pê-nêhiyawêk: Come Speak Cree in Regina with Darren Okemaysim

FREE conversational Cree classes every Monday evening from 6:00pm-8:00pm at the Gathering Place 4001 3rd Avenue North, Regina. For more information or to register call (306) 522-7494. Please Share.darrenclass

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Kisiskatchewan Water Alliance Network: Water is Life


“Water is life. No water, no life — it’s that simple.”
Emil Bell, Canoe Lake First Nation elder

The North Saskatchewan River continues to travel through Cree territory from North Battleford all the way to Hudson Bay, spreading the disaster of the Husky Oil spill.

If you’re in Saskatoon today (Sunday, September 18, 2016), don’t miss the chance to join in this rally. 

The Kisiskatchewan Water Alliance Network – born in the Duck Lake tipi office of Tyrone Tootoosis – has also just launched a new website to help maintain focus on the cleanup and recovery necessary after the recent Husky oil pipeline breach into the North Saskatchewan River.

Read the Saskatoon Star Phoenix article about the creation of the Network here: http://thestarphoenix.com/business/energy/concerned-citizens-form-kisiskatchewan-water-alliance-network-after-husky-oil-spill. And though the article quotes only Tyrone and elder Emil Bell who conducted a fast for the water in August, the accompanying photo shows several even more formidable activists amongst the women present: I see Nancy Greyeyes, and Idle No More co-founders Jess Gordon and Nina Wilson, and (if I’m not mistaken), the mighty Maria Campbell. I believe that Anishinaabe artist Christi Belcourt was also there that day.


Posted in News | Leave a comment


mcfn-photo-intercontinentalby Lauren Wildgoose September 16, 2016

Reposted from the Intercontinental Cry: A Publication of the Center for World Indigenous Studies (With thanks to Billy Isaac of Moose Cree First Nation for adding copies of this new Moose Cree dictionary to my bookshelf).

Moose Cree in Context

Full text copied here:

The Moose Cree First Nation, located on Moose Factory Island at the southern end of James Bay, is engaged in a series of community-based language preservation initiatives in support of its unique dialect of Cree. The First Nation’s Language and Culture department published the first Moose Cree dictionary in 2014 and a second edition in 2015, which will be followed by third, English-to-Cree edition next year. Geraldine Govender, Director of Language and Cultural Programs for the First Nation, coordinated the dictionary with Cree linguist Kevin Brousseau and a group of elders from the community. She is also currently working on a Moose Cree grammar project with linguist Jimena Terraza and the elders, as well as an online “talking dictionary”. With just 150 estimated fluent speakers in Moose Factory and a registered First Nation population of 3899, Moose Cree is in urgent need of preservation. Moose Factory’s remote location in the northern reaches of Ontario, accessible only by rail and water taxi for much of the year, is one of the factors endangering the language.

The challenges Govender overcame to acquire funding for the dictionary and grammar projects suggest a need for careful implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action related to language revitalization.

On May 30, 2016, the Ontario government published a report in response to the TRC’s final report pledging to invest over $250 million over the next three years in “programs and actions focused on reconciliation.” Up to $30 million of this budget is dedicated to indigenous cultural revitalization, including an indigenous languages symposium “with indigenous partners and stakeholders to review current programs, determine gaps and identify community priorities and the supports need to support indigenous languages.”

The government will need to implement this support in close consultation with the First Nations to ensure funds are going where they are needed most. As Govender found, funding for community-based language programming is currently hard to come by, and there are logistical barriers to access even when funding does exist.

“There’s no money out there, really, for indigenous language programs,” Govender said. “There’s money through the Canadian heritage, which is federal, and through the Aboriginal Language Initiative, but there isn’t anything there really for operating costs, for core costs, to hire someone and have someone on staff. So I would think very few First Nations would have a language and cultural department.”

Govender cited the Canadian government’s long history of policies aiming to eradicate indigenous languages as one of the primary obstacles in making funding available for language revitalization. She explained that this history has made the transition to supporting language programming a difficult one, and has created problems not only with the quantity of funds available for programs, but with the distribution of funds to the organizations that need them. Govender found that language funding often went to provinces, where it was difficult for her to access; when she applied, the $5000 provincial maximum for Moose Factory’s region had already been given out.

Instead, Govender has had to turn to other, less obvious sources. In 2006, Moose Cree chief Patricia Faries-Akiwenzie allocated revenue from one of the nation’s casinos to fund a language and cultural department, with the understanding that Govender would be responsible for obtaining funds to sustain the programs going forward. Since then, she has succeeded in funding the dictionary through revenue sharing agreements between the Moose Cree First Nation and the Detour Gold company and the Amisk-oo-skow agreement with Ontario Power Generation.

Moose Cree elders working on the talking dictionary. Photo courtesy of Anna Luisa Daigneault, Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages.

Moose Cree elders working on the talking dictionary. Photo courtesy of Anna Luisa Daigneault, Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages.

