Father’s Day Wiener Roast: #CreeSimonSays: Simon Bird

A warning from your (môniyâw editor): Don’t try this without adequate (Cree) supervision.
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Health Canada: Canada’s Food Guide in Plains Cree and in Woods Cree, 2009


I was excited to find this 2009 edition of Canada’s food guide prepared in Cree and in other FN languages. I wish I knew who deserves the credit for this really useful translation work. It is provided there for sharing, so I’m including a link here, and also a copy of the pdf that they offer for free download. I bet there are Cree teachers out there already thinking of ways to use this in the classroom!

Click here to view the document in its original location, and find other language versions:

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/pubs/fnim-pnim/index-eng.php

Click here to download the complete pdf:

2009-food-guide-aliment-plains-cree

2009-food-guide-aliment-woods-cree

 

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2017: pâskâwihowipîsim / ᐹᐢᑳᐏᐦᐅᐏᐲᓯᒼ / June

June 2017Thanks to Solomon Ratt for allowing the Cree Literacy Network to share his 2017 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 complete pdfs is included here:
YY- and Th-Dialect Version: http://creeliteracy.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/2017CalendarCorrected_Whole.pdf
N- and Th-Dialect Version: http://creeliteracy.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/2017CalendarN.pdf

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Canada 150: Let’s celebrate survival – Solomon Ratt (y-dialect)

Canada 150 years celebrations…but what do we First Nations people celebrate? Let’s celebrate that we still speak our languages; let’s celebrate that we still follow our traditions; let’s celebrate our resilience; let’s celebrate that we still live on our land although for 150 years government policy tried to kill us. Let’s celebrate life.

Canada mitâtahtomitanaw mîna niyânanomitanaw askîwina miyawâtamowin…kîkwây mâka kiyânaw iyiniwak takî-miyawâtamahk? miyawâtêtân kiyâpic ê-pîkiskwêyahk kipîkiskwêwininawa; miyawâtêtân kiyâpic ê-pimitisahamahk kayâs isihcikêwin; miyawâtêtân êyikohk ê-sîpihkisiyahk; miyawâtêtân ê-paspiyahk, kiyâpic ê-pimihkamikisiyahk kitaskînahk âta kihc-ôkimâwin mitâtahtomitanaw mîna niyânanomitanaw askîwina ê-pê-kakwê-mêscihikoyahk. miyawâtêtân pimâtisiwin.

ᑲᓇᑕ  ᒥᑖᑕᐦᑐᒥᑕᓇᐤ ᒦᓇ ᓂᔮᓇᓄᒥᑕᓇᐤ ᐊᐢᑮᐏᓇ ᒥᔭᐚᑕᒧᐏᐣ  ᙮᙮᙮  ᑮᒁᕀ ᒫᑲ ᑭᔮᓇᐤ ᐃᔨᓂᐘᐠ ᑕᑮᒥᔭᐚᑕᒪᕽ?  ᒥᔭᐚᑌᑖᐣ ᑭᔮᐱᐨ  ᐁᐲᑭᐢᑵᔭᕽ ᑭᐲᑭᐢᑵᐏᓂᓇᐘ᙮  ᒥᔭᐚᑌᑖᐣ ᑭᔮᐱᐨ ᐁᐱᒥᑎᓴᐦᐊᒪᕽ ᑲᔮᐢ ᐃᓯᐦᒋᑫᐏᐣ᙮  ᒥᔭᐚᑌᑖᐣ ᐁᔨᑯᕽ ᐁᓰᐱᐦᑭᓯᔭᕽ᙮  ᒥᔭᐚᑌᑖᐣ ᐁᐸᐢᐱᔭᕽ,  ᑭᔮᐱᐨ  ᐁᐱᒥᐦᑲᒥᑭᓯᔭᕽ ᑭᑕᐢᑮᓇᕽ ᐋᑕ ᑭᐦᒍᑭᒫᐏᐣ ᒥᑖᑕᐦᑐᒥᑕᓇᐤ ᒦᓇ ᓂᔮᓇᓄᒥᑕᓇᐤ ᐊᐢᑮᐏᓇ ᐁᐯᑲᑵᒣᐢᒋᐦᐃᑯᔭᕽ᙮  ᒥᔭᐚᑌᑖᐣ ᐱᒫᑎᓯᐏᐣ᙮

(( Solomon Ratt: You can say that again! kihtwâm êkosi kakî-itwân. ᑮᐦᑤᒼ ᐁᑯᓯ ᑲᑭᑤᐣ᙮ ))

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Cousin Simon: #CreeSimonSays: Simon Bird and #LilMoshom

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Canada, O Canada, 150 Years – Solomon Ratt (th-dialect with audio)

Portage Student Residence glee club in the costumes worn in 1967 at Canada’s centennial Expo. On its letterhead and signage during this time, the residence advertised itself as “The Home of Canada’s Singing Indians.” United Church of Canada Archives, 93.049P/1756.

