Flanders yikwahaskānihk : “In Flanders Fields”

Thanks to the Office of the Treaty Commissioner for sharing this video of Dolores Sand’s reading in Cree of this important annual remembrance. The full text is given below, followed by Neal McLeod’s comments on the vocabulary.

Public Domain Image

In Flanders Fields by John McCrae is perhaps the most beloved war poem ever written. We share it here in honour of Cree-speaking veterans of many wars.
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 Thanks to Jean Okimāsis and Arok Wolvengrey for sharing their Plains Cree translation, based on the Woods Cree translation by Minnie McKenzie. 
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Flanders yikwahaskānihk wāh-wēpāstanwa wāpikwaniya
tastawāyihk pimitāskwahikana kā-nāh-nīpitēstēki
ta-kiskinawācihtāhk ita kā-pimisiniyāhk; ēkwa kīsikohk
aniki ē-sōhkē-nikamocik piyēsīsak ē-pimihācik
ētataw pēhtākosiwak iyikohk ē-māh-matwēwēhk askīhk.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

onakataskēwak niyanān.  namōya māka kayās
nikī-pimātisinān, nikī-mōsihtānān kā-sākāstēk, nikī-wāpahtēnān kā-pahkisimok.
nikī-sākihiwānān mīna nikī-sākihikawinān, māka ēkwa nipimisininān
ōta Flanders yikwahaskānihk.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

kiyawāw ēkwa naskwāhihkok kinōtinākaniminawak
ē-kī-sākōcihikoyāhkik, kitāsōnamātinān
iskotēw; ohpinamok ēkwa kiyawāw.
kīspin ānwēhtawiyāhki niyanān kā-nakataskēyāhk,
namwāc nika-aywēpinān, āta ē-ohpikiki wāpikwaniya
ōta Flanders yikwahaskānihk.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

First published here November 2013.

Update November 2015: Vocabulary to accompany this poem, courtesy of Neal McLeod:

vocabulary for “In Flanders Fields”

yikwâshaskân – field [also kistikan. field]
wêpâstan – to be thrown about by the wind
wâpikwaniya – flowers
tastawâyihk – between
pimitâskwahikan – cross [also miywâhtik]
nîpitê – to be a row
kiskinawâcihtâ – to mark, to point
pimisini – to lay down
mâka – but, and
kîsik – sky
aniki – those ones
sôhkê – preverb, strongly loud
nikamo – to sing
piyêsîs – bird
pimihâ – to fly
êtataw – scarce, barely
pêhtakosiwi – to be heard
iyikokohk – until, up to
matwêwê – for a gun to sound
askiy – earth, ground, dirt
onakastaskêwak – the ones who have left the earth [nakast- leave, askiy. earth], the dead
niyanân – us, we
namôya – not
kayâs – a long time ago
kî – past tense marker
pimâtisi – to live
môsihtâ – to feel, to sense
sâkâstê – to come into view
wâpahta – to see something
kâ-pahkisimok – sunset
sâkihiw – to love
mîna – and
sâkihikawi – to be loved
ôta – here
kiyawâw – you
êkwa – and
naskwâhih – *need to think of a proper translation for this word
nôtinâkan – foe [someone who one fights]
sâkôcih – to defeat, to overcome someone
âsônam – to put one’s hands out to receive an offering, to receive something by hand
iskôtêw – fire [torch]
ohpinam – to hold something high by hand
kîspin – if
ânwêhtawi – to break faith
namwâc – no, not
aywêpi – to rest
âta – although
ohpik – to grow

About Arden Ogg

Arden Ogg is Director of the Cree Literacy Network, launched in 2010 with the goal of creating Cree language literacy materials suitable for use by learners of all ages.
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