On the Trapline
By David A. Robertson; illustrated by Julie Flett
Tundra Books, 2021 (ages 4-8)
Guest post by Marsha Weiner
Language, landscape and love are three themes throughout On the Trapline as we learn, along with our young narrator, about the traditions and lifestyle of his Swampy Cree forefathers of Manitoba.
Just about every page spread has Swampy Cree words; tansi means hi, wakomakanan means family, pahkwanikamik means tent, Moshom means grandpa.
The story crackles with the fresh observations of a young boy traveling to the trapline that his grandpa remembers from his youth—where he grew up living off the land.
The pace of the story is slow and measured, (pehkach means slowly, minwashin means beautiful) as we learn about hunting and fishing and living closely with family, “Moshom tells me that everybody in the family slept in one tent, so they could keep warm at night. I think it would’ve been nice, being together like that.”
As grandpa reminisces, values and sensibilities are transmitted across generations. They don’t feel sentimental. There’s no dogmatic teaching. The boy and his Moshom fish, chop wood, pick berries—then share the fruits of their combined effort; the lessons are embodied—they are authentic.
Elders are the transmitters of traditions and rituals that link generations. Can the ethical and substantive value of a tradition or ritual survive once the performative action is “out of date?”
I don’t know.
But, for sure, this trip with Moshom to the trapline has left a long-lasting impression on his young grandson—one rooted in language, landscape and love.
Ekosani (thank you).
Age Positive activities–help children learn about aging, to recognize age stereotypes and to anticipate late life with joy.
What traditions does your family follow? Were they handed down from elders? Have they changed over time, from generation to generation? Has your family created “new” traditions or rituals? What does your family celebrate?
A library book was reviewed for this post. Thank you for this insightful guest post about a beautiful picture book Marsha.
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