Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “Take My Hand for a While” sung in Cree by Tammy Lamouche

This post is a little gift for Buffy Sainte-Marie from all of us at the Cree Literacy Network. It’s a little late for her birthday, but it’s still 100% sincere because we think the world of her!

The translation is the work of Solomon Ratt (a th-dialect speaker from northern Saskatchewan). The recording features Alberta Cree singer Tammy Lamouche with guitar and sound engineering by Vanessa Beaudry (Vanessa and Tammy both speak Alberta northern y-dialect). The translation is in the Plains y-dialect that is spoken by Buffy’s Cree relations at Piapot. The photo of Tammy (above) is the work of Daena Crosby. Gathering up all the pieces and making the connections is my contribution. Together, we are tremendously proud to use the Cree language to honour Buffy, and to create another example of Cree language activism in her honour.

Buffy first recorded this exquisite song of love and loss in 1968. When she gave Sol her blessing to translate, he went hunting for a karaoke track. He claims he couldn’t find one,  though some of us think he was just a little shy about singing for Buffy. 😉

Together, we hope Buffy will enjoy this recording, and we hope that maybe others will be inspired to learn it as well, as part of their personal Cree language reclamation.

sâh-sakiniskêninTake my Hand for a While
kîhtwâm wâh-wîhtamawin
wiya ohci ninpîkotêhêh
Take my hand for a while
Explain it to me once again
Just for the sake of my broken heart
itâpi niskîsikohk, nika-nisitohtên
sâkihiwêwin namôya astêw
êtikwê takî-sâkihiyan
kimiskawin ê-wâh-wanîhoyân nitêh
î-sâkaskinîk ta-kî-nîsonitoyahk
Look into my eyes and maybe I will understand
How love I counted on was never there
You see, I thought that you might love me
So you caught me it seems off balance with a heart
So full of love and pretty dreams that two should share
êkosi ê-mwayî-sipwêhtêyan
kîhtwâm wâh-wîhtamawin
wiya ohci ninpîkotêhêh
And so I know but please before you go
Take my hand for a while
Explain it to me once again
Just for the sake of my broken heart
translation by Solomon Ratt (y-dialect) Buffy Saint Marie


4 Responses

    1. Aww someone needs a hug. Your condescending tone and message is no where near the beauty of ininiwin and although some have tried to kill it, it not only survives, it speaks through every natural and spiritual part of these lands settlers and colonialists call “America”. Anyway Steve. I hope that part of you that feels empty doesn’t translate into “I don’t have meaning in my life”. Be well brother.
      I told my son “don’t ever let anyone tell you not to sing. These songs are life for our ppl and Americans have been trying to tell us not to sing them for a very long time and when our people stopped, they became lost”
      Beautiful song! Beautiful gifts! Kinanaskomitin iskwew.

  1. Niminwenten nesta nisikinesin mana epetwakik oshkatisak enikamochik eininimochik. Minotakwan ekweskisinaaman onikamowin Buffy St. Marie, Samuel. Mikwech.

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