghosts who happened to be cannibals.
Yellow Kettle, their mother, saved him from falling through the ice.
The handle was beaded in a continuous pattern of blue, uncoiled heads of new spring ferns, Fishtail’s favorite food.
He alerted the family and together, they brought the nuts back to their cabin.
Omakayas ran home, grabbed a bag of horsemint, and crushed it into paste. She ran back to Pinch and smeared the paste over Pinch’s feet. Over a course of three days, Pinch’s burned feet healed.
Brought to you by Kyle Davey