âyâs, 2018, 2021: 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.

Another less-known protagonist is âyâs, a young man who is forced into conflict with a jealous stepfather. This epic âtayôhkêwin, which Sol learned at his mother’s knee in northern Saskatchewan seems to be better known around James Bay, where the stepfather goes by the name of Niguishan.

This post includes:

1. A 2018 PowerPoint presentation, converted to video, including text, translation and audio together. (Note: Scroll down to find the “play” control: the PowerPoint uses a white background, so it looks blank when it’s not playing!)
2. Transcription and translation together in table form (drawn from the same 2018 session).
2. Scroll down past the table to find a video recording (via Zoom, with thanks to Ramona MacKenzie) of an oral re-telling before a live audience, from 22 February 2021.

Regarding the 2018 telling, Solomon Ratt comments: The following story is one told by my late mother, Alice Emily Ratt, when we were on our trapline in the winter months. It is one I always requested. Throughout the years I have retained a lot of the story from memory but found that I had forgotten many of the events that âyâs encountered on his journey home. I needed a community story-telling to trigger my memory and we had one in February (2018) at our storytelling camp at Big Stone Lake. Three of us told the story but all three of us were only able to provide bits and pieces of the story. I needed something more. Then I read the story in “âcathôhkîwina and âcimowina: Traditional Narratives of the Rock Cree Indians,” a wonderful collection of traditional stories by various storytellers collected by Robert A. Brightman (University of Regina Press, 2007). It includes a great version of ayâs [sic] with most of the events intact. In the following version of the story, I  combined my mother’s story and Brightman’s.

âyâs (th-dialect) English translation, Solomon Ratt, 2018
piyakwâw kayâs, piyak awa oskinîkiw, âyâs î-kî-isithihkâsot, kî-ohpikihikow okâwiya ikwa ohkomisa. nawac poko kî-pakwâtik ohkomisa wîtha athisk mistahi î-itîthimikot okâwiya, nawac poko î-kahkwîthimikot ohkomisa awa âyâs.Once, long ago there lived a young man named âyâs. He lived with his mother and stepfather. His stepfather somewhat disliked him because his mother loved him so much. His stepfather was somewhat jealous of him.
piyakwâw î-kîkisîpâyâthik wîsâmîw awa kisîtiniw okosima ta-nâtâwîcik wahthaw ikota ohci. kinwîsk pimiskâwak. ikwa mâna miniscikwâpiskos kâ-ati-nâtahahkwâw âyâs mâna kakwîcimîw ohkomisa.One morning the old man invited his stepson to go look for eggs far from where they were. They paddled for a long time. Anytime they came upon an island âyâs would ask his stepfather
“ôta nâ, nohkomisî?”“Here, Uncle?”
“namôwitha, nawac wahthaw. nikiskîthihtîn ita î-mihcîticik kiyâskwak. mitoni î-âkôskawâcik pîsimwa ispî kâ-ohpahocik.”“No, farther out. I know of a place where the gulls are so numerous that they hide the sun when they fly up.”
ikwâni pâh-pimiskâwak. kinwîsk îsa kî-pâh-pimiskâwak. kîtahtawî kâ-ati-nâtahahkwâw î-misâthik ministikwâpisk ita î-mihcîtithit kiyâskwa. ispî kâ-ohpahocik kiyâskwak mitoni mâni-mâka tâpwî âkôskawîwak pîsimwa, mitoni tâpiskôc î-tipiskâthik ôma ispî kâ-ohpahocik kiyâskwak. ikwâni ati-misakâwak, ikwa kapâwak, î-mâci-manâhwîcik. kinwîsk manâhwîwak, î-pôsihtâcik wâwa otôtiwahk. kîtahtawî kâ-pisiskâpahtahk âyâs ôsi î-ati-sâkaskinahtâcik.And so they paddled on. They paddled for a long time. Eventually they came upon an island where many gulls. Indeed, when the gulls flew up they hid the sun, it was like it was night time when they flew up. There they landed and went to shore, to harvest the eggs. They harvested eggs for a long time, putting them into their canoe. All of a sudden âyâs noticed that the canoe was full of eggs.
“nohkomisî, tânita mâka ôma nîtha ta-kî-apiyân?” isi-kakwîcimîw îsa ohkomisa.“Uncle, where am I going to sit?” he asks his stepfather.
