Ida Tremblay, 2017: Wisahkecahk’s Belt (th-dialect)

Warning: This story includes what we might call “adult content” in English. Or simply an authentically Cree sense of humour.

Ida Tremblay-pan ī-ācimot nīhithaw ācathōhkāniwin kapīsiwin 2017 mistasiniy sākahikanihk oskāyak-kapīsiwinihk.

The late Ida Tremblay storytelling at the Cree Storytelling Camp 2017 at the Youth Haven, Big Stone Lake, Saskatchewan.

Ida Tremblay was a Cree Elder from La Ronge, Saskatchewan. She raised seven children on the trapline – a five- to six-day journey north of La Ronge by canoe – and taught them the land skills she had learned from her parents. She scraped moose hides in her backyard and shared teachings of traditional life with her community. She was parallel cousin of Solomon Ratt: their mothers were sisters, so he called her ‘nimis (older sister), and she considered our friend Christine Ravenis (who also appears in the video) as a “special daughter”. She passed in January 2019, at the age of 69.

Ida’s memories of the trapline also provided a foundation for the book When We Had Sled Dogs: A Story from the Trapline which she wrote in collaboration with Miram Körner

This story was transcribed by Ben Godden with help from Solomon Ratt, and compiled in read-along video by Ben Godden. The reading edition of the story below provides a transcript of the Cree along with Ida’s own English re-telling of the story (very lightly edited to fill obvious gaps).

Thanks to Kevin Brousseau for listening with fresh ears and preparing his own transcription and including it in the Cree Mythological Index that he’s building in his own new blog: Cree Myths blog. Kevin’s version of this particular story can be found here here.

Ida Tremblay: W and his belt. Transcription by Ben GoddenIda's English re-telling
hâw, ikosi.Okay, then.
piyakwâw îsa wîsahkîcâhk î-pimohtît.Once upon a time Wisahkecahk was walking along.
namôtha wîhkâc ohci-pôni-pimohtîw wîsahkîcâhk mâna kâ-âcimikosit.He never stopped walking as revealed in the stories told about him.
ikwa îsa îtikwî î-papimohtît ikwa î-isi-akâwâtahk î-nohtî-miskawât iskwîwa.And as he was walking along he desired a woman; he wanted to find a woman.
î-kaskîthihtahk.He was lonely.
kâ-ati-matâwisit îsa sâkahikanisîsihk.He comes out of the bush to a little lake.
ikwa ikotî î-wâsakâmisit î-pimohtît.And he was walking in the shoreline –
kâ-wâpamât îsa nîtî akâmihk iskwîwa î-matwî-nipâthit.All of the sudden he saw a across the lake a woman sleeping over there in the shoreline, with her legs open;
wahwâ! tânisi mîna! î-wâwanâtihkwâmithit anihi iskwîwa. Wow! How is this again? Apparently this woman was sleeping in a confused state.
hâw ikwâni îsa.Okay, so it was thus.
mâka wîtha îsa wîsahkîcâhk î-kî-pakwahtîhot; ithikohk î-kî-kinwâpîkanithik animîthiw.But he, Wisahkecahk had a belt, that was a very long belt.
ikwâni îsa kâ-âpahahk opakwahtîhon.So he untied his belt.
ikota î-isi-pimipahtâthit sâkwîsiwa; And there was a mink swimming by there.
“iy, nicîmin [slang for nisîm] âstam.” ikwâni kâ-pî-itohtîthit anihi sâkwîsiwa.He said “Brother, âstam, come!” And the mink come towards him and said “What?”
“mahti ôma âsowahôtamowin nîtî akâmihk.“Take this across the lake.
ki-wâpamâw cî nâha iskwîw kâ-matwî-nipât” itîw îsa.See that woman sleeping across? Take it over there,” he told the mink.
“îhî,” itwîw.
ikwâni îsa î-ay-ati-pakitâpîkinâhk îsa wîsahkîcâhk.So the mink grabbed it and he swam.
ati-sipwîhotâthiwa anihi.Wisahkecahk is letting go the belt I guess.
ikwâni îsa aya, ikotî ikwa î-takohtitâwiht aya “îcikân-îsa aya” î-kî-kawâsit mistik ikwa anihi watapiyak aniki ayahk î-pimisihkwâw ikwa î-wâpâsocik taskôc awiyak opwâma.And then when the mink got there, here it was an old tree fell over; and the roots were sticking out and faded that it looked like lady's, uh, legs… from far.
ikosi îsa kâ-itikot anihi sâkwîsiwa “ocitâskayihtakwâw ôho nistîs” î-itwît.So the mink yelled, “It's a dead tree brother.”
“awas mâka,” î-itwît wîsahkîcâhk; kâwi î-isi-ôtâpihkinahk ana kâ-nawatahtamithit ithinikinosîwa.“Okay, let go then.”
papâsiwithik îsa anihi ithinikinosîwa.So Wisahkecahk is pulling back his belt – a big jackfish got it, and it's pulling him to the, to the water.
ikwâni isi sôskwâc isi î-ati-pakastawîpitikot.And so it is so that it pulled him into the
ikwânîsa ôpîhtâsiwinihk kâ-nitonikît; omôhkomânis.water. So he looked in his pocket for his little knife.
papâsi-kîskisam îsa.He cut it really fast.
kanakî “nine” î-itwît îsa.“As long as I have nine inches,” he said.
iyakwîthikohk ohci “nine” ikwa kâ-ayâcik.And that is why they say they have “nine inches.”
Posted in Audio (th-dialect), Solomon Ratt, Storytelling Month (February), Video, Wisahkecahk | Leave a comment