Kevin Brousseau, the lead linguist working on the Moose Cree dictionary, has been working with community elders both in person and over the phone to assemble the words for the forthcoming English-Cree edition. He has also drawn from earlier written records of Moose Cree.

Govender and Brousseau are working with a group of community elders on an online talking dictionary facilitated through the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages to help learners grasp the often-complex pronunciation of Moose Cree words. The project is a work in progress, with 2499 entries in both Cree syllabics and Roman orthography as of June, accompanied by 1307 audio files. Govender works with three elders to record the audio files for the lexicon in order to ensure accurate pronunciation. Since each elder is proficient in either pronunciation, syllabics, or orthography, but not all three – finding someone who can do it all is virtually impossible – the logistical difficulties of coordinating the three has been one of the major challenges in finishing the recordings.

Although there is not any definitive proof, Brousseau believes that Moose Cree may be the mother of all Cree dialects. However, despite its linguistic significance, the dialect’s isolation has placed Moose Cree in danger of extinction.

“Because it’s here, we get less and less speakers, and it’s more and more critical to try and save it,” said Govender.

The Moose Cree grammar Govender is working on with linguist Jimena Terraza is a response to the urgent need for classroom materials to teach Cree as a second language in Moose Factory and Moosonee, a town across the Moose River from Moose Factory. The grammar presents Cree sentences in the context of traditional Cree stories, many of which were written by native speakers in the late 1800s and recently translated to Roman orthography.

Although there are materials being produced for other Cree dialects, Moose Cree’s small speakership has put it at a disadvantage in terms of the availability of teaching materials. Neither of the elementary school teachers Terraza visited during her research had enough material available to them. Consequently, the teachers had to create their own activities and exercises, sometimes using photocopies of textbooks from other dialects, sometimes adapting materials for the classroom from their own second language teaching training at Lakehead University.

Another challenge associated with teaching Cree is its complexity as a polysynthetic language, meaning that one word is used to express multiple concepts. Verbs in Cree often include several ideas that would be expressed with nouns in other languages. For instance, a single word exists in Cree to describe the action of walking down a curving path along a lakeshore with sand dunes. Govender also illustrated Cree’s verb-based structure using an example that rings almost painfully true in Moose Factory, explaining how the concept “plenty of” becomes a verb in the phrase “It’s mosquitoing everywhere!”

Govender and Terraza are both adamant that the grammar helps teach Moose Cree in a way that reflects its polysynthetic nature. Because Moose Cree is now being taught primarily by translating nouns directly from English, rather than by presenting the complex verb-based construction of the language, students aren’t equipped with the tools to put concepts together.

“It doesn’t do them any good. All they can say is niska [goose]; they can’t describe the flying or how they fly. They don’t have the words,” said Govender.

This priority was the motive behind the grammar’s approach to Cree through traditional stories. Terraza’s aim was to make the grammar as accessible as possible to non-Cree speakers and those without training in linguistics.

“It should be something that users can take advantage of. For me, this is a very important project because I’m finally doing something that’s near to the needs of the community. It’s not only for the advancement of scientific knowledge; it’s for real people who have real needs,” said Terraza.

Terraza identified a delicate balance between using English as a familiar reference point when teaching Cree and the danger of erasing the complexity of the language by doing so. With a keen awareness of the power relation between English and endangered indigenous languages, she insists on showing the incredible complexity and richness of Cree and recognizing its polysynthetic aspects in the grammar. She compares the role of English in teaching Cree to a “crutch” that learners can lean on, especially when learning such unfamiliar concepts as the Cree obviative, or “fourth person”, but is careful to avoid transposing English patterns onto Cree for the sake of convenience and familiarity.

The High Ridge Singers, a group of young Moose Cree who write and perform songs in their First Nation's language.

The High Ridge Singers, a group of Moose Cree youth who write and perform songs in their First Nation’s language. Photo by Lauren Wildgoose.

Govender has a close personal connection to the important role of the Moose Cree language in preserving the community’s culture, especially for the youth in Moose Factory. Her son, Brennan Govender, is a member of the High Ridge Singers, a youth drum group formed in Moose Factory who perform songs in Cree. Although the group has now grown to include both young men and women scattered throughout northern Ontario, it started in 2008 as a group of four young men from the island who wanted to learn traditional singing and drumming.

“It started with me, Brennan [Govender], Caleb [Turner], and another young guy named Brendan Sheenan – we were the first ones talking about how with the youth in the community, there are lots of problems, like personal issues, family issues, lots of drug and alcohol abuse,” said Gerry McComb, one of the original members. “Brennan said, ‘what I want to do is bring culture to people… I don’t want people to wait for it to come to them.”

Dean Mianscum, a Moose Factory community member with experience singing and drumming,taught the group and guided them through their first powwow. After a month of practicing and accumulating more members, the group travelled to Fort Albany to compete in their first powwow without Mianscum’s guidance. The group now competes in powwows across Canada, and has won several competitions. All the members are dedicated to living a clean lifestyle free of drugs and alcohol as part of their commitment to making positive changes through their drumming.

