How I Learned to Read: Solomon Ratt (th-dialect)

As Solomon Ratt and friends from the University of Regina Press launch his new advanced Cree textbook today at First Nations University, there is sure to be lots of bannock – and spam – to go around! We send our congratulations to everyone involved in this new publication, including the Press, and Cree-speaking colleagues, and especially all those students who helped road-test the materials in advanced Cree classes, and who even helped with final proofing. Scroll down to find some of their photos (and a close-up of Sol’s pocket, embroidered with the word ᑳᓇᓃᒥᐢᑲᕽ / kâ-nanîmiskahk “one who walks against the wind.” An excellent metaphor for Cree language revitalization if I’ve ever heard one!)

For those of us unable to be there, Solomon marked the occasion with this story about how he learned to read (with encouragement from a certain Little Engine that has been fascinating children for decades).

(Find ordering instructions here!)

ispî kâ-kî-awâsisîwiyân namôtha nikî-ohci-âkathâsîmon. nikî-nîhithowân poko. nikiskisin mâka kâ-kî-pâh-pîhtawâyâhkwâw môniyâwak î-âkathâsîmocik, ispî mâna mistahi-sâkahikanihk kâ-kî-ayâyâhk. ikwa mâna nikî-mîtawânân, nîtha ikwa nistîs, âhkîtâp mâna î-kî-âkathâsîmoyâhk.ᐃᐢᐲ ᑳ ᑮ ᐊᐚᓯᓰᐏᔮᐣ ᓇᒨᖬ ᓂᑮ ᐅᐦᒋ ᐋᑲᖭᓰᒧᐣ᙮ ᓂᑮ ᓃᐦᐃᖪᐚᐣ ᐳᑯ᙮ ᓂᑭᐢᑭᓯᐣ ᒫᑲ ᑳ ᑮ ᐹᐦ ᐲᐦᑕᐚᔮᐦᒁᐤ ᒨᓂᔮᐘᐠ ᐄ ᐋᑲᖭᓰᒧᒋᐠ, ᐃᐢᐲ ᒫᓇ ᒥᐢᑕᐦᐃ ᓵᑲᐦᐃᑲᓂᕽ ᑳ ᑮ ᐊᔮᔮᕽ᙮ ᐃᑿ ᒫᓇ ᓂᑮ ᒦᑕᐚᓈᐣ, ᓃᖬ ᐃᑿ ᓂᐢᑏᐢ, ᐋᐦᑮᑖᑊ ᒫᓇ ᐄ ᑮ ᐋᑲᖭᓰᒧᔮᕽ᙮When I was a child I did not speak English. I only spoke Cree. But I remember hearing the settlers speaking English when we were in La Ronge. And we played, me and my older brother, pretending to speak English.
“âpiloko papitimoinkllosowkrhieorjihithbt,” nikî-itâw mâna nistîs.“âpiloko papitimoinkllosowkrhieorjihithbt,” ᓂᑮ ᐃᑖᐤ ᒫᓇ ᓂᐢᑏᐢ᙮“âpiloko papitimoinkllosowkrhieorjihithbt,” I said to my older brother.
“iiii mkakoiutrkjpjwepoupfohotf,” nikî-isi-naskwîwasihik.“iiii mkakoiutrkjpjwepoupfohotf,” ᓂᑮ ᐃᓯ ᓇᐢᑹᐘᓯᐦᐃᐠ᙮“iiii mkakoiutrkjpjwepoupfohotf,” he answered me.
pakwanita î-âkathâsîmohkâsoyâhk. nikî-pâh-pâhpihisonân î-wawiyasîhtâkosiyâhk.ᐸᑿᓂᑕ ᐄ ᐋᑲᖭᓰᒧᐦᑳᓱᔮᕽ᙮ ᓂᑮ ᐹᐦ ᐹᐦᐱᐦᐃᓱᓈᐣ ᐄ ᐘᐏᔭᓰᐦᑖᑯᓯᔮᕽ᙮We were merely pretending to speak English. We laughed at ourselves because we sounded funny.
pâtimâ nikotwâsik kâ-kî-itahtopiponîyân kâ-kî-ati-kiskinwahamâkawiyân âkathâsîmowin. iyako pîkiskwîwin nikî-ati-kiskinwahamâkawin ispî kâ-kî-kwâsihikawiyân ayamihâwi-kiskinwahamâtowikamikohk isi. namôtha nikî-pakitinikawinân kita-nîhithowîyâhk. nikî-mâkwahikon âkathâsîmowin.ᐹᑎᒫ ᓂᑯᑤᓯᐠ ᑳ ᑮ ᐃᑕᐦᑐᐱᐳᓃᔮᐣ ᑳ ᑮ ᐊᑎ ᑭᐢᑭᓌᐦᐊᒫᑲᐏᔮᐣ ᐋᑲᖭᓰᒧᐏᐣ᙮ ᐃᔭᑯ ᐲᑭᐢᑹᐏᐣ ᓂᑮ ᐊᑎ ᑭᐢᑭᓌᐦᐊᒫᑲᐏᐣ ᐃᐢᐲ ᑳ ᑮ ᒁᓯᐦᐃᑲᐏᔮᐣ ᐊᔭᒥᐦᐋᐏ ᑭᐢᑭᓌᐦᐊᒫᑐᐏᑲᒥᑯᕽ ᐃᓯ᙮ ᓇᒨᖬ ᓂᑮ ᐸᑭᑎᓂᑲᐏᓈᐣ ᑭᑕ ᓃᐦᐃᖪᐑᔮᕽ᙮ ᓂᑮ ᒫᑿᐦᐃᑯᐣ ᐋᑲᖭᓰᒧᐏᐣ᙮It wasn’t until I was six years old that I began to speak English. They began to teach us that language when I was taken to the residential school. We were not allowed to speak Cree. English gave me difficulty.
