Excerpt: The Elk Whistle Warrior Society by Rick Revelle

This excerpt is taken from the forthcoming book by Rick Revelle, The Elk Whistle Warrior Society. This action and adventure story takes place in the 1960s. Revelle highlights the skills required to be part of the Elk Whistle Warrior Society, an organization that was founded 650 years ago by Anishinaabe and Cree teenagers. Characters who have made not-so-great choices in their lives are given an opportunity to change, come back to their roots, and become strong role models in their community. This story dates back to the original pre-contact series Algonquin Quest, but it can be read and enjoyed on its own. It will be released on September 24th, 2022 by Crossfield Publishing.

Chapter one

In the spring of 1959, I was an enterprising twelve-year-old who’d just bought a lawnmower I’d made trapping muskrats and beaver that winter. One hot July morning I spent six hours mowing lawns in the town next to our reservation, and I had $4 in my pocket for my efforts. After I was done, I remember looking down at my sneakers and seeing that the juices of the dewy grass had turned them green. Even though I smelled like gasoline and fresh-cut grass my work was done for this day and now my stomach was growling.

After parking my mower on the lawn of the café near the big front windows, I made sure that the bungee cord holding the gas can to the deck was still secure. After double-checking that the eight quarters and two $1 bills hadn’t suddenly vanished from my small beaded change purse, I walked up to the door and peered in at the clock. It was 2:10 in the afternoon. Next, I checked out the large hand-printed sign in the window.


Good! I was within the time frame when I could get served.

Pushed by the slight breeze coming from the south, the oval sign hanging by chains overhead made an eerie creaking sound as it swayed. Dabs of rust pocketed the white background of the sign, while faded blue lettering seeped through the patina to silently announce Judi’s Café. The guy that owned the place was too cheap to change the sign. Judi was a jewel of a woman.    

When I opened the door, the entrance bell rang and I hurriedly clambered a booth. From this vantage point I could watch over my mower and still see the soft pine lunch counter, which was lined by eight stools. They were chrome with red leather seats, which matched the booths. I was the only customer in the place.

The owner, who we called the Toothless Wonder, came over and growled at me, “What do you want today, Buck?”

“Can I have a hot dog and fries?” I answered.

“Yep, if you have the money to pay ahead of time. You know the rules, Injuns pay up front!”

I took one dollar and twenty-five cents out of my pocket. When I gave it to him I said, “I also want a Coke and a banana split.”

He wiped his nose with his apron. “Coming right up, Injun Boy.”

I glanced out the window, keeping a close eye on my lawnmower. Announced by the bell on the door, a Native guy who I’d never seen before walked into the restaurant, and sat on the end stool near the cash register. His shorts revealed a tattoo of two feathers on his left calf, and he wore a tee shirt that said “Warrior” on it. Huge biceps rippled when he moved his arms. His hair was cropped in a brush cut, which signalled his residential school upbringing. He looked Blackfoot. There was no meanness in his eyes, just a sense of purpose. A roll of duct tape, a hatchet and a knife hung from his belt.

The owner came over and said, “I’ve never seen you before, and I know all the Injuns around here. What do you want?”

“I had some business in town and now I’m just waiting for the 3:04 eastbound train. I’ll have two cheeseburgers and a Fanta orange.”

“Money up front, Red Man.”

As the guest paid with a $2 bill, he looked the Toothless Wonder square in the face and smiled.

My food came along with five cents change, which I put in the jukebox to play my favourite song: “Lonely Teardrops,” by Jackie Wilson. The food had only cost $1.10, so clearly the scumbag had kept a dime for himself.

The hot dog had mustard and onions on it and I put a big dab of ketchup on my plate to dip my dog and fries. The food calmed my nerves and I had to keep wiping the mustard from my face as it dribbled down my chin. I loved onions and whenever one fell from the bun I’d stuff it into my mouth with my fingers. It irritated me that my hands were dirty, but I didn’t have any choice. The Toothless Wonder wouldn’t let Indians use his washroom to wash up or to pee.

After finishing my dog and fries, I washed it all down with the ice-cold Coke. When he brought me my banana split, I looked at the clock and saw that it was now, 2:31 p.m.

The bell above the door rang again, and in walked a tall Native woman dressed in shorts and a tank top. She had a tattoo like the Blackfoot man, except it was on her right shoulder. She looked Anishinaabe, but not from around here. Her hair also had the tell-tale residential school cut. Two knives hung from her waist, one on each hip. As she walked by me, I caught a whiff of her lilac perfume, which was soft and spring like. She sat three stools down from the Blackfoot man.

“Well, Pocahontas, what can I do you for?” sneered the Toothless Wonder.

“A ginger ale. I have to catch the 3:04 train and haven’t got time to eat.”

“Money up front, Injun Girl!”

She tossed him a dime and smiled.

She turned and looked out the window as a small funeral procession passed. All of the people were Native. The men were solemn and the women were sobbing and wailing.

The Native woman turned, looked the Toothless Wonder in the face and said, “Who died?’

“Some Injun girl hung herself.”

“Hmm, I heard that was the third one in a year-and-a-half,” she replied sharply “and that they all worked for you at one time.”

“Coincidence,” he replied.

“Yeah, I muttered to myself. Lisa Beaver had told me what happened here last fall. She was so ashamed.

The sudden sound of duct tape being torn from its roll snapped my attention back to what was about to happen.