“hâw cîskwa nikosim, kika-tawîstamâtin apiwin. mâhti pitamâ nîtî awasâpisk ispahtâ ikotî î-kî-wâpahtamân wâwisa î-mithonâkwahki, î-sîpihkwâki. kisîmisak iyakoni kita-mithonamwak, kita-otamihikocik. iyakoni nâcipahtâ îskwâ î-tawîstamâtân apiwin ôta,” itwîthiwa ohkosima âyâs.“Just wait my nephew, I will make a place for you to sit. For now, run over beyond those rocks. I saw beautiful eggs over there, they are blue. Your younger siblings will find them beautiful, they will be amused by them. Run for those while I make a place for you to sit,” said âyâs stepfather.
ikwâni âyâs âmaciwîpahtâw î-nâcipahtwât wâwisa awasâpisk. awasâpiskohk ispahtâw. tâpwî mâni-mâka miskam î-mithonâkwanithiki wâwisa, î-sîpihkwâthiki, tâpwî mâni-mâki osîmisa kita-mithonamithiwa. môsahkinam iyakoni wâwisa ikwa ispî nahîthikohk î-manâhot kâwi ispahtâw ôsîhk. ispî kâ-tahkohcipahtât asinîhk kâ-wâpamât ohkomisa î-ati-sipwîcimîthit.âyâs ran for the eggs beyond the rocks. He found beautiful eggs, they were blue, truly his younger siblings will find these beautiful. He gathered up those eggs and when he had enough he ran back to the canoe. When he ran to the top of the rocks he saw his stepfather paddling away.
tâh-tîpwâtîw ohkomisa mâka tâpiskôc îkâ î-pîhtâkot. mitoni kisowâhik! kâ-môsâhkinât asinîsa î-ati-pâh-pimosinâtât ohkomisa. nistam pah-patahwîw! mâka kîtahtawî kâ-tâwistikwânîhwât. î-kîskwîtahât îtokî athisk î-ati-wâh-wâkâcimîthit mâka awasimî wahthaw isicimîthiwa. ikwâni î-nakatahoht ministikwâpisohk awa âyâs. ikota ministikwâpiskohk ma-mâcosiw. kinwîsk ma-mâcosiw pîthisk ati-nipâpathiw.He called his stepfather but it is as if he wasn”t heard by his stepfather. He was very angered. He gathered up stones and started throwing them at his stepfather. At first, he missed him. Suddenly, he hit him on the head! He must have dazed him because he started paddling the canoe in circles but he was getting further out. So âyâs was left on the island. He started to cry on that island. He cried for a long time, eventually he fell asleep.
kâ-pawâmât îsa omosôma î-wîhtamâkot tânisi ôma kita-itôtahk kita-paspîhisot ikota ohci. wîhtamâk kita-nipahât kiyâskwa ikwa kita-pahkonât ikwa ikosîsi kita-kikiskawât opîwaya. ispî kâ-koskopathit âyâs wâpamîw kiyâskwa kihciwâk, mitoni î-misikitithit ôho kiyâskwa. pimosinâtîw kiyâskwa asiniya. mitoni î-tâwâtihpîhwât ikosîsi î-nipahat iyakoni kiyâskwa. sîmâk pahkonîw ikwa pâstâw pîway asinîhk. ispî kâ-pâstîthik pîway ati-postiskam ikwa ikota ohci ati-ohpahow. wah! namôtha wahthaw isi-pimithâw sâsay kâ-pîkoskahk kîyâsko-pîway. pakastawîsin!He dreamt of his grandfather who told him how to save himself from there. He was told to kill a gull, to skin it, and wear the gull-suit. When he awoke he saw a gull nearby, it was a very big gull! He threw a stone at it. He hit it on the head thus killing it. He immediately skinned the gull and set the feathers out to dry on the rocks. When the gull feathers were dry he put them on and he flew up from there. Wah! He didn”t fly very far when he broke the gull suit. He fell into the water!
nâtakâm ministikwâpiskohk kâwi isi-pimâtakâw. ikwâni mîna ati-ma-mâcosiw. ikwâni mîna ati-nipâw. kihtwâm pawâmîw omosôma…kâ-wîhtamâkot kotaka kîyâskwa kita-nipahât ikwa mîna wîhtamâkow îkâ kita-pâsahk anihi pîwaya. ispî kâ-koskopathit wâpamîw kotaka kiyâskwa, nawac ôho î-misikitithit. ikwâni mîna iyakoni asiniya ohci pimosinâtîw. nahîw awa! kihtwâm tâwistikwânîhîw ikosi î-isi-nipahât. ikwâni pahkonîw ikwa sîmâk ati-postiskam kiyâsko-pîway. ati-sipwîpithâw!He waded back to the shore of the island. Once again he started to cry. Once again he fell asleep. He dreamed of his grandfather again… who told him to kill another gull and to not dry out the gull feathers. When he awoke he saw another gull, one much bigger than the last. He threw a rock at that one too. His aim is true! He hit the gull on the head thus killing it. He skins the gull and put on the gull suit right away. Away he flew!
