Big Skunk, 2017, 2021 (th-dialect) – an âtayôhkêwin (Sacred Story)

 

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, but in this case, our “hero” is the Big Skunk.

Solomon Ratt told this story at the 2017 Storytelling Camp, where transcription and video captioning were provided by Ben Godden; reading edition (text and translation) edited by Solomon Ratt (2021). Sol gave a second video performance via Zoom on 8 February 2021, which is also included here (scroll way down!)

Big Skunk (2017)Big Skunk
hâw, mahti îsa nika-âtotâw awa piyak pisiskiw. kâ-kî-papâmi-nipahât kotaka pisiskiwa. misti-sikâk awa itâw: misi-sikâk. kikiskisin? mahti îsa î-kikiskisiniyân iyako âcimowin misi-sikâk.Okay, let’s see, I will tell a story about this one animal. He went about killing other animals. He is called Big Skunk. Big Skunk. Do you remember? Let’s see if I remember that story, Big Skunk.
iyako anima.That’s the one.
kayâs ôma î-kî-kakwâtaki-tahki-pipohk kî-kitimâkan pokw-îta, ita ôko pisiskiwak kâ-pimâhkamikisicik. ê-kî-ati-kwîta-mîcisocik – î-kî-ati-kwîta-mîcicik kîkway. ikwa kî-mâmawapiwak ôma.A long time ago, there was a very severe winter everywhere, where these animals were living. They began to run out of food – they couldn’t find anything to eat. They gathered together to decide what they were going to do.
“tânisi ôma kâ-wî-itôtamahk îkâ kîkway awasimî î-miskimahk ta-mîciyahk,” itwîwak.“What are we going to do since we can no longer find food to eat?” they said.
“hâw ohcitaw poko ta-âhtôtîhoyahk. ikosi ta-nitawi-miskamahk mîciwin nânitaw itî. ikota kika-pimôtîhonaw. mâka kita-piyâhtakisiyâhk poko wîtha athisk misi-sikâk ôma î-papâmahkamikisit î-pâmi-nipahât pisiskiwa,” ikosi îsa itwîwak.“Okay, we'll have to go to another land. That way we can find food somewhere. We’ll travel over there. But we have to be careful because Big Skunk is going about killing animals,” they said.
ikwa awa piyak anikwacâs itwîw. “ah, nîtha nika-nîkânipahtân ikota ohci nika-nitawi-asawâpamâw misi-sikâk. ikwa kika-wah-wîhtamâtinâwâw ispî ta-pî-itohtîyîk.”This one squirrel said, “I will run ahead and from there I will look for Big Skunk. I will tell you when you can come over.”
hâw ikosi itasiwîwak. ikwâni ikota âhci-sipwîhtîwak, ati-sipwîhôtîhowak. ikwa mâna ôta anikwacâs mistikohk ohci î-papâmi-kwaskohtit. itî î-nitawi-âsawâpamât anihi anita aya misi-sikâkwa. ikwa mâna pâ-pîhôwak ôko pisiskiwa kâ-pimôtîhocik.So that is what they decided. And they travel on from there, they started to travel on. The squirrel jumped from tree to tree, to scout ahead for Big Skunk. They'd stop and wait for the squirrel to signal.
kîtahtawî mâna anikwacâsa kâ-pîhtawâcik: “ttta ttta ttta.” ikwâni mâna kâ-ati-sipwîhtîcik. ikwâni kapî ikosi ati-itahkamikisiwak; pâh-pîhîwak mâna. ikwa mâna anikwacâsa kâ-matwî-itwîthit: “ttta ttta ttta.” ikwâni kîhtwâm sipwîtîwak.Every now and then the squirrel goes: “trrr trrr trrr.” And then off they went. So that is how they travelled all through the forest. They would wait for squirrel’s signal before they ventured further. “Trrr trrr trrr” And once again they were off!
hay, kinwîsk kâ-pimôtîhocik.They travelled for a long time.
ikwa kîtahtâwî poko kâ-pîhtawâcik ôho anihi anikwacâsa: “ttta ttta ttta ttta,” î-isi-kisîwîthit. hay kipihcîwak î-pîhâcik ta-pî-itohtîthit.Suddenly they heard the Squirrel “trr, trrr!” trill loudly! They stopped to wait for him to make his report.
“âh,” anikwacâs itwîw, anikwacâs î-kî-itwît, “awa misi-sikâk ôtî nimâtâhâw ikotî awa pimahkamikisiw! ohcitaw poko pîtos- itî kita-ati-itôtîhoyahk kita-ati-pimohtîyahk.“Ah,” said the squirrel. “I saw Big Skunk's trail up ahead so we had better go somewhere else, to walk there.”
