Sacred Women’s Honour Song: the late Simon Kytwayhat and Delvin Kanewiyakiho

In honour of International Women’s Day, we offer two videos of this Sacred Women’s Song – an honour song – along with text in y-dialect.

First (above): the late kêhtê-aya Simon Kytwayhat of mâkwa sâkahikan (Loon Lake) gives a really beautiful performance with hand drum of a traditional honour song. I like to listen for the buzz on the off-beat that is created by grazing the back of the vibrating drum head with a fingernail, but the clear singing voice in this recording almost makes me forget.

Kytwayhat sings four “push-ups” or repetitions of the song. The first half of each push-up is sung to vocables alone (meaningless sounds). The melody used for the text makes up the second half of each push-up, but the text is sung only in the second and fourth push-ups (with vocables alone used in the first and third). You’ll need to listen for a while to hear the text!

This video was shared on FaceBook by Janell Stick of nêhiyawêwin for the Soul – who writes, “I do not own the intellectual property rights of the Indigenous knowledge within this song but we can’t let the voices/songs/prayers of our ancestors/elders be forgotten.” It is in this spirit that we share the song here.

The second video (below) is the work of Cree language warrior Delvin Kanewiyakiho of minahikosihk (Little Pine), one of many he has shared on YouTube “to assist students in learning the nêhiyaw (Plains Cree) language.” In it, he sings, unaccompanied, only the texted part of the song. Then he offers a teaching breakdown of the text, as he learned it from the late Simon Kytwayhat when they worked together at Oskayak High School. We’ve provided the song text in SRO and syllabics in a table that follows Delvin’s video. (I hope this post meets Delvin’s approval! Be sure to search Delvin’s name on YouTube to find a much larger collection of teaching videos!)

nanâskomâtân iskwêw.ᓇᓈᐢᑯᒫᑖᐣ ᐃᐢᑵᐤ᙮Let us thank the woman.
ê-kisêwâtisit kitôkâwîmâw.ᐁ ᑭᓭᐚᑎᓯᐟ ᑭᑑᑳᐑᒫᐤ᙮Our mother is kind.
ê-isi-sawêyihtâkosit. ᐁ ᐃᓯ ᓴᐍᔨᐦᑖᑯᓯᐟ᙮ She has been blessed in such a way.
pimâtisiwin kâ-ohpikitamâkoyâhk. ᐱᒫᑎᓯᐏᐣ ᑳ ᐅᐦᐱᑭᑕᒫᑯᔮᕽ᙮ She raises up life for us. 

2 Responses

  1. Janell Stick, You are so right, we don’t want to lose the precious voices, songs, prayers of our Elders and ancestors. This wouold be tragic.

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