Tenacity beats incredible agony on 10-day prairie winter walk

The Battleford Saskatchewan Herald, December 16, 1878, tells the of story of an Indian woman’s incredible tenacity on 10-day journey, caught in an early winter. Because of domestic trouble, Meskacis decided to leave the home of her stepmother near Regina, where she and her husband had lived, and join her sister at Battleford. It was a walk of more than 100 miles across snow-swept plains, a journey of “privations such as few people could have endured and lived.”

Meskacis set out on November 5, with only the clothes she wore and a blanket. She spent the first night lost in a snowstorm, her only shelter the lee of a bush, with no means to light a fire. The weather was milder the second day. When her moccasins became water logged in slushy snow, she hugged them in her bosom in an effort to dry them. It turned colder on the third day. The moccasins froze so hard she could not wear them. She spent that day and night again trying to dry them. Wild rose buds, provided the only food she could find.

“Meskacis suffered indescribable agony from cold and hunger” on her 10-day walk, the Herald reported. “The freezing of one heel and one of her toes made walking both slow and painful. Her shoes wore out, and she was forced to extemporize others out of pieces of her only blanket… Yet in spite of all this she never lost her reason, but walked straight along the route she undertook to follow, never once losing her bearings, or walking in a circle, as people general do when lost upon the plains.”

Unfamiliar Canadian history


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