Hockey Night from Enoch’s!

Before anybody can say, “kitâskwêw, pihtakwatâw!!!!! (He shoots, he scores!!!), we can already name the first, second, third and fourth stars of the March 24, 2019 NHL game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Carolina Hurricanes:

  • Earl Wood,
  • Clarence Iron,
  • John Chabot
  • Jason Chamakese

Congratulations to APTN, too for all the work it’s taken to make this happen. Here’s a link to the full story from APTN, with a link to some hockey vocabulary further below.

Cheering (with thanks to Simon Bird and Mary Cardinal Collins):

  • awâs! for ‘Go!’ (to one person), but if you need to yell at the whole team at once, use awâsitik for ‘Go, All of you!’
  • kisiskâpayiw (vai) = ‘go fast’ (but be really careful with your vowel length: kîsipayiw (vii) = ‘ends, terminates’
  • ahkamêyimo = keep it up, persist
  • sohkih = go hard
  • kweyaho = hurry .
  • tahkahkih = good on u!
  • ahaw = Let’s go!
  • ahaw mâka = Come on!

Some other general hockey vocabulary from the online itwêwina dictionary:

  • atihkwasiniy (hockey stone, puck; caribou testicle)
  • sôniskwâtahikêwikamik (arena, hockey rink)
  • sôniskwâtahikêwin (skating; hockey)
  • sôniskwâtahikêw (skate; play hockey; ski)
  • okipahowêw (jailer, prison guard; goalie, goalkeeper, goaltender)
  • ohciyâkêw (win from, over people (with things); score a win)
  • mêtawêwin (game, contest, sport; dialogue)
  • okipahowêw (jailer, prison guard; goalie, goalkeeper, goaltender)

Lots of additional news posts about this, and genuine excitement! 

A piece about Clarence Iron: 

Pinehouse man to broadcast NHL game

Here’s a piece about Earl Woods: 

Saddle Lake singer will help host first Cree hockey night

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Think Indigenous Education Conference: Edmonton 2019

If you’re in Edmonton in March, be sure to check into the Think Indigenous conference, hosted by Enoch Cree Nation. Stay tuned for conference program updates at

If you can get there, keep an eye out for astronomer Wilfred Buck who will be selling and signing his popular book Tipiskawi Kisik / Night Sky Star Stories on the 20th and 21st. (I’m sure he’ll be extra impressed if you study up your star vocabulary first at the link below!)

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Speaking to our relatives: Solomon Ratt (most dialects)

Solomon Ratt, okawiya, ohtâwima êkwa. Sol, his mother and his father.[/caption]

When we spoke to our relatives, their names were never used. Instead, to show respect, we would address our relatives using special “vocative” forms of the kinship terms. (Some families even honour this cultural practice in English by referring to one another (for example) as “Sister,” “Brother,” or “Auntie.”) 

Ordinary kinship terms are perfect when we’re talking about our relatives, e.g. nikâwiy – my mother. But when speaking directly to our relatives, or calling out to them, we use special forms known as “vocatives.” If a form doesn’t have a specific vocative form, then the regular kinship term will do the job. Here’s a set of kinship terms in vocative form (so you can call out to all your relatives with respect!) Don’t forget to read the comments column as well: Sometimes the same term can mean different things depending on who is speaking! 

One thing that’s interesting about kinship terms is that they tend to stay the same from one dialect to another, perhaps because they have been around longer than any dialect divisions. 

You may also notice an important term missing from the list. In traditional Cree society, there was a taboo against speaking to your parent-in-law of the opposite sex. (Some people argue that this would be a good rule in any society.) The best way to show respect for this relative, is to never speak to them directly at all!

The kinship term for this relationship is nimanâcimâkan, literally meaning, “the person with whom I avoid speaking.” This is the correct term for “my in-law of opposite gender.” For a female speaker, “my father-in-law’; for a male speaker, “my mother-in-law.”

Two others that don’t follow the pattern of ordinary vocatives are “ayamihikimâw” used reciprocally between cross uncles and nephews. “ayamihikimâw” actually means ‘minister/priest’ and cross uncles/nephews used that term to convey equivalent respect.

And one final form to mention is câpân – another reciprocal term of affection and respect shared between a great grandparent (of either sex), and his or her great grandchild.  