Brennan Govender writes most of the group’s original Cree language songs. Although he isn’t fluent in the language, his mother helps him piece together the words into songs that reflect traditional concepts and values.

Geraldine Govender described one song that uses Cree words to describe the dancers’ grand entrance into a circle, explaining that circles have particular significance in many indigenous cultures.

“They may not be able to understand it all, but I explain those words to Brennan,” said Govender. “[One song has] a description of all these people who come dancing in, and that’s just in one word.”

Singing and drumming together has built a feeling of brotherhood among the singers. McComb also explained how drumming encouraged him to explore traditional spirituality, which he had first been introduced to through learning ceremony songs a year or so before the group’s conception.

“There’s a spiritual side of drumming,” McComb said. “The powwow is mostly a social thing, but… we bring that positive energy to powwows.”

When asked about the future of young people learning Moose Cree, Govender seemed hopeful. “I think there is a real interest. I’m really excited about it. I think young people are really wanting to learn.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

mâmaskâc! Solomon Ratt’s Beginning Cree is out at last!


Sol’s new book mâci-nêhiyawêwin / Beginning Cree is finally out. Congratulations to everyone involved! And – in addition to Sol himself, and the staff at University of Regina Press, and Holly Martin, and Arok Wolvengrey and Jean Okimâsis and others who helped proofing – that includes everyone who has viewed the preliminary versions of the book that Sol permitted us to share on the Cree Literacy Network at http://creeliteracy.org/maci-nehiyawewin-beginners-cree/. As soon as my own copy arrives, I will begin coding Sol’s video lessons to correspond with the proper sections of the printed book.

You can order Sol’s book online from Amazon, or direction from University of Regina Press. Order from Amazon:


Order from UofR Press:



from UR Press Facebook Page: One of the most exciting things about publishing is seeing the author hold their finished book for the first time! Here’s Solomon Ratt, as well as our hardworking editors and designer, with his beautiful copy of ‘Beginning Cree’ with cover art by George Littlechild and illustrations by Holly Martin!

Here’s what UofR Press has to say about the book:

Designed as an introduction for Cree language learners, Beginning Cree acts as a self-study aid–a much-needed resource in today’s world where most students cannot speak Cree fluently. Basic grammar units and everyday vocabulary items guide the student through the building blocks of the language, and expansion drills and exercises reinforce lessons and prepare the student for further study. With over 100 delightful illustrations, Beginning Cree grounds the language in traditional and contemporary contexts.

Solomon Ratt – who needs no introduction here – was born in a trapper’s cabin along the banks of the Churchill River. He went to Indian Residential School in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. He attended the University of Regina, graduating with two BAs and a Masters of Arts. He has been teaching the Y-dialect of Cree at First Nations University of Canada (formerly SIFC) in Regina, Saskatchewan since 1986.

Illustrator Holly Martin is a Swampy Cree artist, originally from Moose Lake First Nation. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Regina. (Amazing cover image by George Littlechild).

Posted in Book News, Solomon Ratt | 1 Comment

Wolf and the Moon Dog – adapted and translated by Solomon Ratt (th-dialect)

Solomon Ratt: Moon Dog

Solomon Ratt: Moon Dog

(Story adapted by Solomon Ratt from “Papagayo and the MoonDog,” a Central American myth – where Papagayo is one very raucous parrot. One telling of the story in English is from Gerald McDermott, and an be found on Amazon (Did you catch that? Central America? Amazon?)