Cultural appropriation is big news in Canada this week. This photo of FN residential school students, dressed up by non-FN teachers to look like the “right kind” of Indians is an unfortunately apt illustration of how authentic First Nations culture can be scrubbed right out of the picture in favour of some misguided imaginary ideal.

Canada, oh Canada, 150* askîwinaᑳᓇᑕ, ᐆ ᑳᓇᑕ, 150* ᐊᐢᑮᐏᓇCanada, oh Canada, 150 years
î-kitinihcik ithiniwak:ᐄᑭᑎᓂᐦᒋᐠ ᐃᖨᓂᐘᐠ: of suppression of First Nations peoples:
î-othasowâtacik îkâ kita-pimitisahahkwâw ithiniw-isîhcikîwina -ᐄ ᐅᖬᓱᐚᑕᒋᐠ ᐄᑳ ᑭᑕᐱᒥᑎᓴᐦᐊᐦᒁᐤ ᐃᖨᓂᐤ ᐃᓰᐦᒋᑮᐏᓇ by out-lawing cultural practices -
nakwatisowina, pwâtisimowina, matotisâna;ᓇᑿᑎᓱᐏᓇ, ᑅᑎᓯᒧᐏᓇ, ᒪᑐᑎᓵᓇthe potlatches, the powwows, the sweat-lodges;
masinahikanêkinos poko ta-ayât kîspin ta-nakatahk iskonikan - ta-nitonahk atoskîwin;ᒪᓯᓇᐦᐃᑲᓀᑭᓄᐢ ᐳᑯ ᑕ ᐊᔮᐟ ᑮᐢᐱᐣ ᑕ ᓇᑲᑕᕽ ᐃᐢᑯᓂᑲᐣ: ᑕᓂᑐᓇᕽ ᐊᑐᐢᑮᐏᐣby the pass system needed to leave the reserve - to seek work;
âta nîstanân nikî-nitawi-nôtinikânân ispî kâ-nôtinitonânowik,ᐋᑕ ᓃᐢᑕᓈᐣ ᓂᑮᓂᑕᐏᓅᑎᓂᑳᓈᐣ ᐃᐢᐲ ᑳᓅᑎᓂᑐᓈᓄᐏᐠ,although we too went to fight in your wars,
mâka nîkân poko ta-pakitinamâhk nitiskonikan-akihtâsowininâna,ᒫᑲ ᓃᑳᐣ ᐳᑯ ᑕᐱᑭᑎᓇᒫᕽ ᓂᑎᐢᑯᓂᑲᐣ ᐸᑭᐦᑖᓱᐏᓂᓈᓇ,but first we had to give up our Treaty rights,
ikwa ispî kâ-pî-kîwîyâhk namwâc nimîthikawinân simâkanisihkân-mitho-tôtâkîwinaᐃᑿ ᐃᐢᐲ ᑳᐲᑮᐑᔮᕽ ᓇᒹᐨ ᓂᒦᖨᑲᐏᓈᐣ ᓯᒫᑲᓂᓯᐦᑳᐣ ᒥᖪᑑᑖᑮᐏᓇand when we returned we were denied veteran benefits
namwâc nikakî-kîwânân, namacî nikî-pakitinînân nitiskonikan-akihtâsowininâna.ᓇᒹᐨ ᓂᑲᑮᑮᐚᓈᐣ, ᓇᒪᒌ ᓂᑮᐸᑭᑎᓃᓈᐣ ᓂᑎᐢᑯᓂᑲᐣ ᐊᑭᐦᑖᓱᐏᓂᓈᓇ᙮and we could not return home, after all we gave up our Treaty Status
Canada, oh Canada, 150 askîwinaᑳᓇᑕ, ᐆ ᑳᓇᑕ, 150 ᐊᐢᑮᐏᓇCanada, oh Canada, 150 years
î-mîscihowiyan - nîkân kimîscihâwak paskwâwi-mostosak -ᐄᒦᐢᒋᐦᐅᐏᔭᐣ ᓃᑳᐣ ᑭᒦᐢᒋᐦᐋᐘᐠ ᐸᐢᒁᐏᒧᐢᑐᓴᐠ ᑲᐢᒁᐏᒧᐢᑐᓴᐠof genocide - first you killed the buffalo -
ikwa awâsisak kikî-kwâsihâwak ohpimî ta-nitawi-kiskinwahamâkocik ayamihikimâwaᐃᑿ ᐊᐚᓯᓴᐠ ᑭᑮᒁᓯᐦᐋᐘᐠ ᐅᐦᐱᒦ ᑕᓂᑕᐏᑭᐢᑭᓌᐦᐊᒫᑯᒋᐠ ᐊᔭᒥᐦᐃᑭᒫᐘthen kidnapped the children to go to church-run residential schools
ita kâ-kî-nôcihiyâhk ispî kâ-pîkiskwîyâhk nipîkiskwîwininânaᐃᑕ ᑳᑮᓅᒋᐦᐃᔮᕽ ᐃᐢᐲ ᑳᐲᑭᐢᑹᔮᕽᓂᐲᑭᐢᑹᐏᓂᓈᓇwhere you beat us for speaking our languages
