National Aboriginal History Month Day Seventeen: maskihkiy-wâwiyiyâw

Urban Native Magazine and Regina Aboriginal Professionals Association have launched a photograph challenge (for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) in honour of National Aboriginal History Month. They’re using the Twitter hashtag #NAHM2015PhotoADay.

Here at the Cree Literacy Network, we’ve decided to play along, by gathering the images suggested – but (with help from Solomon Ratt) captioning them in Cree.

For Day Seventeen, the word is Medicine Wheel:

maskihkiy-wâwiyiyâw / ᒪᐢᑭᐦᑭᐩ ᐚᐏᔨᔮᐤ

Solomon Ratt said he needed to make up a Cree word for this widespread First Nations concept that appears everywhere in contemporary writing and imagery. Almost every First Nations organization bases its logo on some form of the medicine wheel.


In its simplest form, the medicine wheel is a circle divided into quadrants that may honour the four directions, the four seasons, and four stages of life as equally important parts of the continuous cycle of life. Different regions may fill the quadrants with different colours, but the symbolism remains much the same, whether the wheel is beaded, quilled, painted or feathered.

While “medicine wheel” may not be part of traditional Cree vocabulary, stone medicine wheels that are be found across the plains speak to the depth of ancient First Nations traditions.

Our photo here is of Manitoba’s Alonsa Medicine Wheel, thought to be the most eastern ancient example. Thanks to Kevin Gamble for the sharing this photo (that’s me at the far side), but also for masterminding the tour of Manitoba’s sacred sites last summer that took me to see them for the very first time.


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