mahihkan ikwa tipiskâwi-pîsim-atim – Wolf and the Moon Dogᒪᐦᐃᐦᑲᐣ ᐃᑿ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐏ ᐲᓯᒼ ᐊᑎᒼ
kayâs îsa tahto-tipiskâw mâna kî-wâsîsiw tipiskâwi-pîsim. piyak awa mahihkan kî-sâkihîw iyakoni tipiskâwi-pîsimwa. kî-nikamôstawîw mâna kapî-tipisk. kapî-tipisk mâna î-kî-ôthot. mitoni kîtahtawî kî-ati-kisowâhîw kotaka anihi pisiskiw kâ-wîkithit ikota nohcimihk athisk î-wâh-waspâwîmikocik ôho mahihkana. namwâc kî-kaskihtâwak ta-mitho-nipâcik athisk îkâ wihkâc î-pônowitamithit anihi mahihkana, kapî tipisk î-ôthothit.A long time ago the moon shone every night. This one wolf loved the moon. He sang to her every night. He would howl all through the night every night. Eventually he got the other animals of the forest angry because the wolf would wake them up. They were unable to sleep because the wolf just wouldn’t shut up, he would howl all night.ᑲᔮᐢ ᐄᓴ ᑕᐦᑐ   ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐤ ᒫᓇ ᑮ   ᐚᓰᓯᐤ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐏ   ᐲᓯᒼ ᙮ ᐱᔭᐠ ᐊᐘ ᒪᐦᐃᐦᑲᐣ ᑮ   ᓵᑭᐦᐄᐤ ᐃᔭᑯᓂ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐏ   ᐲᓯᒷ ᙮ ᑮ   ᓂᑲᒨᐢᑕᐑᐤ ᒫᓇ ᑲᐲ   ᑎᐱᐢᐠ ᙮ ᑲᐲ   ᑎᐱᐢᐠ ᒫᓇ ᐄ   ᑮ   ᐆᖪᐟ ᙮ ᒥᑐᓂ ᑮᑕᐦᑕᐑ ᑮ   ᐊᑎ   ᑭᓱᐚᐦᐄᐤ ᑯᑕᑲ ᐊᓂᐦᐃ ᐱᓯᐢᑭᐤ ᑳ   ᐑᑭᖨᐟ ᐃᑯᑕ ᓄᐦᒋᒥᕽ ᐊᖨᐢᐠ ᐄ   ᐚᐦ   ᐘᐢᐹᐑᒥᑯᒋᐠ ᐆᐦᐅ ᒪᐦᐃᐦᑲᓇ ᙮ ᓇᒹᐨ ᑮ   ᑲᐢᑭᐦᑖᐘᐠ ᑕ   ᒥᖪ   ᓂᐹᒋᐠ ᐊᖨᐢᐠ ᐄᑳ ᐏᐦᑳᐨ ᐄ   ᐴᓄᐏᑕᒥᖨᐟ ᐊᓂᐦᐃ ᒪᐦᐃᐦᑲᓇ , ᑲᐲ ᑎᐱᐢᐠ ᐄ   ᐆᖪᖨᐟ ᙮
pîthisk iskatîthimîwak ôho mahikana. nitomîwak ta-wîci-mâmawipîstâkocik, î-wî-othasowâtâcik ta-kakwî-kipihtinâcik ôma kapî-tipisk kâ-ôthothit. wihtamawîwak anihi mahikana ta-pônâhkamikisithit, ta-pôni-ôthothit tahto-tipiskâw. kîspin îkâ pônahkamikisithici ikota ohci nohcimihk ta-sîpwîtisahwîwak, ta-nitawi-piyakwahkamikisithit wahthaw ikota ohci. ikwâni, namôtha nohtî-piyakwahkamikisiw awa mahikan. tâpwîthihtam ta-pônahkamikisit. namwâc awasimî ta-ôthot kâ-tipiskâthik.Eventually they got tired of the wolf. They called him to meet with them, to try get him to quit his activities, to quit his nightly howling. If he didn’t quit his activity they would banish him from the forest, to go live on his own elsewhere far from there. The wolf did not want to live on his own. He agreed to quit his activities. He would no longer howl all night.ᐲᖨᐢᐠ ᐃᐢᑲᑏᖨᒦᐘᐠ ᐆᐦᐅ ᒪᐦᐃᑲᓇ ᙮ ᓂᑐᒦᐘᐠ ᑕ ᐑᒋ ᒫᒪᐏᐲᐢᑖᑯᒋᐠ , ᐄ ᐑ ᐅᖬᓱᐚᑖᒋᐠ ᑕ ᑲᑹ ᑭᐱᐦᑎᓈᒋᐠ ᐆᒪ ᑲᐲ ᑎᐱᐢᐠ ᑳ ᐆᖪᖨᐟ ᙮ ᐏᐦᑕᒪᐑᐘᐠ ᐊᓂᐦᐃ ᒪᐦᐃᑲᓇ ᑕ ᐴᓈᐦᑲᒥᑭᓯᖨᐟ , ᑕ ᐴᓂ ᐆᖪᖨᐟ ᑕᐦᑐ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐤ ᙮ ᑮᐢᐱᐣ ᐄᑳ ᐴᓇᐦᑲᒥᑭᓯᖨᒋ ᐃᑯᑕ ᐅᐦᒋ ᓄᐦᒋᒥᕽ ᑕ ᓰᐿᑎᓴᐦᐑᐘᐠ , ᑕ ᓂᑕᐏ ᐱᔭᑿᐦᑲᒥᑭᓯᖨᐟ ᐘᐦᖬᐤ ᐃᑯᑕ ᐅᐦᒋ ᙮ ᐃᒁᓂ , ᓇᒨᖬ ᓄᐦᑏ ᐱᔭᑿᐦᑲᒥᑭᓯᐤ ᐊᐘ ᒪᐦᐃᑲᐣ ᙮ ᑖᐿᖨᐦᑕᒼ ᑕ ᐴᓇᐦᑲᒥᑭᓯᐟ ᙮ ᓇᒹᐨ ᐊᐘᓯᒦ ᑕ ᐆᖪᐟ ᑳ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᖨᐠ ᙮