ikosîsi nikî-kipihtinikawinân îkâ kitakiskîthihtamâhk nitithiniwi-isîhcikîwina mîna nikâkîsimowininâna ᐃᑯᓰᓯ ᓂᑮᑭᐱᐦᑎᓂᑲᐏᓈᐣ ᐄᑳ ᑭᑕᑭᐢᑮᖨᐦᑕᒫᕽ ᓂᑎᖨᓂᐏ ᐃᓰᐦᒋᑮᐏᓇ ᒦᓇ ᓂᑳᑮᓯᒧᐏᓂᓈᓇthus we were denied learning our cultural teachings and spiritual beliefs
kâ-kî-âniskô-kiskîthihtamâhk âcathohkîwinihk ohci -ᑳᑮᐋᓂᐢᑰᑭᐢᑮᖨᐦᑕᒫᕽ ᐋᒐᖪᐦᑮᐏᓂᕽ ᐅᐦᒋwhich were passed on through our traditional stories -
âcathohkîwina kâ-kî-kiskinwahamâkoyâhk kita-isi-pimâtisiyâhk ôta askîhk.ᐋᒐᖪᐦᑮᐏᓇ ᑳᑮᑭᐢᑭᓌᐦᐊᒫᑯᔮᕽ ᑭᑕᐃᓯᐱᒫᑎᓯᔮᕽ ᐆᑕ ᐊᐢᑮᕽ᙮ traditonal stories which taught us how to live on this earth.
ohpimî-kiskinwahamâtowikamikohk ita awâsisak kâ-kî-nâh-nôcihihcik ikwa kâ-kî-âh-otihtinihcik;ᐅᐦᐱᒦᑭᐢᑭᓌᐦᐊᒫᑐᐏᑲᒥᑯᕽ ᐃᑕ ᐊᐚᓯᓴᐠ ᑳᑮᓈᐦᓅᒋᐦᐃᐦᒋᐠ ᐃᑿ ᑳᑮᐋᐦᐅᑎᐦᑎᓂᐦᒋᐠ...residential schools where children were physically and sexually abused; 
awasimî kihci-mitâtahto-mitanaw kî-pôni-pimâtisiwak - mihcît namwâc kiskîthihtâkwan ita kâ-kî-nahahthihcik.ᐊᐘᓯᒦ ᑭᐦᒋᒥᑖᑕᐦᑐᒥᑕᓇᐤ ᑮᐴᓂᐱᒫᑎᓯᐘᐠ ᒥᐦᒌᐟ ᑭᐢᑮᖨᐦᑖᑿᐣ ᐃᑕ ᑳᑮᓇᐦᐊᐦᖨᐦᒋᐠ᙮thousands died - many buried in unmarked graves,
kâ-kîsi-ayamihcikiyâhk nikî-wâh-wanihonân, kapî athisk î-kî-kitîthimikawiyâhk namwâc nikî-kiskîthihtînân tânisi kita-isi-pamihisoyâhk.ᑳᑮᓯᐊᔭᒥᐦᒋᑭᔮᕽ ᓂᑮᐚᐦᐘᓂᐦᐅᓈᐣ, ᑲᐲ ᐊᖨᐢᐠ ᐄᑮᑭᑏᖨᒥᑲᐏᐋᕽ ᓇᒷᐨ ᓂᑮᑭᐢᑮᖨᐦᑏᓈᐣ ᑖᓂᓯ ᑭᑕᐃᓯᐸᒥᐦᐃᓱᔮᕽAfter leaving the schools we were lost, so institutionalized that we did not know how to live,
mihcît nikî-nisiwanâtahkamikisinân ikosi kipahotowikamikohk kita-ayâyâhk - kita-kipahokawiyâhk namacî mâka poko kâ-kiskîthihtamâhk -ᒥᐦᒌᐟ ᓂᑮᓂᓯᐘᓈᑕᐦᑲᒥᑭᓯᓈᐣ ᐃᑯᓯ ᑭᐸᐦᐅᑐᐏᑲᒥᑯᕽ ᑭᑕᐊᐋᔮᕽ ᑭᑕ ᑭᐸᐦᐅᑲᐏᔮᕽ ᓇᒪᒌ ᒫᑲ ᐳᑯ ᑳᑭᐢᑮᖨᐦᑕᒫᕽmany of us turned to crime so we'd go to jail - being inside is something we knew -
mihcît minihkwîwin ikwa maci-maskihkiya kî-nisiwanâcihikowak ikwa kâkikî nâh-nôtinikîskowak.ᒥᐦᒌᐟ ᒥᓂᐦᑹᐏᐣ ᐃᑿ ᒪᒋᒪᐢᑭᐦᑭᔭ ᑮᓂᓯᐘᓈᒋᐦᐃᑯᐘᐠ ᐃᑿ ᑳᑭᑮ ᓈᐦᓅᑎᓂᑮᐢᑯᐘᐠ᙮Many were destroyed by alcohol and drugs and are forever fighting.
Canada, oh Canada, 150 askîwinaᑳᓇᑕ, ᐆ ᑳᓇᑕ, 150 ᐊᐢᑮᐏᓇCanada, oh Canada, 150 years
î-pî-âh-yahcitinîwiyâhk nitaskînâhk.ᐄᐲᐋᐦᔭᐦᒋᑎᓃᐏᔮᕽ ᓂᑕᐢᑮᓈᕽ᙮ of being strangers in our homeland.
* 150: mitâtahtomitanaw mîna niyânanomitanaw / * 150: ᓂᑖᑕᐦᑐᒥᑕᓇᐤ ᒦᓇ ᓂᔮᓇᓄᒥᑕᓇᐤ
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iskwêwak / ᐃᐢᑵᐘᐠ / Women – Solomon Ratt

