National Aboriginal History Month Day Twenty-four: iyiniw-kiskêyihcikêwin

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 Twenty-four, the phrase is Indigenous Knowledge:

iyiniw-kiskêyihcikêwi / ᐃᔨᓂᐤ ᑭᐢᑫᔨᐦᒋᑫᐏ

Indigenous Knowledge is a little tough to define, so I’m quoting a paragraph from Unesco:

Indigenous knowledge is the local knowledge that is unique to a culture or society. Other names for it include: ‘local knowledge’, ‘folk knowledge’, ‘people’s knowledge’, ‘traditional wisdom’ or ‘traditional science’. This knowledge is passed from generation to generation, usually by word of mouth and cultural rituals, and has been the basis for agriculture, food preparation, health care, education, conservation and the wide range of other activities that sustain societies in many parts of the world.

Tough to define – and tough to capture in a photo! This is why the CBC video that appeared in my Facebook feed this morning seemed like a particularly appropriate gift for me to share. It was headed, “Walking Out Ceremony @ Eastmain, Eeyou Istchee, June 24, 2015… The Tradition continues…”

This ceremony is celebrated in the Cree communities on both sides of James Bay, but I’m not aware if it is followed in more southern or western communities. In it, the community comes together to celebrate a baby’s first steps on mother earth, dressed and equipped as a miniature version of their adult self. For the babies, it is a joyful (if perplexing!) introduction to their place in the continuous transmission of Indigenous Knowledge.

Screen grab from CBC video


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