ikwâni ikota ohci itasiwîwak niyo pisisiwak kita-nitawi-nakiskawâcik ôho ôta misi-sikâkwa ikota ohci. pîtos itî kita-ati-itohtahâcik ikota ohci. ikwâni ikota, ikosi: maskwa awa, awa wâpos, omithahcîs, ikwa mîna anikwacâs, niyo~ niyowak ikota, kita-ati-sipwîhtîcik ikota ohci.So they decided that a group of them will go one way and four of them will go and meet the big skunk and ward him off from the rest of the animals. So the four of them, a bear, a rabbit, a wolverine, and the squirrel – would go ahead from there.
ikwa kotakak aniki anita pisiskiwak î-pî-isi-itôtîhocik. ikwâni ikota, î-ati-sâh-sipwîhtîhothit awa misi-sikâk î-pî-mâtâhât ôho ôta pisiskiwa.The other animals travelled on a different trail. And there, where they had parted Big Skunk came upon their trail.
î-pasot; “hmmm, pisiskiwak ôta pima~ pimohtîwak, wahwâ nika-mîcison!” itwîw.He sniffs, “Hmmm, animals walked here. Wow! I'm going to eat lots,” he said.
hay, sâsay î-paswât ôho ôta pisiskiwa ikota; “hmm, nika-mîcison kwayask! mahti mâskoc namwâc mâka nimaskawisân” itwîw îsa.Hey, he already smelled these animals there. “Hmm, I'm going to eat a lot! Hmm, but maybe I'm not powerful enough,” he said.
ikwâni ikota “nîkân nika-kôcihtân mahti îsa nipwîkitowin î-kî-maskawâk” itwîw.And there, “First I am going to try to see if my farts is strong,” he said.
ikota ati-asihtîw. kîskatahikan wâpahtam ikwa wîtha “pôm!” kâ-pwîkitot. mitoni î-nisiwanâcihtât animîthiw kîskatahikan misiwî î-isi-pahkitîk anima.He walks backward. He sees a stump and he puts his rear towards the stump he fart. “boom!” He destroys the stump, It explodes all over the place.
hay! ati-mamihcihisow awa misti-sikâk, “hâ! nimaskawisân.”And he's proud of himself. “Ha! I'm powerful!”
kî-ati-pimitisahwêw ôho ôta kotaka pisiskiwa. kîtahtawî poko wâposa kâ-wâpamât. wâpos omisi itwît: (sound of sticking tongue out) î-nanôthacihât.Then he follows the other animals. All of a sudden he sees a rabbit. Rabbit teases him thus (sticks tongue out with hands to ears.)
ikwa ikota ohci misi-sikâk sipwîhtîw pimitisahwîw ôho wâposa ikota ohci. ikwa tahtwâw mâna mwîhci kâ-wî-kâhcitinât ikota ohci, anikwacâs mistikohk ohci pimosinâtîw wasaskwîtoya anihi anita misi-sikâkwa î-ati-tâwistikwânîhwât ikwa ikosi îsa ati-itahkamikisiwak, ati-nakacipahîwak.Then Big Skunk leaves there following the rabbit. Every time when he would just about catch him the squirrel would throw pinecones at him hitting him on the head. And that is what they were doing. They left him behind.
ah, ikwa kîhtwâm awa ôta misi-sikâk kî-itwîw “tânisi î-maskawisîyân?” ay, ikwâni mahti kîhtwâm! wâpahtam, wâpahtam amisko-wîstî. ikota ati-asihtîw. mahti îsa, “pôk!”Once again Big Skunk thinks, “Maybe I'm not powerful enough.” Then he sees a beaver lodge. He backs up toward it rock, so he says “hmm, let's see.” Boom!
ha! wahwâ! ikwâni î-nisowanâcihtât anima amisko-wîstî. mitoni î-maskawisît.Ha! Holy! He destroyed the beaver lodge. He is powerful.
“ah kwayask nimaskawisân!” itwîw.“Ha! I am powerful,” he says.
ati-sipwî-pimitisahwîw ikwa mîna ôta. ah, kîtahtâwî kâ-wâpamât wâposa; ati-pimitisahwēw iyakoni mîna. ikwa mîna anikwacâs pimosinâtîw î-wâh-wanâhât anihi anita misi-sikâkwa. ikwa kipihcîw pitamâ; osâm î-wîsakistikwânît. ikwâni ikota.And off he goes runs after the rabbit. Again he sees the rabbit; he chases it. Once again squirrel throws things at him, slowing Big Skunk’s progress. He stops for a bit. His head is sore…and there,
“mahti ahpô itokî nimaskawisân?”“Let’s see if I am strong?”
ikwâni ikota ohci, ikwa mîna wâpahtam waciy. iyakwîthiw “ôma kwayask! nikocitân, mahti îsa” - pôk!And sets off from there. He sees a hill. “This is right. I will try, let’s see,” Boom!
ha! waciy kâ-nisowanâchtât, î-pahkitîthik: pôm!
ikwâni, “ah, kwayask nimaskawisân” itwîw.There! “Ah, I am very strong,” he says.
î-ati-pimitisahwât ikwa mîna ôho wâposwa. ah, kîtahtawî poko mistikohk, wâkinâhtikohk ohci, kâ-kwâskohtâkot ôho ôta omithahcîsa. î-tahkwamikot ociskîhk ôta; ociskîhk î-kî-tahkwamikot.He chases the rabbit. Now there was a tree, a tamarack, and from the tamarack wolverine jumped on Big Skunk. Wolverine bites har on Big Skunk’s rear end.