ikwâni ikospî kâ-ati-tipiskâk, pî-sâkâsiw awa tipiskâwi-pîsim mâka namwâc pihtâkosiw awa mahihkan, mosci kanawhâpamîw poko anihi kâ-sâkihât, anihi tipiskâwi-pîsimwa. ikosi tahto-tipiskâw ispathin. kîtahtawîw piyak tipiskâw awa mahihkan kâ-wâpamât awiya î-kaskitîsithit ikwa î-misikitithit, piyakwan atim î-isinawât, î-kwâskohtotawâthit anihi tipiskâwi-pîsimwa. iyako îsa awa tipiskâwi-pîsim-atim, ikwa iyako kâ-pahkwîmât anihi tipiskâwi-pîsimwa. kwayask sîkihik anihi tipiskâwi-pîsim-atimwa awa mahikan. ikwâni tahto-tipiskâw ikosi itahkamikisiw awa tipiskâwi-pîsim-atim atim, î-pahpahkwîmât anihi tipiskâwi-pîsimwa.When night came, the moon rose but the wolf made no sound. He merely looked longingly at the one he loved, the moon. That’s what happened every night. All of a sudden one night the wolf saw someone black and huge, it looked to him like a dog, jumping up at the moon. It was this Moon Dog, and he would take a bite out of the moon. The wolf was really afraid of the Moon Dog. So every night the Moon Dog would take a bite out of the moon.ᐃᒁᓂ ᐃᑯᐢᐲ ᑳ ᐊᑎ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐠ , ᐲ ᓵᑳᓯᐤ ᐊᐘ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐏ ᐲᓯᒼ ᒫᑲ ᓇᒹᐨ ᐱᐦᑖᑯᓯᐤ ᐊᐘ ᒪᐦᐃᐦᑲᐣ , ᒧᐢᒋ ᑲᓇᐤᐦᐋᐸᒦᐤ ᐳᑯ ᐊᓂᐦᐃ ᑳ ᓵᑭᐦᐋᐟ , ᐊᓂᐦᐃ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐏ ᐲᓯᒷ ᙮ ᐃᑯᓯ ᑕᐦᑐ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐤ ᐃᐢᐸᖨᐣ ᙮ ᑮᑕᐦᑕᐑᐤ ᐱᔭᐠ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐤ ᐊᐘ ᒪᐦᐃᐦᑲᐣ ᑳ ᐚᐸᒫᐟ ᐊᐏᔭ ᐄ ᑲᐢᑭᑏᓯᖨᐟ ᐃᑿ ᐄ ᒥᓯᑭᑎᖨᐟ , ᐱᔭᑿᐣ ᐊᑎᒼ ᐄ ᐃᓯᓇᐚᐟ , ᐄ ᒁᐢᑯᐦᑐᑕᐚᖨᐟ ᐊᓂᐦᐃ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐏ ᐲᓯᒷ ᙮ ᐃᔭᑯ ᐄᓴ ᐊᐘ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐏ ᐲᓯᒼ ᐊᑎᒼ , ᐃᑿ ᐃᔭᑯ ᑳ ᐸᐦᑹᒫᐟ ᐊᓂᐦᐃ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐏ ᐲᓯᒷ ᙮ ᑿᔭᐢᐠ ᓰᑭᐦᐃᐠ ᐊᓂᐦᐃ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐏ ᐲᓯᒼ ᐊᑎᒷ ᐊᐘ ᒪᐦᐃᑲᐣ ᙮ ᐃᒁᓂ ᑕᐦᑐ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐤ ᐃᑯᓯ ᐃᑕᐦᑲᒥᑭᓯᐤ ᐊᐘ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐏ ᐲᓯᒼ ᐊᑎᒼ ᐊᑎᒼ , ᐄ ᐸᐦᐸᐦᑹᒫᐟ ᐊᓂᐦᐃ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐏ ᐲᓯᒷ ᙮
ikwa ôko pisiskiwak ati-kwîtawîthimîwak anihi tipiskâwi-pîsimwa wîtha kaciskaw poko î-wâpamâcik î-pî-sâkâsothit, kîkâc î-mîstakocinithit. kakwîcimîwak anihi mahikana tânihki ana anihi tipiskâwi-pîsimwa kâ-ati-mîstakocinithit. wîthawâw athisk mâna î-nipâcik, namwâc ohci wâpamîwak anihi tipiskâwi-pîsim-atimwa kâ-kwâskohtitawâthit ikwa kâ-pâhkwîmâthit anihi tipiskâwi-pîsimwa. ikospî kâ-tipiskâthik aswahîwak anihi tipiskâwi-pîsim-atimwa.And these animals started to wonder about the moon because they could hardly see it rising, as it was almost gone. They asked the wolf why the moon was almost gone. Because they would be asleep at night they did not see the Moon Dog jumping and taking a bite of the moon. That night they waited for the Moon Dog.ᐃᑿ ᐆᑯ ᐱᓯᐢᑭᐘᐠ ᐊᑎ ᑹᑕᐑᖨᒦᐘᐠ ᐊᓂᐦᐃ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐏ ᐲᓯᒷ ᐑᖬ ᑲᒋᐢᑲᐤ ᐳᑯ ᐄ ᐚᐸᒫᒋᐠ ᐄ ᐲ ᓵᑳᓱᖨᐟ , ᑮᑳᐨ ᐄ ᒦᐢᑕᑯᒋᓂᖨᐟ ᙮ ᑲᑹᒋᒦᐘᐠ ᐊᓂᐦᐃ ᒪᐦᐃᑲᓇ ᑖᓂᐦᑭ ᐊᓇ ᐊᓂᐦᐃ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐏ ᐲᓯᒷ ᑳ ᐊᑎ ᒦᐢᑕᑯᒋᓂᖨᐟ ᙮ ᐑᖬᐚᐤ ᐊᖨᐢᐠ ᒫᓇ ᐄ ᓂᐹᒋᐠ , ᓇᒹᐨ ᐅᐦᒋ ᐚᐸᒦᐘᐠ ᐊᓂᐦᐃ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐏ ᐲᓯᒼ ᐊᑎᒷ ᑳ ᒁᐢᑯᐦᑎᑕᐚᖨᐟ ᐃᑿ ᑳ ᐹᐦᑹᒫᖨᐟ ᐊᓂᐦᐃ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐏ ᐲᓯᒷ ᙮ ᐃᑯᐢᐲ ᑳ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᖨᐠ ᐊᔁᐦᐄᐘᐠ ᐊᓂᐦᐃ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐏ ᐲᓯᒼ ᐊᑎᒷ ᙮
