Solomon Ratt stands witness from First Nations University
“Before the Battle of Cut Knife, Poundmaker led his band members to Fort Battleford to both reaffirm their relationship with the Crown and press for fair treatment. But neither government officials nor the RCMP would emerge from the fort”.
We hope the mainstream media is filled today with stories acknowledging the great historic wrong that was done to Chief Poundmaker and many of his Cree allies following the 1885 Resistance. For us, it’s an opportunity to stand witness.
Thank you to Winona Wheeler for permission to share some of the images she shared today acknowledging the work of her late husband, Tyrone Tootoosis, Sr.
Here are some links to stories relating to events past and present to help us all remember.
Read along with this Say it First video. Say it First books are designed for children, and translated in a whole range of Indigenous languages. This translation into Woodlands Cree (th-dialect), and audio were prepared by Solomon Ratt, but this one is also translated into Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Ojibwe, Plains Cree and Swampy Cree.
Story summary: Know What You Throw: Jennifer and Ian can’t take it anymore, their forest is getting loaded with litter and it is starting to stink. Listen in as Jennifer teaches Ian how to help keep Mother Earth healthy so she can take care of us. Reduce, reuse, recycle and compost.
A joint Prince’s Charities Canada, First Nations University of Canada project supported by Department of Canadian Heritage Created by Mike Parkhill (SayITFirst) Produced & Directed by Steve Jesse (Corporate Films Canada)
In Winnipeg, the May long weekend is when the bedding plants are finally considered safe from frost: seems like a good time for gardening terms! Thanks to Solomon Ratt for corresponding audio: listen as you read the list!
transplant, transplanted vegetable
a shovel, 1. paddle 2. shovel, spade
cover s.t. with earth; hoe s.t, hill s.t.
hoe, hiller, tool for covering potatoes with earth
be hilled, be covered with earth; be hoed [e.g. a garden]
hoe [it/him] for s.o.
hoe things, cover things with earth, hill things
hoe s.o.; cover s.o. with earth
bean, green bean
1. A small hand rake [garden tool].
garden; vegetable, potato
plant seeds; have a small garden
seed, plant for transplanting
grain. Also grain field. field, arable land; farm; garden
plant s.t, sow s.t.
be planted for him.
be planted [animate], as grain.
1. plant him [animate], as grain. 2. be planted [meaning a field]. be planted
plant or sows it, farm; plant things, seed things; harvest
rubbish or weeds, garbage, rubbish; weed
kernel of corn
a cob of corn, corn, ear of corn, cob of corn; kernel of corn
stand in a cluster [e.g. plants]
obtain s.t. by pulling; pull s.t. out [e.g. tooth], pull s.t. loose, pull s.t. free, tear s.t. off; pick s.t. [i.e. a plant]
bean; literally: "little bag"
rake things up
rake s.t. in a heap, rake s.t. up
rake s.o. in a heap
rake them into a heap. Animate, as wheat.
pull them out. Animate. As carrots from a garden, pull s.o. out entirely [e.g. carrots]
dried up carrot, carrot that has gone wooden with age
harvest; dig, dig things
small field, small garden
farm, make a garden
a tomato. Also the term used for a rose bush berry, rose-bush berry, rose hip; thorn berry; tomato
have a wheat field or garden, have a field or garden
The late Tyrone Tootoosis was the great-great-grandson of Yellow Mudblanket (osâwasiskîwakohp), who was a brother of Poundmaker (pîhtokahânapiwiyin). The exoneration of Poundmaker (scheduled for 23 May 2019) was a goal that Tyrone would have loved to see.
Tyrone’s legacy is enormous, but his performances as Poundmaker in two television miniseries (Big Bear (1998), and Chiefs (2002)), form a significant part. I recently stumbled on an article that describes how he came to be cast in that role – and why his performance was so significant. (Read Dave Yanko’s undated Virtual Saskatchewan article here: http://www.virtualsk.com/current_issue/playing_pound.html.)
We’re all lucky that Tyrone left us this small audio sample recreating the words of his own most famous ancestor. We don’t know the precise details that surrounded its creation. The voice is Tyrone’s, the photographs are from his personal collection. The text in Cree is also most likely Tyrone’s own. They are most likely translated back into Cree from the only words recorded at the time: the English words of the court translator. We’ve transcribed the Cree text (in SRO and syllabics, below the video) so you can listen and read along.
[Thanks to Elder Barry Ahenakew for correcting the Cree for Yellow Mudblanket to osâwasiskîwakohp, which refers to a buffalo covered with yellow-coloured mud after rolling around in it. (The form I initially used, osâwakohp ‘Yellow Blanket’ is the SRO version of “O‑sa‑wa‑coup” used in Norma Sluman’s fictional biography). Barry’s own family tree crosses that of Poundmaker and Yellow Mudblanket through one of their sisters.]
