Wisahkecahk and the Bear

A fourth story, originally published in English only by Stan Cuthand in 1973, newly translated back into Cree for storytelling month by Solomon Ratt. This is how cultural reclamation and linguistic revitalization work hand in hand!

wîsahkêcâhk êkwa maskwaWisahkecahk and the Bear
Translated into Cree by Solomon Ratt (2024)Stan Cuthand, ed., nêhiyâw atayohkêwina (Cree Legends): Stories of Wîsahkêcâhk. Saskatoon: Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre (1973, rev. 1977, 1988). Pp 52-54
pêyakwâw, ê-kîsikâk, wîsahkêcâhk kî-wiyasiwêw ta-osîhtamâsot oski-acosisa. kî-môsahkinam misâskatôminâhcikosa êkwa takwahiminânâhcikosa, êkwa kî-ati-mâh-môhkotam êkwa kî-mâh-manisam miscikosa kita-acosisihkêt.One day Wisahkecahk decided he must make some new arrows for himself. He gathered a fine bundle of saskatoon and chokecherry sticks and started to cut and trim them for the arrows.
wîsahkêcâhk kî-osîhêw otahcâpiya êkwa ocacosisa kapê-kîsik. ispîhk kâ-kî-kîsihât, kî-nitawi-nôcihcikêw ayisk ê-kî-nôhtêhkatêt. mwêstas, kinwêsîs ê-kî-pimohtêt, kî-wâpamêw maskwa, ê-kî-môminêyit, mînasa êtikwê ê-kî-wîhkasiniyiki kâ-kî-môminêt awa maskwa.Wisahkecahk worked on his bow and arrows for most of the day and when he had finished them, he set out hunting for he was very hungry. After he had walked for some time he saw Maskwa, the bear, eating some delicious berries.
kî-kostêw mâna maswka wîsahkêcâhk mâka anohc kî-nâpêhkâsow êkwa ayisk ê-kî-osîhtamâsot ê-miyosiyit ahcâpiya mîna acosisa. wîsahkêcâhk mâci-nanwêyacihêw ôhi maskwa; wîhtamawêw ê-mâyâtisiyit ayisk ê-wâpikiskicêt. maskwa kî-kisêmikow wîsahkêcâhkwa ayisk ê-kî-macêyihtâkosiyit êkwa kî-ati-môskîstawêw.Usually, Wisahkecahk was afraid of Maskwa but today he felt very brave because he had made such fine arrows for his bow. Wisahkecahk started to tease Maskwa, the bear; he told Maskwa he looked very ugly with a white behind. Maskwa, the bear, became angry at Wisahkecahk for his cruel insults and he began to run towards him.
wîsahkêcâhk mâna kî-tapasîstawêw maskwa mâka namôya êkwa. kî-otinêw otahcâpiya êkwa ocacosisa ê-pimwât maskwa mâka nâtwâpayiyiwa ocacosisa.Wisahkecahk usually ran from Maskwa, but not this time. He took his bow and arrows and sent them flying towards Maskwa. But his arrow broke in half.
kîhtwâm kocihtâw; mâka acosisak kâkikê nâh-nâtwâpayiwak. maskwa kisiwâk ayâw ita wîsahkêcâhkwa kâ-ayâyit, sipwêhpahtâw wîsahkêcâhk. wâh-wâskâpahtâwak mistikohk êkwa wîsahkêcâhk mêtoni ê-ati-nêstwatâhtahk. ayiwâk kâ-wâskâpahtâcik ayiwâk ê-ati-môskatâwahkiskahkik askiy ita kâ-pimipahtâcik.He tried again; but the arrows kept breaking. Maskwa was close upon Wisahkecahk, so he took off running. Round and round a tree they ran, with Wisahkecahk getting out of breath. The more they ran around, the more they tramped a groove deeper and deeper in the ground.
wîsahkêcâhk tahkiskâtam kîkway êkwa kêkâc piswahcahikêw. wîsahkêcâhk pisiskâpamêw maskwa tahtwâw kâ-miyâskamiyit anima kîkway kâ-môskatâwahkiskahkik aswêyihtam, kisâstaw ê-kostahk êkota kîkway. wîsahkêcâhk wiyasiwêw kita-môsahkinahk anima kîkway mahti êsa kita-kî-sêkihikoyit êyikohk kita-pôni-nawaswâtikot. kî-môsahkinam êkwa nisitawinawêw paskwâwi-mostos êskana. sasci-kwîskêw êskana ê-miciminât ocihcîhk, ê-têpwâtât maskwa, (ê-nîmot tâpiskôc paskwâwi-mostos.)Then Wisahkecahk kicked something and almost tripped. Wisahkecahk began to notice that every time Maskwa passed this thing he went around it and seemed to have some fear of this object. Wisahkecahk decided to pick up the object and see if Maskwa would be frightened by it and stop chasing him. He picked it up and found it was a buffalo horn. Suddenly, he turned around with the horn in his hand and yelled at Maskwa (making a sound like a buffalo).
maskwa kî-kostêw anihi êsakana êkwa kî-nakîw. êkwa wîsahkêcâhk kî-nawaswâtêw maskwa isko ê-kî-nêstosiyit êkwa kî-pahkisiniyiwa mohcihk. wîsahkêcâhk atotêw êskana kita-kisâtât maskwa kâkikê. piyisk kî-kîsi-pipon êkwa kîhtwâm kî-nîpin; wîsahkêcâhk kâwi kî-itohtêw itê kâ-kî-nakatât maskwa êkwa êskana. kiyâpic êkato pimisin maskwa, ê-kî-nipit. namôya êkota ê-kî-ohci-ahtôhtêt, ê-kî-ati-nipahâhkatosot.Maskwa was afraid of the horn and stopped dead in his tracks. Then Wisahkecahk chased the bear until it was very tired and fell to the earth. Wisahkecahk told the horn to stay by Maskwa forever. Then winter had·gone and summer had returned again; Wisahkecahk walked back to this place. There lay Maskwa, the bear, dead. He had not moved from that spot and had starved to death.

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. Would it be great to persuade them to publish a new, bilingual edition!
Click here for ordering instructions.

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