The Cree word for “sacred story” or “myth” is âtayôhkêwin (in y-dialect), âcathôhkîwin (in th-dialect). Wisahkecahk is the protagonist in many of these stories, which often serve to explain some curious aspect of the natural world, or teach some important cultural lesson. Traditionally, stories of Wîsahkêcâhk could only be told when the ground was covered with snow.
This post includes two of Solomon Ratt’s video tellings (from February 2016, and from 15 February 2020), along with transcribed text and translation prepared by Ben Godden, and revised and updated by Solomon Ratt. Scroll down past the transcription to find the second video telling.
Experienced transcribers of English can reach a fairly quick pace of 3 hours for 1 hour of audio. High quality transcription of Cree language audio takes a whole lot longer. This story, told by Solomon Ratt in 2016, was transcribed by Ben Godden, an adult student of Cree, who went one step farther still, and provided a second y-dialect transcript.
Recorded in honour of Aboriginal Story Telling Month, February 2016.
|[th-dialect - Solomon Ratt, as in video)||Translation by Ben Godden||[y-dialect transliteration by Ben Godden]|
|piyakwâw îsa wîsahkîcâhk kî-pah-pimohtîw wâsakâm sâkahikanihk. kâ-wâpamât îsa niska î-âh-ohpahothit ikwa mâna kâwi î-twîhothit. mâmaskâtîw.||Once Wisahkecahk was strolling along, around a lake, when he saw some geese flying up and then landing again. He wondered what they were doing.||pēyakwāw ēsa wīsahkēcāhk kī-pah-pimohtēw wāsakām sākahikanihk. kā-wāpamāt ēsa niska ē-ay-ohpahoyit ēkwa māna kāwī ē-twēhoyit. māmaskātēw.|
|“tânisi ôma î-itahkamikisiyîk, nisîmitik?” isi-kakwîcimîw îsa ôho niska.||“Little brothers, what are you doing?” he asked the geese.||“tānisi ōma ē-itahkamikisiyēk nisīmitik?” isi-kakwēcimēw ēsa ōhi niska.|
|“iyaw, î-takwâkik ôma. wîpac ta-pipon ikwa kita-tâh-tâhkâyâw! ohcitaw poko sâwanohk ta-isi-pimôtîhoyâhk îkâ kita-nipahâskaciyâhk,” itwîw îsa awa piyak niska.||“Well, it's autumn now, but soon it will be winter and very cold. We must travel south so that we don't freeze to death,” one of the geese replied.||“iyaw, ē-takwākik ōma. wīpac ta-pipon ēkwa tāh-tāhkāyāw! ohcitaw piko sāwanohk ta-isi-pimohtēhoyāhk ēkā kita-nipahāskwaciyāhk,” itwēw ēsa awa pēyak niska.|
|“mahti nîsta! kika-wîcîwitinâwâw!” itwîw wîsahkîcâhk.||“Me too! I'll come with you!” said Wisahkecahk.||“mahti nīsta! kika-wīcēwitināwāw!” itwēw wīsahkēcāhk.|
|“mâka wîtha îkâ î-otahtahkwaniyan!” itwîw îsa awa niska.||“… but you don't have any wings,” replied the goose.||“māka wiya ēkā ē-otahtahkwaniyan!” itwēw ēsa awa niska.|
|“hâ, tâpwî-wîspinac!”||“Hmm, truly this is tragic.”||“hā, tāpwē wēspinac!”|
