Wisahkecahk Eats his own Scab, 2016, 2019, 2020: Solomon Ratt (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, or teach some important cultural lesson. Traditionally, stories of Wîsahkêcâhk were only to be told when the ground was covered with snow.

The story of how Wisahkecahk eats his own scab reminds us that not everything that falls in our path is a gift from the creator.

This post also includes an audio recording (recorded via Zoom) on Winter Solstice 2020, along with transcribed text and translation from 2019.

The following table presents the story in written form, side by side with English translation. Read along, and watch for the ways the oral telling(s) follow (and depart from) the written version. (Scroll past the table to find 2020 video):

wîsahkîcâhk omikiy mîciwWisahkecahk Eats His Scab
namôtha kahkithaw kîkway kâ-miskamahk kimîskanâminâhk î-mîthikoyahkwâw kimosôminawak.Not all things we find on our road are gifts from the grandfathers.
piyakwâw îsa wîsahkîcâhk mihcît sîsîpa kî-nipahîstamâsow. kî-pihkinîw anihi sîsîpa. ikota kî-ati-kotawîw.Once Wisahkecahk had killed many ducks for himself. He cleaned those ducks then he made a fire.
“âh, kwayask niwî-misi-mîcison,” itîthihtam.“Ah, I am really going to eat lots,” he thinks.
ikwâni ikota ohci âtiht ati-nâh-nawacîw. miscikosa î-âpacihtât ta-nawacît ikota kotawânihk. ikwa anihi sîsîpa âtiht î-wâh-wîwîkinât nîpiya î-âpacihtât ikwa mîna asiskiy. ikwa sîhkwahkinîw, sîpâ iskotihk î-ahthât iyakoni sîsîpa. ikwâni ati-kîsisowak sîsîpak. wîsahkîcâhk pah-pîhow. mitoni ati-îskaci-pîhow.There he began to roast some of those ducks. He used sticks to roast them over the fire. And some of those ducks he wrapped in leaves and also in clay. He put those ducks under the ashes, under the fire. The ducks began to cook. Wisahkecahk waits. He gets tired of waiting.
“âh, sôskwâc pitamâ niwî-nipâsin,” itwîw. “mahti, kohcâk!’ itwîw, î-wî-atotahk ôma okohcâk. “Ah, I may as well take a nap for now,” he says. “Let’s see, hey! Rear-end!” he says, asking his rear-end to do something for him.
“kohcâk! koskonihkan ispî sîsîpak kîsisotwâwi!” itwîw îsa. ikwâni ati-nipâw ikota.“Rear-end! Wake me up when the ducks are done cooking!” he says. He goes to sleep there.
kîtahtawîw okohcâk kâ-pihtâkwanithik “pôk! pôk!”Suddenly his rear-end makes a sound. “Poke! Poke!”
âhcipoko awa wîsahkîcâhk kâ-nah-nipât.Still Wisahkecahk sleeps on.
“pôk! pôk!”“Poke! Poke!”
âhcipoko awa wîsahkîcâhk kâ-nah-nipât îkâ î-pihtahk okohcâk.Still Wisahkecahk sleeps on not hearing his rear-end.
kîtahtawî awa kâ-waniskât. kanawâpahtam okotawân. wahwâ! î-mîstâskasothit îsa ôho sîsîpa osâm kinwîsk î-kî-nipât. kwayask kisowâhik okohcâk. ikwâni ikota ohci tâpokâni ikota iskotîhk itisinam okohcâk.Suddenly he wakes up. He looks at his fire. Wah! All his ducks have all burned to a crisp because he had slept too long. His rear-end really made him angry. Right away he puts his rear-end toward the fire.
“kika-kiskinwahamâtin kîtha îkâ î-nitohtawiyan,” itîw.“I’ll teach you for not listening to me,” he says.
mitoni î-kîsisahk okohcâk. ikota ohci ati-sipwîhtîw. kwayask wîsakîthihtam okohcâk wîtha î-ati-omikît. kinwîsk pimohtîw. kwayask wâh-wîsakîthihtam okohcâk. ati-cah-cihcîkinam okohcâk. pîthisk siyâkîth isiyayâw.He very much cooked his rear-end. He leaves from there. He had a very sore rear-end because it had begun to scab. He walks for a long time. He had severe pain in his rear-end. He began to scratch his rear-end. Eventually he began to feel better.