“misi-sikâk ôta, nikipociwîhpwâw ôta,” î-itwît îsa.“I’ve got Big Skunk here, I’ve closed his rear!”
ikota î-kakwî-pwîkitot awa ôta misti-sîkak, mâka namwâc kaskihtâw wîtha athisk ~ iwako ôta wîskacânis~ -wiskâcânis? ?? – awîna?There Big Skunk tries to let go a fart but he is unable to do so because this ~~ wîskacânis??~~
Christine: omithahcîs Christine: “Wolverine!”
omithahcîs î-tahkwamât okohcâkihk – ikota î-kakwî-pwîkitot awa: î-ati-misikitit. âhci poko.Wolverine bites him on the rear.
“misi-sikâk ôta nikipocowîhpwâw ôta.”“I’ve got Big Skunk here, I’ve closed his rear!”
î-ati-misikitit. î-ati-ohpît. ispimihk î-ispathit! tâpiskôc omisi isi î-ati-wâwiyîsit, î-kakwî-pwîkitot mâka namwâc kaskihtâw wîtha athisk omithahcîs î-tahkwamât okohcâkihk âhci poko.He is getting big. He begins to rise up. He is rising up! Just like this (puts hands in a circle) he is getting round. He tries to fart but he can’t because wolverine still has a bite on his rear end.
ikwa kîtahtawî awa maskwa kâ-pî-itohtît. kâ-pakamahwât misi-sikâkwa. mitoni î-pahkisot: pôm! misiwî opasowin ispathithow. ikwa mitoni awa ôta omithahcîs anihi mistahi misi-sikâkwa opasowin, ikota opwîkitowin oskîsikohk î-kipi-~ îkâ î-kî-wâpit, î-kipipâpit.All of a sudden bear comes over. He hits Big Skunk. He exploded, Boom! His stink went all over. Wolverine got most of Big Skunks smelly explosion on him as it farted on his eyes. He can’t see. He is blind.
ikota namwâc kaskihtâw ta-wâpit “mahti îsa, mahti îsa. itwahon itî isi sâkahikan kâ-astîk. ikwa ikotî nika-ispahtân” itîw owîcîwâkana.He is unable to see, ‘Please point me in the direction of the lake. I will run over there,” he says to his companions.
ikwa kahkithaw kâ-wîhcîkisicik (iyakonik pisiskiwak) anohc kâ-kîsikâthik.
ikwani ôta ohci sipwîpahtâw ikwathikohk. sipwîhpahtâw awa omithahcîs. kîtahtawî poko kâ-tâwistikwânîsihk.So he ran off from there. The wolverine runs off. All of a sudden he hits his head on something.
“awîna kîtha?” kâ-itât.“Who are you?”
“âh, minahik.”“minahik.” [Play on words: minahik can mean "pine tree" or “give us a drink:” but he heard “give me a drink.”]
“âh, namôtha kîkway nîpiy nitayân?” itwîw. “Ah, I have no water,” he says.
ikwâni, âhci poko, kâ-ati-sipwîpahtât kâ-tâwistikwânîsihk ikwa mîna, “pôm!”So he continues running through the woods and runs into another tree.
“awîna kîtha?”“Ouch, who are you?”
“mîtos.”“mîtos” (an aspen: a poplar tree.)
“âh, namôtha kîtha kâ-nityawîthimitân.”“ah! Oh, not you, you are not who I want.”
kiyapic âhci poko sipwîpahtâw. kîtahtawî kâ-tâwistikwânîsihk ikwa mîna: “pôm!”And so off he goes running, and runs into another tree: boom!
“awîna kîtha?”'Who are you?”
“waskway.”“waskway” (a birch tree)
“âh, namôtha kîtha.”“Ah, not you.'
ikwâni âhci poko papâmipahtâw. kîtahtawî poko kâ-tâwistikwânîsihk.And he keeps running and he runs into another tree.
“awîna kîtha?”“Who are you?”
“nîpisiy.”“nîpisiy” (a willow).
“âh kîtha kâ-nitawîthimitân! iyako! kisiwâk nipihk î-ayâyan.”“Oh! It's you. You are near water.”
ikwâni ikota tâpwîpokâni sipwîpahtâw î-pakastawî-pahkisihk. ikota ohci sîpîkinisow, kinwîsk sîpîkinisow. ikwa mitoni î-ati-wîhcîkanithik animîthiw nipiy ita kâ-sîpîkinisot. So he leaves right away and runs right into the water. There he washes himself of all this skunk smell; and he washes and washes and washes. And that water got so stinky.
ikwa î-ati-wînipîk anima anita ikwa kâyitwîhk!In Cree “wînipîk” means stinky water.
ikota ohci kâ-isithihkatîk iyako sâkahikan wînipîk: wînipîk sâkahikan. ithikohk î-isi-wîhcîkahk iyako sâkahikan.So that is how Lake Winnipeg got its name; from the Big Skunk smell.

8 February 2021

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