nikî-mâkwahikon âkathâsîmowin mâka nikî-mâh-mithohtawâwak nikiskinwahamâkanak î-ayamihtâcik âcimowin-masinahikana. piyak ôma masinahikanis nikiskisin, “The Little Engine That Could” î-isithihkâtîk. î-mithohtamân anihi itwîwina “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” kisâstaw î-nikomot ana apisci iskocîwicâpânâskos. “nika-kaskihtân! nika-kaskihtân! nika-kaskihtân!”ᓂᑮ ᒫᑿᐦᐃᑯᐣ ᐋᑲᖭᓰᒧᐏᐣ ᒫᑲ ᓂᑮ ᒫᐦ ᒥᖪᐦᑕᐚᐘᐠ ᓂᑭᐢᑭᓌᐦᐊᒫᑲᓇᐠ ᐄ ᐊᔭᒥᐦᑖᒋᐠ ᐋᒋᒧᐏᐣ ᒪᓯᓇᐦᐃᑲᓇ᙮ ᐱᔭᐠ ᐆᒪ ᒪᓯᓇᐦᐃᑲᓂᐢ ᓂᑭᐢᑭᓯᐣ, “The Little Engine That Could” ᐄ ᐃᓯᖨᐦᑳᑏᐠ᙮ ᐄ ᒥᖪᐦᑕᒫᐣ ᐊᓂᐦᐃ ᐃᑜᐏᓇ “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” ᑭᓵᐢᑕᐤ ᐄ ᓂᑯᒧᐟ ᐊᓇ ᐊᐱᐢᒋ ᐃᐢᑯᒌᐏᒑᐹᓈᐢᑯᐢ᙮ “ᓂᑲ ᑲᐢᑭᐦᑖᐣ! ᓂᑲ ᑲᐢᑭᐦᑖᐣ! ᓂᑲ ᑲᐢᑭᐦᑖᐣ!”English gave me difficulty but I liked the sound of my teachers reading us story books. I remember this one little book called “The Little Engine That Could.” I liked the sound of those words “nika-kaskihtân! nika-kaskihtân! nika-kaskihtân!” They sounded like the little red engine was singing! “I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!”
mâka kiyâpic nikî-mâkwahikon âkathâsîmowin.ᒫᑲ ᑭᔮᐱᐨ ᓂᑮ ᒫᑿᐦᐃᑯᐣ ᐋᑲᖭᓰᒧᐏᐣ᙮But still English gave me difficulty.
pâtimâ niyânan î-itakisoyân nawac kâ-kî-ati-nisitohtamân âkathâsîmowin athisk nikiskinwahamâkîm, Mrs. Onishankow, î-kî-kiskinwahamâkîstamâkît masinahikana ita kakwîcihkîmowina î-astîki, ta-naskwîwasistamâhk. nikî-mithwîthihtîn iyakoni athisk î-kî-wîcihikoyân ta-nisitohtamân anihi âcimowina kâ-kî-ayamihtâyân.ᐹᑎᒫ ᓂᔮᓇᐣ ᐄ ᐃᑕᑭᓱᔮᐣ ᓇᐘᐨ ᑳ ᑮ ᐊᑎ ᓂᓯᑐᐦᑕᒫᐣ ᐋᑲᖭᓰᒧᐏᐣ ᐊᖨᐢᐠ ᓂᑭᐢᑭᓌᐦᐊᒫᑮᒼ, Mrs. Onishankow, ᐄ ᑮ ᑭᐢᑭᓌᐦᐊᒫᑮᐢᑕᒫᑮᐟ ᒪᓯᓇᐦᐃᑲᓇ ᐃᑕ ᑲᑹᒋᐦᑮᒧᐏᓇ ᐄ ᐊᐢᑏᑭ, ᑕ ᓇᐢᑹᐘᓯᐢᑕᒫᕽ᙮ ᓂᑮ ᒥᙹᖨᐦᑏᐣ ᐃᔭᑯᓂ ᐊᖨᐢᐠ ᐄ ᑮ ᐑᒋᐦᐃᑯᔮᐣ ᑕ ᓂᓯᑐᐦᑕᒫᐣ ᐊᓂᐦᐃ ᐋᒋᒧᐏᓇ ᑳ ᑮ ᐊᔭᒥᐦᑖᔮᐣ᙮It wasn’t until I was in Grade 5 when I began to understand English better because my teacher, Mrs. Onishanko, used stories with questions, for us to answer. I liked those because they helped me understand the stories I was reading.
ikosi ôma nîsta kâ-kakwî-isi-kiskinwahamâkîyân. nimasinahîn âcimowinisa ikwa nikâh-kakwîcihkîmon tânisi kâ-ispathik ikota âcimowinihk.ᐃᑯᓯ ᐆᒪ ᓃᐢᑕ ᑳ ᑲᑹ ᐃᓯ ᑭᐢᑭᓌᐦᐊᒫᑮᔮᐣ᙮ ᓂᒪᓯᓇᐦᐄᐣ ᐋᒋᒧᐏᓂᓴ ᐃᑿ ᓂᑳᐦ ᑲᑹᒋᐦᑮᒧᐣ ᑖᓂᓯ ᑳ ᐃᐢᐸᖨᐠ ᐃᑯᑕ ᐋᒋᒧᐏᓂᕽ᙮I try to teach the same way. I write stories and ask questions on what happens in the stories.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.