Published on December 5, 2012 by Carol
Compiler: P.G. Downes
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Editor: Annie Downes Catterson
Illustrator: Annie Downes Catterson
A TRADITIONAL WOODLAND CREE INDIAN LEGEND, The Story of Chakapas is an excellent example of the Cree belief in animism; it concerns the heroic efforts of the Least Mouse in releasing the Moon from an unhappy snare.
This story comes from an unpublished collection entitled Kyass: The Stories of Long Ago, that P.G. Downes made in 1949. These tales were originally recorded as notes in his journals from his summer travels to the North, starting in 1936. Adam Ballantyne—the old Cree medicine man, who once heard the story from his grandfather and told it to Downes—is the narrator. “This story is about the days before the white man came among us. It is of long ago.”
P.G. Downes first paid tribute to the stories of the Woodland Cree in 1943 with the publication of Sleeping Island. Annie Downes Catterson has drawn upon her father’s unpublished collections of Cree lore and mythology, fashioning otherworldly illustrations to accompany what is now a Penumbra Press trilogy of books for the child and dreamer in everyone. The Story of Chakapas, is the first, followed by Wisakyjak and the New World and The Legend of the Mimigwesseos.