Wisahkecahk and the Frog

A sixth 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 ayîkos kâ-nêpêwisitWhy the Frog is Shy
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 58-61
kayâs êsa mist-ayîkis kî-wîkiw sisonê misikamâhk. namôya kî-nihtâ-pakâsimow. namôya mîna kî-nihtâ-kwâskohiw. mâka kî-nihtâ-nikamow.A long time ago, there was a big frog who lived by a big lake. He was not a good swimmer. He was not a good jumper either. But the frog was a good singer.
kisiwâk ispatinâhk, wîsahkêcâhkt kî-wîkiw. kî-natohtawêw ayîkisa kâ-nikamoyit kâ-otâkosiniyik. kî-itisahamawêw mihcêt ê-miywâsiniyiki mîciwina ê-kî-nanâskomât onikamowin ohci.Nearby on a hill, lived Wisahkecahk. He would listen to the frog singing in the evenings. He would send the frog gifts of food for his singing.
ayîkis kî-ati-kâmwâtisiw. namôya kî-kiskêyihtam kêko mêkiwin mêskoc kita-itisahamawât wîsahkêcâhkwa. êkosi kî-kakwêcimêw niska mwêhci êkota ê-kî-pimohtêyit.The frog became very unhappy. He did not know what gift Wisahkecahk might like in return. So he asked the goose who happened to go by.
“oh, niska, kîkway kita-kî-miyak wîsahkêcâhk? ê-pâh-pê-itisahamawit mîciwin kêkâc tahto otâkosin.”“Oh Goose, what shall I give Wisahkecahk? He sends me food almost every evening.”
“tânêhki mâka êkâ kita-kî-itisahamawat kinikinik kita-kî-pîhtwât otospwâkanihk?”“Why don’t you give him something to smoke in his pipe. Perhaps some kinnekinnic.”
“ôh, êwako miyo-itêyihtâkwan! kinanâskomitin, niska!”“Oh, that is a fine idea. Thank you, Goose.”
ayîkis kî-mâci-atoskêw, ê-kî-manisahk nîpisiya êkwa ê-kî-kâskahahk mihkwâpêmakwa ta-pâstêyiki. wîpac mistahi kî-asahpitam.The frog went to work, cutting red willows and taking off the bark to dry. Soon he had a big bundle.
kîhtwâm kâ-pê-kîkisêpâyik niska kî-môsahkinam anima asahpicikan êkwa kî-ispihâw itê kâ-kî-cimatêyik mîkiwâhp ispatinâhk, ita wîsahkêcâhkwa kâ-kî-wîkiyit. wîsahkêcâhk kî-cîhkêyihtam êkwa mîna wîsta ayîskis kî-cîhkêyihtam. êkosi kî-mâh-mîskoci-miyitowak mêkiwina.The next morning the goose picked up the bundle and flew to the lodge on the hill, where Wisahkecahk lived. Wisahkecahk was very pleased and the frog was happy, too. They continued to exchange gifts.
pêyak kîsikâw ayîkis kî-itêyihtam ta-kiyokawât wîsahkêcâhkwa. kî-pâsam kinikinik êkwa kî-misi-asahpitam. kî-tawâhtêhtâw asicâyihk asahpicikanihk. êkota kî-pîhtokwêtâcimow. niska kî-pê-nîhci-pimihâw ê-kî-môsahkinahk asahpicikan.One day the frog decided to visit Wisahkecahk. He dried kinnekinnic and rolled it into a bigger bundle than usual. He left an opening on one side of the bundle. He crawled into it. The goose came down and picked up the bundle.
“kosikwan ôma,” kî-itêyihtam. kî-âyimîw ispimihk kita-isi-ohpahot mâka kî-kaskihtâw nâh-nawac ispimihk isi kita-isi-pimihât, papêyâhtak.“This is heavy,” he thought. He struggled to gain height but managed to fly higher and higher and higher very slowly.
ispimihk sâkahikanihk êkwa sakâhk kî-pimihâw, kêtahtawê ê-kî-mêkwâ-pimihât ayîkis kâ-kî-misi-câhcâmot! êkwa niska kî-kiciskinam asahpicikan, nâh-nîhcâyihk isi kî-isi-pahkihtin, askîhk isi.Over the lake and forest he flew, while in flight suddenly the frog gave a loud sneeze. And the goose dropped the bundle that went down, down to the earth.
ayîkis, ê-kî-nisitawêyihtahk askîhk ê-kî-isi-nîhci-pahkisihk, kî-têpwêw awiya kita-wîcihikot. aspahpicikan asinîhk kî-isi-pahkihtin.The frog, realizing he was falling towards the earth, screamed for help. The bundle was falling towards some rocks.
wîsahkêcâhk kî-pêhtawêw ayîkisa êkwa kî-pakosêyimow aspahpicikan kita-pahkihtiniyik sâkahikanihk. asiniskâhk kî-ati-sâkahikaniwiw êkwa sakâw kî-sisiskoci-nôkwan. ayîkis kî-pahkisin yôskahk, mitihkwanihk cîkakâm.Wisahkecahk heard the frog and wished that the bundle would drop on the lake. The rocky ground became a lake and a forest appeared. The frog had a soft landing on branches of a tree by the lake.
ispîhk ayîkis kâ-kî-wayawî-ahtawêt aspahpicikanihk ohci, otahk oskâta kî-mêcimosiniyiwa tâskiso-watihkwanihk. kî-kakwê-pihkohisow. mêtoni ê-kî-ati-kinwâyiki otahk oskâta. nawac mistahi kâ-kî-kakwê-pihkohisot, nawac kâ-kî-ati-kinwâyiki oskâta.As the frog slipped out of the bundle, his hind feet were caught by a fork of two branches. He struggled to free himself. He stretched his hind legs. The more he struggled, the longer his hind legs became.
kêtahtawê oskâta kî-wîhkwacipitam êkwa kî-pakastawêpayiw. kî-cîhkêyihtam kiyâpic ê-kî-pimâtisit. mâka kî-nêpêwihikow otahk oskâta ê-kî-isi-kinwâyiki.At last the feet slipped out and he fell into the lake. The frog was glad to be alive. But he was ashamed of his long hind legs.
wîsahkêcâhk kî-pê-itohtêw êkwa kî-itwêw, “kikinokâta kika-wîcihikon kita-nihtâ-pakâsimoyan. êkwa mîna kika-nihtâ-kwâskohtin!”Wisahkecahk came and said, “Your long legs will help you to be a good swimmer. You will be a good jumper, too.
mâka âhci piko kî-nêpêwisiw êkwa kî-kâsôw nipîhk. anohc mîna kâ-kîsikâk, ayîkisak kêyâpic nêpêwisiwak ayisk ê-kinokâtêcik.Yet the frog was still embarrassed and hid in the water. To this day, all frogs are shy because they have long legs.

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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