Flint and Feather: The Life and Times of E. Pauline Johnson, Tekahionwake

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Special to The Globe and Mail. Published November 23, Updated April 17, Comments Please log in to bookmark this story. Log In Create Free Account.


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If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters globeandmail. The Mohawk were one of six nations represented in the Iroquois Confederacy , governed by a Great Law of Peace and consisting of 50 sachems chiefs of the ruling council within a Confederacy chosen by the matriarchs of the Iroquoian societies. Gonwatsijayenni was a Mohawk clan mother, matriarch and loyalist who had much power in the dealings of the Confederacy. He was a great warrior, accomplished orator, storyteller and interpreter. Sakayengwaraton marries the adopted daughter, Helen Nellie Martin, of hereditary Chief Teyonnhehkewea who belongs to one of the 50 sachems of the Iroquois Confederacy.

Onwanonsyshon marries Emily Susanna Howells and they settle at Chiefswood. Like his father, he is an interpreter for the Canadian government, an elected Teyonhehkon, and one of 50 chiefs of the Iroquois Confederacy, a chieftainship descended matrilineally. The following year she again visited London, returning by way of the United States, where she and Mr. McRaye were engaged by the American Chautauquas for a series of recitals covering eight weeks, during which time they went as far as Boulder, Colorado.

Then, after one more tour of Canada, she decided to give up public work, settle down in the city of her choice, Vancouver, British Columbia, and devote herself to literature only. Only a woman of tremendous powers of endurance could have borne up under the hardships necessarily encountered in travelling through North-Western Canada in pioneer days as Miss Johnson did; and shortly after settling down in Vancouver the exposure and hardship she had endured began to tell upon her, and her health completely broke down.

For more than a year she has been an invalid; and as she was not able to attend to the business herself, a trust was formed by some of the leading citizens of her adopted city for the purpose of collecting, and publishing for her benefit, her later works. Among these is a number of beautiful Indian legends which she has been at great pains to collect; and a splendid series of boys' stories, which were exceedingly well received when they ran recently in an American boys' magazine. During the sixteen years Miss Johnson was travelling she had many varied and interesting experiences.

Emily Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake)

She has driven up the old Battleford trail before the railroad went through, and across the Boundary country in British Columbia in the romantic days of the early pioneers; and once she took an mile drive up the Cariboo trail to the gold-fields. She was always an ardent canoeist, ran many strange rivers, crossed many a lonely lake, and camped in many an unfrequented place. These venturous trips she took more from her inherent love of nature and of adventure than from any necessity of her profession. After an illness of two years' duration Miss Johnson died in Vancouver on March 7, The heroic spirit in which she endured long months of suffering is expressed in her poem entitled "And He Said 'Fight On'" which she wrote after she was informed by her physician that her illness would prove fatal.

Time and its ally, Dark Disarmament Have compassed me about; Have massed their armies, and on battle bent My forces put to rout, But though I fight alone, and fall, and die, Talk terms of Peace? Not I. It is eminently fitting that this daughter of Nature should have been laid to rest in no urban cemetery. According to her own request she was buried in Stanley Park, Vancouver's beautiful heritage of the forest primeval.

A simple stone surrounded by rustic palings marks her grave and on this stone is carved the one word "Pauline.

ISBN 13: 9780002000659

In time to come a pathway to her grave will be worn by lovers of Canadian poetry who will regard it as one of the most romantic of our literary shrines. I am Ojistoh, his white star, and he Is land, and lake, and sky--and soul to me. Their hearts grew weak as women at his name: They dared no war-path since my Mohawk came With ashen bow, and flinten arrow-head To pierce their craven bodies; but their dead Must be avenged. They dared not walk In day and meet his deadly tomahawk; They dared not face his fearless scalping knife; So--Niyoh!

Have wampum ermine? But their arms were strong. They flung me on their pony's back, with thong Round ankle, wrist, and shoulder. Then upleapt The one I hated most: his eye he swept Over my misery, and sneering said, "Thus, fair Ojistoh, we avenge our dead. Plunging through creek and river, bush and trail, On, on we galloped like a northern gale.

At last, his distant Huron fires aflame We saw, and nearer, nearer still we came.

