Tommy Bird and his Team – thanks to Simon Bird and #CreeSimonSays

Tommy Bird’s FaceBook profile photo, January 2020

Tommy Bird, kitakahkahpicikân! (You have a good team!)

January is prime dog racing season, and this amazing video is the closest I may ever come to travelling by dog team. They sure make it look exciting. Thanks to Simon Bird for sharing these videos of his father Tommy Bird’s team. And thanks to Tommy for his permission too. Those are some beautiful dogs!

Simon Bird recently taught the word otāpāstimīw : he/she runs dogs by sled.
This word is made up of two Cree morphemes: otāpahīw + atim
otāpahīw otīma = he/she runs dogs by sled. This term also applies to horses. The original term was for dogs as this is an older method of transportation for indigenous people and very much part of Cree people’s history.

Kevin Lewis also has some beautiful dogs that are part of the land-based curriculum at ᑳᓂᔮᓯᕁ kâniyâsihk Culture Camps. Maybe in the competitive spirit of dog racing we can challenge him to share some Cree dog vocabulary here (if he ever comes inside!) 

Here are a few terms I found in the online itwêwina dictionary (I know there are many more!) 

Some of the sounds dogs make: 

I’m also adding a few links about dog sledding  (also found via Kevin Lewis): for the technical details and beautiful photos:

Basic instructions on sled driving (from YouTube):


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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