A new young Indian lad was elected chief of his tribe. All went really well until the day the elders come to him and asked, “Chief what is the coming winter going to bring for snow.” Knowing this prediction was his to make he stalled them and said he would let them know his answer at the evening meal. Immediately after they leave he gets on the phone to environment Canada and asks what their long range prediction for the winter is. They tell him to call back as their indicators hadn’t been worked on and that they would know the answer by the following Monday.
Knowing this is not an answer the tribe can live with the young chief tells the evening gathering that it looks to be a mild winter but as a precaution they should bring in a goodly amount of firewood as a ‘just in case.’ The next day the tribe starts cutting firewood in earnest.
On Monday the chief calls Environment Canada and they tell him that the indicators have been worked on and that EC was predicting a slightly cold winter. The young chief then calls his tribe together and he tells them that he had a new vision and it said that the winter would be a two buffalo robe winter so he asks the tribe to bring in more firewood than originally requested. The next morning the tribe goes back to firewood cutting even harder than before. At the end of the week they have sizeable piles of firewood all over the reservation.
To be on the safe side the young chief calls the Environment Canada station again on the following Monday morning. They tell him that their indicators have gone off the board and that it looks to be a really terrible winter with lots of snow and really cold temperatures.
The young chief again gathers his tribe and he tells them that his newest vision is calling for a four buffalo robe winter as it was going to be really long and really cold. So again the tribe goes out and cuts at least double the firewood they had before, so much in fact they were running out of places to put it.
At the end of the week every street, every driveway, every bit of free space on the reserve was covered in cut and piled firewood. The Indians had never before accumulated so much firewood. The young chief starts to relax about the winter but because of a nagging fear he again calls Environment Canada on the Monday morning. He asks if their prediction had changed and the guy on the other end stated, “We don’t know what to say. Our scientific models all claim a mild winter but our other contradicting indicators show the coming winter to be long and cold.”
The young chief asks, “What are your contradicting indicators?”
Environment Canada replies, “The Indians on the local reserve have been cutting firewood like crazy so we don’t know which way to predict the coming season.”