mitoni kinwîsîs kâ-pimithât ispî kâ-ocisâpamât ohkomisa, kiyâpic î-wâwâskâcimîthit. kâ-ati-mîsâtât ostikwânithihk. kîtahtawî kâ-ocisâpâhtahk kistaskamik. nawac sôhki-ati-pimithâw ithikohk î-nanihkisit! kâ-pisci-pîkoskahk opîwaya! pakastawîsin! ispî kâ-pîkopît kihtwâm ati-mâtow wîtha kiyâpic wahthaw nâtakâm kistaskamik! kîtahtawîw awiya kâ-pîhtawât.He was flying for a while when he saw his stepfather, still paddling in circles. He defecated on his head. Suddenly in the distance he saw the mainland! He began to fly faster as he was impatient. He accidently broke his gull suit! He fell in the water! When he emerged from the water he began to cry because the shore of the mainland was still far away. Suddenly he heard someone.
“kâwitha mâtow nôsisim,” itwîw awa awiyak.“Don”t cry grandchild,” says this person.
âyâs kâ-asawâpit, kâ-wâpamât î-otîskanîthit misi-kinîpikwa!âyâs looks about, he sees a horned snake!
“kâwitha mâto, tîhtapi nispiskwanihk. kika-itahothitin nâtakâm kistaskamikohk.”“Don”t cry. Get on board on my back. I will take you to the shore of the mainland.”
ikwâni tahkohtâtawâtîw ospiskwanithihk misi-kinîpikwa ikwa miciminam otîskanithiwa. ikwâni ati-sipwîcimîwak.He gets on top of the big snake’s back holding on to its horns. In that fashion they head out on the water.
“wîhtamawihkan kîspin ati-thikwaskwahki,” itwîw îsa awa misi-kinîpik. “nikostîn wâsaskotîpathin. nikostâwak pithîsiwak”“Tell me if it begins to get cloudy,” says Big Snake. “I”m afraid of lightning. I”m afraid of thunder-birds.”
asawâpiw âyâs, nîtî wahthaw isko-kâ-isi-nôkwahk wâpahtam î-pîtânaskwâthik mâka nama-nânitaw itwîw. namwâc wîhtamawîw misi-kinîpikwa athisk kita-kôkîthiwa kîspin pîtânaskwânithiki. kiyâpic athisk wahthawîs kistaskamikohk isi. kîtahtawî kâ-kitocik.âyâs looks about, far off on the horizon he sees clouds approaching but he doesn”t say anything. He doesn”t tell Big Snake because she will dive if clouds approach. He doesn”t tell her because the mainland is still a bit of a distance away. Suddenly there was thunder!
“nôsisim, pithîsiwak cî kâ-pîhtawakwâw?” itwîw misi-kinîpik.“Grandchild, is it thunderbirds that I hear?” says Big Snake.
“namôtha nohkô, kîtha anima kâ-pîhtâkosiyan ithikohk î-kisîcimiyan!” itwîw âyâs. ispimihk itâpiw. wahwâ mitoni î-ati-kaskitîwi-thikwaskwanithik! ikwa mîna kitowak.“No, grandmother, it is you making sound because you are going so fast on the water!” says âyâs. He looks up. Wah! He sees are dark clouds! Suddenly the thunderbirds call.
“nôsisim, pithîsiwak cî kâ-kitocik?” “Grandchild, is it thunderbirds calling?”
“namôtha nohkô, kîtha anima kâ-pîhtâkosiyan ithikohk î-kisîcimiyan.” “No, grandmother, it is you making sound because you are going so fast on the water!”
