Here’s a brief excerpt from ‘Spirit Quest’. (Please remember that this is copyrighted material)
After telling Aunt Sherry about the people I had met in the past, I felt as though a great weight had been lifted off my chest. I also felt a little nostalgic and I thought I should check out what might have happened to the people in the past, those who had influenced me most. During an in-service day in the middle of March, I took the bus downtown to the Manitoba Archives Building where I found a marriage announcement for Harriet and a Doctor William Cowan. They even had her husband’s diary on microfiche. I was excited to read it in case there were any references to Harriet and their children, but his handwriting was so bad, it was very difficult to read, so I gave up and moved on. I found references to Duncan and his family. He was quite a busy bunny, according to reports!
Then, I searched the archives for a mention of Bear or Owl. I found a headline that chilled my soul: “Another Execution In Red River.” The date of the article was February 20th, 1847, more than six weeks after I left the past. As I read, my stomach felt heavier and heavier, as though lead balls were dropped into it with every word I read:
“Yesterday, after much deliberation, the Council of Assiniboia revealed their findings to Adam Thom, Recorder of Rupert’s Land, in the second murder trial in the history of the Red River Settlement. Mr. Thom proceeded to pronounce the Indian medicine man, known as Owl-Who-Sees-All, guilty of murdering a young woman, although her body was never found. The man was witnessed leaving the Lower Fort Garry area late one bitter night in mid-January with the young woman in question, Miss Michelle Langly.”
My hand began to shake so hard I had to put the paper on the table to finish reading it.
“When no sign of her had been reported for several days, the residents began a full-scale search for the young woman. Her clothes were found in the shaman’s tepee, which led people to believe she had been murdered. The medicine man was seized and confined to his tepee under twenty-four-hour guard. The Council of Assiniboia came to the Lower Fort to deliberate on the case. At first, the Council was reluctant to take part in the proceedings, since no remains had been recovered, but the governor insisted.”
I quickly passed over the comments about me, my eyes stuck on the key name of the key witness.
“The witness, revealed to the court as the Chief Factor’s wife, Mrs. Martha Wilson, was quoted as saying, ‘I often warned Miss Langly of the dangers of cavorting with those savages, but the woman would not listen’…”
At her name, I saw red, believing she had stirred up the whole community and convinced them that Owl had murdered me. I knew she had never liked Bear and his family, but this was too much! I forced myself to continue reading about how Bear had tried to convince the court that I had merely gone in search of my family, using the note I’d left for the doctor as proof, but the Council could not believe I would have left in the middle of that bitterly cold night Then, I got to the final paragraph and my blood froze.
“The Council decided to indict the grandson and the doctor, as accomplices after the fact and have been held in custody until further investigation can be made. Mr. Owl-Who-Sees-All was hanged at sunrise this morning.”