wahwâ! kwayask sîkisiwak ispî kâ-wâpamâcik anihi tipiskâwi-pîsim-atimwa î-kwaskohtawâthit tipiskâwi-pîsimwa, mitoni kahkithaw î-ati-kitamwât anihi tipiskâwi-pîsimwa. ikwâni mitoni î-kaskitipiskâk ikota nohcimihk. mistahi mâh-mâtowak oko pisiskiwak, î-pônâskîwithik îtokî î-itîthihtahkwâw. sihkimîwak mahihkana ta-nikamôstawâthit ikosi îtokî kâwi ta-pî-sâkîwîw ana tipiskâwi-pîsim. ikwâna ikota ohci âh-ôthow awa mahihkan, tahto-tipiskâw âh-ôthow. pîthisk kitahtawî kâ-pî-nôkosit awa tipiskâwi-pîsim, mâka apisîsisiw nistam, kaciskaw î-nôkosit. ikota ohci tahto-tipiskâw nâh-nikamôstawîw awa mahihkan anihi tipiskâwi-pîsimwa, pîthisk ati-wâwiyîsithiwa, kapîtipisk âh-ôthow awa mahihkan. namwâc awasimî nânitaw itîthihtamwak aniki pisikiwak, î-ati-mithohtawâcik î-nikamothit mahihkana athisk tipiskâwi-pîsim î-wâsîsot.Wah! They were surely terrified when they saw the Moon Dog jumping at the moon, swallowing all that was left of the moon. It was then very dark in the forest. The animals cried and cried as they thought surely it was the end of the world. The encouraged the wolf to sing to the moon maybe in that way the moon will rise again. The wolf started to howl, every night he howled. All of a sudden the moon rose, but it was very small at first, hardly noticeable. Every night the wolf sang to the moon and eventually it became round, the wolf howled every night. The rest of the animals in the forest didn’t thing anymore bad thoughts of him, as they started to like the sound of the wolf singing because the moon was shining.ᐘᐦᐚ ᑿᔭᐢᐠ ᓰᑭᓯᐘᐠ ᐃᐢᐲ ᑳ ᐚᐸᒫᒋᐠ ᐊᓂᐦᐃ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐏ ᐲᓯᒼ ᐊᑎᒷ ᐄ ᑿᐢᑯᐦᑕᐚᖨᐟ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐏ ᐲᓯᒷ , ᒥᑐᓂ ᑲᐦᑭᖬᐤ ᐄ ᐊᑎ ᑭᑕᒹᐟ ᐊᓂᐦᐃ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐏ ᐲᓯᒷ ᙮ ᐃᒁᓂ ᒥᑐᓂ ᐄ ᑲᐢᑭᑎᐱᐢᑳᐠ ᐃᑯᑕ ᓄᐦᒋᒥᕽ ᙮ ᒥᐢᑕᐦᐃ ᒫᐦ ᒫᑐᐘᐠ ᐅᑯ ᐱᓯᐢᑭᐘᐠ , ᐄ ᐴᓈᐢᑮᐏᖨᐠ ᐄᑐᑮ ᐄ ᐃᑏᖨᐦᑕᐦᒁᐤ ᙮ ᓯᐦᑭᒦᐘᐠ ᒪᐦᐃᐦᑲᓇ ᑕ ᓂᑲᒨᐢᑕᐚᖨᐟ ᐃᑯᓯ ᐄᑐᑮ ᑳᐏ ᑕ ᐲ ᓵᑮᐑᐤ ᐊᓇ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐏ ᐲᓯᒼ ᙮ ᐃᒁᓇ ᐃᑯᑕ ᐅᐦᒋ ᐋᐦ ᐆᖪᐤ ᐊᐘ ᒪᐦᐃᐦᑲᐣ , ᑕᐦᑐ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐤ ᐋᐦ ᐆᖪᐤ ᙮ ᐲᖨᐢᐠ ᑭᑕᐦᑕᐑ ᑳ ᐲ ᓅᑯᓯᐟ ᐊᐘ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐏ ᐲᓯᒼ , ᒫᑲ ᐊᐱᓰᓯᓯᐤ ᓂᐢᑕᒼ , ᑲᒋᐢᑲᐤ ᐄ ᓅᑯᓯᐟ ᙮ ᐃᑯᑕ ᐅᐦᒋ ᑕᐦᑐ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐤ ᓈᐦ ᓂᑲᒨᐢᑕᐑᐤ ᐊᐘ ᒪᐦᐃᐦᑲᐣ ᐊᓂᐦᐃ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐏ ᐲᓯᒷ , ᐲᖨᐢᐠ ᐊᑎ ᐚᐏᔩᓯᖨᐘ , ᑲᐲᑎᐱᐢᐠ ᐋᐦ ᐆᖪᐤ ᐊᐘ ᒪᐦᐃᐦᑲᐣ ᙮ ᓇᒹᐨ ᐊᐘᓯᒦ ᓈᓂᑕᐤ ᐃᑏᖨᐦᑕᒷᐠ ᐊᓂᑭ ᐱᓯᑭᐘᐠ , ᐄ ᐊᑎ ᒥᖪᐦᑕᐚᒋᐠ ᐄ ᓂᑲᒧᖨᐟ ᒪᐦᐃᐦᑲᓇ ᐊᖨᐢᐠ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐏ ᐲᓯᒼ ᐄ ᐚᓰᓱᐟ ᙮