kîtahtawî kâ-wâsaskotîpathik! tâwahok misi-kinîpik wâsaskotîpathithiw, î-nipahikot! ikwa wîtha âyâs wahthaw nâtakâm isi kwâskwêtahokow wâsaskotîpathiw. mitoni kîkâc î-tikinîskâkot. nanisihkâc ati-kapâw, wâpahtam miskow misiwîta î-astîthik ikota wâsakâm, misi-kinîpik omiskom. kospiw âyâs, waskwaya î-nitonawât, î-wî-kâkwayiwatihkît. kî-manâhow waskway ikwa kî-ati-kâkwayowatihkîw. nîso kâkwayowata kî-osihtâw. kâ-kîsi-kâkwayiwatihkît kî-nitawi-kwâpaham animîthiw misko ikwa watihkwanihk sîhtihk kî-akotâw. kâ-kawisimot athisk mitoni î-nîstosit.Suddenly there was lightning. Big Snake was hit by the lightning, killing her! And âyâs was thrown far toward the shore by the lightning. It almost knocked him unconscious. Slowly he goes ashore. He sees blood everywhere along the shore, Big Snake’s blood. âyâs goes into the woods looking for birch as he is going to make a birch-bark basket. He harvests birch bark and begins to make birch-bark baskets. He makes two birch-bark baskets. When he finished the birch-bark baskets he went a scooped up some blood and hung the baskets on the branch of a spruce tree. He lays down to sleep because he was so tired.
ispî kâ-koskopathit nitawâpîkinîw okâkwayiwataya. ikota kâ-wâpamât kinîpikosa, ikosîsa misi-kinîpikwa î-kî-isi-paspîhât awa âyâs. mithwîthihtam awa misi-kinîpik î-paspît ikosi wîhtamawîw âyâsa kîkwâthiw kâ-wî-nakiskamithit ispî pimohtîhothici.When he awoke he went to check on his birch-bark baskets. He found little snakes in them, that is how âyâs saved Big Snake. Big Snake was so happy to be saved that he told âyâs what to expect in the course of his journey.
ati-sipwîyohtîhow âyâs. kinwîsk pa-pimohtîw, mitoni kîkâc î-ati-mîstiskahk opahkîkinwaskisina. kîtahtawî wâpahtam mîkiwâhpis, iyakwîthiw kitawâpahtahk ikosi kâ-kî-wîhtamâkot ohkoma, misi-kinîpikwa, ikota wîkithiwa ohkoma athîkisa. pîhtokawîw ohkoma athîkisa. asamik ohkoma ikwa atotîw kita-mîsahamithit omaskisina. îskwâ î-ma-mîcisot mîsahamithiw ohkoma opahkîkinwaskisina. ispî kâ-kîsi-mîcisot mîthik ohkoma omaskisina. panahkoskam! athîskis îsa î-kî-kaskikwâtahk maskisina tâpiskôc mâna wîtha kâ-isi-kwâskohtit, mitoni wâh-wahthaw î-âh-ohci-cîstahikît! kisowâhik âyâs ohkoma. ikota ohci ati-sipwîhtîw.âyâs begins his journey. He walks for a long time, so long that he almost wore out his moccasins. Suddenly he sees a tipi, that which his grandmother Big Snake had told him he would see, where lived his grandmother Frog. He enters the home of Frog. His grandmother feeds him and he asks her to mend his moccasins. While he eats his grandmother mends his moccasins. When he finishes eating his grandmother hands him his moccasins. They are floppy! Apparently Frog stitched the moccasins according to the way she jumped, each stitch far away from each other. He is not pleased. He begins to leave from there.
ikwâni mîna ati-sipwîyohtîhow âyâs ikosi ta-itôtahk kâ-kî-itikot ohkoma misi-kinîpikwa. tahkohtâmatin ohci wâpahtam kotak mîkiwâhpis, ikota wîkithiwa ohkoma âpakosîsa. nihtaciwîw î-nitawi-pîhtokawât ohkoma âpakosîsa. asamik ohkoma âpakosîsa ikwa atotîw kita-mîsahamithit omaskisina. ikota kapîsiw wîtha î-ati-tipiskâthik. ispî kâ-waniskât kâ-kîkisîpâyâthik miskam omaskisina. iyakoni ikwa nahîthihtam wîtha âpakosîs î-câh-cîstahak kaskikwâsowin tâpiskôc wîtha kâ-isi-pimohtît, kâh-kiswâk îsa î-câh-cîstahikît.Once again âyâs continues on his journey, this is what his grandmother Big Snake told him to do. From a top of a hill he sees a small tipi where lived his grandmother Mouse. He goes down the hill to enter the home of his grandmother Mouse. His grandmother Mouse feeds him and he asks her to mend his moccasins. He camps there for it is night. When he wakes up he finds his moccasins. He is satisfied with these ones because Mouse stitched them according to the way she walks, the stitches were close to each other.
