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Children's Fiction Native Canadian

The Gift of the Little People

A Six Seasons of the Asiniskaw Ithiniwak Story

by (author) William Dumas

illustrated by Rhian Brynjolson

Portage & Main Press
Initial publish date
Feb 2022
Native Canadian, Pre-Confederation (to 1867), Diseases, Illnesses & Injuries, Short Stories
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2022
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 2022
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 9 to 11
  • Grade: 4 to 6


I don’t recall seeing books when I was a little boy. But the old people, they grew up listening to stories. And so, every night, when the old people were done their evening prayers, they would sit and they would tell us stories too.

At the time of the spring thaw, the Rocky Cree fill their canoes with furs, eager to trade with the new visitors in mistiwāsahak (Hudson Bay). But not all of the new visitors are welcome.

When the canoes return home to the shores of the misinipī river, the Rocky Cree begin to collapse one by one, drenched in sweat and slowly slipping into delirium. Kākakiw struggles to help the sick as more and more people pass into the spirit world. Exhausted physically, emotionally, and spiritually, he seeks guidance through prayer.

Hope finally comes with a visitor in the night: one of the Little People, small beings who are just like us. If Kākakiw can journey to their home, he will be given the medicine his people need. All he has to do is paddle through a cliff of solid bedrock to get there.

To save his people from certain death, Kākakiw must overcome doubt to follow the traditional teachings of the Asiniskaw Īthiniwak and trust in the gift of the Little People.

In this illustrated short story for all ages, celebrated Rocky Cree storyteller William Dumas shares a teaching about hope in the face of adversity. This book is a companion story to The Six Seasons of the Asiniskaw Īthiniwak series.

About the authors

William Dumas, a Rocky Cree Storyteller, was born in South Indian Lake, Manitoba. For 25 years, he has been an educator and administrator; his passion for Cree language and culture are well aligned with his current position as Cree Language and Culture Coordinator for the Nisichawayasihk (Nelson House) Education Authority. As the author of The Six Seasons of the Asiniskaw Īthiniwak series, William knows first-hand the power storytelling has to teach Indigenous youth about where they come from and where they are going.

William Dumas' profile page

Rhian Brynjolson (she/her/hers) is a visual artist, author, book illustrator, and art educator. Rhian was awarded the Canadian Art Teacher of the Year in 2014. She is the author of Teaching Art: a Complete Guide for the Classroom, and has illustrated fifteen children’s books. Rhian has worked with the River on the Run artist collective, making and performing art to raise awareness of environmental concerns affecting the Lake Winnipeg watershed. Rhian lives and works on the edge of Treaty 3 territory, in the boreal forest of eastern Manitoba. Her work is currently exhibited as part of the Virtual Water Gallery and at

Rhian Brynjolson's profile page


  • Short-listed, McNally Robinson Book for Young People, Older Category
  • Long-listed, First Nation Communities READ
  • Joint winner, Manitowapow Award
  • Winner, Co-winner of the <I>Manitowapow Award</I>

Editorial Reviews

A Thompson, Manitoba author has transformed a Rocky Cree story he remembers his father telling him as a child into a picture book with lessons that remain relevant today.

Glacier - Thompson Citizen

Among OLA Best Bets Top Ten, Junior Fiction

Ontario Library Association

Among The Globe and Mail's Kid's Gift Guide (2022)

The Globe and Mail

Using his father’s voice as inspiration, Dumas, with over 25 years as an educator and storyteller, shares a story that is both timely and timeless in its significance.

Active History

Among USBBY 2023 Outstanding International Books List


Among CBC Books Canadian Middle-Grade Books to Watch for in Spring 2022 list

CBC Books

A tale rich with warmth and wonder that not only documents traditions but carries them on.

David A. Robertson, author The Barren Grounds

Dumas clearly writes from his heart, with a generosity of words to convey this story to young readers. Rhian Brynjolson's illustrations are remarkable, carrying the story from page to page.

Storytime With Stephanie

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