Reprinted from Portage Lake: Memories of an Ojibwe Childhood, by the late Maude Kegg, edited and transcribed by John D. Nichols. University of Minnesota Press.
Miinawaa gichi-mewinzha agaawaa go ingezikwendaan. Mii eta go imaa gikendamaan namadabiyaan jiigibiig. Maagizhaa gaye gaa-wewebanaabiiwaagwen, maagizhaa gaye gaa-ishk- waa-iskigamizigewaagwen. Gii-paakibii'an sa wiin igo.
Namadabiyaan ganawaabandamaan gichi-jiimaan bi- mibidemagak naawagaam. Dibi-sh iidog gaa-ipidegwen i'iw gichi-jiimaan. Miish ingiw zhingwaakwag ezhi-wawikwapi- zowaad. Mii imaa niibawiwaad imaa, ganawaabamagwaa ingiw.
Miish ingoding gaa-izhi-gagwejimag a'aw mindimooyenh, "Gichi-jiimaan ina ko gii-ayaamagad?" ingii-inaa.
"Enyan'," ikido, "mewinzha giiwenh gii-paatayiinowag zhing- waakwag omaa Misi-zaaga'iganiing. Mii go gaa-izhi-gashki- dibiki-ayaag gaa-apiichi-baatayiinowaad ingiw zhingwaakwag. Ingodozid, ingodozid maagizhaa gaye niizhozid apiichishinoog ingiw zhingwaakwaandagoog, binaakwiiwaad. Aangodinong, haawiin awiiya gidaa-noondawaasiin bimweweshing, apiich- ishinowaad ingiw zhingwaakwaandagood, binaakwiiwaad. Miinawaa go aniibiishibagoon gichi-mitigood igaye. Miish ish- kode-jiimaan iko omaa gaa-ayaamagad," gii-ikido.
Iwidi-sh iidog ayi-ii — amanj ezhinikaadegwen i'iw ziibi imaa Zaagiing weji-maajitigweyaag — mii giiwenh imaa gaa- ini-ipideg i'iw gichi-jiimaan. Gichi-mewinzha gii-michaa iidog i'iw ziibi.
Miish iwidi Gibaakwa'iganing odizhi-wiinaanaawaa anishi- naabeg, miish iwidi gii-ayaad a'aw daashkiboojigan. Miish iko iwidi gaa-izhiwindindwaa ingiw zhingwaakwag gichi-mew- inzha. Dibi-sh gaa-izhaamagadogwen i'iw ishkode-jiimaanish. Gaawiin ingikendanziin dibi gaa-izhiwijigaadegwen.
Again I barely remember about long ago. All I remember is sitting on the shore. Maybe they were fishing or had just finished boiling sap. The lake was open anyway.
I was sitting there watching a big boat go across the middle of the lake. I don't know where that boat was going. There were pine trees in bundles. I was watching men standing on them.
So once I asked the old lady, "Did there used to be a big boat?" I said to her.
"Yes," she said, "long ago there were lots of pine trees here at Mille Lacs Lake. There were so many pines that it was dark. The fallen pine needles lay a foot or two deep. The fallen pine needles lay so deep that sometimes you couldn't hear anyone coming. There were leaves and big trees. There used to be a steamboat here," she said.
Over there — I don't know what they call that river there at Vineland where it starts — that's where the big boat went. Long ago that river must have been big.
There was a sawmill there at Onamia, which the Indians call Gibaakwa'iganing 'At the Dam.' That's where they used to take those pines long ago. I wonder where that old steamship went to. I don't know where it might have been taken.