The second book in the Because of the Moon series. Jay Roberts is on a quest to find the missing artifact stolen during the potlatch abolitions.
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Because of the Moon
Jay Roberts searches for the missing artifacts stolen during the violent raids on First Nations villages. The Potlatch abolitions saw terrible destruction of Jay's peoples way of life. He wants more than anything to find the stolen masks and priceless treasures like The Copper Raven. Finding them will help heal the village and celebrate the future. The only problem is no one believes they are out there. Follow Jay as he embarks on a journey of survival, using his wits and instincts to read the clues left for him by his ancestors. Will he complete his quest before the eagle poachers put an end to his search and maybe his life? A fast paced adventure filled with humour as only Jay Roberts can deliver. Find out more at www.amazon.com or www.cjcutayne.com
September 28, 1909
The young brave carried the Copper Raven toward the longhouse. The statue weighed over two pounds and stood almost six inches high. He had worked on it for months molding the copper into just the right shape and etching the face of the fierce raven. Now the chief would present it to the visiting tribe as an offering of good faith. The two tribes would continue to share the land and the river for hunting, gathering and fishing as they had done for centuries. Copper was the greatest gift a tribe could give. The young brave was honored when the chief picked him to craft a raven from copper. As he turned the corner of the 100 foot, cedar plank house he heard thundering hooves coming fast to the village.
He entered the longhouse to advise the chief, weaving between the masses of people who had come to celebrate at the potlatch feast. Before he reached the chief, the door to the longhouse swung open and several white men; Europeans, burst in. They pushed aside the tribes-people and began grabbing the intricately carved and painted ceremonial masks off the dancers. They tossed the masks into the fire. Great flames leapt up as the cedar fringes ignited. The women screamed and grabbed their children, placing them under the blankets they wore, specially woven for the potlatch. The chief yelled for the men to stop but they did not understand the language of the First Nations people. He told his tribe to run to the forest where the giant cedars stood ready to protect them. The tribe rushed to the door. The Europeans pulled out knives and swords to stop them. The tribe pushed forward. An older tribesman grabbed the blade of a knife. His hand was sliced open when the European pulled the blade back. Rage filled the tribesman’s eyes as he lunged forward to attack. The European swiftly drew the knife down and plunged it into the tribesman’s stomach. He fell to the ground, clutching his stomach and closed his eyes.
The young brave watched in horror as others were stabbed with the knives and swords of the Europeans. Many other tribes-people made it through only to be captured outside. The young brave pressed against the crowd as everyone pushed to escape the longhouse. Smoke filled the room and the young brave realized the Europeans had set the place on fire. He turned to look back and saw ceremonial masks, small totem poles, mats, and baskets being thrown into the flames. His lungs burned with the acrid fumes. He held his breath and gave one final push out the door. The cool, night breeze washed over him and he inhaled deeply, almost eating the air. A European male who did not seem much older than the brave lunged at him with an ivory handled knife. The young brave twisted in time to face him as the knife struck the Copper Raven. The unexpected hardness of the target caused the European to drop the knife. The young brave took the opportunity to run toward the dark protection of the forest. Screaming and crying filled his ears as he knew what was happening. It had happened in other villages.
The Europeans were here to take the Indian out of the Indian and to destroy any and all cultural items such as masks and copper gifts. He gave one last look and saw his parents beaten and bloody, lying on the ground. The mask his father had been wearing moments ago for the Raven dance, ripped from his head and thrown in the back of a cart, amongst a pile of other masks and regalia. His brothers and sisters huddled together before they too were shoved in the back of a hay wagon. It was destined for the European school where they were beaten and starved if they spoke one word of their ancestral language. The young brave stood frozen; wanting to help his parents and his brothers and sisters. Then his eyes locked on the chief.
“Go! Go! Save the Copper Raven, don’t let them take it. Remember this night forever and tell your children,” pleaded the chief as he collapsed on the ground and closed his eyes.
The young brave ran into the darkness of the forest.
That was the last anyone heard from him or the Copper Raven.
Jay was not thrilled to be back in school after summer break but was curious about the strange word on the black board. The other kids jockeyed for the best seats, namely the back row and speculated about what “Aboriginal Studies” might entail. It was a new class Chief George fought years to have placed in the grade ten curriculum at the small coastal village. Hearing the door shut, the kids settled down and looked up to see Chief George standing with their new teacher.