Sacred Stories Heal, Part 1: Getting Ready for Storytelling Month, February 2021

Everyone who enjoyed Solomon Ratt’s Winter Solstice Storytelling is already looking forward to hearing more come February, which someone, somewhere, officially designated Indigenous Storytelling Month. This post provides event details, and an opportunity to review past storytelling.

Zoom Event Details – Mark your Calendar:

(Optional) Preparing to Listen:

Truthfully? No real preparation is needed. Sol’s habit of alternating between Cree and English as he goes along is a great help to those (like me) who are struggling learners.

Of course, the stories differ with each telling: that is part of the story teller’s art. But part of my personal delight in Sol’s storytelling comes from knowing the stories well enough (at least in English) that, even as I listen to the Cree, I can follow the story’s structure, listen for the words I know well, understand the meaning of the hand gestures and sound effects, and (most importantly) be ready to laugh along with the real Cree speakers at the inevitable punchlines.

To make it easier to prepare (for those who want to), I’ve pulled together links to some of the most familiar stories here, all from assorted past Cree Literacy posts.

2016 Storytelling Videos

The Rolling Head

Wisahkecahk goes South

Wisahkecahk  and the Dancing Ducks

Wisahkecahk Seeks a Bride (Billy Joe Laboucan)

Wisahkecahk and the Little Startlers

Wisahkecahk and the Wihtikow

Wisahkecahk and the Chickadee

Wisahkecahk and the Moose

What do our stories tell us? (An overview of the significance of storytelling in Cree culture and education)

Posted in Posts with Audio or Video, Sacred Stories, Solomon Ratt | Leave a comment

A Wish for 2021 (Solomon Ratt: y-dialect)

pitanê oski-askîwin 2021 kakî-ohpinênaw nêhiyawêwin.
ᐱᑕᓀ ᐅᐢᑭ ᐊᐢᑮᐏᐣ 2021 ᑲᑮ ᐅᐦᐱᓀᓇᐤ ᓀᐦᐃᔭᐍᐏᐣ᙮
May we, in the new year 2021, all lift up the Cree language.

With thanks to all those who have shared their skill and knowledge with us this year, and to all those who have followed and taken new steps, learning to introduce themselves, beginning to read or sing along, or simply joining us in a little laugh as we play with language. As we look towards the new year, we wish you (you and us together!) continued success learning, speaking, and reading Cree: Every little success makes our Cree language stronger.

Posted in Audio (y-dialect), New Years, New Years, Solomon Ratt | Leave a comment

2020 Winter Solstice Storytelling – Audio (Solomon Ratt)

kâ-mâwaci-cimâsik kîsikâw âcathohkîwin
ᑳ ᒫᐘᒋ ᒋᒫᓯᐠ ᑮᓯᑳᐤ ᐋᒐᖪᐦᑮᐏᐣ
Solstice Storytelling

Those of us who were able to get in to the Zoom room had a great time listening to Sol’s 2020 Solstice treat that include six of the escapades of Wisahkecahk. The full video is too large to post here, but we were able to extract the audio that some listeners may enjoy. I’ll be adding written texts to this post as I’m able. They won’t be a precise match for the audio, because live storytelling frees the storyteller to adapt to his audience and to the moment, but I can promise they’re a lot of fun to hear!

