Kokum Rap: Maria Campbell, Rita Bouvier, Maxine Roy, Louise Halfe with Zoey Roy

Left-to-right: Maria Campbell, Louise Halfe, Rita Bouvier, Maxine Roy; seated, Zoey Roy

This fabulous video has had nearly 8,000 YouTube views since it was first posted earlier this month. These kokums are going viral (and we can all help)! 

The rap features power-poets and power-kokums: Maria Campbell, Rita Bouvier, Maxine Roy and Louise Halfe, working along with Zoey Roy to create a great reminder of self-acceptance to the younger generation who – by the laws of Cree cultural tradition – are all their grandchildren. 

Special thanks to LaRonge Cree teacher Christine McKenzie, and to Arok Wolvengrey and Jean Okimâsis for providing us text so we can all read along and pretend to be the big iskwêw! And thanks, of course, to these wonderful grandmothers for allowing us to share their words this way. 

Kokum Rap 

môy niyanân nikostênân,
môy niyanân nisêkisinân;
môy niyanân nikostênân,
môy niyanân nisêkisinân.

We can swing our hips and roll our joints
We can grease our knees and flip our hair
We can pucker our lips and make you kîskwêw
Kokums aren’t afraid of being the big iskwêw

môy niyanân nikostênân,
môy niyanân nisêkisinân;
môy niyanân nikostênân,
môy niyanân nisêkisinân.

kayâs mâna nimôcikihtânân
Hank Williams nikî-môskomikonân
The moon just went behind the clouds
I’m so lonesome I could cry

When we rock ’n rolled with Elvis
We owned ourselves,
ê-kî-tipêyimisoyâhk. ê-kî-tipêyimisoyâhk!
nitohta, iskwêwak!
ê-kî-tipêyimisoyâhk, we owned ourselves.

môy niyanân nikostênân,
môy niyanân nisêkisinân;
môy niyanân nikostênân,
môy niyanân nisêkisinân.

We never scream “shut the music off”
Because we hear your message
And we like your beat
And now you dance to the beat of the drum
(waniskâ, pê-wâpan ôma)

môy niyanân nikostênân,
môy niyanân nisêkisinân;
môy niyanân nikostênân,
môy niyanân nisêkisinân.

nôhkomak, nimosômak, kahkiyaw niwâhkômâkanak,
pasikôk, kwêyâhok, kwêyâhok, kwêyâhok!

On with the music, and pick up the beat
Dance! nîmihitok, on your feet!
On with the music, and pick up the beat
Dance! nîmihitok, on your feet!

môy niyanân nikostênân,
môy niyanân nisêkisinân;
môy niyanân nikostênân,
môy niyanân nisêkisinân.

Cree-English Translation guide

Kokum – grandmother* 
môy niyanân nikostênân – we are not afraid (of it)
môy niyanân nisêkisinân – we are not scared
kîskwêw – crazy
iskwêw – woman
kayâs mâna nimôcikihtânân – we used to have fun
Hank Williams nikî-môskomikonân – Hank Williams made us cry
ê-kî-tipêyimisoyâhk – we owned ourselves
nitohta, iskwêwak – listen, women
waniskâ, pê-wâpan ôma – arise, it’s coming dawn
nôhkomak, nimosômak – my grandmothers, my grandfathers
kahkiyaw niwâhkômâkanak – all of my relatives
pasikôk, kwêyâhok – stand up, be ready
nîmihitok – dance

*Kokum is the English version/spelling of the Cree word for grandmother that was chosen by the writers. The Cree word kôhkom (as we spell it in SRO) literally means “your grandmother,” but when it’s borrowed into English, it can mean anybody’s grandmother. 

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.
This entry was posted in Audio (y-dialect), Identity, Video. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Kokum Rap: Maria Campbell, Rita Bouvier, Maxine Roy, Louise Halfe with Zoey Roy

  1. Dale Worme says:

    I was very impressed!! Excellent video.

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