Kaúxuma Núpika, also called Qangon, Bowdash, and the Manlike Woman, was a Kootenai person who lived in the early 19th century.
Reports of encounters with Núpika were recorded by both David Thompson, famous pioneer surveyor, and by Sir John Franklin, of the Franklin Expedition to look for a Northwest Passage.
According to the entries Thompson made in his journal concerning her, one in July 1809 and the second in July 1811, she spent time as a sort of second wife to a man named Boisverd, who was one of Thompson's men. Thompson reports that she "became so common that I had to send her to her relations; as all the Indian men are married, a courtesan is neglected by the men and hated by the women." Presumably she was generating bad feeling by being a loose woman. This was in 1803. Thompson encountered her next on Rainy Lake, near the Upper Columbia River, in July 1809. "She had set herself up for a prophetess," he writes, "and gradually had gained, by her shrewdness, some influence among the natives as a dreamer, and expounder of dreams. She recollected me before I did her, and gave a haughty look of defiance, as much to say, I am now out of your power."
She explained to her people that the whites had changed her sex. She adopted the masculine name of Water Sitting Grizzly.
It was 1811 before Thompson ran into the Manlike Woman again. This time, she walked into his camp seeking asylum for herself and a young woman she called her wife. Thompson describes her as "apparently a young man, well dressed in leather, carrying a Bow and Quiver of Arrows, with his Wife, a young woman in good clothing". Manlike Woman was in trouble with her adopted tribe, the Chinooks, for predicting diseases to them in her role as prophetess. Thompson says nothing of his own response to this request, but notes that his men found the whole thing a tale worth repeating. On August 2 his journal states that "the story of the Woman that carried a Bow and Arrows and had a Wife, was to them a romance to which they paid great attention and my Interpreter took pleasure in relating it."
John Robert Colombo, author of Mysterious Canada: Strange Sights, Extraordinary Events, and Peculiar Places, extracted the quotes about Manlike Woman from David Thompson's Narrative of His Explorations in Western America: 1784-1812 (1916) edited by J.B. Tyrrell.
Thompson never gives the "Woman that carried a Bow and Arrows and had a Wife" any kind of name. It was Sir John Franklin who refers to her as "the Manlike Woman" in his Narrative of a Second Expedition to the Shores of the Polar Sea (1928), and suggests the label was one given to her by the native people she influenced. Since the lack of a name contributes to obscurity, "Manlike Woman" is pressed into service, here, as the best guess available. It also has the virtue of being shorter than Thompson's "Woman that carried a Bow and Arrows and had a Wife".
Franklin describes Manlike Woman in an account written at Fort Chipewyan in April 1827. According to his story, Manlike Woman was at the heart of a sort of cult belief among the local natives that the future held improvements for them with regard to the material things in life. His source was a Mr. Stewart, who was the local factor for the Hudson's Bay Company. Stewart said Manlike Woman was believed to be supernatural because she excelled in male roles despite her "delicate frame". Franklin's contribution ends with a fuzzy reference to a journey undertaken by Manlike Woman, involving a packet carried between two Hudson Bay Company posts, "through a tract of country which had not, at that time, been passed by the traders, and which was known to be infested by several hostile tribes." Manlike Woman undertook this journey with her wife, was attacked and wounded in the process, but achieved her objective.
"When last seen by the traders, she had collected volunteers for another war excursion, in which she received a mortal wound. The faith of the Indians was shaken by her death, and soon afterwards the whole story she had invented fell to discredit," Franklin reported, based on what he was told by Stewart.
- Salmonson, Jessica Amanda.(1991) The Encyclopedia of Amazons. Paragon House. Pages 39 and 267. ISBN 1-55778-420-5
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