Saturday, July 16, 2022

People of the Three Fires, by J.C. Kavanagh


The Twisted Climb-Darkness Descends 

Book 2 of the award-winning Twisted Climb series

In Book 3 of my Twisted Climb series, to be published later this year, the main characters (Jayden, Connor and Max) are once again called to 'cross over' to the dreaded dream world - a terrifying place where the sun never rises and the moon never falls. But this time, they are dropped into a deeper, darker place: the Un-World. It is here that the characters take on a new villain and it is here they discover the history of the other-worldly forces.

When I began writing this final book of the series, my initial theme was loosely based on a combination of Roman and Greek mythology, combined with a smattering of Mayan influences. However, my research kept circling back to the great Native Indian tribes of Canada, particularly those in the Great Lakes area. I came to realize that my type of storytelling is better aligned with the beliefs and traditions of the original peoples in my home country, Canada.

If you read my May blog, you would have learned about Manitoulin Island (Odawa/Ojibwe name (Manidoowaaling) meaning "cave of the spirit.") This island is the largest fresh-water island in the world and is located near the top of Lake Huron. Thousands of years ago, this area of the Great Lakes was home to several Indian tribes, though it is believed that all originated from one band, the Anishinaabe. This tribe travelled from the shores of the 'Great Salt Water,' presumed to be the Atlantic Ocean, and migrated to three places: the shores of Manidoowaaling (Manitoulin Island); Baawitigong (Sault Ste. Marie), and Michilimackinac (in the area on and around Mackinac Island). After several centuries, during which time the separate villages developed their own customs and traditions, a new tribal alliance was forged: the People of the Three Fires

Sometimes referred to as the Council of Three Fires (Niswi-mishkodewinan), the Anishinaabe alliance consisted of Ojibwe (also called Chippewa), Odawa (also called Ottawa) and Potawatomi. When in council, the Ojibwe were referred to as 'Older Brother' and designated 'Keepers of the Faith;' the Odawa as 'Middle Brother' and designated 'Keepers of Trade,' and Potawatomi as 'Younger Brother' and designated 'Keepers/maintainers of/for the Fire.' 

Map of North America, pinpointing
Strait of Mackinac, the city of Sault Ste. Marie, and Manitoulin Island

As the fur trade progressed and various countries began carving out the Americas, the People of the Three Fires developed a relationship with the French (Wemitigoozhi), the English (Zhaaganaashi) and the Americans (Gichi-mookomaanag). 

For the Anishinaabe people, storytelling was sacred. It was their way of connecting young and old, of teaching messages and fairness. Most stories incorporated character growth that acknowledged human imperfection. In other words, storytelling elaborated on human error to prove that mistakes were an important part of character growth. Tribal elders were called "Knowledge Keepers" and were greatly respected for their wisdom, storytelling and awareness of tribal history.  

In addition to oral storytelling, a secretive, religious society of the Anishinaabe were tasked with
recording historical, medicinal and traditional rituals.
This male/female group was called the Midewiwin, 
which is often translated as 'medicine man.'
Above is a birchbark Midewiwin scroll, circa 1900, auctioned in 2009 for $1,500. 

The relationship between humans, animals and the environment was also considered sacred. The Anishinaabe traditions held that everything in the universe was connected and each had a place of importance and therefore respect. The Seven Grandfather Teachings was a traditional story, told for generation after generation about the sacred standards of life. These teachings centred around: Wisdom, Respect, Love, Honesty, Humility, Bravery and Truth. These teachings, in my opinion, need more reverence in our lives today.

Until next time, stay safe everyone!

J.C. Kavanagh, author of 
The Twisted Climb - Darkness Descends (Book 2) voted BEST Young Adult Book 2018, Critters Readers Poll and Best YA Book FINALIST at The Word Guild, Canada 
The Twisted Climb, 
voted BEST Young Adult Book 2016, P&E Readers Poll
Voted Best Local Author, Simcoe County, Ontario, 2021
Novels for teens, young adults and adults young at heart 
Twitter @JCKavanagh1 (Author J.C. Kavanagh)
Instagram @authorjckavanagh


  1. Interesting how soemtimes a light bulb goes on when you're writing. Awaiting this next part of the adventure

    1. You're right, Janet... and you have to pay attention and respond to that light bulb!

  2. I enjoyed reading what you found out on the Native Tribes in Canada. There's so much history that I never learned in School growing up in Quebec.

    1. Me too, J.S. This generation and future generations need to know the history of the original people in North America.

  3. Thanks for sharing this knowledge. Although from the other side of the Atlantic, I feel a strong connection to the Native American tribes, their philosophy, and their wisdom.


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