iskwêwak:ᐃᐢᑵᐘᐠ:Women:
pimâcihiwêwakᐱᒫᒋᐦᐃᐍᐘᐠgive life,
kisêwâtisiwakᑭᓭᐚᑎᓯᐘᐠare kind,
sâkihiwêwakᓵᑭᐦᐃᐍᐘᐠgive love,
tapahtêyimisiwakᑕᐸᐦᑌᔨᒥᓯᐘᐠare humble,
sôhki-atoskêwakᓲᐦᑭ ᐊᑐᐢᑫᐘᐠwork hard,
sôhkisiwakᓲᐦᑭᓯᐘᐠare strong,
sôhkitêhêwakᓲᐦᑭᑌᐦᐁᐘᐠare brave,
âhkamêyimowak.ᐋᐦᑲᒣᔨᒧᐘᐠ᙮persevere.
iskwêwakᐃᐢᑵᐘᐠWomen:
takî-manâcihihcikᑕᑮᒪᓈᒋᐦᐃᐦᒋᐠshould be treated with care,
takî-kistêyimihcikᑕᑮᑭsᑌᔨᒥᐦᒋᐠshould be respected,
takî-kistêyihtâkosicikᑕᑮᑭᐢᑌᔨᐦᑖᑯᓯᒋᐠshould be held in high regard,
takî-sâkihihcik.ᑕᑮᓵᑭᐦᐃᐦᒋᐠ᙮should be loved.
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2017: sâkipakâwipîsim / ᓵᑭᐸᑳᐏᐲᓯᒼ / May

May 2017Thanks to Solomon Ratt for allowing the Cree Literacy Network to share his 2017 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 complete pdfs is included here:
Y- and Th-Dialect Version: http://creeliteracy.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/2017CalendarCorrected_Whole.pdf
N- and Th-Dialect Version: http://creeliteracy.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/2017CalendarN.pdf

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Wîsahkêcahk and the Chickadee – Solomon Ratt (th-dialect)

It’s late in the season for this Wîsahkêcahk story – so you may have to look for some snow while you’re listening – but thanks to Ben Godden for his amazing work transcribing the story-telling juggernaut that is Solomon Ratt at high speed, and permitting me to share it here. The story was recorded in February 2017 at a Cree Storytelling Camp, held at Youth Haven, Big Stone Lake (near LaRonge) Saskatchewan. Not only did Ben do the slow, meticulous work that transcription into accurate SRO demands, he went on to master the video-editing techniques to allow fellow learners to watch and read at the same time. mâmaskâc!

He also provided the text-only version (printed below) of the Cree for readers whose reading is becoming more fluent.

Looking for the English? It’s not transcribed yet, but Sol re-tells the story in English in the video beginning at about 5:43 of the video.

Scroll down even further for a a second (English) version of the story as told by Billy Joe Laboucan (and added here with his kind permission!) As Billy Joe observes, “there are so many versions of Wîsahkêcahk stories … often I hear people say that is not the way I heard my mother/father/grandparents tell that story… for me I appreciate the diversity of our legends/stories and the personal flavours of the storytellers.”

