sêwêyâkanak / Jingle Bells

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.


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

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7 Responses

  1. Hello,
    I work with the music teacher and would like to include this song in our Christmas concert. Is there a live /audio version, we could get? I want to pronounce the words right.
    Thank you Trudy Williams
    Vincent Massey Community School
    Saskatoon, Sk.

  2. I am currently employed with the Rocky Boy School as a Cree language Specialist and I am interested to fine out if you have any training, workshops in Cree anywhere in Canada

    1. Hi.
      First Nations’ University in Regina specializes in First Nation Language programs.
      University of Saskatchewan, also has an after degree in Language.

    1. Let’s see if Dolores Sand will send us purchase details for her Christmas cd – if she does, we should add them to the post!

    2. Hi Jo – Why don’t you email Dolores directly at doloresgreyeyessand(at)gmail.com? I’m sure she’ll give you the details.

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