ikwâni mîna ati-sipwîyohtîhow âyâs. kî-wîhtamâkow ohkoma misi-kinîpikwa kita-miskahk kotak mîkiwâhp ita î-wîkithit nîso nôcokîsiwa. okînipocôskanîsiwak itâwak ôko nôcokîsiwak wîtha mâna î-tâh-tâsahahkwâw otôskwaniwâwa, tâpiskôc mohkomâna. ispî kâ-tâsahahkwâw otôskaniwâwa âyîtaw iskwâhtîmihk mâna apiwak î-aswahwâcik awiya ta-kakwî-wayawîthit. nama-nânitaw awiyaka ta-pî-pîhtokâkocik mâka ispî kâ-wî-wathawîthit ikota ohci iskwahtîmihk tahkamîwak otôskwaniwâwa ohci, ikosîsi î-nipahâcik.âyâs once again sets out on his journey. His grandmother Big Snake had told him that he would find a tipi where lived two old women. “Sharpened Elbows” is how these old women were known because they sharpened their elbows, just like knives. When they sharpened their elbows they would sit on either side of the door waiting for someone to try to exit. It did not matter if someone entered their home but if that someone were to try exit then from either side of the door they would stab them with their elbows, thus killing them.
âyâs kî-pîhtokawîw ôho nôcokîsiwa, ôho okînipocôskanîsiwa. kî-asamik pimihkân ikwa pâstî-mînisa. wâh-wîhtamâkow kita-wîhtamawât ispî kâ-wî-wathawît wîtha nawac poko îkâ kwayask î-wâpithit. pa-piyahtak ma-mîcisow âyâs, î-mâmitonîthihtahk tânisi ôma kâ-wî-isi-paspîhisot. otâhk mîkiwâhpihk ohci wathawîyahtawîw ikwa awasîwîw kâwi iskwahtîmihk î-itohtît ikota ohci tîpwîw.âyâs entered the home of these old women, these Sharpened Elbows. They feed him pemmican and dried berries. They tell him to tell them when he is going to go out because they were somewhat blind. âyâs carefully eats thinking on how he was going to save himself. He crawled out from the back of the tipi and goes around to the door and from there hollers.
“ikwa, niwî-wathawân ikwa!”“Now, I am going out now.”
sîmâk kâ-tahkahcikîcik ôko nôcokîsiwak, okînipocôskanîsiwak, mâka namôtha awiyaka ikota ayâthiwa. kâ-tahkamisocik îsa, î-nipahitocik.Right away the old women, the Sharpened Elbows, stabbed but there was no one there so ended up stabbing each other, killing each other thus.
ikwâni mîna ati-sipwîyohtîhow âyâs. ikosi ati-pa-pimohtîw. kîtahtawî kâ-wâpamât mahkîsîsisa. kiskisiw ohkoma misi-kinîpikwa kâ-kî-wîhtamâkot kita-otinât ôho mahkîsîsisa, kita-wîcihikot ispî kotaka nôcokîsiwa kiyokawâci. ikwâni otinîw ôho mahkîsîsa, pihcâyihk oskotâkâhk î-tahkonât. kâ-wâpahtahk mîkiwâhp. ikota ôma wîkithiwa kotaka nôcokîsiwa, î-omikîkâtîthit ôho, iyako awa nôcokîsiw î-pah-pihcipohât athisitiniwa ispî mâna kâ-asamât. ikwa mîna omikiy-oskâta î-âpacitât kita-nipahât athisitiniwa. ikota takohtîw mîkiwâhpihk. mitoni î-ati-tipiskâthik.âyâs continues his journey. He walks along. suddenly he sees a small fox. He remembers what his grandmother Big Snake had told him about the fox, to take the fox for it will help him when he visits another old woman. So he takes the fox and puts it inside his coat. He sees a tipi. In that tipi lived an old woman who had scabby legs. This old woman poisons people when she feeds them. And she also uses her scabby legs to kill people by placing her legs on top of them. It is at his time that he arrives. It was getting dark.
ikwâni pîhtokawîw ôho nôcokîsiwa, omikîkâta. He enters the home of the old woman, Scabby Legs.
“âyâs takosin!” awa nôcokîsiw itwîw.“âyâs has arrived,” says this old woman.
“îhî, nitakosinin nohkô,” itwîw âyâs.“Yes, I arrive grandmother,” says âyâs.
“haw, kanâtâpâwahiso. kika-asamitin ikwa kawisimohkan. ôta kapîsi.”“Okay, clean yourself up. I will feed you and you can lay down to bed. You can camp here.”
