Nearly 30 years ago, the late Freda Ahenakew, and her mentor, the late Ida McLeod, produced a booklet with several dozen familiar children’s songs, Christmas carols and hymns translated into Cree. It’s been out of print for a long time now, but here is their version of Jingle Bells / sêwêyâkanak.  This photo is as close as I can come to Bette Spence’s description of driving through the snow with horse and sleigh to attend the Christmas concert at the Little Red River day school in the 1920s.

Hints: You know the tune, but to help fit the words to the notes, I’ve put brackets around vowels that get dropped out, and used bold to show the strongest syllables.


kanak, kanak
pwê nimiywêyihtên
mistatim ot(â)pânâskohk, hê!
kanak, kanak
pwê nimiywêyihtên
mistatim ot(â)pânâskohk!

nihk ê-pim(i)pahtât
mistatim onâsk
wahyaw ê-(i)skopahtât
nimiywêyihtên tâp
anohc kâ-tipiskâk

* sêwêyâkanak is also the word used for the jingles on jingle dresses.

2 Responses

  1. Arden, thank you. I will print this and our family will sing it over the holidays. I remember Ida, many years ago, explaining to me about the kâpôs. Christmas is a time to pause and be grateful for our dear family and friends who have passed on, so when we sing this song, I will be grateful for Ida, John, their son Jerry, who passed away this year, and of course Freda.
    p.s. thanks too for the bolding and brackets to help us get the rhythm!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Contact Us: