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In Their Own Voices

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Recipe for pemmican

Skin the buffalo brought in
by the men. Cut meat into
long strips. Hang to dry
by the fire. Turn as required.

Pound in a parchment hide
with a wooden flail. Sprinkle
with rendered grease. Mix meat
and fat. Don't cease until smooth.

Put into bags made from
buffalo hides, sewed with sinew.
May add dried berries if
summer has been bountiful.

-Shirley Serviss writing as Elizabeth Boyd McDougall

Eliza's view of Indians 

This is a found poem. Elizabeth's comments have been taken
from her speech "Pioneering in Alberta" and slightly
rearranged. Only a few words have been added.

Perhaps you've heard it said
the only good Indian
is a dead one.
I myself don't like to hear
anyone speak this way.

It's true they aren't all saints, 
but human beings like the rest
of us. There are good and bad
the same as any other race.

Some would say they were
very dirty people.
Perhaps this is true,
but let any one of us live
out on the prairie for months
without any soap. Would we
be any cleaner ourselves?

"However can you stand
living among those dirty Indians?
I could never have done it,"
said a guest the other day -
and her a minister's wife no less.
I said to her, "You are a good
woman and expect to go to heaven
when you die?" "I sure do,"
was her reply. "However are you
going to stay, for there are many
good Indians in Heaven?" was all I had to say.

-Shirley Serviss writing as Elizabeth Boyd McDougall

 

Citation Sources
Serviss, Shirley. Reading Between the Lines: Piecing Together the Life of Elizabeth Boyd McDougall. Edmonton: Rowan Books, 2000.


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