“nohkô, namwâc ninohtîkatân athisk sâsay î-kî-mîcisoyân.”“Grandmother, I am not hungry because I had already eaten.”
namwâc kî-ohci-mîcisow âyâs. tâpwî-pokwâni kî-kawisimow. kî-nipâhkâsow, ikwa pîhcâyihk oskotâkâhk miciminîw mahkîsîsa. kâh-kîmôtâpamîw anihi nôcokîsiwa wîtha î-kiskîthihtak ta-kakwî-nipahikot oskâtithiw ohci. tahtwâw mâna kâ-kakwî-tahkohtaskâkot oskâtithiw âhcisin âyâs.âyâs didn”t eat. He went immediately to bed. He pretended to sleep, and inside his coat he kept the fox. All nigh he sneaked glances at the old woman for he knew that she would try to kill him with her legs. Every time that she would try to put her legs on top of him âyâs would shift position.
“nôsisim! nikiskîthihtîn îkâ î-nipâyan,” itwîw awa nôcokîsiw.“Grandchild! I know that you are not asleep!” says the old woman.
“namwâc nikaskihtân ta-nipâyân nohkô,” itwîw âyâs.“I am unable to sleep, Grandmother,” says âyâs.
“haw, nipâ, nipâ! misawâc kika-koskonitin kîkisîpâyâki kita-ati-sipwîyohtîhoyan.”“Okay, sleep, sleep! In any case I will wake you in the morning so you can be on your way.”
mâka namwâc kî-ohci-nipâw âyâs athisk î-kiskisit kâ-kî-wîhtamâkot ohkoma misi-kinîpikwa tânisi kâ-wî-isi-kakwî-nipahikot ôho omikîkâtisa. kapî-tipisk kâh-kîmôtâpamîw ôho ohkoma. wîpac î-kîkisîpâyâthik waniskâw ikwa ohkoma itik î-wî-asamikot. ikwa mîna astâthiw pihcipowin omîciwinithihk.But âyâs did not sleep for he remembered what his grandmother Big Snake had told him on how this old woman, Scabby Legs, would try to kill him with her legs. All night he secretly kept watches the old woman. He gets up early in the morning and the old woman feeds him. Once again she puts poison in his food.
mîcisohkâsow âyâs. tahtwâw mâna kâ-itisinahk omîciwin otônihk asamîw anihi mahkîsîsa kâ-asowasothit oskotâkahk. mitoni î-ati-âhkosîskâkot pihcipowin ana mahkîsîs.âyâs pretends to eat. Every time he put food toward his mouth he would feed the fox who was inside his coat. The poor fox was getting sick from the poison in the food.
“wîhtamawihkan ispî wî-sipwîhtîyani,” itwîw awa nôcokîsiw, athisk îkâ kwayask î-wâpit. âyâs pasikôw î-wî-sipwîhtît.“Tell me when you are leaving,” says the old woman for she was somewhat blind. âyâs gets up intending to leave.
“ikwâni niwî-sipwîhtân,” itîw ôho nôcokîsiwa kisik î-pimosinît mahkîsîsa. mahkîsîs nipahîw anihi nôcokîsiwa athisk î-kî-pihcipot anima mîciwin kâ-kî-mîcit. ikwâni sipwîhtîw ikota ohci âyâs.“I am leaving now,” says âyâs as he threw the fox at the old woman. The fox kills the old woman because it was sick from eating the poison in the food. âyâs leaves from there.
ikwa mîna pa-pimohtîw âyâs. kîtahtawî kâ-pîhtawât awiya.Once again âyâs is walking along when he hears someone.
“âyâs! kika-mowitin!”“âyâs! I will eat you!”
asawâpiw mâka namôtha awiya wâpamîw. ati-pa-pimohtîw. kîtahtawî kâ-wâpahtahk î-tâwatipathithik askiy.He looks about but sees no one! He walks along. Suddenly he sees the earth opening up.
“âyâs! kika-mowitin!” kisik î-itwît askiy kâ-tâwatipathik.“âyâs! I will eat you!” says the earth as it opens its mouth wide.
wahwâ! tânisi mâka awa takî-isi-pimohtîhot?Wah! How can he travel on?
“âyâs! kika-mowitin!”“âyâs! I will eat you!”
asîhtîw âyâs, wahthawîs ohci î-wî-âsowakâmi-kwâskohtit ita kâ-tâwatipathithik askiy. ikwâni ati-pimipahtâw âyâs. mwihci kihtwâm î-tâwatipathithik askiy kâ-kwâskohtit âyâs! âtawîtha wacîhpîw! kaskihtâw kita-âsowakâmi-kwâskohtit ita kâ-tawatipathithik askiy. kiskisiw ohkoma misi-kinîpikwa kâ-kî-wîhtamâkot kita-takohtîw ita kâ-wî-itohtît kîspin paspîci ita kâ-wî-kitamikot askiy.âyâs walks backward, intending to take a jump across where the earth has opened wide. âyâs runs! Just as the earth opens up again âyâs takes a leap. He is agile! He is able to jump across where the earth has opened wide. He remembers his grandmother Big Snake telling him that he will complete his journey soon once he gets safe from the earth that would eat him.
