Dreamers & The Land - Dreamers : Makénúúnatane

Dreamers & The Land | DREAMERS



Born mid or late 1700s.

The first Dreamer we remember was named Makénúúnatane, which Madeline Oker translates as; "On the Trail," "The Doorway," and "He Opens the Door." Makénúúnatane predicted the coming of the white men and was the first of our Dreamers to guide us through interactions with Europeans.

As Europeans moved into our lands in the late 1700s, and our hunting and gathering lifestyle incorporated guns, manufactured goods, and new cultural influences, Makénúúnatane's teachings and prophecies helped our people make sense of the new realities we were facing. His Dreamer's songs continue to guide us today.

We think that the mention of a Chief called "The Cigne," (French for "The Swan") in the North West Company Journal of 1799 refers to Makénúúnatane. Our genealogy corroborates this, and our oral tradition consistently associates Dreamers with swans; both can fly to far away places and return.

We have many stories about Makénúúnatane. One of them tells of how he first became a Dreamer. Makénúúnatane died when his son-in-law saw him wearing a white Hudson's Bay blanket and mistook him for a caribou. His last message was that people should think of Heaven, and should not retaliate against the relative who shot him by accident. That message of mercy and compassion has been passed down to the Dreamers who followed him.

Based upon his oral history work with our people, Robin Ridington has written the following about Makénúúnatane;

In his life he was associated with swan and Saya [Saya, or Tsááyaa, is a hero character featured in many of our stories]; in his death he was associated with Jesus, the new culture hero of the white men. He introduced the concept of a new straight trail to heaven in symbolic recognition of the progressive quality of historical experience.... The stories of his life depict him in both contexts, first as a swan chief...and then as a prophet who, like Jesus, predicts his own death (Swan People 1978:48).

We continue to sing his songs to this day at our Dreamers' Dances and gatherings.