Powwow Regalia Vocabulary

Thanks to Solomon Ratt for providing Cree vocabulary (in text and audio) to accompany this set of images gathered by Alan Corbiere for Anishinaabemowin (https://quizlet.com/85421294/pow-wow-regalia-flash-cards/). These are Sols terms to parallel Alan’s – but Sol says he’s from up north, not from ordinary powwow territory, so some of his terms may differ. He and I would both love to hear alternative terms from other speakers.

As well as comparing the words that are similar, it’s interesting to see how animacy differs between the Nêhiyawêwin and Anishinaabemowin. You can go through the gallery at your own speed, or follow along with Solomon’s audio (which includes the English terms, in case you’re uncertain!)

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#IndigenousReads in Cree: Emma Minde


Thanks to Les Skinner of Edmonton for permission to post his comments in Cree about this beautiful book of Emma Minde’s stories, lovingly prepared by H.C. Wolfart and the late Freda Ahenakew and published by University of Alberta Press in 1997.

wîpac niwî-itohtân waskêcosihk ê-kiyokêyân . nikiskêyihtên ka-nêhiyawêcik mihcêt ayisiyiniwak êkotê, êkosi nititêyihtên apisîs ê-wî-nêhiyaw-ayamihcikêyân ta-miyo-kiskisiyân ôma kipîkiskwêwininaw. êkosi ôma masinahikan Emma Minde kâ-âcimot nitotinên, êkwa wahwâ nimâmaskâtên iyikohk kâ-nihtâ-nêhiyawêt, apisîs piko ninisitohtên ê-ayamihtâyân .

 Soon I’ll be going visiting in Little Pine. I know many people speak Cree there, so I thought I’d read a bit of Cree to remember our language well. So I take this book when Emma Minde is telling stories, and wow I’m surprised how well she speaks Cree, I only understood a little bit!

miywâsin ôma kipîkiskwêwininaw   #IndigenousReadsIR

* With thanks to Arok Wolvengrey & Jean Okimâsis for editorial help!

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From Wayne Jackson on National Aboriginal Day


From Wayne Jackson, who teaches Cree at University of Blue Quills:

ka-wî-miyo-nêhiyawi-kîsikanisinâwâw (tahto-kîsikâw, ayisk namôya wîhkâc ka-pôni-nêhiyawânaw)

May y’all have a Happy Aboriginal Day (every day, because we’ll never stop being who we are) 😀

Special thanks and good wishes to every one of you Creechers (and students!) out there, working hard to keep the language alive.

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Maskwacîs Nêyihyawêwin Declaration 21 June 2016

Congratulations to everyone at Maskwacîs, and thank you to Bobbi Herrera for providing this advance copy of the signing ceremony program. The program includes the text of the declaration in syllabics (the writing system chosen by Maskwacîs elders). The English version of the declaration is attached at the end.

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Wayne Jackson’s Podmatic Cree Language Podcasts

More good listening in Cree, courtesy of Wayne Jackson and Blue Quills College. Looking forward to hearing more of Jerry Saddleback and other elders speaking Cree and talking about their understanding. hay-hay, Wayne, for letting me share this here!


64607_10150662923997417_2053889594_n-1Today’s podcast – seventh in the series – features Wayne singing the Syllabic Song, followed by Jerry Saddleback’s reading of surival phrases assembled by Neal McLeod – and a conversation with Mary Cardinal Collins’s mom, Therese (pictured here with Mary and her sisters). What a great chance to hear master speakers in conversation!





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pê-nêhiyawêk: Come speak Cree!

There are so many exciting summer workshops and Cree language learning opportunities. If you know of a good one, please comment below, or send me a poster at creeliteracy@gmail.com (or inbox me on Facebook): it would be great to gather a gallery of posters – and opportunities. (Note that some of the events posted here are sadly, already past. I’m including these posters for the record – and hope to gather more.) Continue reading

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Maskwacîs declares nêhiyawêwin their official language

Exciting news from Maskwacîs Cultural College! Wish I could be there to help them celebrate this momentous occasion. Would sure love to see the text of the declaration – and maybe some photos! Full text of their 5 May Press release follows below (or read it here). Continue reading

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May Workshops: Behind the Scenes at CWIL

Jean Okimâsis, Falene Karey-McKenna and Katie Schmirler hard at work.

Jean Okimâsis, Falene Karey-McKenna and Katie Schmirler hard at work on itwêwina.