Solomon: heh heh, ikwa mīna wīsahkīcāhk nītha nīkān nika-ācathōhkān. wīsahkīcāhk nika-ācimāw. ikwa Ben ikota ohci kita-ācimow ikwa kīsta cī?

Gerald: nīsta (ni)ka-ācimon.

Solomon: āha, kīsta (ki)ka-ācimon. ikosi. kipīhtawin cī? āha. hēy, piyakwāw īsa wīsahkīcahk kī-pa-pimohtīw māka mīna ōma -ay- kītahtawī īsa kā-wāpamāt apisci-kīskisīsa ī-otinamithit māna oskīsikothiwa. ikwa māna ī-ohpiwīpinamithit. ikwa māna kāwi oskīsikothihk ī-pī-pahkihtinithiki: pwak pwak. ikosi. hāw, mamāhtāwinawīw māna ikwa awa.

tāpwī kimamāhtāwisin. “mahti iyako kīkway kiskinwahamawin?”

“awas wīsahkīcāhk! kihci-isīhcikīwin ōma: namōtha kītha pakwanita (ki)kakī-kiskinwahamātin!” itik.

āh ati-sipwīhtīw wīsahkīcāhk ī-kisiwāsit nawac poko. ikwāni ikota nitawi-wawīsīhisow: tāpiskōc kisītiniw ī-isīhisot. ikota ī-pīci-pimohtīt pāskac ī-wākohtīt ōma, tāpiskōc kisītiniw ikwa “ayayā! nistikwān!” ī-itwīt. ikwa kitimākināk ōho apisci-kīskisīsa.

“hāw, cīskwa nimosōm! kika-kiskinwahamātin. kīspin otinamani kiskīsikwa, ōta ohci ikwa ispimihk isi-wīpinamani ithikohk kāwi ta-pahkihtihki kiskīsikohk ikota. namōtha awasimī kika-tīyistikwānān” itik.

“haw, mahti kiskinwahamawin nōsisim” itwīw.

ay, ikosi kā-kiskinwahamawāt ī-ay-isi-wīpinamithit ispimihk ī-ay-isi-wīpinamithit ōho oskīsikwa: pwak pwak.

ay, cīhkīthihtam ikwa ōta pithīsis kā-itwīt: “iy, ohcitaw poko ikosi ta-itōtaman ispī tīyistikwānīyani. kāwitha māka pakwanita mītawākī.”

itwīw īsa “ah, namōtha nānitaw nōsisim. namōtha nika-mītawākān iyakwānima.” ikwa ikota ati-sipwīhtīw wīsahkīcāhk ī-wākohtīt tāpiskōc kisītiniw. ikwāni ikota kā-sipwīhtīt ikwa kāwi wīsahkīcāhk isinākosiw. ikwāni ikota hā! kwayask kīkway kihci-isīhcikīwin ī-kiskinwahamākot pithīsīsa itokī kā-ati-sipwīhtwīt. kā-wāpahtahk īsa ikota -aya – nīpisiya. tāpwī poko ani “ayayā! nistikwān! nitīyistikwānān!” itwīw. ikwāni ikota oskīsikwa otinam ispimihk isi-wīpinam kāwi māna kā-pahkihtinithiki: pwak pwak – oskīsikohk. “ha ha ha, ah tāpwī iyako kihci-isīhcikīwin mamāhtāwan ikosi ī-ati-sipwīhtīt.

ikwa mīna kīhtwām kā-wāpamāt kotaka nīpisiya: “ayayā! nistikwān!” kā-itwīt ikwa mīna otinam oskīsikwa ispimihk isi-wīpinam: pwak pwak. kā-pahkihtinithiki ostikwānihk kāwi ikota ati-pimohtīw. kakwātaki ī-cīhkīthihtahk ōma. kihci-isīhcikīwin ī-kiskinwahamāht.

ikwa mīna kā-wāpamāt kotaka nīpisiya. nīpisīhkopāhk awa. ikwāni ikota īsa “ayayā nitīyistikwānān!” ikwāni ikota otinam ikwa mīna oskīsikwa ispimihk isi-wīpinam: pwak pwak. kāwi pahkitinithiwa. “wahwā! mamāhtāwan anima kīkway. tāpwī kihci-kīkway!” ikwāni ati-pimohtīw. ikwa mīna kā-wāpamāt nīpisīhkohpāwa ikota mīna “ayayā! nistikwān!” ikwāni ikota ohci kā-otinahk oskīsikwa ispimihk isi-wīpinam. ah! wah! osāmi wathaw isi-wīpinam ikwa kītahtawī poko ohpimī ita kā-pahkihtinithiki ikwāni īkā ī-wāpit ī-nitawi-nitonahk anihi anita oskīsikwa. kītahtawī māna kā-cahkāpahokot awiya. “ayayā!” itwīw.