It’s the same for you all, when you were finished fighting here at the hill [Cutknife] during the Resistance. But already once again you have to fight, you’ll have to fight hard, you’ll have to fight with yourselves, [because of] this new way of thinking: Don’t, don’t think little of yourselves.
It is said: “Me, I’m all by myself, I cannot do anything.” That’s how the people think, and how they spend their lives, in fear.
kikiskêyihtênânaw anima âcimowin: ana nâpêw ê-kisâtapit sisonê mêskanâhk osâm kinwês. kî-ohpikiniyiw. namôya kîhtwâm kî-miskamow mêskanaw. namôya wîhkâc ka-kî-wanikiskisinânaw tânisi ôta ê-pê-ispayik. mâka, namôya mîna kika-kî-wâyinînânaw. namôya mîna pimicâyihk mêskanâhk ka-kî-ay-apinânaw.
We know that story: that man who stays sitting by the trail too long. It becomes overgrown. One can no longer find the trail. We can never forget how it came to pass here. But, we can also not go back. Nor can we sit beside the trail.
kipakitinikowisininaw, kinêhiyaw-pimâtisiwininaw kiskinohtêmakan. mâka namôya ka-kî-sâsakitapiyahk, kwayaskâpawistamahk. namôya mîna ka-kî-môniyâhkâsoyahk.
Our gift, our Cree life, is a guide. We cannot just sit back, we must stand up. Neither can we act like Whitemen.
Don’t let the word ‘water’ fool you. Even though freshwater turtles rely on wetlands, streams, lakes, and rivers to survive, they all need land as well.
In fact, these long-living reptiles begin their life on land where the sun incubates their buried eggs. Sadly, motor vehicle collisions, habitat loss, and climate change threaten nearly all eight species. You can help by watching for them on the road and by conserving their habitat. And that’s just a start.
To learn more about freshwater turtles, visit hww.ca.
Thank you to Norah Wakula of Power of Babel International Language Versioning, who located the script for us while arranging voice-over for another episode, coming soon. And thanks (as always) to Solomon Ratt for his editorial help.
Let’s honour him by remembering his name in Cree: pîhtokahânapiwiyin (literally, “he who sit at the [buffalo] pound”).
Deep respect and congratulations to everyone at Poundmaker Cree Nation who has helped make this happen by petitioning for the exoneration of this epic Cree hero, particularly Headman Milton Tootoosis. Even though the date of the celebration had to be changed to accommodate Ottawa’s schedule, 23 May 2019 will mark one of the most significant events in Cree history.
Poundmaker spoke through an interpreter at his 1885 trial. He is quoted as saying, “Everything I could do was done to stop bloodshed,” “Had I wanted war, I would not be here now. I should be on the prairie. You did not catch me. I gave myself up. You have got me because I wanted justice.”
Looking for a reminder of the story of this remarkable Cree leader? Here’s a link to Hugh Dempsey’s biography from the Canadian Encyclopedia. As it notes, exoneration is equally deserved by Mistahimaskwa (Big Bear) and Kapeyakwaskonam (One Arrow), who were also convicted of treason, despite having not participated in the rebellion. Perhaps now it’s time to speak for them as well.
Today is National Awareness Awareness Day for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. anohc misiwêskamik kitaskînâhk ka-kiskisitotawâyahkok kâ-wanihihcik êkwa kâ-nipahihcik iskwêwak êkwa iskwêsisak. ᐊᓄᐦᐨ ᒥᓯᐍᐢᑲᒥᐠ ᑭᑕᐢᑮᓈᕽ ᑲ ᑭᐢᑭᓯᑐᑕᐚᔭᐦᑯᐠ ᑳ ᐘᓂᐦᐃᐦᒋᐠ ᐁᑿ ᑳ ᓂᐸᐦᐃᐦᒋᐠ ᐃᐢᑵᐘᐠ ᐁᑿ ᐃᐢᑵᓯᓴᐠ᙮ #NationalDayofAwareness#MMIW#MMNWG
Behind the blindfold The blindfold dehumanizes most murder victims. Indigenous Women face severe gender based violence in Canada. Hence, “Indigenous women are 12 times more likely to go missing or murdered than any other women in Canada, and 16 times more likely than Caucasian women.” They are mothers, aunties, sisters, daughters and grandmothers. They are human beings. They are our birth givers, keepers of the life.
Wear red today to honour their family, but mostly importantly to give hope to the women that are still missing. Bring our iskwêsisak/iskwêwak back home.
To honour the day, and the depth of heartbreak if represents, here is a poem by Chief Billy Joe Laboucan, written in honour of his late daughter Bella. Perhaps one day he’ll share his own reading. Today it seems just wrong to ask.
Love pours from My eyes. Love fills My memories. Love-tears sooth My cheeks. Love overwhelms My heart.
Thanks also to Elaine Kicknosway for permission to share this beautiful video, made by her son, Theland Kicknosway: “MMIWG2S Song For The Heart.” It is a beautiful song “made to start the day and warm the heart.”