ithiniw-simâkanisihkânak / Indian Veterans: Solomon Ratt (th-dialect)

A new poem (2017) by Solomon Ratt to recognize the sacrifice of Indigenous Veterans, and the shameful treatment they received on their return. 

The Office of the Treaty Commissioner interviewed Sol about the poem, and we quote them here (find the full post here:

Leading up to Remembrance Day this year, Solomon Ratt penned a poem to recognize Indigenous veterans in Canada.

After talking with his niece – a Regina teacher who wanted to add an Indigenous angle to talking about Remembrance Day in the classroom – he searched to see if he could find anything that mentioned Indigenous veterans, but couldn’t.

“So I wrote this poem,” said Ratt, an associate professor of Indigenous languages at First Nations University of Canada.

Ratt said while writing, he was thinking of his relatives; cousins and uncles that had to give up their status rights to be able to enlist in the army because under the Indian Act they were exempt from conscription.

“Our veterans didn’t have to go to war,” he said.

“They didn’t have to go, but they went because they felt it was important to stand with their fellow Canadians.”

However, when his relatives returned from fighting, they weren’t allowed to return home to the reservation because in those days only people with a status card could live on reserve and they had given up those rights, Ratt said.

“I think of those people when Remembrance Day comes around.”

He ensured the poem was not only in English, but Cree to honour the Cree code talkers from the Second World War.

“They ought to be honoured, they ought to be recognized for their contributions,” he said.

ithiniw-simâkanisihkânak / ᐃᖨᓂᐤ ᓯᒫᑲᓂᓯᐦᑳᓇᐠ / Indian Veterans
Salamô omasinahikîwin / ᓴᐣᐊᒨ ᐅᒪᓯᓇᐦᐃᑮᐏᐣ / Written by Solomon Ratt

nîthanân ôma kâ-kî-wanikiskisitotawikawiyâhkᓃᖬᓈᐣ ᐆᒪ ᑳᑮᐘᓂᑭᐢᑭᓯᑐᑕᐏᑲᐏᔮᕽWe were the forgotten
anima kâ-itwâniwik “îkâ wîhkâc ta-waniskisiyahk.”ᐊᓂᒪ ᑳᐃᑤᓂᐏᐠ “ᐄᑳ ᐑᐦᑳᐨ ᑕᐘᓂᐢᑭᓯᔭᕽ᙮”of the ‘lest we forget.’
nîthanân ôma îkâ kâ-nôkosiyâhkᓃᖬᓈᐣ ᐆᒪ ᐄᑳ ᑳᓅᑯᓯᔮᕽWe were the invisible 
cîpayahk iskonikanihk ohci.ᒌᐸᔭᕽ ᐃᐢᑯᓂᑲᓂᕽ ᐅᐦᒋ᙮ghosts from The Rez
namôtha katâc takî-ohci-nitawi-nôtinikiyâhk.ᓇᒨᖬ ᑲᑖᐨ ᑕᑮᐅᐦᒋᓂᑕᐏᓅᑎᓂᑭᔮᕽ᙮We had no obligation to join.
ikwa mîna ohcitaw ta-pakitinamâhk nitaskihkân-akihtâsowininâna.ᐃᑿ ᒦᓇ ᐅᐦᒋᑕᐤ ᑕᐸᑭᑎᓇᒫᕽ ᓂᑕᐢᑭᐦᑳᐣᐊᑭᐦᑖᓱᐏᓂᓈᓇ᙮We had to give up our treaty status.
nikî-nôtinikânân, nikî-nipinân,ᓂᑮᓅᑎᓂᑳᓈᐣ, ᓂᑮᓂᐱᓈᐣ,We fought, we died,
nipîkiskwîwininân nikî-kîmôci-âsowîhtamâkânân.ᓂᐲᑭᐢᑹᐏᓂᓈᐣ ᓂᑮᑮᒨᒋᐋᓱᐑᐦᑕᒫᑳᓈᐣ᙮our language was used for secret messages.
nikî-wîcikâpawîstawânânak kotakak simâkanisihkânak kâ-kî-paskithâkîyâhk.ᓂᑮᐑᒋᑳᐸᐑᐢᑕᐚᓈᓇᐠ ᑯᑕᑲᐠ ᓯᒫᑲᓂᓯᐦᑳᓇᐠ ᑳᑮᐸᐢᑭᖭᑮᔮᕽ᙮We stood side by side with the other soldiers in our victory.
nikî-napatîwîpinikawinân ispî kâ-pî-kîwîyâhk;ᓂᑮᓇᐸᑏᐑᐱᓂᑲᐏᓈᐣ ᐃᐢᐲ ᑳᐲᑮᐑᔮᕽ;We were cast aside when we came back home;
namwâc nikî-ohci-wîcihikawinân tâpiskôc aniki kotakak simâkanisihkânak.ᓇᒹᐨ ᓂᑮᐅᐦᒋᐑᒋᐦᐃᑲᐏᓈᐣ ᑖᐱᐢᑰᐨ ᐊᓂᑭ ᑯᑕᑲᐠ ᓯᒫᑲᓂᓯᐦᑳᓇᐠ᙮we didn’t get the benefits allotted other veterans;
nikwîtatî-wîkinân athisk î-kî-pakitinamâhk nitaskihkân-akihtâsowininâna.ᓂᑹᑕᑏ ᐑᑭᓈᐣ ᐊᖨᐢᐠ ᐄᑮᐸᑭᑎᓇᒫᕽ ᓂᑕᐢᑭᐦᑳᐣᐊᑭᐦᑖᓱᐏᓂᓈᓇ᙮we didn’t know where to live since we gave up our treaty status.
nithanân ôma kâ-kî-wanikiskisitotawikawiyâhkᓂᖬᓈᐣ ᐆᒪ ᑳᑮᐘᓂᑭᐢᑭᓯᑐᑕᐏᑲᐏᔮᕽWe were the forgotten
anima kâ-itwâniwik “îkâ wîhkâc ta-waniskisiyahk.”ᐊᓂᒪ ᑳᐃᑤᓂᐏᐠ “ᐄᑳ ᐑᐦᑳᐨ ᑕᐘᓂᐢᑭᓯᔭᕽ᙮”of the ‘lest we forget.’
nîthanân ôma îkâ kâ-nôkosiyâhk cîpayahk iskonikanihk ohci.ᓃᖬᓈᐣ ᐆᒪ ᐄᑳ ᑳᓅᑯᓯᔮᕽ ᒌᐸᔭᕽ ᐃᐢᑯᓂᑲᓂᕽ ᐅᐦᒋ᙮We were the invisible ghosts from The Rez.

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