sêwêyâkanak / Jingle Bells

Nearly 30 years ago, the late Freda Ahenakew, and her mentor, the late Ida McLeod, produced a booklet with several dozen familiar children’s songs, Christmas carols and hymns translated into Cree. It’s been out of print for a long time now, but here is their version of Jingle Bells / sêwêyâkanak.  This photo is as close as I can come to Bette Spence’s description of driving through the snow with horse and sleigh to attend the Christmas concert at the Little Red River day school in the 1920s.

Hints: You know the tune, but to help fit the words to the notes, I’ve put brackets around vowels that get dropped out, and used bold to show the strongest syllables.

sêwêyâkanak*

[chorus:]
kanakkanak
pic(i)kêwak!
pwê nimiywêyihtên
mistatim ot(â)pânâskohk, hê!
kanakkanak
pic(i)kêwak!
pwê nimiywêyihtên
mistatim ot(â)pânâskohk!

[verse:]
nihk ê-pim(i)pahtât
mistatim onâsk
wahyaw ê-(i)skopahtât
ê-pahpinânihkêt
ê-picikêt
nimiywêyihtên tâp
ê-nikamonihkêt
anohc kâ-tipiskâk

sêwêyâkanak is also the word used for the jingles on jingle dresses.

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