I am grateful that a beautiful new bilingual Cree/English book found its way to me this week, thanks to author Jean Miso, and Dolores Greyeyes Sand: ninanâskomon!
The book is titled The Rainbow: A Plains Cree Story interpreted by Jean Miso. Each two-page spread includes a story segment in English and in Plains Cree (including both syllabics and SRO).
This traditional Cree story ties together the colours of the rainbow with gratitude for all of creation. It was gifted to Jean (in English) by Plains Cree Elder and second World War veteran James “Smokey” Tomkins, during her travels in the West, interviewing Indigenous war heroes (for another book).
Tomkins lives in Grouard, Alberta, where he was born. He chose to entrust Jean with the story he had been gifted in Cree some 60 years earlier by Magloire Cardinal, also of the area. Smokey’s photo in the book looked oddly familiar to me, and I was delighted to find his name in the credits of the biographical documentary of his brother, Cree Code Talker Charlie “Checkers” Tomkins.
To honour Indigenous veterans’ concern for language preservation, Jean had her own re-telling translated into Plains Cree by Dolores Greyeyes Sand, and illustrated by Darrell Doxdator, who is also Veteran, and member of the Tuscarora Nation in southern Ontario.
The final result is a beautiful hard-cover, full-color book, suitable for Cree language learners of any age. This book is a beautiful gift for anyone with an interest in Cree language and culture, and profits are committed to Indigenous language revitalization.