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I, bound behind him in the captive's place, Scarcely could see the outline of his face. I smiled, and laid my cheek against his back: "Loose thou my hands," I said. Forget we now that thou and I are foes. I like thee well, and wish to clasp thee close; I like the courage of thine eye and brow; I like thee better than my Mohawk now. I lashed That horse to foam, as on and on I dashed. Plunging thro' creek and river, bush and trail, On, on I galloped like a northern gale.

And then my distant Mohawk's fires aflame I saw, as nearer, nearer still I came, My hands all wet, stained with a life's red dye, But pure my soul, pure as those stars on high-- "My Mohawk's pure white star, Ojistoh, still am I.

Flint & Feather: Life and Times of E. Pauline Johnson, Tekahionwake | | lohydrest.cf

Is there a hell to him like this? A taunt more galling than the Huron's hiss? He--proud and scornful, he--who laughed at law, He--scion of the deadly Iroquois, He--the bloodthirsty, he--the Mohawk chief, He--who despises pain and sneers at grief, Here in the hated Huron's vicious clutch, That even captive he disdains to touch!

With scowling brow he stands and courage high, Watching with haughty and defiant eye His captors, as they council o'er his fate, Or strive his boldness to intimidate. Then fling they unto him the choice; "Wilt thou Walk o'er the bed of fire that waits thee now-- Walk with uncovered feet upon the coals, Until thou reach the ghostly Land of Souls, And, with thy Mohawk death-song please our ear? Or wilt thou with the women rest thee here? Like a god he stands. He knoweth not that this same jeering band Will bite the dust--will lick the Mohawk's hand; Will kneel and cower at the Mohawk's feet; Will shrink when Mohawk war drums wildly beat.

His death will be avenged with hideous hate By Iroquois, swift to annihilate His vile detested captors, that now flaunt Their war clubs in his face with sneer and taunt, Not thinking, soon that reeking, red, and raw, Their scalps will deck the belts of Iroquois. The path of coals outstretches, white with heat, A forest fir's length--ready for his feet.


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  4. Unflinching as a rock he steps along The burning mass, and sings his wild war song; Sings, as he sang when once he used to roam Throughout the forests of his southern home, Where, down the Genesee, the water roars, Where gentle Mohawk purls between its shores, Songs, that of exploit and of prowess tell; Songs of the Iroquois invincible. Up the long trail of fire he boasting goes, Dancing a war dance to defy his foes. His flesh is scorched, his muscles burn and shrink, But still he dances to death's awful brink.

    Slower and slower yet his footstep swings, Wilder and wilder still his death-song rings, Fiercer and fiercer thro' the forest bounds His voice that leaps to Happier Hunting Grounds. Till the autumn came and vanished, till the season of the rains, Till the western world lay fettered in midwinter's crystal chains, Still she listened for his coming, Still she watched the distant plains.


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    Then a night with nor'land tempest, nor'land snows a-swirling fast, Out upon the pathless prairie came the Pale-face through the blast, Calling, calling, "Yakonwita, I am coming, love, at last. Yakonwita, Yakonwita, I am dying, love, for you. He was Pale, but he was true. Late at night, say Indian hunters, when the starlight clouds or wanes, Far away they see a maiden, misty as the autumn rains, Guiding with her lamp of moonlight Hunters lost upon the plains.

    Mistake him?

    ekspernanre.tk That terror to all the settlers, that desperate Cattle Thief-- That monstrous, fearless Indian, who lorded it over the plain, Who thieved and raided, and scouted, who rode like a hurricane! But they've tracked him across the prairie; they've followed him hard and fast; For those desperate English settlers have sighted their man at last. Up they wheeled to the tepees, all their British blood aflame, Bent on bullets and bloodshed, bent on bringing down their game; But they searched in vain for the Cattle Thief: that lion had left his lair, And they cursed like a troop of demons--for the women alone were there.

    Was that the game they had coveted? Scarce fifty years had rolled Over that fleshless, hungry frame, starved to the bone and old; Over that wrinkled, tawny skin, unfed by the warmth of blood. Over those hungry, hollow eyes that glared for the sight of food.