Carrying X from A to B

Dances With Words - Nick Wolochatiuk
Carrying X from A to B
(Photo : Seaway News)

Picture the block letter A. that’s the basis of a travois. X represents a heavy load of sand, gravel, topsoil, slabs of rock, firewood…or anything else that is too heavy to be easily carried by hand.

Enter the travois, an ingenious innovation of the plains Indians. Picture it as a capital letter A. At the top goes the load. Pulling the load would be a powerful dog, eventually replaced, thanks to a European input, the horse. At the bottom of the A are the two points of contact that drag along the ground. That’s how the early plains indigenous inhabitants (The mis-guided European explorersmis-named them ‘Indians’) transported their tipis from one place to another (tipis were the equivalent of modern-day RV’s).

MAN’S BEST FRIEND – A hefty dog would be glad to be given the job of pulling a travois. However, I’m sure the dogs were delighted when they were replaced by the European’s horses. (Drawing by Juliet Gill)

The travois was eventually replaced by another European innovation, the wheelbarrow,made possible due to the discovery of the wheel. Current wheelbarrows now are in contact with the ground by one wheel at the front. The guy (or woman) doing the work (grunting, lifting and pushing) lifts the load by two handles at the back. The ground contact, load and mover are in reverse order of the travois, pushing instead of pulling.

All of you are quite familiar with the contemporary wheelbarrow. Next week I’ll reveal the absolutely revolutionary Twenty-first Century wheelbarrow that will some day be marketed ‘The Wolochatiuk’, but for obvious reasons will be just called ‘The Nick’.

Stay tuned!

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