Sol’s storytelling style provides lots of support for students by alternating between Cree and English, and by having fun making up voices for characters and even using sound effects.

The audio file embedded here includes the entire storytelling session.

The Sacred stories included those of the Flood, the Little Startlers, Birch Tree Markings, Wisahkecahk eating his own scab, and the Shut-Eye Dance. In the manner of traditional story tellers, Sol changes gears quickly from one to the next, stringing them along (along with his audience) one after another.



Posted in Audio (th-dialect), Events, Sacred Stories, Solomon Ratt, Solstice, Storytelling Month (February), Wisahkecahk | 1 Comment

2020 Winter Solstice Storytelling (Solomon Ratt)

kâ-mâwaci-cimâsik kîsikâw âcathohkîwin
ᑳ ᒫᐘᒋ ᒋᒫᓯᐠ ᑮᓯᑳᐤ ᐋᒐᖪᐦᑮᐏᐣ
Solstice Storytelling

Monday, 21 December 2020, 7:00pm CST via Zoom

All are welcome and it’s free

Join Solomon Ratt via Zoom to listen to traditional stories of wîsahkîcâhk, just like those told on long winter nights on the trapline in northern Saskatchewan. Stories will be told first in Cree, then followed by English translation.

Click this Zoom link and follow instructions to join in:

Don’t forget: B.Y.O. Hot Chocolate!

Solstice Vocabulary from Arok Wolvengrey:

â-mamâwaci-kinwâ(si)k tipiskâw “the longest night”
kâ-mamâwaci-cimâsik kîsikâw “the shortest day”
kâ-pê-kîwê-kîsikâk “when day(light) returns”
kâ-mêskocipayiki kîsikâwa “when the days turn/change”
kâ-kwêskiwêpahk “when the time/weather turns”
asê-kîwê-nîpin “going back home to summer” (adapted from Anishinaabemowin).

All in southern Plains Cree.
Change all instances of <ê> to <î> for northern Plains Cree and Woods Cree.
Change the one instance of <y> to <th> for Woods Cree.

Posted in Events, Solomon Ratt, Solstice | 2 Comments

Bless Me Today – Solomon Ratt (th-dialect)


kisî-manitow, sawîthimin anohc
ta-mitho-kanawâpamakwâw athisitinwak;
ta-mitho-pîkiskwâtakwâw athisitiniwak;
ta-mitho-nitohtawakwâw athisitiniwak;
ta-mitho-mâmitonîthihtamân pimâtisiwin.
hay hay, kinanâskomitin.

ᑭᓰ ᒪᓂᑐᐤ, ᓴᐑᖨᒥᐣ ᐊᓄᐦᐨ
ᑕ ᒥᖪ ᑲᓇᐚᐸᒪᒁᐤ ᐊᖨᓯᑎᓌᐠ;
ᑕ ᒥᖪ ᐲᑭᐢᒁᑕᒁᐤ ᐊᖨᓯᑎᓂᐘᐠ;
ᑕ ᒥᖪ ᓂᑐᐦᑕᐘᒁᐤ ᐊᖨᓯᑎᓂᐘᐠ;
ᑕ ᒥᖪ ᒫᒥᑐᓃᖨᐦᑕᒫᐣ ᐱᒫᑎᓯᐏᐣ᙮
ᐦᐊᐩ ᐦᐊᐩ, ᑭᓇᓈᐢᑯᒥᑎᐣ᙮

Creator, bless me today
to be able to look at the good in people;
to be able to speak good of people;
to be able to listen to people;
to be able to think good thoughts about life.
Thank you, I give thanks to you.

Posted in Audio (th-dialect), Prayers, Solomon Ratt, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Beautiful: Willie Thrasher, translated by Solomon Ratt (y-dialect)

Indigenous Folk/Rock legend Willie Thrasher and his song “Beautiful” were both new to me when Solomon Ratt presented this translation, so I had to learn more. Perhaps the best piece I found was from the May 2020 issue of Native News Online that identifies his 1981  “Spirit Child” LP as a masterpiece.

