Ngii-zaagidimin—We So Loved Each Other

Duncan Pegahmagabow was the youngest son of Sergeant Francis Pegahmagabow and had a special relationship with his father. He shared Francis’s interest in stories, history, and both traditional and contemporary ways of life. Duncan was an exceptionally gifted storyteller—renowned throughout many parts of Ojibwe country for his ability to tell a wide variety of stories, including legends, humorous anecdotes, philosophical accounts, and historical reports. His remarkable memory allowed him to readily recall details of conversations that had taken place many years prior. He was the ideal person to recount some of the stories and philosophical worldview of his father.

While venerated as a soldier, this story provides insight into who Francis was at the level of home and community. Many qualities of Anishinaabe parenting are revealed, as is the mutual respect engendered between father and son. It is a delightful story that reveals much about the kind of man Francis Pegahmagabow was at his core


Listen to a recording of the story in Anishinaabemowin.


Mii-sh go naa genii ezhi-mnjimendmaan.
This is what I myself remember about this.

Mii go naa gii-bi-gwiiwizhenzhishwiyaan mii go pane baa-noopnanag niin mii go naa gaa-zhichgeyaan.
When I was just a silly little boy, I would always follow around my father—this is what I would do.

Mii go pane gaa-bi-zhi-noopnanag ndedem pii dibi go ezhaagwen mii go maa gii-baa-noopnanag dbishkoo go naa yahaa nimoons!
I would always follow my father around wherever he went just like a little puppy would!

Dibi go ezhaagwen mii go maa shkweyaang gii-bimi-yaayaan ngii-baa-noopnanaa.
Wherever he went, I was right there behind him, following him along.

Mii-sh kwa gaa-zhiwebak.
This is how it happened back then.

Aazhgo bmi-daapnang iihow ayhii waagaakwad miinwaa iw ayhii giishkboojgan miinwaa niw doo-daabaanan—mii iw wedi gaa-mnenmag geget daabaan mii maa baa-bgwaashkwaniyaan maa indaa-bmi-daabaanig dash.
He would get an axe, a saw, and his sled—I so loved the sled that I would be jumping around as I rode along.

Mii gaa-nji-wiijiiwag awi-mnised wii-bmi-daabaangoyaan ngaashiiniy maa go naa kaa ndaa-gii-gshkitoosiin anooj jiyaamaan iw ayhii waagaakwad.
I would go with him as he went to cut wood, but I just rode on the sled, for I was too small to handle anything like an axe.

Gnimaa go naa ge gegoo ndaa-gii-naapanandiz ngaashiiniy maa naa gaawiin ngii-nenmigsii ji-baamendmaan iihow waagaakwad zaam maa naa ndagaashiiniy.
I would likely just have hurt myself on something as I was so little—but I was never really expected to help with an axe or anything because I was too small.

Mii-sh maa baa-dzhiikeyaan maa gnawaabmag aw epiichimnised; gii-shkwaa-mnised mii aazhgo booztaasod maa doo-daabaaning.
And so I would just play around there, watching him as he gathered wood; when he was finished cutting, he would then load that wood onto his sled.

Mii-sh odi gwajiing miinwaa aazhgo nimaajiidaabaanig wodi gjiyiing nmadbiyaan iihow ayhii msan maa kosing maa daabaaning.
He would pull me along there outside, and I would sit in the sled on top of the woodpile in that sled.

Dbishkoo-sh go naa yahaa mdaabiichke nbezhgoogzhiim ndaa-bmi-dzhiike!
He would pull like he was my horse, and I would just play along!

Mii-sh iw gii-o-daabaadang niw ayhii msan.
He would then haul that firewood home.

Ngoji go odi gaa-zhaad gii-mnised wodi gii-baatiinwaad gow dino wenzhishid yahaag mtigoog.
There were always so many beautiful different kinds of trees where he would go to cut wood.

Mii odi gaa-zhaad miikan gii-yaamgad gii-zhitoon shko naa.
He would go over to where he had made a road back there.

Mii-sh go gaa-nji-mnsed mii-sh go pane gaa-zhaayaang odi pane ngii-wiijiiwaa dbi go gaa-zhaagwen.
This is how he would go about cutting wood, and I would always go with him wherever he went.

Miinwaa ge baa-giigoonked mii go genii odi genii shkweyaang dbiiyidag ko gaa-zhaagwen mii shkweyaang gii-bmi-noopnanag.
And if he went around fishing, well, I would make sure I was there behind him, for wherever he went I was there following along.

Gii-zhaad ingii-zhaa ge ko odi ayhiing maa halling giigidowaad mii go maa gii-bi-wiijiiwag maa dbiyish go gaa-zhaagwen ngii-noopnanaa.
Even when he went over to the community hall for a meeting, I went as well, for I followed him wherever he travelled to.

Mii-sh go naa pii go naa nmanj go naa gaa-ni-mndidiyaan mii aazhgo gii-gshkitooyaan iihow wii-naadmawag enokiid mnised aazhgo go gii-mndidiyaan go naa gii-naadmawag gii-giishkwahaad niw mtigoon.
There came a time, though, when I was big enough to actually help him with work like cutting wood; now that I was bigger, I was actually able to help him cut down those trees.