ikwâni ati-pa-pimohtîw. kîtahtawî poko kâ-pîhtawât awiya î-cîkahikîthit sakâhk. ati-nâcithôscikîw, î-nitawi-kîmôtâpamât ôho awiya. wâpamîw iskwîwa ikota î-nikohtîthit. kitimâkinâkosiw awa iskwîw ithokohk wihkwâkanihk ikwa ospitonihk misiwî î-âh-omikît. tâpiskôc awiya î-kâh-kîsisikot iskotîw ohci. kîtahtawî pithîsîs kâ-kikamot.âyâs walks on. He hears someone chopping wood in the bush. He sneaks up to take a peek at this person. He sees a woman there chopping wood. She looks pitiful with her face and arms covered in scabs. It’s as if someone had burned her with fire. Suddenly a bird calls out.
“âyâs kikosis takosin. âyâs kikosis takosin,” î-isi-nikamot awa pithîsîs.“âyâs, your son, arrives! âyâs, your son, arrives!” sings the bird.
“hay, awas kikitimâkimin,” itwîw îsa awa iskwîw. “kayâs kâ-kî-wanihak nikosis,”“hay, go away, you say sad things to me,” says this woman. “I lost my son long ago!”
“âyâs kikosis takosin. âyâs kikosis takosin,” ahci-poko awa pithîsîs kâ-isi-nikamot.“âyâs, your son, arrives! âyâs, your son, arrives!” persistently the bird sings.
“hay, awas! kikitimâkimin.”“hay, go away. You say sad things to me.”
kâ-sâkîwît âyâs.âyâs emerges from his hiding place.
“tâpwîw ana nîkâ. nitakosin,” itwîw âyâs.“He’s telling the truth Mother. I arrive,” says âyâs.
wahwâ! koskwâpisin awa iskwîw athisk aspin kayâs kâ-kî-wâpamât okosisa. nâcipahîw, î-sôhki-âkwaskitinât, kisik î-mâtot ithikohk î-mithwîthihtahk î-wâpamât okosisa.Wah! The woman is taken by surprise for it was long ago that she had seen her son. she runs to him and gives him a hug, crying because she was so happy to see her son.
“tânihk-ôma kâ-isinâkosiyan nîkâ?” itwîw âyâs.“Why do you look this way?” says âyâs.
“awas, pakwanita iyako, tîpithahk kihtwâm î-wâpamitân. iyako mithwâsin,” itwîthiwa okâwiya âyâs.“Go on! That doesn”t matter, it’s enough that I see you again. That is what matters,” says âyâs’s mother.
“namôtha. wîhtamowin tânihki ôma kâ-isinâkosiyan.”“No tell me! Why do you look the way you do?”
“hâ, kohkomis ana ikwa oski-wîwa kâ-itôtawicik. kapî î-atoskîhicik ikwa mâna î-kâh-kîsisocik nihkwâkanihk ikwa nispitonihk tahtwâw kâ-kotawîyân.”“It is your stepfather and his new wife. They always make me work and they burn my face and arms every time I make a fire.”
“haw nikâ kika-kîwî-wîcîwitin. ispî takosiniyahki kika-kotawân. mistahi pôna, kwayask kita-kwâhkotîk kotawân. nikiskîthihtîn aniki kâ-wîcâyâmacik î-ayâwâcik oskawâsisa. kîsi-kotawîyani ana iskwîw kotawânihk kita-pî-itohtîw kita-mîskotâsathihkît athisk ikota cîki iskotîhk î-kîsowayâthik. ikosi itôtahki nitotamaw oskawâsisîma, wîhtamaw î-wî-ocîmimat. wathawîtimihk kika-pîhitin.”“Okay Mother I will go with you. When we arrive you will make a fire. Puts in lots of wood, so that there is a huge fire! I know that those you live with have a baby. When you finish making the fire the woman will come to change the baby by the fire because it is warm there near the fire. When she does that ask for the baby. Tell her you want to kiss the baby. I will wait outside.”
ikosi pîhtokacinihtîw awa iskwîw ikwa âyâs pîhîw wathawîtimihk. kâsôw âyâs astahcikowin-akocikanihk. okâwiya misi-kotawîthiwa, tâpwî-mâni-mâka ana kotak iskwîw itohtahîw otoskawâsisa cîki iskotîhk î-wî- mîskotâsathihkît.The woman carries the firewood inside and âyâs waits for her outside. He hides on top of the cache. His mother makes a big fire. It is true that the other woman takes her baby to the fire to change it.