Sol says he worked out this translation while out cross-country skiing – echoing Willie line by line, and prepared this karaoke video in the same style to support learners. Text follows below, so you can copy and sing along – with Sol, or with Willie himself.

miyonâkwan waciy
miyonâkwan sîpiy
miyonâkwan askiy
miyonâkwan kîsik

mêtoni miyonâkwan
miyonâkwan ôh ôh
mêtoni miyonâkwan
miyonâkwan ôh

miyonâkwan wâyâhcâw
miyonâkwan kîsik
miyonâkwana sîpiya
miyonâkosiwak mistikwak

mêtoni miyonâkwan
miyonâkwan ôh ôh
mêtoni miyonâkwan
miyonâkwan ôh

miyonâkosiwak awâsisak
miyonâkosiwak kisêyayak
miyonâkosiw pîsim
ita mihcêt kâ-âtayôhkêhk

mêtoni miyonâkwan
miyonâkwan ôh ôh
mêtoni miyonâkwan
miyonâkwan ôh.

From YouTube, here is Willie himself:

Translation of Willie Thrasher tune.


Posted in Audio (y-dialect), Solomon Ratt, Songs in Cree | 2 Comments

How do I love you? (Solomon Ratt, y-dialect)

Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet 43 is one of the most widely recognized love poems on the planet. The strictly structured poetry that we think of as “classical” in English doesn’t need to be preserved to make it beautiful in Cree. Thanks to Solomon Ratt for providing us with this interpretation grounded in a Cree view of the natural world.

tânisi kâ-isi-sâkihitân? mahti nika-akihtên.
kisâkihitin isko nitahtahk kâ-ohpipayit ta-nakiskawât pîsimwa mîna tipiskâwipîsimwa;
kisâkihitin tâpiskôc wâpikwaniy kâ-nitawêyihtahk ta-minihkwît kimiwan;
kisâkihitin tâpiskôc yôtin kâ-wêpâstahahk kiscikânisa ka-ohpikihki.

How do I love you? Let me count the ways.
I love you as far as my soul can jump to meet the sun and the moon;
I love you like the flower needs to drink the rain;
I love you like the wind that blows the seeds to grow.

Posted in Audio (y-dialect), Poetry, Solomon Ratt | 2 Comments

Covid-19 Safety Reminder (y-dialect)

A Covid-19 reminder from the world’s social distancing champ and your friends at (Notice also the sôskwâc : sâskwâc “minimal pair“!) (Text thanks to Arok Wolvengrey; audio thanks to Solomon Ratt.)

ayapiw mâna sâskwâc.
kîsta mîna: sôskwâc ta-kî-ayapiyan.
“Sasquatch usually stays home. You too: just stay home.”

Posted in Audio (th-dialect), Audio (y-dialect), Solomon Ratt | Leave a comment

Spirituality: Solomon Ratt (y-, th- and n-dialects)

ahcâhkowin: askiy, kîsik, sîpiy, yôtin:
miyo-wîcêhtowin kâ-kistêyihtamahk kahkiyaw ôhi.

ᐊᐦᒑᐦᑯᐏᐣ:  ᐊᐢᑭᐩ,  ᑮᓯᐠ,  ᓰᐱᐩ,  ᔫᑎᐣ:
ᒥᔪ ᐑᒉᐦᑐᐏᐣ  ᑳ ᑭᐢᑌᔨᐦᑕᒪᕽ  ᑲᐦᑭᔭᐤ  ᐆᐦᐃ᙮

Spirituality: earth, sky, river, wind:
There is harmony when we respect all of these.


ahcâhkowin: askiy kîsik sîpiy thôtin
mitho-wîcîhtowin kâ-kistîthihtamahk ôho.

ᐊᐦᒑᐦᑯᐏᐣ:  ᐊᐢᑭᐩ  ᑮᓯᐠ  ᓰᐱᐩ  ᖫᑎᐣ
ᒥᖪ ᐑᒌᐦᑐᐏᐣ  ᑳ ᑭᐢᑏᖨᐦᑕᒪᕽ  ᐆᐦᐅ᙮

Spirituality: earth, sky, river, wind:
There is harmony when we respect all of these.


(with thanks to Cameron Adams for audio)

ahcâhkowin: askiy kîsik sîpiy nôtin
mino-wîcîhtowin kâ-kistînihtamahk ôhi.

ᐊᐦᒑᐦᑯᐏᐣ: ᐊᐢᑭᐩ ᑮᓯᐠ ᓰᐱᐩ ᓅᑎᐣ
ᒥᓄ ᐑᒌᐦᑐᐏᐣ ᑳ ᑭᐢᑏᓂᐦᑕᒪᕽ ᐆᐦᐃ᙮

Spirituality: earth, sky, river, wind:
There is harmony when we respect all of these.


Posted in Audio (n-dialect), Audio (th-dialect), Audio (y-dialect), Solomon Ratt, Uncategorized | Leave a comment