ay, ikwa māna ī-natonahk ōho oskīsikwa. kā-cahkāpahokot awiya; “ayayā!” nitonam ōho “tāniwīha tāniwīha niskīsikwa” ikwāni kītahtawī kā-cahkāpahokot; “ayayā!” ita māka ī-cahkāpahokot mitoni ī-ati-tīyistikwānīt. āh kītahtawī poko kā-pīhtawāt ōho ita ī-pāhpithit; “hī hī hī hī hī hī!”

iy! nisitohtawīw iyakoni ōho ita mahkīsīsa māka mīna ī-nanōthacihikot. “ah, cīskwa mahkīsīs, kika-kaskinahamātin.” ikwa ikwa ikota ati-pimitācimow. mistikwa miskawīw ikota. “awīna ōma kītha?”

“minahik ōma nītha.”

“hāw kītha kā-nitawīthimitān mahti īsa. pikiw nika-otināw ikota ohci.” ikota pikiwa otinīw minahikohk ohci. ikwa omisi isi itinīw. ī-wa-wīwīkināt ikota kītahtawī ikosi ī-wāskāthik kīkway tāpiskōc ikota pwak oskīsikohk astāw. ikwa mīna kotak otinīw. ī-wa-wīwīkināt ikota. mitoni ī-mithosit ana pikiw. ikota pwak kā-ahthāt ikwa mīna wāpiw. ah tāpwī kihci “ah, tāniwā ana mahkīsīs” kā-itwīt. pimohtīw ī-nitonawāt osīmisa mahkīsīsa. iy, wāpamīw ikotī ī-matwī-nipāthit. “tānisi māka ōma kāwi ī-isi-kiskinwahamawak awa kita-kī-nipahak. hāw namwāc osām nawac nānitaw ta-itōtawak. hāw, mahti nika-pōnīn ita kā-nipāt kita-wāskākotīk ikota iskotīw. kita-nipahihkasot awa mahkīsīs” ī-itwīt.

ikwāni ikota pōnam. ikota ī-kotawīt wāskā ita kā-nipāthit ōho osīmisa mahkīsīsa. ikwa ati-kwāhkotīw anima kotawān ikota ikwa kītahtawī poko mahkīsīs kā-koskopathit. wāpahtam iskotīw misiwī itī ī-wāskā~ ī-wāskā-pasitīthik ita kā-kī-nipāt. “iy, namōtha nānitaw” itīthihtam. tāpwī pokw āni kwāskohtiw omisi isi ikota ispimihk isi. ī-awasiwī-kwāskohtit animīthiw iskotīw ita ohci ī-ati-pāhpit. ikwa osōsihk poko kā-ati-pasisot īsa ahci poko ikota anohc ka-wāpahtīnaw ī-wāpiskāthik osōs awa mahkīsīs. ikwāni iskwīthāc ī-miskosit. ikwāni.

Okay! ikosi īsa. kinisitohtīn? Okay, piyakwāw īsa – yaw! ī-kī-wī-ākathāsimoyān ōma!

Wîsahkêcahk and the Chickadees: Billy Joe Laboucan’s Telling

Wesahkecāhk was the Creator’s helper who protected animals and the earth; and taught people how to treat each other with respect. Some say that he is still out there….

Once upon a time, Wesahkecāhk was taking a walk on a path that led through a stand of poplar trees and willows. He noticed chickadees on the willows laughing and having such a good time.

Wesahkecāhk always curious, had to see what the chickedees were doing to be so giddy, almost falling over from laughter. As he walked closer, he saw that the chickadees were throwing their little eye balls in the air, then when they would fall back into their eye sockets; they would laugh so hard. They would roar with laughter and flap their little wings happily.

Wesahkecāhk fascinated, watched for a few minutes. Then he walked up and asked, “Hey little brothers and sisters! Why are you doing that? That looks like so much fun!” The chickadees didn’t answer right away, and Wesahkecāhk again asked, “Why do you do that?” To which the chickadees replied, “We are throwing our eyes up like this, it’s like medicine. It cures our headaches, or whatever is making you sick.”

“Oh, my little siblings, you must show me how to do that too!” Wesahkecāhk exclaimed.

“No, we can’t show you how to do this Wesahkecāhk because you aren’t a chickadee. And, if you lose your eyeballs, you will go blind. We wouldn’t be able to help you.”
But Wesahkecāhk wouldn’t take no for an answer, and said, “Please, please little brothers and sisters, please show me. I can cure myself if I get sick.”

