yahahê ha hê, tânisi! A Cree language treasure trove from Delvin Kanewiyakiho

Delvin Kanewiyakiho

From Delvin Kanewiyakiho’s Youtube Channel

wahwâ, Delvin Kanewiyakiho! The Cree Literacy Network’s Word of the Day for you is: âhkamêyimow! Three hundred and sixty-four videos: this is how you build a genuine treasure trove for Cree language learners. Please don’t stop!

You can visit Delvin’s Youtube channel – and you can even subscribe – at https://www.youtube.com/user/kanewiyakiho/video


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Cree Code Talkers

FrankTomkinsBinyon’s verse follows Flanders Fields as an important poem of remembrance. In part, it reads,

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

As part of our remembrance, here are stories connected with second world war Cree code talkers. It’s an honour to remember them here.

First, oral history from Frank Tomkins, a World War II veteran from Grouard Alberta, whose brothers served as Cree code talkers. He was also reportedly a grandson of Poundmaker.

Listen here:

Another online article (without audio) about Alberta’s Charles “Checker” Tomkins, another Cree-speakingCharesTomkins code talker,  can be found online at:


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Flanders yikwahaskānihk : “In Flanders Fields”

Public Domain Image

In Flanders Fields by John McCrae is perhaps the most beloved war poem ever written. We share it here in honour of Cree-speaking veterans of many wars.
 Thanks to Jean Okimāsis and Arok Wolvengrey for sharing their Plains Cree translation, based on the Woods Cree translation by Minnie McKenzie. 
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Flanders yikwahaskānihk wāh-wēpāstanwa wāpikwaniya
tastawāyihk pimitāskwahikana kā-nāh-nīpitēstēki
ta-kiskinawācihtāhk ita kā-pimisiniyāhk; ēkwa kīsikohk
aniki ē-sōhkē-nikamocik piyēsīsak ē-pimihācik
ētataw pēhtākosiwak iyikohk ē-māh-matwēwēhk askīhk.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

onakataskēwak niyanān.  namōya māka kayās
nikī-pimātisinān, nikī-mōsihtānān kā-sākāstēk, nikī-wāpahtēnān kā-pahkisimok.
nikī-sākihiwānān mīna nikī-sākihikawinān, māka ēkwa nipimisininān
ōta Flanders yikwahaskānihk.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

kiyawāw ēkwa naskwāhihkok kinōtinākaniminawak
ē-kī-sākōcihikoyāhkik, kitāsōnamātinān
iskotēw; ohpinamok ēkwa kiyawāw.
kīspin ānwēhtawiyāhki niyanān kā-nakataskēyāhk,
namwāc nika-aywēpinān, āta ē-ohpikiki wāpikwaniya
ōta Flanders yikwahaskānihk.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


First published here November 2013.

Posted in Poetry, Reading Practice, Remembrance Day, Translation | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Some well-deserved attention for Sol’s new book

Solomon Ratt author of Woods Cree Stores reading from his book during book launch at First Nations University of Canada - Photo credit: Regina Leader-Post, October 30, 2014

Solomon Ratt author of Woods Cree Stores reading from his book during book launch at First Nations University of Canada – Photo credit: Regina Leader-Post, October 30, 2014

Thanks to Dianna Sakisheway for sharing via Facebook some of the press about Solomon’s new book, and thanks to Arok Wolvengrey for sharing a copy with me at the Algonquian Conference last weekend, so I could read the whole thing!

First, Kerry Benjoe’s article from the Regina Leader-Post:

FNUniv professor preserving Cree language through stories and humour.

Even better: Sol’s October 29, 2014 interview on CBC Morning Edition With Sheila Coles, captured and shared by Dianna is SOLid gold. As Dianna says, “My heart skips a beat every time I hear you say, “Yeah, ahhh, I fell in love…”


Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 6.21.34 PMAnother nice piece appears in the Eagle Feather News, complete with photo of Sol, plus Arok Wolvengrey and Jean Okimâsis.

The book itself is available from McNally Robinson or Amazon.
Details about the book itself can be found in our earlier post: http://creeliteracy.org/2014/09/16/congratulations-solomon-ratt/


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Marguerite MacKenzie on CBC Cree Radio

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 2.07.56 PM A pleasant surprise after spending the weekend with Marguerite MacKenzie at the Algonquian Conference to see her featured on Cree Radio CBC this morning.

Click here to listen in!

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As Long As the Sun Shines – Treaties in Saskatchewan

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Thanks once again to Tyrone Tootoosis for posting this gem via Facebook. The narrator is his late mother-in-law Bernelda Wheeler; first person Cree language comments are provided by elder Danny Musqua, and late elders Gordon Oakes and Jimmy Myo.

This piece provides history, culture and language all in one, with a beautiful collection of contemporary (2002) and archival photographs.


Transcribing the Cree content in SRO would be a great exercise for some student (the English translation is provided as subtitles): Who is willing to try?

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Edmonton Oilers Honour First Nations Hockey

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(Because Cree Literacy is so much more than just knowing how to read and write!)

This video-of-the-day from Nation Talk was first posted on August 22, 2014, but came to my attention this week through Roxanne Tootoosis. It gave me chills, in the best possible way.

In it, distinguished former players – now Cree elders – Fred Sasakamoose, Ted Hodgson, and Chief Wilton Littlechild, discuss the struggle for the right to play hockey at Residential School Hockey and the struggle for acceptance as non-White professional players in the 50s and 60s. They oversee the ceremonial puck drop, accompanied by youth representatives from a number of nearby reserves.

The unique performance of O Canada by the Asani Singers (a trio of First Nations and metis women) ventures into pan-Indianism by supporting traditional “western” harmony with a layer of Innuit throat singing. The text itself is divided into equal parts of in English, French and Plains Cree.


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