|“haw cîska, kika-mâmawi-wîcihitinân,” itwîw awa niska. nitomîw owâhkômâkana ikwa itîw ta-tah-tahkwamâthit wîsahkîcâhkwa omiyâmithik. ôta tah-tahkwâmik ôho niska: piyak ostikwânihk, ikwa âtiht ospitonihk, ikwa mîna kotakak oskâtihk. ikosi isi-kaskihtâwak ta-pimôhtahâcik ostîsiwâwa, wîsahkîcâhkwa. ispimihk pâskac î-itâpithit ôho, î-sâsakicisinithit.||“Okay, wait. All together we will help you,” said the goose. So the goose called his relatives and told them, using their mouths of course, to grab a hold of Wisahkecahk's body. So the geese did just that: one at his head, a few at his arms and others at his legs. In this way, the geese were able to carry their older brother Wisahkecahk: who was facing upwards, he was on his back.||“hāw, cēskwa, kika-māmawi-wīcihitinān,” itwēw awa niska. nitomēw owāhkōmākana ēkwa itēw ta-tah-tahwamāyit wīsahkēcāhkwa omiyāmiyik. ōta tah-tahkwamik ōhi niska: pēyak ostikwānihk, ēkwa ātiht ospitonihk, ēkwa mīna kotaka oskātihk. ēkosi isi-kaskihtāwak ta-pimohtahācik ostēsiwāwa, wīsahkēcāhkwa. ispimihk pāskac ē-itāpiyit ōhi. ē-sāsakicisiniyit.|
|“kâwitha waskawîw nistîsî,” itîw îsa awa niska ostîsa. “kika-kiciskinitinân kîspin waskawîyani!”||“Don't move older brother,” said the goose; “If you move, we might accidently drop you!”||“ēkāwiya waskawī nistēsē,” itēw ēsa awa niska ostēsa. “kika-kitiskinitinān kīspin waskawīyani!”|
|“hâw, namwâc nika-waskawân,” itwîw îsa wîsahkîcâhk. ikosi ati-sipwîpithâwak ôko niskak, î-tahkonâcik ostîsiwâwa. mithwîthihtam wîsahkîcâhk athisk wîsta sâwanohk î-wî-itôtîhot.||“Okay, I won't move!” Wisahkecahk replied as the geese began to fly away holding on to him, their older brother. Wisahkecahk was glad as he too was going south.||“hāw, namwāc nika-waskawīn.” itwēw ēsa wīsahkēcāhk. ēkosi ati-sipwēpihāwak ōki niskak, ē-tahkonācik ostēsiwāwa. miywēyihtam wīsahkēcāhk ayisk wīsta sāwanohk ē-wī-itohtēhot.|
|kitahtawî kâ-pihtawât iskwîwa î-matwî-môcikihtâkosinithit. kisâstaw î-pakâsimothit, itîthihtam.||Suddenly Wisahkecahk heard some women, and it sounded like they were having fun. “Perhaps they are swimming,” he thought.||kētahtawē kā-pēhtawāt iskwēwa ē-matwē-mōcikihtākosiyit. “kisāstaw ē-pakāsimoyit,” itēyihtam.|
|sîmâk waskawîw, î-kwîskipathihot, î-kakwî-wâpamât anihi iskwîwa. mayaw kâ-waskawît, kâ-kiciskinikot anihi niska.||Quickly he moved, twisting to try to see those women. As soon as he moved, the geese dropped him.||sēmak waskawīw, ē-kwēskipayihot, ē-kakwē-wāpamāt anihi iskwēwa. mayaw kā-waskawīt, kā-kitiskinikot anihi niska.|
|mitoni î-pakastawîsihk ita ôko iskwîwak kâ-pakâsimothit. kwayask pâhpihik!||Wisahkecahk fell right into the water where the women were swimming. Truly they laughed at him.||mitoni ē-pakastawēsihk ita ōki iskwēwak kā-pakāsimoyit. kwayask pāhpihik!|
|ikwâni namwâc sâwanohk ohci itôtîhow wîsahkîcâhk. mâka kiyâpic ôko niskak sâwanohk âh-itôtîhowak tahto-takwâkin ikwa tâpisckôc kiyâpic î-miciminâcik wîsahkîcâhkwa î-isi-pimithâcik.||So Wisahkecahk never made it south but still, when migrating, geese fly in this same formation: as if still holding Wisahkecahk.||ēkwāni namwāc sāwanohk ohci itohtēhow wīsahkēcāhk māka kēyāpic ōki niskak sāwanohk itohtēhowak tahto-takwākin ēkwa tāpiskōc kēyāpic ē-miciminācik wīsahkēcāhk.|