ikwâni mâni-mâka kiyâpic pah-pimohtîw awa. ati-kakwâtaki-nohtî-mîcisow. kîtahtawî kâ-wâpamât asinî-wâhkwana. nawakîw î-wî-otinât.So he continues walking. He very much wanted to eat. Suddenly he sees some rock-lichen. He stoops intending to pick some.
“kâwitha mowinân!” itwîwak ôko asinî-wâhkwanak.“Don’t eat us!” say the rock-lichen.
“tânisi with-ôma kâ-itwîyîk,” itîw. “ninôhtîhkatân ôma.”“What is it that you say,” he says. “I am hungry.”
mitoni mistahi manâhow, î-mowât. mâka kiyâpic nohtîkatîw. kitahtawî kâ-wâpamât okiniya. nawakîw î-wî-otinât.He harvests quite a lot, eating them. But he was still hungry. Suddenly he sees rose-hips. He stoops to pick some.
“kâwitha mowinân!” itwîwak ôko okiniyak.“Don’t eat us!” say the rose-hips.
“tânisi with-ôma kâ-itwîyîk,” itîw. “ninôhtîhkatân ôma.”“What is it that you say,” he says. “I am hungry.”
mitoni mistahi manâhow, î-mowât. ati-sipwîhtîw. He harvests quite a lot, eating them. He leaves from there.
kîtahtawî kâ-wâpamât pithîwa. otinîw otahcâpiya ikwa mwihci kâ-ati-pimotahkwît kâ-misi-pwîkitot. osahwîw anihi pithîwa.Suddenly he sees some grouse. He takes his bow but just as he was about to let an arrow go his rear-end let go a big fart! It scares away the grouse.
ati-pah-pimohtîw, î-pâh-pwîkitot athisk asinî-wâhkwana î-pwîkitiskâkot ikwa î-kithakikohcâkît athisk okiniya î-kithakikohcâkîskâkot. kakwâtaki-nohtîkatîw.He continues to walk, farting because the rock-lichen give him gas, and he has an itchy rear-end because the rose-hips make him itch in the rear-end. He was very hungry.
kîtahtawî kâ-wâpahtahk kîkway mîskanâhk, tâpiskôc kâskîwak ôma î-isinâkwanithik. ikwâni ati-otinam.Suddenly he sees something on the road looking like dried meat. He picks it up.
“âyî, tâpwî kihci! nimosômak î-asamicik ôma kâskîwak!” î-itwît. otinam ikwa ati-mîciw iyakwîthiw. kîtahtawî poko kâ-pihtawât pithîsîsa.“Wow, truly great! My Grandfathers have fed me some dried meat!” he says. He takes it and begins to eat it. Suddenly he hears a bird.
“wîsahkîcâhk omikiy mîciw! wîsahkîcâhk omikiy mîciw!”“Wisahkecahk is eating his scab! Wisahkecahk is eatin his scab!”
“ay awas! nimosôm awa î-pî-asamit ômîthow kâskîwak!”“Go away! My Grandfather fed me this dried meat!”
“wîsahkîcâhk omikiy mîciw! wîsahkîcâhk omikiy mîciw!”“Wisahkecahk is eating his scab! Wisahkecahk is eatin his scab!”
ati-nitohtawîw ôho pithîsîsa. pasow animîthow kâskîwak. îyaw! tâpwî mâni-mâka îsa omikiy î-kî-mîcit. âh kisîmik ôho pithîsîsa. pimosinâtîw mâka patahwîw. ikota waskwâhk anima kâ-micimopathithik animîthow omikiy.Eventually he listens to this bird. He smells the dried meat. Oops! It is true that he was eating his scab. The bird makes him angry. He throws the scab at the bird but misses it. The scab gets stuck on the birch tree.
ikota posâkan anohc kitisi-kiskîthimânaw iyakw-ana waskwâhk mâna kâ-ayât. iyako maskihkiy mithwâsin.It is from there that we get touchwood (chaga) as we know it today. That is good medicine.
ikwa mâna kâ-wapahtamân iyako ikosi mâna ‘wîsahkîcâhk omikiy’ nititîthihtîn. Whenever I see that today I think “Wisahkecahk’s scab.”
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