Mary Cardinal Collins: wâpos-mêyisa

tâns âta wîya nitôtêmitik!   kayâs mâna wâpos-tâpakwêwin iskwêw-atoskêwin. nikâwiy mîna kî-itwêw mân ôhi wâpôs-mêyisa ê-maskihkîwahk.

Long ago snaring rabbit or hare for food was a woman’s job. Rabbit droppings were considered medicinal; that’s why I’ve chosen this name for my blog contributions!
The old ladies would also use the fur for blankets and clothing.  The fur would be cut into strips and woven into blankets, then covered with cloth much like the duvets are nowadays. I remember these warm blankets. The woven fur was also made into jackets for small children.

Sometime ago we had a conversation about horses nikâwiy ê-mâmiskocikêyak. nêhiyawêwin ohci. It is rich in this language because horses were important to nêhiyâwak. These specific words will probably be lost soon because not everyone has horses in everyday life like they used to.
First the horse paraphernalia:

  • otâpânîyâpîya harness
  •  tâpitonêpicikan bridle
  •  nakânikan yoke
  •  âpasoy the pole in the middle on which the harness is attached

The horses themselves:

  • nôsê-aya female animal or being, including horses but it could be female moose
  • kiskisis young female horse
  • oskastimowi be a young horse (verb)
  • ayêhkwêwatim gelding; a male who has been cut
  • wâpihkwêwatim whiteface horse
  • wâpihkwêwânak whiteface female

[Note: the suffix –(w)atimor -(w)astim indicates male; the suffix –ânak indicates female]

  • wâpastim all white horse (male)
  • wâpânak all white horse (female)
  • askicakowês grey horse (male) [no suffix –atim I double checked]
  • askihtakwewânak /  grey horse (female)
  • mihkwatim/mihkwastim red horse
  • mihkwânak red female
  • wacokowês blood clot red horse or chocolate colored reddish brown
  • wacokânak female version
  • osâwastim light brown horse
  • osâwânak light brown female
  • wîpastim / dark colored horse (whether it was red or brown)
  • wîpânak /  dark female

Another interesting tidbit nikâwiy shared: some people called this dark colour âpakosís-pîway(-astim) mouse fur horse

  • cahcakatim spotted horse
  • cahcakânak spotted female
  • kaskitêwastim black horse
  • kaskitêwânak black female

nikâwiy said stallions were not common in every owner’s herd. She said ê-ki-ayimsicik – they were hard to control. Only owners who were into breeding had stallions.

Mary Cardinal Collins
Mary Cardinal Collins

êkosi mâka. mîna kîhtwâm. Mary Cardinal Collins  

Yet another kind of horse, from Mary:

ocimistawekat-astim ‘bushy/hairy legged horse’ (i.e., Clydesdale, Percheron)


[With thanks to Cree Literacy members for SRO spelling updates]

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