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The Gift of the Little People

A Six Seasons of the Asiniskaw Ithiniwak Story

By William Dumas
Illustrated by Rhian Brynjolson
Series: The Six Seasons of the Asiniskaw Ithiniwak
Imprint: HighWater Press

Categories: Children's Fiction, Indigenous, Diseases, Illnesses & Injuries, Short Stories, Pre-Confederation (to 1867)
Big Ideas: Aspects of Indigenous Cultures, Spirituality and Ceremony, Storytelling and Oral Culture, Traditional Medicine
Cultures & Peoples: Cree, Asiniskaw Ithiniwak (Rocky Cree)
Indigenous Languages: Cree, Rocky Cree, Words or Phrases

Interest Age: 9–11
Grade: 4–6
Reading Level: Fountas & Pinnell S, Lexile® Framework for Reading: 870L
Hardcover : 9781553799924, 48 pages, February 2022
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781553799931, 48 pages, March 2022
Ebook (PDF) : 9781553799948, 48 pages, March 2022

Helpless to stop the spread of a deadly sickness, Rocky Cree Elder Kākakiw must travel to the home of the Little People to find a cure before it’s too late.


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.


  • Short-listed, McNally Robinson Book for Young People, Older Category 2023
  • Joint winner, Manitowapow Award 2023
  • Long-listed, First Nation Communities READ 2023
  • Winner, Co-winner of the <I>Manitowapow Award</I>


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

David A. Robertson, author The Barren Grounds

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

CBC Books

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

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

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

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

The Globe and Mail

Among USBBY 2023 Outstanding International Books List


Among OLA Best Bets Top Ten, Junior Fiction

Ontario Library Association