“Well, okay, we will show you Wesahkecāhk, but your must promise that you won’t over do it and go blind! Because we can’t help you if that happens.” The chickadees said.

“Yes, I promise.” Wesahkecāhk said.

The chickadees then showed Wesahkecāhk how to take his eyeballs out, throw them up in the air; and how to make them fall back in. Wesahkecāhk thanked the chickadees; and starting walking away. “Remember, don’t overdo it! Or you will go blind.” The chickadees warned him again.

Wesahkecāhk walked a short distance, and said, “Oh! Oh! I have a headache. I have to cure myself.” He stopped and took his eyeballs out and tossed them in the air a short distance. Then when they fell back into his eye sockets, he felt so good that he shouted, “Yoohoo!” And he jumped around and laughed. But that good feeling stopped rather shortly.
Wesahkecāhk thought, “If I throw my eyeballs higher, I will probably feel that much better and longer.” So, again, he threw his eyeballs into the air, higher. And he felt that much better and longer.

Then Wesahkecāhk took out his eyeballs again, and threw them up much higher. When he did, a gust of wind caught them and blew them away. They landed in the leaves and grass under the trees.

Suddenly, Wesahkecāhk realized that he was blind. He started crawling around and crying, “I lost my eyeballs. Someone help me! Help me!” Snot was running down his face.
The chickadees heard him pleading for help, but they flew away. They had told Wesahkecāhk that they wouldn’t be able to help if he abused his cure and lost his eyeballs.
Wesahkecāhk continued crying and crawling around as felt around for his eyeballs. Then a little squirrel heard him, and came running. “What is happening big brother? He asked.
“I lost my eyeballs here in the leaves and grass.” Wesahkecāhk cried.
“Stop crying! I will help you look for your eyeballs.” The squirrel said.

So, they looked but couldn’t find Wesahkecāhk’s eyeballs. As the squirrel was looking he came close to a spruce tree and saw spruce gum on it. He stopped and pulled some spruce gum and rolled some into a size of an eyeball. Then he made another one, and called out, “Oh, Wesahkecāhk, I have your eyeballs!”

“Bring them here, bring them here!” Wesahkecāhk cried excitedly.

The squirrel brought the balls of spruce gum to Wesahkecāhk; and he took them and popped them into this empty eye sockets. “I can see! I can see!” He shouted happily. “It a little blurry, but I can see! Thank you little brother.”

And that is why to this very day, when you wake up in the morning, you have gummy eyes!

©Billy Joe Laboucan 2011

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Horse Pace: Billy Joe Laboucan

Billy Joe Laboucan with his dog Chaymo – about the same time as his recollections.

Thanks to Billy Joe Laboucan for allowing me to archive this âcimowin and photo about his childhood from his Facebook feed. (Now to get him to do more writing in Cree!)

Napees sat listening to the wonderful, almost magical sound made by the droning eighteen wheels zipping along the newly paved blacktop into the distance. A moment ago it had hurtled right by him, then in an instant it was just a pleasant drone, almost like a bee or fly bouncing around on a window, it’s buzzing slowly dying.

Napees got up from where he had been sitting in the shade enjoying the quiet and feeling somewhat lonely. He wandered back to the covered wagon. His father had bent willows into a round frame over the wagon box; then tied on which a canvas cover could be quickly thrown over and secured should it rain suddenly while traveling. He climbed onto the wagon seat and grabbed the ropes tied to the single tree at the tip of the pole, and yelled, “Aw right! Paddy! Mabel! Giddy-up!”

“Astam nîhtakosiy, ta-mîcisoyahk êkwa,” his mother called from the campfire where she had been cooking their evening meal. Napees did as he as his mother said that he was to get down from the wagon and eat supper.

“kipâpâpa êkwa kistês mâskoc kîkâc itikwê takosinwak. Mâka kakî-mâci-mîcison, nikosis.” His mother said in the Cree language, as she moved the big cast-iron fry pan away from the hot coals and into banked position further from the heat. Napees’ father and older brother would soon arrive from the working in the field picking roots for a white farmer. His mother said that he could start eating.

“It’s hot to be cooking. I’ll let the fire die down to a smudge.” She said. The fried moose meat with onions and garden fresh potatoes smelled so good.

“Mîcisotân: Let’s eat,” Napees said as he sat down on the grub-box. Although, they lived about six months of the year in tents Napees still could not sit on the ground too long without getting sore knees. They had moved from the trap-line in Bison Lake. After his father and brother had sold their furs in Peace River, they were moving to Nampa/Reno area to work for farmers clearing land for fields. In the fall, they would help with the harvest, using the horses to haul the hayracks topped with grain to the threshing machine, then back to the trapline but first they would stop at their main home at Gull Creek along the shores of Lubicon Lake.