The Blackfoot man stood up, grabbed the Toothless Wonder by the head and wrapped the strip of duct tape around his mouth in three quick turns.

The woman then grabbed the Toothless Wonder’s wrists in a vice-like grip and laid them flat on the pine counter. Simultaneously, the Blackfoot man pushed his back against the café owner, pinning him against the counter so he couldn’t move. He slipped his knife from its sheaf and laid it on the burner where the hotdogs simmered in a pot of boiling water. He then turned and reached around the man with both arms and held his hands flat on the counter.

All the while, the Toothless Wonder’s frantic screams were muffled by the gag of duct tape.

I watched as the woman quickly whipped out her knives and drove them into the Toothless Wonder’s flattened hands, effectively pinning them to the counter.

As the blood spurted up, the Blackfoot warrior swung his hatchet, cutting off both of the owner’s thumbs with the swiftness of a hawk diving for a rabbit. Blood immediately spurted all over the counter The Blackfoot warrior retrieved his red-hot knife and cauterized the stumps where the man’s thumbs had been, and also around the two knife blade wounds. This seemed to stop the bleeding.

The Toothless Wonder looked like he was going to pass out, so the Blackfoot man took a cold pail of water and doused him thoroughly.

The woman then grabbed the man’s sopping wet head in her hands, pulled him close and hissed a dire warning.

 “Listen carefully to me. We know that you raped those three dead girls while they worked for you. We also know that they never reported it to the law because it would be an Indian’s word against a white man’s word. Today you lost your thumbs, but if we ever, ever hear anything about you again, we’ll take more than just a few fingers. Tell the law this was an accident; your life depends on it.”

The Blackfoot warrior handed the woman a wet dishtowel and she wiped the blood from her hands. I heard the sound of the train whistle as it pulled into the station and looked at the clock. It was 3:03; the train was a minute early.

As the two walked out of the restaurant, the Warrior nodded at me. After watching them board the eastbound train, I went to the bathroom, peed, washed my hands then walked out the front door. Grasping the handle of my lawnmower, I pushed it down the dusty street back to the reservation. One wheel was squeaking and I made a mental note to oil it.


Ears of the owl

Bite of the wolf

Nose of the bear

Eyes of the eagle

We are The Elk Whistle Warrior Society

…. silent as the morning breeze

On the shores of Sewitakan Zaaga´igan (see-wit-akan saw-ga-e-kan: Salt Lake) now known as Big Quill Lake in central Saskatchewan, east of Saskatoon, a group of young Anishinaabe and Cree teenagers made a life-changing decision 650 years ago.

Two young women, who went by the names Wâpikwan (wah-pi-kwan: Flower) and Gidagizi Gidagaakoons (Ged a gay zay Ged ah ga cones: Spotted Fawn), decided to start a warrior group led by females who would look after and defend the women and children of their bands with the aid of selected male warriors.

Joining them were three Anishinaabe male teens, Môso (moo-so: Moose), Bangii Zhiishiib (Bun ge Zhe sheep: Little Duck) and Animaanagidoone (On ee mon gi toni: He Goes Away Talking).  

The other three were young Omashkiigoo (Cree) men, Mâtinawe-kîšikâw (matt-in-a-way geech-a-go: Turtle), Otema (o tem a: Dog), Išpakocin (is pa ko chin: He Flies High).

That night on the shores of the Salt Lake they tattooed their bodies. The boys with two crossed feathers on their left calves, the girls with the same feathers on their right shoulders. The feathers signified the strength of the sexes held together and led by women.

The next morning the eight of them with their dogs left the adult camp to hunt down an elk. From this animal there would be meat enough to feed their people and for them to obtain the bones of the great elk to make whistles to hang around their necks. It was the first major big game hunt for each of these young people. Their success would prove to the adults they had come of age.

Wâpikwan and Môso were the children of Anokì and his Cree wife Osk-îskwêw (Young Woman). They were also the grandchildren of the great Omàmiwinini leader Mahingan and his wife Wàbananang. 

On that day 650 years ago, they named their group in the Anishinaabe language Omashkooz Gwiishkoshim Ogichidaa (O mush koos Gwish ko shim O gich e dah) and in Cree they were called Wâwâskêsiw Kwêskosîwin Nôtinkêwiýiniw.

In the gichi-mookomaan (white man’s) tongue they are known as The Elk Whistle Warrior Society.

Every year hundreds of Native women are murdered or go missing on Turtle Island.

This is the story of the secret group known as The Elk Whistle Warrior Society. They hunt down the human traffickers and murderers of their grandmothers, mothers, sisters, aunties and daughters. They are also relentless in seeking out the abusers of Native children.

Rick was born in Smith Falls, Ontario. He worked for Nortel for 30 years, retiring in 2002. He belongs to the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation. His early years were spent in Wilton and Odessa Ontario. He lived for 32 years in Glenburnie, Ontario, and since 2019 in Napanee, Ontario.

I Am Algonquin (2013), Algonquin Spring (2015), Algonquin Sunset (2017) were published by Dundurn Press. Crossfield Publishing, of St Marys, Ontario, has published the final novel of the series, Algonquin Legacy. His readers are introduced to the Algonquin, Anishinaabe, Lakota, Mi’kmaq, Mohawk, and Lakȟóta, languages as they are used in the vernacular in the four novels.