Matchimanito is seen as the purest area on the reservation, the lake on which the Pillager cabin sits. Tribe members and villagers alike are afraid of this area, though drawn to it for its vibrant resources. A lake monster named Misshepeshu is rumored to live in the water, conjured by one of Fleur’s ancestors to protect the Pillager land. While Fleur “drowns” in the lake at three points in her life, she is saved each time, and the reason is rumored to be that she has a special, perhaps romantic, relationship with the monster. The people believe Fleur is able to evoke the lake monster to cause harm to those who threaten her livelihood. Matchimanito is situated at the western edge of the reservation, the direction in which it is believe the land of the dead exists. When people in their culture die, they face west, and at the western edge of the woods, spirits are sometimes heard talking to one another. The western edge of the land is also the direction from which the lumbering companies approach Fleur’s land allotment. While the threats of government intrusion and white influence menace the reservation, as tribe members sell off their land, accept Catholicism in place of the old traditions, and accept the government rations when their resources dwindle, Matchimanito stands as a symbol of the old way of life, free of the influence of white civilization.
Matchimanito Quotes in Tracks
In the morning, before they washed in Matchimanito, they smelled like animals, wild and heady, and sometimes in the dusk their fingers left tracks like snails, glistening and wet. They made my head hurt. A heaviness spread between my legs and ached. The tips of my breasts chafed and wore themselves to points and a yawning eagerness gripped me.