“mîthin oskawâsis. ninohtî-ocîmâw,” itwîthiwa âyâs okâwiya.“Give me the baby. I want to kiss it,” says âyâs’s mother.
“kâwitha mîth! î-wî-macostîhwât anihi,” itwîw kisîtiniw.“Don”t give it to her. She’s going to throw it in the fire,” says the old man.
“îh, kapî mâna ikosi kititwân tahtwâw kâ-kitimâkîthimât oskawâsisa,” itwîw ana iskwîw,“Eh, you always say that every time she wants to love up the baby,” says the woman.
“kîtha mâni-mâka, cikôci kita-macostîhîw,” itwîw ana kisîtiniw.“It’s up to you. Watch, she”ll throw it into the fire,” says the old man.
ikwâni mîthîw ana iskwîw otoskawâsisima âyâs okâwîthiwa. ikwa iyako kitimâkîthimâwasow î-kîmôtâpamât kotaka iskwîwa ikwa kisîtininwa î-aswahak ispî îkâ ta-kanawâpamikot. mayaw î-wâpamât îkâ ta-kanawâpamikot macostîhîw oskawâsisa. mitoni tâwâyihk iskotîhk î-isi-wîpinât oskawâsisa ikwa ati-wathawîpahtâw î-tîpwît.The woman gives the baby to âyâs’s mother. She loves up the baby, watching to see if the woman and the old man are watching her. As soon as she sees that they are not watching her she throws the baby into the fire. She threw the baby right in the middle of the fire and she ran out.
“nikosis âyâs! nikosis âyâs!”“nikosis âyâs! nikosis âyâs!”
“tânisi wîtha awa kâ-itwît! kayâs ôma nikî-asamâw nipowâkan kikosisa!” itwîw kisîtiniw.“I don”t know why you say that. I fed your son to my spirit guardian long ago!” says the old man.
kâ-nihci-kwâskohtit âyâs astahcikowin-akocikanihk ohci.âyâs jumps down from the cache.
“mahti îsa kikakî-kitimahâw nikâwiy ôta î-ayâyân,” itwîw âyâs.“Let’s see you mistreat my mother now that I am here,” says âyâs.
ana kisîtiniw itohtîw astahcikowin-akocikanihk î-otinât ahtaya, î-othasimât mohcihk.The old man goes to the cache and picks up pelts and lays them down on the ground.
“hâw, ôta api kinîstohtân îtokî,” itîw âyâsa awa kisîtiniw î-kakwî-mitho-tôtamowât.“Okay, sit here. You must be tired,” says the old man, trying to do some good.
“awas!” itwîw âyâs, “kîspin kinohtî-pimâtisinâwâw wâtihkânihkîk ikwa ikota mîciwin ikwa kitâpacihcikana astâk ikwa kîthawâw kipiyakoskâniwâw ikota pîhtahtawîk wîtha î-wî-pasitîk askiy”“Go away,” says âyâs. “If you want to live dig a hole and put food and tools and your family inside because the earth is going to burn.”
namwâc tâpwîhtâk. osihtamâsow âyas misi-ahcâpiya ikwa mistakaskwa. ispî kâ-kîsihât itîw okâwiya kâ-wî-ispathithik.They don”t believe him. âyâs makes himself a big bow and a big arrow. When he finishes he tells his mother what’s going to happen.
“ispimihk niwî-isi-pimotahkwân ikwa omisi nika-itwân “ta-pasitîw askiy.” ikosi ispimihk isi-pimotahkwîw tâpwî-pokâni ati-pasitîw askiy.“I am going to shoot the arrow up in the air and I am going to say: “The earth will burn.” He shoots the arrow into the air and the earth immediately burst into flame.
ikota ohci tapasîwak âyâs ikwa okâwiya ikwa osîmisa. âyâs kî-âhâsiwiw ikwa okâwiya pâhpâscîsithiwa ikwa osîmisa kî-pihpihciwithiwa.âyâs, his mother, and his younger siblings flee from there. âyâs becomes a crow, his mother becomes a woodpecker, and his younger siblings become robins.
…and that is the story of âyâs.

 

 

About Arden Ogg

Arden Ogg is Director of the Cree Literacy Network, launched in 2010 with the goal of creating Cree language literacy materials suitable for use by learners of all ages.
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