Maggie Roberts
Blood On His Moccasins
© By Bert Gildart

“...Mostly those were really good times, “said Maggie Roberts.  “But they weren’t always that way.  Sometimes our dad would only come back with one squirrel.  Sarah Frank would divide the meat and we’d drink the juice from the squirrel.  And we’d look to the caribou hooves.

“We don't even throw away the hooves of an animal,” said Maggie. “The hoofs are gathered and tied together, put on tree hanging down, so sometimes in the winter if we run out of food, we remember where the hooves are and we can boil them for broth. They're mostly tendons and can be preserved.  Mostly they are for emergencies."

   ...To find meat, the Franks continued to move widely.  Sometimes they’d go to Ch'injik Lake—a place moose liked because of a nearby salt lick.  “Every time we move,” said Maggie Roberts, “we put up a tent, first removing the snow with snowshoes. Then we put spruce branches on the ground and then put up our canvas tent.  Then we put up stove and build a fire.  Some of us tied up the dogs and fixed dog bedding with spruce limbs—everyone did their chores, some making dog food.  The next day we would take it all down and start over again.”

...There was a lot of caribou over there,” said Maggie. “Also small game and berries, which we stored.  We store all the food in a little shelter of logs so animals won't bother it. We did this because we travel so much from place to place. We had a good house at Gold Camp, but we couldn’t stay long, we always had to be moving to find game—even if it was 60 below...  

“And I remember in those times we’d never sleep.  We stood outside the cabin and listened for our father’s footsteps. When Johnny Frank would come back, the first thing we did was to look at his moccasin to see if there was bloodstain. That way we knew if he had killed something.

“Most of the time he would kill something,” said Maggie. “Most of the time we could depend on the caribou. And most of the time, we’d see blood on our father’s moccasins, because the caribou would give themselves to us.”