Three additional forms: 

[talking about them][speaking to them]
nimosômmy grandfathernimosô
nohkom my grandmothernohkô
nohtâwiy my fathernohtâ
nikâwiy my mothernêkâ; nikâ
nohcâwîs my [parallel] unclenohcâwîs*Father’s brother; mother’s sister’s husband; godfather; stepfather
nikâwîs my [parallel] auntnikâwîs*Father’s brother’s wife; mother’s sister; godmother; stepmother
nisis my [cross] unclenisisê Father’s sister’s husband; mother’s brother; father-in-law
nisikos my [cross] aunt nisikosê Father’s sister; mother’s brother’s wide; mother-in-law
nistês my older brothernistêsê
nimis my older sisternimisê
nisîmis my younger siblingnisîmê; also, nisîm
niciwâm my [male parallel] cousin niciwâMost use the brother terms
niciwâmiskwêm my [female parallel] cousin niciwâmiskwêm*Most use the sister terms
nîstâw my [cross] cousin Male speaker: nîstâ nîscâs is more common; Child of mother’s brother, or of father’s sister
nicahkos my [cross] cousinFemale speaker: nicahkosê Child of mother’s brother, or of father’s sister
nikosis my sonnikosê
nitânis my daughternitân
nôsisim my grandchildnôsisê
nitôsim my [parallel] nephewOften: nikosimMale speaker: brother’s son; Female speaker: sister’s son
nitôsimiskwêm my [parallel] niece Often: nitânMales: brother’s daughter;
nitôsimiskwêmmy [parallel] niece Often: nitânFemale speaker: sister’s daughter
nitihkwatim my [cross] nephewnitihkwâ Male speaker: brother’s daughter; daughter-in-law;
nitihkwatim my [cross] nephewnitihkwâ Male speaker sister's son; female speaker brother's son.
nistim my [cross] niecenistim*Male speaker sister's daughter; female speaker brother's daughter.
nistimmy [cross] niecenistim*Female speaker: brother’s daughter, daughter-in-law
ninahâhkisîm my son-in-lawninahâhkisîm*
ninahâkaniskwêm my daughter-in-lawninahâkaniskwêm*
ninâpêm my husband[often] kisêyiniwLiterally, “old man” (Sounds disrespectful in English, not in Cree!)
nitiskwêm my wife[often] nôtokwêsiwLiterally, “old lady” (Sounds disrespectful in English: Not in Cree!)
niwîkimâkan my spouseniwîkimâkan*Reciprocal term that is used by both parties.
nicihcâwâwmy fellow parent-in-lawnicihcâwâw*Reciprocal term that is used by both parties.
nicâpânmy great-grandparent; my great-grandchildnicâpânReciprocal term that is used by both parties.



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International Women’s Day: Solomon Ratt (y-dialect)

ᐃᐢᑵᐘᐠ            iskwêwak:Women:
ᐱᒫᒋᐦᐃᐍᐠ     pimâcihiwêwak – give life;
ᑭᓭᐚᑎᓯᐠ        kisêwâtisiwak – are kind;
ᓵᑭᐦᐃᐍᐘᐠ        sâkihiwêwak – give love;
ᑕᐸᐦᑌᔨᒥᓯᐘᐠ tapahtêyimisiwak – are humble;
ᓲᐦᑭᓯᐘᐠ  sôhkisiwak – are strong;
ᓲᐦᑭᑌᐦᐁᐠ     sôhkitêhêwak – are brave;
ᐋᐦᑲᒣᔨᒧᐠ  âhkamêyimowak – persevere.
ᓰᐱᐦᑭᐠ        sîpihkisiwak – are resilient
ᐃᐢᑵᐘᐠ iskwêwak:         Women:
ᑕᑮᑭᐢᑌᔨᒥᐠ takî-kistêyimihcik should be respected.
  • Thanks, Sol! This is lovely!
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Every time I step on earth: Solomon Ratt

Text and photo: Solomon Ratt

tahtwâw kâ-tahkoskêyân askîhk tâpiskôc ê-mawimoscikêyân.
ᑕᐦᑤᐤ ᑳᑕᐦᑯᐢᑫᔮᐣ ᐊᐢᑮᕽ ᑖᐱᐢᑰᐨ ᐁᒪᐏᒧᐢᒋᑫᔮᐣ᙮
Every time I step on the earth is like saying a traditional prayer.

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Star Vocabulary from Wilfred Buck – SRO, y-dialect

Wilfred Buck’s Tipiskawi Kisik / Night Sky Star Stories must have reached best seller status at McNally Robinson – and at Manitoba First Nations Education Centre where it was produced. It’s really a beauty. Here’s a link that includes a preview of the book and ordering instructions from MFNERC: It’s also available at McNally Robinson in Winnipeg and in Saskatoon. 