Right now, they were camped in a small meadow wedged between a gravel road and the blacktop which had tall grass for the horses and a clearing to pitch up the tents. They shared a big to live in and another small one for storage or occasional company. It also made a great play area during the wet weather.

Just Napees and his mother were at the campsite. His older brother, Ichwach and two older sisters, Cheechich and Iskwees had been picked up by a supervisor to be taken to the residential school. Last time that he had seen his brother and sisters was last Christmas which seemed like a long time ago. As usual, he had been conveniently away someplace with one of his older sisters, either Gladys or Marina and sometimes by his grandparents when the mission officials would come to pick the others. He filled with happiness and happy thoughts of that soon-to-be reunion when they would come for the summer break, except this time, they would stay. They would all be together the whole year round!

Just then, a farm truck with a green grain-box with rattling chains and steel hooks turned into the campsite and stopped. Napees’s dad and older brother, Pichit climbed down from the truck. It backed and drove off in a swirl of dust.
“Daddy! You are here just in time to eat! Mom has just finishing cooking supper!” Napees shouted happily.

“I have to wash up.” Pichit said as he poured clean water into the washbasin. “It was hot and dusty as usual,” he said. He grinned, just his white teeth flashing on his dusty and sweaty face. “But it brings in the money!”

“We’ll move up there tomorrow and camp near the fields that we will be working on. We’ll pack tonight and travel while it’s still cool in the morning; easier on the horses.” Dad said as he took his turn at the washbasin and pulled his dusty shirt off and rolled up his summer-weight underwear. His corded forearms were a stark white compared to his weathered hands and face that had campfire smoke and elements had burned dark on the trap-line.

The next morning, after a quick breakfast of thick bacon and bannock washed down by strong tea, Napees had his with lot of condensed milk and sugar. Then they loaded up the wagon. There was still mist glistening off the green grass and bright colored spring flowers. The dogs keened a low sound that grew into excited barks as Dad tied them to their appointed spots in the shadow under the wagon.

“Kîyâm’pik!” Dad yelled; and the dogs quieted for a couple of minutes. Just long enough for him to jump onto the wagon seat beside Mom who held the rope to the W. It’s a rope laced through the rings on the side and bottom of the horse and looped through also through the rings on hobbles forming a W. Mom would bounce the nervous young gelding on its knees should it decide to run.

Pichit quickly hooked the last trace chains to the doubletrees behind the dancing heels of the young, tall horse my dad was currently training. But as we drove off slowly in the loaded wagon, everything went quiet, just the jingle of the harness and squeak of the iron rim of the wagon on gravel. Even the dogs were silent except for their panting and an occasional half-stifled yip. They liked to be on the move too. Pichit rode slowly along on his horse, Jim as we drove on the grassy side of the highway.

The black asphalt simmered into a mirage lake in the distance as the day heated up in the bright sun. “We’ll cool off in the lake up ahead!” Pichit teased and Napees half believed him. It did look like water but as they drove closer it disappeared. Then they turned onto a dirt road and searched for a good camping spot along the field where they would be working.

Later that night, they laid out their bedrolls inside the large tent complete with a small airtight heater for rainy weather. As they smuggled into the warm thick blankets, Napees said, “Mom, mahti âtayohkawin.” He always wanted to hear traditional legends, especially at bedtime. So he’d always asked his mother to tell him a legend or story.

“Êkâ ôma cîskwa epipohk, mâcika namôya kaki âtayôhkâtin. Mâka kakî-âcimostâtin ôma âcimowin.” Napees’ mother said. She had explained that since it wasn’t winter yet, she could not relate legends, but instead she would tell him another story.

Until he started school, Napees’s education was through storytelling from both his parents, grandparents and other members of his extended family. He would learn how to be respectful to people, animals and to the world around him. He would also learn that he belonged to Mother Earth and not the other way around.

In the fall, Napees would start day school. Then the rest of his older brother and sisters would finally be back home to stay. He was so happy about that! He would then have to speak English as well the ability to read and write. His dad said, “You have to learn the Whiteman’s ways and education so you won’t have to work hard on labour jobs all your life.”

Finally, the next day, a car stopped and out spilled his sisters and brother. They shared happy tears and laughter … and lots of hugs!

Almost 60 years later, as Kwancha Nâpew drove by that same spot at the junction of Range Road 210 and Highway 2 where he once sat by the newly paved highway, he still remembered those stories from his mother and his father’s advice. Now, it’s a different struggle, as he attempts to resolve a land claim from over 80 years. His dream is to have the community of Little Buffalo/Lubicon Lake work together in unity for the benefit of all.

Copyright Billy Joe Laboucan 2017

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