Cree dialogue from NFB Film The Red Dress: Wayne Jackson (y-dialect)

Thanks to Wayne Jackson for permission to share this good work originally posted in the FaceBook group Nêhiyawêwin (Cree) Word of the Day on May 10, 2018.

The film can be viewed online, or purchased as dvd from the National Film Board.

The NFB synopsis:

Kelly is a non-status Indian, best suited, it seems, to a traditional outdoors lifestyle. His daughter, Theresa, is proud of the ways of her people, but she is also drawn to the world of the white man. The Red Dress tells a story of conflicting loyalties: of the glorious past and the demands of the present day, and of traditional values and family affections.

Here’s what Wayne says:

skwâc namoya nikî-nipân, so I made myself useful. I remember showing this to my nêhiyawêwin classes. It is about 40 years since it was made and I love the nêhiyawêwin that’s spoken by the late Sam Sinclair (from Slave Lake) and the old woman who I’m calling nohkom.

I broke down their dialogue in SRO, it’s a good study for new speakers. The dialogue is already translated to akayâsîmowin. Time has been also stamped for speeding up the parts where nêhiyawêwin is being used.

I love the way ‘macistikwânê‘ is used by both the nohkom and Sam, it can have both negative and positive qualities in a person.

nohkom (0:28)

takî-nitawi-osihacik aniki amiskwayânisak êkwa. (ki)pâpâ ôma kiyipa ta-takohtêt.
You’d better work on those muskrats. Your father will be home soon.
[lit., little beaver pelts]

hêy, hêy, pihtaw ê-macistikwânêyan, namoya ôma êkosi takî-itohtaman.
Hey, what’s the matter? You never listen.
[lit., My, my (exasperated) you don’t listen, you shouldn’t do that.]

Sam (12:17)

I understand that, but pêyahtik cî kâkî-pîkiskwâtitin ôma kâ-nêhiyawêyahk? namoya êwako anima wâpiskiwiyâs kiskinohamâtowikamikohk kâ-kî-kiskinohamâkawiyahk. ôki âtiht ayisiyiniwak kâ-wît-atoskêmakwâw, kipêhtên êtikwê mâna Beaverbones ê-itwêhk? Well êwakonik ayisiyiniwak mitoni pêyahtik pimâtisiwak. namoya pakosêyimêwak awiya…aya ohci okimâkahinihk ka-nîsôkamâkotwâw. nawac ê-macistikwânêtwâw tâpiskôc ôma kiya, mâka nikêcinâhon kîspin ka-wît-atoskêmiyan kâ-nitohtâkwak pêyahtik…wiy..nikêhcinâhon kâkî-nîsôkamawâwak. kinisitohtên?

Let me talk to you quietly – for we are brothers. That is something we never learned in the white man’s school. You know the people I work with. Like old Beaverbones and his people. Well, they live a very traditional life. They don’t want anything from the government. They are stubborn, proud and independent, like you. If you and I work together, I’m sure that they would listen. We could get them a fair deal. Do you understand?

nohkom (20:42)

(ki)kiskisin cî anima maskihkiy kimosôm kâkî-miyisk? ta-âpacihtâyan mîna ta-nisitohtaman anima. mihcêt ôma iyiniwak ê-wanihocik. ê-kakwê-pimitisahwâcik aniki môniyâwa, êwako ohci aniki kâ-wanihocik. êkwa ôma atoskêwin kâ-otinaman, poko anima ta-maskawisiyan ta-wîcihacik. ana wiya oskinîkiw kâ-mâmiskômat, ê-kitimâkisicik, êkosi mîna ê-nitawêyihtahkik ta-wîcihacik. kiya anima ka-wîcihacik nêkân.

You remember grandfather and the old spiritual way. That’s good, but you must accept the old way before you can use it. Many of our people are lost, they try to follow the white man’s ways. In this new job, you must be spiritually strong, to be of any help. That young man in the bar is desperate; like many young people he is searching. You are an elder now. Your grandfather gave you his pipe and medicine bundle. Use them well and help our people.

Theresa (24:44)

niwî-sipwêhtân, kohkom.

I want to run away, kohkom.

nohkom (25:27)

otâkosihk ôta ê-apiyan, ê-wihtamawiyan kimosôm ê-kiskisiyan, konita êcikâna ê-kî-pîkiskwêyan. kitânis êtikwê êkwa ê-wanihat, ayisk kiya ê-macistikwânêyan.
niyâ nikosis, nâs kitôspwâkan, kâkîsimo, êkosi anima poko kitânis ka-isi-kâcitinâw, êkosi nika-nanâskomon.

Yesterday you talked about grandfather and the old ways. You spoke in words, but not from the heart. Yes you have lost your daughter, and it’s your own doing. Go my son, smoke your pipe and talk to your creator. I will talk to him too. I will ask for strength for all of us.

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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