Wisahkecahk and the Beaver

An eighth and final story for this year from the English-only collection published by Stan Cuthand in 1973, newly translated back into Cree for storytelling month by Solomon Ratt. These new translations – back into Cree – give us all a chance to listen, read along, and participate simultaneously in cultural reclamation and linguistic revitalization.

wîsahkêcâhk êkwa amiskWisahkecahk and the Beaver
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 67-73
pêyakwâw êsa wîsahkêcâhk ê-kî-papimohtêt ispîhk kâ-otihtahk ê-kâmwâtaniyik sîpîsis.Once upon a time Wisahkecahk was walking along and he came to a quiet stream.
“mahti ôta nika-aywêpin,” kî-itêyihtam. êkosi kî-kawisimow sisonê sîpîsisihk êkwa wîpac kî-nipâpayiw.“Let me rest here,” he thought. So he laid on the shore and soon fell asleep.
êkota êsa sîpîsisihk ê-kî-mêtawêcik amiskwak. pêyak amisk kî-itwêw, ‘cîst! nâha nêtê kistêsinaw wîsahkêcâhk ê-matwê-nipât! mahti nika-nitawi-sêkihâw!”There were beaver playing in the stream. One of them said, “Look! There is our brother Wisahkecahk sleeping. Let me go and scare him.”
êkosi amisk kî-âsowaham êkwa kî-sîkahâhtawêw wîsahkêcâhkwa. mêtoni wîsahkêcâhk ê-kî-koskohikot, kâ-kî-simaci-kwâstohtit.So the beaver swam across and splashed water on wîsahkêcâhk. wîsahkêcâhk was so startled that he jumped up.
ispîhk kâ-kî-wâpamât amiskwa kî-nawatinêw osôyihk. kî-nipôhkâsiw amisk.Upon seeing the beaver, he caught him by the tail. The beaver played dead.
wîsahkêcâhk kî-tâhkopitam otahpiht-tahkopicikaniyâpiy ohci amiskwâyôhk êkwa êkosi kî-nayômêw. âh-âskaw mâna amisk kî-pasihkwêtahêw wîsahkêcâhkwa osoy ohci. wîsahkêcâhk kî-itêyihtam misoy ê-kî-piswahtiniyik watihkwanihk ita sakâsa kâ-kî-miyâskahk êkosi misoy ê-kî-pasihkwêtahikot.Wisahkecahk fastened the drawstring from his tobacco pouch around the beaver’s tail, and carried him on his back. Several times the beaver would slap Wisahkecahk on the face. Wisahkecahk thought the tail was only snagged on a branch of the bushes he passed, and that the tail sprang back to hit his face. ·
piyisk kî-otihtam sâkahikan wîsahkêcâhk. kî-itêyihtam êkota kita-nakît, “âh, nika-môsahkinên mihcisa êkwa nika-kîsiswâw niminahowin,” kî-itêyihtam. kî-nôhtêhkatêw. kî-akotêw amiskwa mistikohk. êkwa kî-nâcimihtêw.By and by, Wisahkecahk came to a lake. He decided to stop, “Ah, I’ll get some wood and cook my game,” he thought. He was hungry. He hung the beaver on a tree. And he went to fetch some dry wood.
êkosi, ispîhci amisk kî-tapasîw. tânisi kâ-isi-kaskihtât namôya niya nika-kî-wîhtên. wîsahkêcâhk kâwi kî-pêtohtêw ê-kî-tahkonahk mihcisa êkwa kî-namatêw amisk, kiyâpic ê-kî-tahkopisoyit ahpihta osôhk.Meanwhile the beaver escaped. How he did it, is not up to me to say. Wisahkecahk returned with the wood and the beaver was gone, with the tobacco pouch still tied to his tail.
wîsahkêcâhk kî-têpwêw, “amisk, tânitê kâ-ayâyan?”Wisahkecahk yelled, “Beaver, where are you?”
êkota êsa sâkahikanihk kâ-kî-ayât amisk. “amisk pêci-pimosinâsin nitahpiht, nitawêyihtên nitâpiht êkwa nicistêmâw,” ê-kî-isi-pakosîhât.There was the beaver in the lake. “Beaver! Throw back my pouch, I need my flint and tobacco,” he begged.
amisk kî-itêyihtam, “kîhtwâm nika-wawiyasihâw nistês.” kî-wêwêkinêw ahpihta asiskiy ohci.The beaver thought, “I’ll play another trick on my brother.” He covered the pouch with mud.
kî-pimosinêw ahpihta, mâka kî-nawatisin owatihkwaniyihk mistikwa cîkakâm kâ-nîpawiyit. asiskiy tahcipayiw ahpihtihk ohci êkwa kî-pakastawêpayin. wîsahkêcâhk kî-pêhtam camohkahikêwin êkwa kî-nitawi-natonawêw otahpihta.Then he threw the pouch, which was caught by a branch of a tree standing on the water’s edge. The mud fell off the pouch into the water. Wisahkecahk heard the splash and went to look for the pouch.
kî-miskawêw ahpihta nipihk ê-akohtiniyit. kî-moscihicênêw. kâh-kîhtwâm kî-kâh-kocihtâw mêtoni ê-kî-ati-mônahahk wâtihkân atâmipîhk.He found the pouch lying in the water. He scooped it up with his hand. Again and again he tried until he made a deep hole at the lake bottom.
wîpac osâm wâhyaw. êkwa kî-pakastawêpayiw êkwâni êsa piko kâ-kî-nisitawêyihtahk ahpiht ê-kî-akotêyit watihkwanihk. cikâstêpêkisiniwin êsa kâ-kî-kakwê-moscihicênahk.Soon he reach too far. Then he fell in. Only then did he realize that the pouch was hanging on a branch. It was the reflection of the pouch he was trying to scoop out.
“kikî-wawiyasihin, amisk. kika-tipahikêhitin mwêstas!” êkosi, wîsahkêcâhk kî-ati-âhkami-pimâcihow“You played a trick on me, Beaver. I’ll get you next time.” With that, Wisahkecahk continued on his journey.
… âhkamihtâw opimâcihowin... the journey goes on.

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

We recently 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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