Origin of the Moon (2024): Solomon Ratt (y-dialect)

This story, published in English by Stan Cuthand in 1973, was previously told in Cree by Solomon Ratt for storytelling month in 2021. Following strictly in the oral tradition, it would be told and retold from memory, adjusted for the audience and circumstances. Since this isn’t a story Sol has had a lifetime hearing, this 2023 telling works from his 2021 translation into Cree, providing a little polish to the translation and spelling as he goes. Maybe – given enough repetitions – Sol will eventually give us a complete retelling from memory. This is how cultural reclamation and linguistic revitalization work hand in hand!

Origin of the Moon itê kâ-ohcît tipiskâwi-pîsim
Translated into Cree by Solomon Ratt (2021), revised 2023Stan Cuthand, ed., nêhiyâw atayohkêwina (Cree Legends): Stories of Wîsahkêcâhk. Regina: Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre (1973, rev. 1977, 1988).
kayâs, mêtoni kayâs, namôya kî-ihtakow tipiskâwi-pîsim. kîsikâwi-pîsim piko kâ-kî-ihtakot. kisê-manitow kî-ayâwêw itisahwâkana ta-wîcihikot otatoskêwinihk. pêyak awa itisahwâkan “kâ-nâkatawêyimât kîsikâwi-pîsimwa” kî-itâw.A long time ago, there was no moon. There was only the sun. The Creator had messengers who helped him in his work. One of these was the Caretaker of the Sun.
nîso kî-otawâsimisiw, nâpêsisa êkwa iskwêsisa. kî-nistokêwak kîsikohk. kî-cîhkêyihtamwak.He had two children, a boy and a girl. All three lived in the Sky World. They were very happy.
otânisimâw kî-kanawêyihtam kapêsiwin. kapê kî-kanâcihtâw. ispîhk kâ-kî-pahpawahahk opîwayakohpiwâwa, pîwayak kî-nîhci-pahkisinwak, ê-kî-misponiyik. okosisimâw kî-nôcihcikêw êkwa kî-nôci-kinosêwêw. ita kâ-kî-akotât otayapiya ta-pâsoyit êkota ohci nipiy kî-pahkihtiniyiw, ê-kî-kimiwaniyik.The daughter looked after the camp. She kept it clean and tidy. When she shook the feather bedding, the feathers would fall to the earth as snow. The son hunted and fished. Where he hung his nets to dry, droplets fell to the earth as rain.
ohtâwîmâw ohpimê kî-ay-ayâw. kapê-kîsik kî-pônam kihci-iskotêw kîsikâwi-pîsimohk.The father would be away. All day he kept the great fire burning on the Sun.
mêtoni kî-kisêyinîwiw, wîpac ta-nakatêw otawâsimisa, nama wîhkâc kîhtwâm ka-takosihk. kî-itêw; “ispîhk nipiyâni kiyawâw piko ta-âhkami-pônamêk iskotêw awêkâ cî ayisiyiniwak êkwa pisiskiwak askîhk ta-nipiwak.He was very old. Soon he would leave his children, never to return. He said to them; “When I die, you must keep the fire burning, or else the people and animals on earth will die.”
pêyakwâw ê-kîsikâk kî-ati-mêstaskitêw iskotêw kîsikâwi-pîsimohk, ohtâwîmâw kî-pê-kîwêw, ê-kî-nêstosit. kî-itwêw, “awâsisak, nitawâsimisak. êkwâni ta-sipwêhtêyân. nama wîhkâc kîhtwâm nika-pê-itohtân.” awâsisak kî-mâtowak, ê-kî-mawîhkâtâcik. kî-kiskêyihtamwak ê-wî-nipiyit.One day when the fire was low on the sun, the father came home tired. He said, “Children, my children, my children. I have to go. I will never return.” The children cried and mourned. They knew he would die.
kâ-kîkisêpâyâk êkwa ôma ta-pônamihk kîsikâwi-pîsim otiskotêm. awâsisak kî-ati-kîhkâhtowak awîna ta-kî-itôtahk. “kiya pôna, kiya nawac kikisiyayawisin.” “namôya, kiya nîkân.” “namôya, namôya niya, kiya nawac kikisiyayawisin, kiya kotawêw.” êkosi ê-kî-isi-kîhkâhmitocik.In the morning it was time to start the sun's fire. The children began to quarrel over who would do the task. “You start the fire, you are older.” “No, you start first.” “No, I will not, you are older, you start the fire.” They yelled thus to each other.
ayisiyiniwak askîhk kî-ati-mikoskâtêyihtamwak, ê-kî-itwêcik, “tânêhki awa kîsikâwi-pîsim kâ-mwêstasisihk?” “âsay awa ta-kî-sâkâsot!” ·The earth-people began to worry, saying, “Why is the sun so late?” “It should be up by now!”
wîshakêcâhk kî-itohtêw kîsikâwi-pîsimohk ê-kî-nitawâpênawât tânisi ê-kî-ispayiyik. ispîhk kâ-kî-takosihk âhci piko ôki wîtisânimâwak kî-kîhkâhtowak. wîsahkêcâhk kî-kisiwâsiw. “ayisiyiniwak êkwa pisiskiwak ka-nisiwanâtisiwak,” kî-itêw.Wisahkecahk went to the Sun to see what was the matter. When he arrived, the brother and sister were still quarrelling. Wisahkecahk was angry. “The People and animals will perish,” he said to them.
kiya ôma piko! kiya ôma kapê ka-pônaman ôma iskotêw!” kî-itêw nâpêsisa. “kiwîhowin ôta ohci kika-itikawin ‘pîsim.’ êkwa iskwêsisa kî-itêw, “kîsta mîna kika-sôhki-atoskân pêyakwan kistês. kika-kanawêskotêwân pêtos ita. tipiskâki kika-atoskân. kika-itikawin ôta ohci ‘tipiskâwi-pîsim.’“It is up to you! You keep the fire burning,” he told the boy. “Your name from now on will be pîsim.” To the sister, he said, “You too will work as hard as your brother. You will keep the fire in another place. You will work at night. You will be tipiskawipîsim, the Moon.”
“namôya kikî-ohci-miyo-wîcêwitonâwâw. êwako ohci pêyakwâw piko pêyak askîwin kika-wâpamitonâwâw. kâkikê ôta ohci kika-wâpamitonâwâw akâmi-kîsikohk ohci.“You did not get along. As a punishment, you will see each other once a year. For all time, you will see each other from across the sky.”
êkosi kî-ispayin. ahpô mîna anohc êkosi isi-ayâw.And so it happened. Even now it is so.

For more Cree Legends, and past sessions from Indigenous Storytelling month, click here! 

We just discovered that the original 1973 publication  (English only) can still be purchased from SICC. Wouldn’t it be great to persuade them to publish a new, bilingual edition?
Click here for ordering instructions.

2 Responses

  1. Shout out to Aaron Fey with thanks for catching the typos! They’re fixed now – but sometimes they hide, so we’re always grateful to hear about them!

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