Wisahkecahk and the Rabbit

A fifth story from the collection 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!

êwako ohci kâ-sâkâwâyiki otihtimana wâposWhy the Rabbit has Narrow Shoulders
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 55-57
pêyakwâw wîsahkêcâhk kî-papimohtêw sakâhk kâ-kî-atimiskawât wâposwa. kêtahtawê kî-sisikoci-nakîw wîsahkêcâhk. “tânisi awa ê-isi-ayât ana wâpos?”Once upon a time Wisahkecahk was walking along in the woods; he passed a rabbit. Suddenly Wisahkecahk stopped. “What is wrong with that Rabbit?”
kâwi kî-nâtêw wâposwa. êkwa kî-ati-pâh-pâhpiw! “kîkway ôma kâ-pâhpiskâkot?” kî-itêyihtam ana kâ-kî-koskowihiht wâpos. “ahpô êtikwê ê-wî-wawiyasihit!”He went back to the rabbit. And he started to laugh and laugh. “What’s this that makes him laugh?” thought the startled rabbit. “Perhaps he is planning to trick me!”
“wâpos,” kî-itwêw wîsahkêcâhk. “tânêhki ôma kâ-sâkâwâki kitihtimana? kiwawiyasinâkohikon.”“Rabbit,” said Wisahkecahk. “Why are your shoulders so narrow? It makes you look funny.”
wâpos ispimihk kî-itâpiw, “ispîhk kâ-kî-oskâyawiyân nikî-mohcowin, nîso ê-kî-wîcimosiyân. âyêtaw mâna nikî-wîtapimikwak. pâh-pêyak mâna nikî-nitawêyimik ta-pisiskêyimak. nikî-itêyimison ê-takahki-nâpêwiyân. nikî-mamihcihikwak, nikî-wîsâhkawêhikwak okîsowiniwâw. namôya nikî-ohci-nisitawêyihtên ê-kî-mâkoniskawicik, nawac ê-sâh-sîhtiskawicik. piyisk nikî-ati-mwêstâtêyimikwak; kâ-nakasicik. anohc piko nitayân sâkâwâ-mitihtimana kita-kiskisiyân nîcimosak.”The Rabbit looking up said, “When I was young and foolish I had two sweethearts. They used to sit on each side of me. Each one tried to get my attention. I thought I was very attractive. I was flattered by their interest, was so charmed by their warmth. I did not realize that they were squeezing me tighter and tighter. Soon they grew tired of me; they left me. Now I have only narrow shoulders to remind me of my lovers.”
kî-kitimâkinawêw wâposwa wîsahkêcâhk.Wisahkecahk looked with pity at the rabbit.
“wâpos,” kî-itwêw, “kikî-mohcowin, êwak-ohci kapê kika-sâkâwâ-mitihtimanin.”“Rabbit,” he said, “you were foolish, for that, you will remain narrow shouldered.”
êkosi kî-nakatêw wâposwa opîkiskwâtisiwin! êkospîhk ohci kahkiyaw wâposwak sâkâwâ-mitihtimaniwak.So he left the poor rabbit with his sorrow! From that time on all rabbits have narrow shoulders.

For more read-along 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.

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