Warning: This story includes what we might call “adult content” in English. Or simply an authentically Cree sense of humour.
Ida Tremblay-pan ī-ācimot nīhithaw ācathōhkāniwin kapīsiwin 2017 mistasiniy sākahikanihk oskāyak-kapīsiwinihk.
The late Ida Tremblay storytelling at the Cree Storytelling Camp 2017 at the Youth Haven, Big Stone Lake, Saskatchewan.
Ida Tremblay was a Cree Elder from La Ronge, Saskatchewan. She raised seven children on the trapline – a five- to six-day journey north of La Ronge by canoe – and taught them the land skills she had learned from her parents. She scraped moose hides in her backyard and shared teachings of traditional life with her community. She was parallel cousin of Solomon Ratt: their mothers were sisters, so he called her ‘nimis (older sister), and she considered our friend Christine Ravenis (who also appears in the video) as a “special daughter”. She passed in January 2019, at the age of 69.
Ida’s memories of the trapline also provided a foundation for the book When We Had Sled Dogs: A Story from the Trapline which she wrote in collaboration with Miram Körner https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/tremblay-book-1.5177799.
This story was transcribed by Ben Godden with help from Solomon Ratt, and compiled in read-along video by Ben Godden. The reading edition of the story below provides a transcript of the Cree along with Ida’s own English re-telling of the story (very lightly edited to fill obvious gaps).
Thanks to Kevin Brousseau for listening with fresh ears and preparing his own transcription and including it in the Cree Mythological Index that he’s building in his own new blog: Cree Myths blog. Kevin’s version of this particular story can be found here here.
|Ida Tremblay: W and his belt. Transcription by Ben Godden||Ida's English re-telling|
|hâw, ikosi.||Okay, then.|
|piyakwâw îsa wîsahkîcâhk î-pimohtît.||Once upon a time Wisahkecahk was walking along.|
|namôtha wîhkâc ohci-pôni-pimohtîw wîsahkîcâhk mâna kâ-âcimikosit.||He never stopped walking as revealed in the stories told about him.|
|ikwa îsa îtikwî î-papimohtît ikwa î-isi-akâwâtahk î-nohtî-miskawât iskwîwa.||And as he was walking along he desired a woman; he wanted to find a woman.|
|î-kaskîthihtahk.||He was lonely.|
|kâ-ati-matâwisit îsa sâkahikanisîsihk.||He comes out of the bush to a little lake.|
|ikwa ikotî î-wâsakâmisit î-pimohtît.||And he was walking in the shoreline –|
|kâ-wâpamât îsa nîtî akâmihk iskwîwa î-matwî-nipâthit.||All of the sudden he saw a across the lake a woman sleeping over there in the shoreline, with her legs open;|
|wahwâ! tânisi mîna! î-wâwanâtihkwâmithit anihi iskwîwa.||Wow! How is this again? Apparently this woman was sleeping in a confused state.|
|hâw ikwâni îsa.||Okay, so it was thus.|
|mâka wîtha îsa wîsahkîcâhk î-kî-pakwahtîhot; ithikohk î-kî-kinwâpîkanithik animîthiw.||But he, Wisahkecahk had a belt, that was a very long belt.|
|ikwâni îsa kâ-âpahahk opakwahtîhon.||So he untied his belt.|
|ikota î-isi-pimipahtâthit sâkwîsiwa;||And there was a mink swimming by there.|
|“iy, nicîmin [slang for nisîm] âstam.” ikwâni kâ-pî-itohtîthit anihi sâkwîsiwa.||He said “Brother, âstam, come!” And the mink come towards him and said “What?”|
|“mahti ôma âsowahôtamowin nîtî akâmihk.||“Take this across the lake.|
|ki-wâpamâw cî nâha iskwîw kâ-matwî-nipât” itîw îsa.||See that woman sleeping across? Take it over there,” he told the mink.|
|ikwâni îsa î-ay-ati-pakitâpîkinâhk îsa wîsahkîcâhk.||So the mink grabbed it and he swam.|
|ati-sipwîhotâthiwa anihi.||Wisahkecahk is letting go the belt I guess.|
|ikwâni îsa aya, ikotî ikwa î-takohtitâwiht aya “îcikân-îsa aya” î-kî-kawâsit mistik ikwa anihi watapiyak aniki ayahk î-pimisihkwâw ikwa î-wâpâsocik taskôc awiyak opwâma.||And then when the mink got there, here it was an old tree fell over; and the roots were sticking out and faded that it looked like lady's, uh, legs… from far.|
|ikosi îsa kâ-itikot anihi sâkwîsiwa “ocitâskayihtakwâw ôho nistîs” î-itwît.||So the mink yelled, “It's a dead tree brother.”|
|“awas mâka,” î-itwît wîsahkîcâhk; kâwi î-isi-ôtâpihkinahk ana kâ-nawatahtamithit ithinikinosîwa.||“Okay, let go then.”|
|papâsiwithik îsa anihi ithinikinosîwa.||So Wisahkecahk is pulling back his belt – a big jackfish got it, and it's pulling him to the, to the water.|
|ikwâni isi sôskwâc isi î-ati-pakastawîpitikot.||And so it is so that it pulled him into the|
|ikwânîsa ôpîhtâsiwinihk kâ-nitonikît; omôhkomânis.||water. So he looked in his pocket for his little knife.|
|papâsi-kîskisam îsa.||He cut it really fast.|
|kanakî “nine” î-itwît îsa.||“As long as I have nine inches,” he said.|
|iyakwîthikohk ohci “nine” ikwa kâ-ayâcik.||And that is why they say they have “nine inches.”|
Does anyone have a cree word for zebra mussels?