Plains Cree Texts

A nation strong in its ancestral stories, song and languages, can never be assimilated …

PLAINS CREE TEXTS recorded and transcribed by Leonard Bloomfield. Transliterated into contemporary Standard Roman Orthography. Newly translated into English by Neal McLeod.

Bloomfield’s field research in the Plains Cree language began in 1925 on the Sweet Grass and Star Blanket reserves, and produced two volumes of texts, each recorded in the original words of the elders. The better known of the two collections is Sacred Stories of the Sweet Grass Cree, which was recently reprinted in facsimile by Fifth House. Plains Cree Texts is slightly less known, but equally important. Originally published in 1934 as volume 16 of publications of the American Ethnological Society, it was reprinted in 1974 by AMS Press of New York.

All within a single five week visit to the Sweet Grass Reserve, Bloomfield managed to record 82 individual stories. His recording method was not electronic or even mechanical; rather, he sat with paper and pencil taking meticulous dictation by hand, learning the language as worked. He categorized the 82 texts into four categories: Life and Worship; The Past; The Powers Around Us; and, Sacred Stories (or âtayohkêwin). Plains Cree Texts includes 46 examples of the first three groups, which he characterized collectively as âcimowin: discourses or narratives.

In December 2012, Neal McLeod began posting retranslations of  these classical Cree texts on Facebook. His versions of the texts note words that need more explanation and thought. He began the retranslation believing it would serve the Cree people — and all people interested in Cree — well in the future. He invited Facebook friends and colleagues to help him by contributing their knowledge on this narrative journey. The comments of readers of these texts here at the Cree Literacy Network are also warmly welcomed.

To view Neal’s new translations, hover your cursor over Plains Cree Texts in the menu above. The collection will continue to grow as Neal adds each new text to Facebook.

View the original version of Plains Cree Texts on Google Books:

For a pdf file, or a number of e-reader editions:

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