Posted in Audio (th-dialect), Solomon Ratt, Translation from English | Leave a comment

Stand By Me – Performed by Tristin Greyeyes and Saskatchewan Express

Gotta love this video from Sandra Ahenakew, with all its family connections. Tristin Greyeyes performs Stand By Me in Cree with backup from Saskatchewan Express – a travelling “stars of tomorrow” youth review, in concert in Regina, August 2016.

Tristin’s kôhkompan, Freda Ahenakew would sure be proud.

I’m not sure whose translation Tristin is singing, but I’m reading the translation prepared by Tristin’s auntie, Dolores Sand, as I try to work out the differences. (For Dolores’s translations of other “Classics in Cree” – along with her recordings, please click here!

Stand By Me
By Ben E. King, Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller;
as translated into Cree by Dolores Sand.

tipiskâw êkwa wanitipiskâw askiy
nîpâyâstêw êwako piko
moy sôskwāc nika-kostên kîkway
têpiyahk wîcikâpawîstawiyani

wîcimwâ wîcikâpawîstawin
ôta nîpawi wîcikâpawîstawin

kîspin kîsik ka-tihtipikwâskwêsîk
êkwa ê-pâkisîk
kîspin asinîwacihk ka-sikopayik
ê-pîkinipayik kihcikamihk
namoy nika-mâton
namoy ahpo nika-pâkwêwâpin
kîspin wîcikâpawîstawin,

wîcimwâ wîcikâpawîstawin
ôta nîpawi wîcikâpawîstawin

wihkâc wanêyihtamani wîcikâpawîstawin
wîcikâpawîstawin, wîcikâpawîstawin

Posted in Songs in Cree, Video | 1 Comment

The Nêhiyawak Cree Language Experience 2016

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thanks to Solomon Ratt for permission to post this gallery of photos from this summer’s “Nêhiyawak Summer Language Acquisitioning Experience” hosted by Belinda Daniels at Don Allen Trails, 18km north of La Ronge, between July 24th and 28th. The instructor in the photos is Bill Cook. It looks like a whole lot of us missed a whole lot of fun!

This year marked the 12th such camp, in which speakers and learners come together to collectively, as a team, restore, revitalize and reclaim spoken nêhiyaw language.

Learn more about the Nêhiyawak Language Experience and watch participant videos here: https://www.onestory.com/interviews/the-nehiyawak-cree-language-experience

Posted in News | 1 Comment

2016: ohpahowipîsim / ᐅᐦᐸᐦᐅᐏᐲᓯᒼ / August




Thanks to Solomon Ratt for allowing the Cree Literacy Network to share his 2016 calendar, complete with his own original illustrations. Following his request, we will post one image at the beginning of each month. For those who like to plan a little further in advance, a link to a complete pdf is included here:  2016Calendar.

Posted in Calendar, Seasonal | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Dance along with Powwow Sweat

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 2.34.45 PMThanks to Facebook friend Una Verdandi for sharing the CBC article about the amazing (and hilarious) Powwow Sweat dance/workout series created by Stylehorse Collective and the Coeur d’Alene tribe in Idaho. The videos feature energetic powwow dancer Shedaezha Hodge.