Naangodnong ge go ngii-o-giishkboojige miinwaa ge gwa aazhgo ge go ngii-booztoon iihow msan maajiidaabiid ngii-bmi-gaanjwebnaa ow daabaan gaawiin geyaabi maa ngii-bmi-boozsii maa ngii-bmi-gaanjwebnaa naadmawag.
Sometimes I would go and saw the trees, load the wood, or even push the sled—I no longer rode on top but would instead help him by pushing it along from behind.

Wiiba-sh ko maabam mii go nii naa gaa-zhi-kenmaan wiiba go naa gii-baa-wiijiiwag pane maabam ndedem baandawenjged gegoo ngii-wiijiiwaa baa-wniiged ge gwa ngii-gnawaabmaa.
Soon I came to know all of this work, in no time at all, for I was always travelling around with my father whenever he went hunting, or I would be there watching him on his trapline.

Gaawiin ngii-kinoomaagsii mii eta gwa gii-naanaagdawaabmag iihow ezhchiged.
He never directly taught me what to do, but I instead just carefully observed whatever it was he was doing.

Mii-sh go genii pii go nmanj go naa gaa-ni-mndidiyaan go naa mii go genii gaa-zhichgeyaan.
For there came to be a time—I don’t know exactly how big I was—when I was able to do all of these things myself.

Gaa-sh geyaabi ngii-bmi-wiijiiwigosii.
He no longer went with me.

Niin dash go ngii-ni-zhichge.
I had to do this myself.

Niin ngii-o-mnise gaa gegoo ngii-nendziin iihow mniseyaan.
I would go and harvest the wood, but I didn’t have to think too much about how I would manage to do this.

Mii maa naa ndedem gaa-zhi-kinoomawid ji-zhichged iihow wii-gzhideg iihow wiigwaam dbikak.
I had learned from my father about what he did to keep the house warm at night.

Aabdeg go njekaakwam naadiiyaan niw msan.
I would even go into the forest to get firewood.

Mii-sh go gaa-zhichgeyaan mii-sh go naa eshkiniigiyaan.
This is what I had to do now that I was a young man.

Wiin dayaanan niw meshkwiskaakin niw msan.
He always had good hardwood there.

Niin dash ngii-yaanan niw ayhii tkwaansan mii niin gaanakiiyaan iw ngii-tkwaanske.
I would get plenty of small dry branches, too, for it had always been my job to prepare the kindling.

Mii-sh iw aabdeg go teg maa tkwaansan niw wewiib wiiba ji-maajiikneg iw shkode.
Those branches had to be ready to get the fire started right away.

Kina-sh go maanda gaa-zhichged gaawiin ngiikinoomaagsii, ngii-naadmawaa shko naa mii-sh go eta go gaa-ni-zhi-kendmaan ezhchiged.
He never directly taught me about any of the things he did, but I would always help him, and that is how I learned to do what he did.

Gegpii dash go niin gii-ni-nakiiyaan iihow gaa-ni-gchi-yahaawiyaan go naa.
When I was finally old enough, I was already able to work.

Gaawiin go gegoo ngii-nendziin enakiiyaan mii maa naa nake gaa-bi-naadziiyaang iihow.
I didn’t really think of this as work, though, but I guess that was just the way we were back then.

Gaa go gegoo ngii-nendziin jekaakomaan o-mniseyaan naadmawag.
I didn’t think anything of going into the forest to help him get wood.

Ngii-gchi-nendam gii-naadmawag.
He was so happy whenever I helped him.

Ngii-mina-doodaag kaa go gegoo ngii-nshkaaji-gnoongosii.
He always treated me well and never said anything to make me angry.

Weweni go ngii-gnoonig gegoo ndawendang ngii-zhichgesh gwehow gaa-zhi-gwejmid.
He always spoke to me kindly, even when there was something he wanted me to do, he would ask me in a good way.

Kaa go gegoo ge-nji-nshkaadenmagoban baatiinad maa naa ekinoomawid mii maa go naa gegoo gegoo menpogwak mii debnang ndashamig gwehow.
He never did anything to make me angry—there was so much he taught me in this alone—and he would always make sure he had something good for me to eat out there.

Kina shko go naa maa ngii-zhi-mino-doodaag.
He always treated me so well in every way.

Kaa go wiikaa gegoo ngii-mji-doodaagsii.
He never treated me badly.

Zhimaagnish ge gii-aawi zhimaagnishii-gimaa gii-aawi ow.
He had been a soldier, a sergeant even.

Miinwaa weweni enenmagiban iw ji-bmaadzid ji-naanoondaagzid giigdad.
I always thought well of the way he lived his life, even when he was speaking aloud during military drills.

Mii-sh go naa enaabminaagziwaad giw nishnaabeg yahaag zhimaagnishiiwi-gimaag.
There were some Indians who would try to act like the non-Native sergeants.

Gaa gii-zhihaasii gtaamgwaadkamig gaa-izhi-mino-yaad.
But he would never treat or speak to others badly, he was always a good person.

Weweni ngii-zaagaa ow ndedem.
I truly loved my father.

Ngii-kenmaa shko genii ngii-zaagig go genii.
And I know that he really did love me as well.

Daadaapshkoo ngii-zaagidimin.
We really did love each other.