The book also includes some fabulous astronomical vocabulary in Cree that Solomon Ratt gathered up and rendered in SRO and syllabics.

ahcahk ᐊᐦᒐᕽ spirit
ahcahk sîpiyᐊᐦᒐᕽ ᓰᐱᕀriver of spirits or the milky way
acâhkos akohp/atahkakohpᐊᒑᐦᑯᐢ ᐊᑯᐦᑊ/ᐊᑕᐦᑲᑯᐦᑊthe star blanket
acâhkos iyiniwak (Y) ininêwak (N) ithiniwak (TH) ᐊᒑᐦᑯᐢ ᐃᔨᓂᐘᐠ (Y) ᐃᓂᓀᐘᐠ (N) ᐃᖨᓂᐘᐠ (TH) the star people
acâhkos iskwêw ᐊᒑᐦᑯᐢ ᐃᐢᑵᐤ star woman
acâhkosak ᐊᒑᐦᑯᓴᐠ the stars
askiy ᐊᐢᑭᕀ earth
asiniy awâsisᐊᓯᓂᕀ ᐊᐚᓯᐢstone child
asiniyak ᐊᓯᓂᔭᐠ stones, rocks
atâhkosak/acâhkosakᐊᑖᐦᑯᓴᐠ / ᐊᒑᐦᑯᓴᐠstars
atim-acâhkosak ᐊᑎᒪᒑᐦᑯᓴᐠ the dog stars
atim-acâhkosak ᐊᑎᒪᒑᐦᑯᓴᐠ the little dipper
êkâ kâ-âhcîtᐁᑳ ᑳ ᐋᐦᒌᐟthe standing still star, north star
ininêwak (N); iyiniwak (Y); ithiniwak (TH)ᐃᓂᓀᐘᐠ (N); ᐃᔨᓂᐘᐠ (Y); ᐃᖨᓂᐘᐠ (TH)cree
iskwêwak ᐃᐢᑵᐘᐠ woman
kayâs ᑲᔮᐢ long ago
kîwêtin ᑮᐍᑎᐣ polaris
kîsikôwak ᑮᓯᑰᐘᐠ beings of light
kîwêtin ᑮᐍᑎᐣ going home star, north star
kîwêtinohkᑮᐍᑎᓄᕽthe north wind
kohkominâhkîsîs ᑯᐦᑯᒥᓈᐦᑮᓰᐢ grandmother spider
kohkominâhkîsîs êkwa ahcahk sîpiyᑯᐦᑯᒥᓈᐦᑮᓰᐢ ᐁᑿ ᐊᐦᒐᕽ ᓰᐱᕀgrandmother spider and the river of spirits or the milky way
mâhtâtisân ᒫᐦᑖᑎᓵᐣ corona borealis
mihkinâhk ᒥᐦᑭᓈᕽ the turtle
mahkêsiw ᒪᐦᑫᓯᐤ the fox; urodelus
matotisân ᒪᑐᑎᓵᐣ the sweat lodge
matotisân/têpakohp piyêsîsak (pinêsîsak)ᒪᑐᑎᓵᐣ / ᑌᐸᑯᐦᑊ ᐱᔦᓰᓴᐠ (ᐱᓀᓰᓴᐠ)corona borealis
mahihkan ᒪᐦᐃᐦᑲᐣ the wolf; polaris
mêscacâkanis ᒣᐢᒐᒑᑲᓂᐢ the coyote; yildum
misiwê (IPC)ᒥᓯᐍ (IPC)all that is
misti-maskwa ᒥᐢᑎ ᒪᐢᑿ big dipper
misti-maskwa ᒥᐢᑎ ᒪᐢᑿ the great bear
mistâpêw (Big Foot!)ᒥᐢᑖᐯᐤ (Big Foot!)giant; orion
misti-maskwa ᒥᐢᑎ ᒪᐢᑿ the big dipper
motôtison / matotisân asiniyak ᒧᑑᑎᓱᐣ / ᒪᑐᑎᓵᐣ ᐊᓯᓂᔭᐠ pleiades
maskihkiy iskotêw ᒪᐢᑭᐦᑭᕀ ᐃᐢᑯᑌᐤ medicine fire
nitôtêmak ᓂᑑᑌᒪᐠ relatives
nimosôm asiniy ᓂᒧᓲᒼ ᐊᓯᓂᕀ grandfather rock
nîpin piyêsiw (pinêsiw - N)ᓃᐱᐣ ᐱᔦᓯᐤ (ᐱᓀᓯᐤ - N)the star of libra on its right wing
nîpinêsîs mêskanawᓃᐱᓀᓰᐢ ᒣᐢᑲᓇᐤthe geese's path or summer birds' path
niska ᓂᐢᑲ the goose
niska mêskanaw ᓂᐢᑲ ᒣᐢᑲᓇᐤ the geese's path or summer birds' path
nohkom asiniyᓄᐦᑯᒼ ᐊᓯᓂᕀgrandmother rock
ocêk acâhkosak ᐅᒉᐠ ᐊᒑᐦᑯᓴᐠ fisher star; the big dipper
opâskwêyâhk ᐅᐹᐢᑵᔮᕽ The Pas
pakonê-kîsik ᐸᑯᓀ ᑮᓯᐠ the hole in the sky; pleiades
pimâtisiwin ᐱᒫᑎᓯᐏᐣ life
pihpihcêw ᐱᐦᐱᐦᒉᐤ the robin
pipon piyêsiw (pinêsiw) ᐱᐳᐣ ᐱᔦᓯᐤ (ᐱᓀᓯᐤ) draco and little dipper
pipon ᐱᐳᐣ winter
pîsim ᐲᓯᒼ the sun
sîkwan ᓰᑿᐣ spring
sîsîkwan ᓰᓰᑿᐣ the rattle; polaris and cepheus
têpakohp piyêsîsak (pinêsîsak)ᑌᐸᑯᐦᑊ ᐱᔦᓰᓴᐠ (ᐱᓀᓰᓴᐠ)the seven birds; corona borealis
mitihkom ᒥᑎᐦᑯᒼ the louse
tipiskâw kîsik ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐤ ᑮᓯᐠ night sky
wîsahkêcâhk/mistâpêwᐑᓴᐦᑫᒑᕽ / ᒥᐢᑖᐯᐤorion and aldebaran