“She’s white and young,” Jay couldn’t help being struck by the thought.
He’d been expecting someone much older; an elder from the tribe even.
“Class, I’d like to welcome you and Ms. Leary to “Aboriginal Studies”. I’ll be dropping in from time to time to see how things are going but you will be in very capable hands with Ms. Leary. She has come highly recommended. I am sure you will all enjoy the class very much,” said Chief George closing the door behind him on his way out. He was a man of few words but always friendly and approachable. Jay had only lived in the village for two years but had come to admire and respect him. Chief George took his responsibility of chief very seriously and had improved the situation of the tribe from one of poverty to one of great prospects for the future.
“Good morning, everyone, I am Ms. Leary,” she announced, tucking her shoulder length auburn hair behind her ears, reducing her age even more.
“I have recently graduated from the Aboriginal Studies program at the university and I wanted to experience your culture first hand. My hope is we will learn from each other,” she said. Her soft, pleasant voice was unexpected for someone so tall. She had to be at least five foot eleven. She dressed in a casual, almost hippie fashion with a beige T-shirt made of hemp fabric, a black macramé cardigan and an ankle length, mossy green, flowing skirt with flat, tan sandals.
“The word behind me on the blackboard is an Ojibwa word ‘Peendigan’ it means come in, welcome, or beckoning. Please say it with me,” said Ms. Leary.
As the class repeated the word Jay noticed the sound in their voices was not stiff or stifled. It sounded so natural and sing-song like. The word did not get stuck in their throats. Everyone smiled.
“In this class we will study the language, customs, arts and crafts, history and politics of this and other bands. Part of the class will also be a vision quest where you spend up to seven days in the forest. It is completely optional but if you choose to go, it will count for one quarter of your grade,” said Ms. Leary.
“Woo-hoo,” thought Jay. “A week of camping and no school. Sign me up for that.”
He was about to share his joy with the other kids who were all grinning from ear to ear when Ms. Leary burst their bubble. As though reading the kids minds the teacher announced, “This will not be a camping trip.”
The kids were not deterred. The happiness was almost palpable.
“A vision quest will require you to go out into the forest without food, water, or shelter. And you will be alone. It is up to you to provide yourself with the necessities in life just as your ancestors did. At the end of the week an elder will meet with you and grant you passage into adulthood. They will discuss with you any dreams you had and what you learned about yourself. What you like and dislike about yourself and how you think you fit into the tribe. Then you will write up a report. This will be intense but before you go you will be taught how to thrive in the surrounding environment,” explained Ms. Leary.
“Cool, like “Survivor”,” said Jay, comparing it to one of his favorite TV shows.
“In some ways, but you won’t have a cameraman or any other tribe members around to help collect fire wood. It’s just you and nature,” said Ms.Leary.
“This will be a piece of cake, I spent last summer in the bush with my old man,” said Miles, from the last row.
“There won’t be any cake this time. There are strict rules as to what you are allowed to bring. This is as much to get to know yourself as it is learning the survival skills of past tribes people,” said Ms.Leary.
“I already know myself,” said one of the boys at the front of the class.
“Yeah, we heard you getting to know yourself in the washroom,” said Miles.
A few kids snickered.
“Excuse me,” said Ms. Leary. “What is your name?”
“Miles,” said Miles.
“Miles, we respect each other in this class. Now apologize, please,” said Ms. Leary.
Miles face glowed. Under his breath he said a quick sorry.
“I am handing out waiver forms for our first outing, please return it to me with your parents’ signature at the bottom,” said Ms. Leary.
“I live with my grandparents,” said one boy.
“Yeah, me too,” said the girl next to him.
“I live with my aunt,” said another kid.
“Well, whoever your legal guardian is, get them to sign it,” said Ms. Leary.
“OK, OK, don’t get snippy,” said the girl.
Ms. Leary sat down behind her desk. She rubbed her forehead. Jay thought she looked exhausted even though it was only fifteen minutes into the first period.
“Where are we going?” asked Courtney, checking for split ends on her bleached blond hair. She was sixth generation coastal Indian. It took several tries before the dye penetrated her jet black hair. Some of the other kids had purple or blue streaks but Courtney was the only blond in a sea of straight, black hair.
“We are going into the city to the Aboriginal Museum,” said Ms. Leary. Her expression changed as though she had just mentally given herself a pep talk.
“A field trip! This class is awesome,” thought Jay.