Old Trapper and the Fur Trader
A long time ago when the first Traders arrived in our lands there was an elderly couple that lived in the wilderness, outside of the village. The fur trader would be making his rounds throughout the region trading his goods for prime furs such-as, beaver, otter, fox, mink, wolf, muskrat and ermine. The people from the surrounding village used to gather in one particular village whenever the trader arrived and trade for the items that they wanted and were curious about. Some of the villagers would trade for metal cooking pots, steel knives and axes. Some of the women would trade for beads, buttons and pretty cloth.
The old trapper had never traded before but had heard how it was done, when he received word that the fur trader was coming he decided that he would go to the village this time and trade for some goods. He told his old wife that evening that he would be bringing some furs into the village, since he had received word from the village runner that the trader would be arriving in their village on the third tide. He told his wife that she would have to stay home since it was a long walk and that it would take him a couple of days to reach the village with his furs. She agreed since she was getting a little stiff legged from her old age. Next morning the old trapper packed up his furs and loaded them onto the packs of his two dogs and started walking across the tundra to the village. It took him a long time since he was getting a little old himself, but the trip made him feel young again since it had been a long time since he had visited the village. And with the fur trader arriving it was a big event for everyone. He was hoping he would see some of his old trapping partners from years back. As he neared the village on the second day he stopped to rest along a stream and made some tea over a campfire and ate some dried caribou meat. Afterward he packed up his tea kettle and continued on, before midday he reached the village and inquired about the trader. He was told by some villagers that the fur trader was anchored below the village on the bank of the river. The old trapper walked down to the river and along the way met some of the villagers who were just returning from trading, all were talking about the trade goods that they saw, some had never seen such items in their lives and were very amazed. When the old trapper reached the boat the trader spotted him and greeted him with a big welcome as he eyed the bundle of furs strapped to the two dogs. The old trapper tied his dogs to a piece of drift wood and walked over to see the many items that the trader had laid out on the deck of his boat. As he was looking them over very carefully trying to figure out what they were he spotted an item covered over with a piece of cloth, when he picked it up and removed the cloth to look at it, too his amazement he was looking at an image of his old man, he was just amazed. He wondered to himself where did the trader get this image of his old man who had passed away many seasons ago. He immediately took it to the fur trader and asked about it and the cost, the trader looked at the old trapper curiously and with a twinkle in his eye showed the him how many furs he wanted for the item. The old trapper without hesitation walked over to his dogs and unloaded his pack of furs. The trader looked them over very carefully and selected the ones he wanted, he picked out 3 beaver pelts, 3 fox pelts and an otter pelt. The old trapper nodded his head in agreement that it was a fair trade since he really wanted the image of his father. He packed the image away very carefully in his pack and started walking back to the village very pleased with the trade. He went to the home of a friend whom he had not seen in a very long time and they had tea together and shared tobacco. When they were through he said his goodbyes and left for home. After a very long walk and a campout along the way he was getting near his camp he began to think to himself, my old wife never cared for my old man and if she saw the image she would become very angry with me for making such a foolish trade. So when he arrived, he immediately went to the old sodhouse that they used as a cache and hung the image just inside the entry so when he opened the door the sunlight would shine on the image and he could gaze at his old man’s image. After he tied his dogs up he then went into the sodhouse and greeted his wife who was busy with chores. He told her about his experience and about the many new and interesting trade goods that he saw, he described each and everyone except for the one he brought home. She was pleased that he had taken the trip and that he had seen an old friend too. Next morning before the old trapper left camp to check his traps he went to the old sodhouse to gaze upon the image of his old man and remember all the good times that they had together when he was alive. This he did each and every morning, one morning before he left he stayed in the old sodhouse longer that usual, his old wife became curious and was wondering what is taking him so long and why is he staying in the old sodhouse longer that the day before. After the old trapper left she went over to the old sodhouse and when she opened the door she looked inside and when the morning sunlight shone on the image she walked over and took a closer look, she became very angry with what she saw that she said in a loud angry voice “so you are the old woman that my husband has been coming out here to see”.
As the trapper became older his hair turned gray and his face became wrinkled, he began to look exactly like his old man. What did the old trapper receive in trade for his furs?
Thank you for the the stories Nukalpiaq.
Yes it was a mirror. Heard this old story from a friend who lives in another village. The person who told him the story said it was true.