My favourite visual is Shedaezha standing in full regalia against a Teletubby background.

Makes me think we should begin gathering some basic dance vocabulary to work in some total physical response language learning at the same time:

Follow the Powwow Sweat Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/powwowsweat/

Or search Youtube for “Powwow Sweat” to find these and many more:

Full Music Videohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4bWbJlIUjs

Warm uphttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhfglbhKCo0&list=PLAqhuhVuo9ao4EKra0FYh8r5hcPEVpDYp&index=9

Jingle Dresshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vS9-ZlX7KE8&list=PLe5h-eBi9JlWYEfHjIifq_TUEknXXsdzr&index=1

Men’s Fancy Dancehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlfVPjeb1Xo&list=PLe5h-eBi9JlWYEfHjIifq_TUEknXXsdzr&index=2

Crow Hophttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOTUP9CoXBQ&index=3&list=PLe5h-eBi9JlWYEfHjIifq_TUEknXXsdzr

Double Beathttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBhTOkGr6_c&list=PLe5h-eBi9JlWYEfHjIifq_TUEknXXsdzr&index=5

Men’s Grass Dancehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuZBx5cz0TA&list=PLe5h-eBi9JlWYEfHjIifq_TUEknXXsdzr&index=6

Traditional: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ITu9KaiIF4

Looking for some dance fitness action closer to home? In Lloydminster, you might be able to check out Brandyy-Lee Maxie’s (Nakota) Powfit: 


Posted in Video | 1 Comment

All About Colours in Cree

paint_colours_creative_commonsnanâtohkinâkwan masinahikan: This [blog post] has many colours

In English, we learn to name our colours just as we name shapes or animals. Cree works differently. Just as French divides its nouns into “masculine” and “feminine” (and calls that system “gender”), Cree uses gender to divide its nouns into “animate” and “inanimate” groups.* But Cree doesn’t stop at nouns. In Cree, verbs must also change their shape to match the gender of associated nouns. And if a noun is plural, the colour verb must be plural too. Because colour words in Cree are verbs, we need to learn both animate and inanimate forms for every colour, and we need to know whether each noun is animate or inanimate.**

Another way of expressing colour in Cree attaches a special form of the colour word as a prefix to a noun. This happens in special cases where the colour is not just a description, but an important part of the noun itself.

The chart below lists basic colours in each of these three forms. Plural forms are created by adding the suffixes shown in brackets.

Cree Colour Terms

prefix form animate verb form(s) inanimate verb form(s)
wâpiski- wâpiskisiw(ak) wâpiskâw(a)
kaskitêwi- kaskitêsiw(ak) kaskitêwâw(a)
mihko- mihkosiw(ak) mihkwâw(a)
kaskitê-osâwi- kaskitê-osâwisiw(ak) kaskitê-osâwâw(a)
osâwi- osâwisiw(ak) osâwâw(a)
wâposâwi- wâposâwisiw(ak) wâposâwâw(a)
askihtako- askihtakosiw(ak) askihtakwâw(a)
sîpihko- sîpihkosiw(ak) sîpihkwâw(a)
cîpêhtako- cîpêhtakosiw(ak) cîpêhtakwâw(a)
nipâmâyâtisi- nîpâmâyâtisiw(ak) nîpâmâyâtân(wa)
wâpikwanîwinâkosi- wâpikwanîwinâkosiw(ak) wâpikwanîwinâkwan(wa)

In many cultures, people also divide the rainbow differently than we do as speakers of English.

In Cree, speakers may use the word osâwi– for yellow, orange or brown. They may use the word sîpihko– for blue, green, or grey. They may also create new colour words – just as we do in English – by combining the colour words from the chart with each other, or by modifying them with wâpi- (meaning ‘bright’ or ‘light’), and kaskitê- (meaning ‘dark’ or ‘black’).

If you talk to other speakers of Cree, they may use different terms, or combinations of terms from the ones we use here, that are still correct. The colour words used in this chart were selected by one particular speaker on one particular day: on a different day, even he may have chosen differently.

*The Gift of Language and Culture at Onion Lake provides separate lessons for animate and inanimate colour terms, in material developed by Leda Corrigal. A Youtube video from Moberley Lake (featuring the one and only Art Napoleon as Joe-Louis) teaches a great song for inanimate colour terms. But remember: these terms in the song only work for items that are inanimate and singular!

**This explanation of colours was developed by members of the Cree Literacy Network as introductory text for the Julie Flett’s new board book Black Bear, Red Fox: Colours in Cree coming out in 2016 from Native Northwest (ordering details to be supplied as soon as they are available). Click here to view her counting board book, We All Count – also with introductory text prepared by the Cree Literacy Network: http://www.nativenorthwestselect.com/products/boardbook-flett-allcount-cree

Posted in Book News, For Kids | 1 Comment