Members of the Cree Literacy Network including Dorothy Thunder, Arok Wolvengrey, Arden Ogg and Jean Okimâsis, have been proud to collaborate with Antti Arppe and his computational linguistics team at the University of Alberta since 2013 in the SSHRCC-funded project, 21st century Tools for Indigenous Languages. At the third annual Computational Workshop for Indigenous Languages (CWIL) meeting in Edmonton this May, it was exciting to see concrete progress. (The web page associated with the project can be found here: http://altlab.artsrn.ualberta.ca/)

One portion of the overall project is reflected in the Ā icon, now proudly installed on the left edge of the Cree Literacy Network’s blog page (with thanks to CWIL collaborator Ryan Johnson for installation help). It reflects a Plains Cree reading-assistance tool called itwêwina (Plains Cree for ‘words’). The tool is still very much under development: If you give it a try, you can legitimately boast that you’re contributing to its alpha testing.

The tool is designed to allow readers to click on Cree words and get an immediate reading of that word – a dictionary entry and analysis. You can find a walk-through via screen shots at http://altlab.artsrn.ualberta.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/crk_itwewina_1508091.pdf or you can try it for yourself right here, by alt-clicking on Cree words (in text – not in pdf or image files) to try it yourself. Words like itwêwina and nêhiyaw. (If you’d like to try a bigger sample, Solomon Ratt’s stories in y-dialect are good examples. The th-dialect is not as well represented just yet in the dictionary.)

In addition, you can visit the itwêwina home page at http://itwewina.oahpa.no/ and search for Cree words using the search box. One of the coolest things about this tool is that it will (eventually) show you *all* of the forms for a given noun or verb.

The nêhiyaw basis of this tool is the Wolvengrey Dictionary, supported by the morphological work of Jean Okimâsis, and foundational work by H.C. Wolfart and the late Freda Ahenakew. The computational basis is the work of http://giellatekno.uit.no/ with a significant foundation of comparable tools for Saami. Project collaborators include ALTLab at the University of Alberta, First Nations University of Canada, and Giellatekno at UiT: The Arctic University of Norway.

Like all new technology, it’s wonderful when it works. And it works wonderfully on words that are correctly spelled in SRO – and that are in the existing (but growing) Plains Cree (y-dialect) dictionary that runs in the background. It also allows users to click through to additional dictionary and verb paradigm data so they can explore a given word in depth.

When it doesn’t work (and it is still in testing, so there will continue to be gaps for some time), the errors you see are being automatically recorded and reported to a log file that will contribute to making the tool work better in time. So please consider this your invitation! Click around and give it a workout!


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Dorothy Thunder, MSc in Linguistics, UofA

mistahi kimamihcihin, nitôtêm!

So very proud of you, my friend – and your amazing work ethic. Dorothy is convocating this very morning – probably still sitting at Edmonton’s Jubilee Auditorium even as I write. I’m sure I’m just one of hundreds who will join in wishing her many happy and rewarding years inspiring students to keep speaking Cree in the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta and far beyond.

Dorothy Grad

Photo credit: Freda Cardinal

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In Memorium: Cecilia Masuskapoe

With news yesterday of Cecilia Masuskapoe’s passing at Atahkakoop, we mourn the loss of a dear friend. We wish her good journey, happy reunions, and a well-earned rest from life of hard work that included hand-tanning buffalo hides, right into her 90s (scroll down for photographic proof!) CeciliaFreda

It was May of 2010 when I had the privilege of taking Freda Ahenakew to visit her old friend Cecilia – also known as kêkêk – at Atahkakoop. We had serious book business to complete. Freda had collected many of Cecilia’s stories over the years, and this was the trip in which Cecilia signed the publishing contract:

Cecilia Vignette front8piko kîkway ê-nakacihtât : kêkêk otâcimowina ê-nêhiyawastêki.
[There’s Nothing She Can’t Do: Kêkek’s Autobiography Published in Cree.]
mitoni ê-âh-itwêt mâna Cecilia Masuskapoe, itasinahamiyiwa ôhi nîso, H.C. Wolfart êkwa Freda Ahenakew.
[Exactly as told by Cecilia Masuskapoe, in a Critical Edition by H.C. Wolfart and Freda Ahenakew.]
Algonquian and Iroquoian Linguistics, Memoir 21, 2010.

Recorded precisely in Cecilia’s own words, the book was published only in Cree: a genuine reward for speakers who invest the time to learn SRO. The autobiography can now be found in libraries across North America. It is still available for sale (prepayment required) through the Department of Linguistics at the University of Manitoba.

Hide tanning 4

Cecilia tanning a hide – looking for all the world like a model for Allen Sapp.

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