Wisahkecahk and the Dogs: Solomon Ratt, 2016, 2021 (th-dialect)

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. This short and funny traditional story clears up a small but perpetual mystery about dogs.

Solomon Ratt recorded this story in February 2016. Scroll down to find corresponding text and translation (dated 2019). To hear (and see) Sol’s 2021 telling (recorded via Zoom on 1 February 2021), scroll all the way down, past the table.

wîsahkîcâhk ikwa atimwaWisahkecahk and the dogs (2019 transcription)
kayâs îsa, ôk-ôta atimwak kî-mâmawapiwak wîtha athisk ôma î-nohtî-mâmioskôtahkwâw kâ-isi-kitimahikocik wîsahkîcâhkwa. ikwa mâna kâ-pîhtokîcik ôta mâmawipowinihk – î-kî-misâk anima mîkiwahp ita kâ-kî-mâmawapicik – ikwa ôko atimwak kâ-ati-pah-pîhtokîcik ikota mâna ohcitaw poko kita-akotâcik osôsowâwa iskwâhtîmihk, cîki iskwâhtîmihk.Long ago, these dogs met because they wanted to discuss how Wisahkecahk abuses them. When they entered the meeting – it was a big tipi where they were meeting– and when these dogs entered they had to hang their tails by the door, near the door.
ikwa wîtha awa wîsahkîcâhk kî-pîhtam îsa ôma kâ-itahkamikisithit atimwa. îh! nâcithôstawîw, î-nitawi-nitohtawât tânisi ôma î-itahkamikisithit, tânisi î-itikot. ikwâni îsa ikota ohci kâ-pîhtawât. mitoni mistahi î-âcimikot, tânisi ô kâ-isi-kâh-kitimahât.And this Wisahkecahk heard what these dogs were doing. Ah, he sneaks up on them, he’s going to go hear what they were doing, what it is they say about him. It was from there that he heard them telling a lot of stories about him, how he mistreats them.
mmm, î-mâmitonîthihtahk “tânisi îtokî ta-kî-itôtawakwâw ôko atimwak,” î-itîthihtahk. îh, kîtahtawî poko, “tâpwî! Ikosi ta-mithwâsin!”Hmmm, so he thinks of what to do, “What shall I do to these dogs?’ he thinks. “Hey! True! That would be good!”
ikwâni ikota ohci, “iskotîw! pasitîw! pasitîw!” î-tîpwît.And from there “Fire! There’s a fire! There’s a fire!” he shouts!
ikwâni ikota atimwak aspin î-wâthawîpahtâcik anitamîkiwahpihk ohci. ikwa ispî kâ-ati-wathawîpahtâcik osôsowâwa mâna î-ati-otihtinahkwâw ikwa î-astâcik ospiskwaniwahk. ikwâni ikotî î-isi-kwahcipahtâcik.And the dogs ran out from there, from the tipi. And as they were running out they grabbed their tails and put it to their backsides. And that is how they ran off!
iyak-ohci anohc kiyâpic kiwâpamânawak atimwak î-pâh-pasocik osôsiwâwa.That is why to this day we still see the dogs smelling each other’s tails.
“mmm, (sniff, sniff,) nisôs cî kitayân?”“mmm, sniff, sniff. Do you have my tail?’
âhci poko anohc kika-wâpamânawak atimwak ikosîsi î-itahkamikisicik.To this day we see the dogs still doing that.
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