Nehiyawewin.ca will be offering weekly free Cree lessons online starting Oct 9th, 2017 at 7:00 PM Saskatchewan time on the whiteboard. No registration required. Text will be Beginning Cree by Solomon Ratt available at Amazon.ca or the FNUV bookstore. The teacher will be Dorothy Thunder. This class is an excellent starter course for those who are struggling to learn the basics.
Note: please read the instructions for using the Twiddla whiteboard. Try to use Google chrome if possible.
Joi T. Arcand is a photo-based artist and industrial sculptor from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, and she knows that words, that letter forms, shapes and glyphs, “change the visual landscape,” that they are how we go about practicing new ways of looking. Words are emotional architectures, and Arcand calls hers “Future Earth.”
Simon Bird – with all his endless energy – is offering classes weekday mornings this fall via Facebook. To join the fun, you’ll need to join the FaceBook group #CreeSimonSays. The group is classified as “private” by FaceBook (like every FB group with fewer than 3000 followers), so you’ll need to go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/380099328844547/ and click “Join Group” in the top-right corner. You will have to wait for an admin to approve your request.
6am Central is 4am Pacific, which is too early even for Simon: But, as an added bonus, videos of each class are kept as posts in the Facebook group, and can be viewed any time. You can even watch videos from classes Simon taught over the summer.
Ross Paskemin from Sweetgrass Cree Nation is a song keeper, drum maker and a member of Sweetgrass Singers. This spring, he released CD with the help of Dr David MacKinnon and the nehiyawewin.ca project. His July performance at North Battleford’s “Gog” even got a report in the Battleford News-Optimist by Josh Greschner – where you can learn more.
Thanks to Sylvia McAdam for permission to post this video of her her wonderful father, Francis, teaching from his hospital bed on August 20th. He needs one of those t-shirts that say, “Old School Cree: Built to Last”. I would love to have a full transcription of his comments, but for now, Pearleen Kanewopasikot’s summary translation (below) is incredibly valuable.
Pearleen tells us:
He is remembering stories from his childhood where holy women came from Smoky Lake and Dog Lake where they used to have the sundance. They used to have a Heart Lodge and dance their medicines, they were so powerful they could raise the dead by giving them beads to bite and throw them 4 times and they could cut a rock with a knife like a slice of bread. The okicitawiskwewak used to participate in this including sundances. All the trees in the lodge had spirit. The land was holy and remains that way. Today there is nothing like that. There are still old people that used to tell these stories from my childhood.
(I met a cousin last week who told me a story about how long ago the center pole of the sundance held so much power it would stand by itself when they were building the lodge).
(There is no question there are holy women today who can see and hear teachings from the spirit world, we work closely with one of them and the other you have heard about but I’ve been going to her ceremonies the past few years – our ancestral knowledge continues to be passed on spiritually through them and other great wisdom keepers like Jimmy O and your Uncle Bernie and his wife Gloria).
Thanks to #CreeSimonSays on Facebook for inspiring this conversation, and thanks to the teachers who contributed with their favourite resources. I was intrigued with some of the additional titles a quick Google search turned up. I can’t speak to the quality of all of them, but they look awfully promising.
I hope it goes without saying that additions to this list are welcome at any time!
Some more general ideas contributed to the thread:
Biology: body parts -illnesses-traditional medicines, animal names, homes, wild food preparation
Ecology: relationships between lakes, fish, water plants, animals who eat them, trees, birds etc. It is taught as that as people we are an essential member of lands too, traditional harvesting and non-wasteful uses of natural materials for tools, shelter, transportation
Chemistry: building a fire, cooking over a fire, finding drinkable water, hide tanning w brains
Physics: ways to haul meat, building tents/teepees/tarps (angles, weight distrib., winds, drafts, snowshoe construction, navigating w landscape, stars, trees, wind direction and hunting
Basic science approach: In-depth observation skills used to notice change on land and also long term and multi-generational changes of lakes, trees, animals, birds etc.
Invite elders into classrooms to teach protocols and prayers. Explain to students why we use sweet grass sage fungus cedar etc. Maybe even take them out and teach them how to identify and gather. I know when I was in school I loved going on field trips even if it was just outside the school.
Chemistry and biology: Learning the internal organs of the animals in the Cree language. Possibly include a hunting/fishing lesson.
Earth Science/Biology: Plants/ trees medicinal plants resource books gift of language and culture
Incorporating Cree language into themes, discuss Indigenous concepts or theories along with theories from other areas, encourage students to go out into the community to find Elders or others to find answers to questions and then have group discussions.
Michell, H. (2013). Cree Ways of Knowing and School Science. Vernon, B.C.: JCharlton Publishing Ltd.
KNOWLEDGE SHARING FAIR: An Inquiry Approach to Integrating Indigenous Knowledge into the Science Curriculum Grade 4-8. Created by Kelli White (2010) on behalf of the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools Division. Within the resource the focus is on Indigenous ways of knowing and incorporated the 5E Learning cycle as well as a science fair component.