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Solomon Goes Shopping: y-dialect

This video from Solomon Ratt offers a lot more lessons in language and “shopping culture” than you might expect, and leaves you with unexpected feels. While you’re learning vocabulary and pronunciation, take a moment to acknowledge the parts that *should not* be normal for shopping while Cree!

  • shopping carts,
  • clothing words,
  • colours,
  • choosing purchases,
  • store detectives,
  • being targeted for surveillance
  • resisting racist retail management

The video below has a white background: Scroll way down to find the video launcher to listen and read along!

Posted in Audio (y-dialect), Cree Cultural Literacy, Learn New Words, Solomon Ratt, Video | Leave a comment

Only these are important: Solomon Ratt (y-dialect)

Text and photo by Solomon Ratt

kâ-kisipipayik, nama-nânitaw mistahi kîkwaya.
ôhi piko kihcêyihtâkwana:
wâhkôhtowin, wîcêwahkanihtowin, wîkiwin, êkwa wâniskîwin.

ᑳ ᑭᓯᐱᐸᔨᐠ, ᓇᒪ ᓈᓂᑕᐤ ᒥᐢᑕᐦᐃ ᑮᑿᔭ᙮
ᐆᐦᐃ ᐱᑯ ᑭᐦᒉᔨᐦᑖᑿᓇ:
ᐚᐦᑰᐦᑐᐏᐣ, ᐑᒉᐘᐦᑲᓂᐦᑐᐏᐣ, ᐑᑭᐏᐣ, ᐁᑿ ᐚᓂᐢᑮᐏᐣ᙮

In the end not much matters.
Only these are important:
kinship, friendship, home, and inner peace.

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Dance, sing, tell sacred stories: Solomon Ratt (y-dialect)

nîmihito ᓃᒥᐦᐃᑐ, nikamo ᓂᑲᒧ, âtayôhkê ᐋᑕᔫᐦᑫ; natohta kâ-kâmwâtahk ᓇᑐᐦᑕ ᑳᑳᒫᐧᑕᕽ Dance; sing; tell sacred stories; listen to the silence.

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Wake up my sisters!

Twin sisters Judy and Jody Bear – who need no waking! (Thanks, Judy for permission)

A fabulous little observation about precision in Cree from the FaceBook Nêhiyawêwin (Cree) Word/Phrase of the Day group, thanks to Arok Wolvengrey. It helps to illustrate the importance of context to translate into Cree appropriately.

When somebody asked how to say “Wake up my sisters!” – Arok took a stroll down some of the many possible paths that simple phrase might suggest in Cree. Arok’s short answer: Depends.

First, you have to differentiate between “my older sisters” (nimisak) and “my younger siblings” (nisîmisak) or simply “my siblings” (nîcisânak). [Since Cree doesn’t really have a word for younger sister.] Or perhaps you are using the word “sisters” in terms of solidarity and you really mean “my fellow women” (nîci-iskwêwak).

Second you need to specify if you are telling someone else to “Wake up my sisters!” (koskonik …) or if you are yourself speaking to your sisters/fellow women and saying “Wake up, my sisters!” (pêkohik, …!) (commas are important).

Finally, if someone else is to awaken them, you would also have to be explicit as to how you want them to be awakened. Are they being shaken awake? (koskonik, pêkohik) Are they to be awakened verbally (pêkomik). Perhaps you even want them to awaken themselves (pêkohisok! koskonisok! waniskâhisok, or even âpahkawihisok “bring yourselves to consciousness, awareness”)

But perhaps you are simply telling your older and or younger sisters to wake up/get out of bed in the morning? waniskâk, _______! (inserting the appropriate term from the ones above.

As Arok observes: Cree is a very precise and explicit language. English, sometimes, less so.

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