Category Archives: Cree

Cree language words with translation

My friend’s clock that is written in Cree – niwīcīwākan opīsimohkāna ka-nīhithowī-masinahikāsothit

I recently completed a Cree clock for niwīcīwākan (a friend of mine). It shows his ōsi (boat) on Bigstone Lake, SK. Beautiful shot and makes a great Woodland Cree Clock, don’t you think.

My friend’s clock that is written in Cree – niwīcīwākan opīsimohkāna ka-nīhithowī-masinahikāsothit

My friend – niwīcīwākan

masinipīsinowin – picture or photograph

pīsimohkān – Clock

ōsi – boat

More references to “boat,” can be found on the link below:

Sources: http://sapir.artsrn.ualberta.ca/itwewina/eng/crk/?lookup=boat

 

 

Bad Names for Dogs – maci wihthowina, atimwak ohci

maci wihthowina, atimwak ohci – Bad Names for Dogs

atim – dog

atimwak – dogs

pahpi – laugh

awas – go away

āstam – come here

kīwī – go home

api – sit down

cīskwa – wait

Body Parts in Woodland Cree

Body parts are in first person possessive using the prefix “n” before each word. For your information, only family terms are used in this post.

niyaw – my body


natay – my stomach


nistikwān – my head

nikwayaw – my neck


niskīsik – my eye

niskīsikwa – my eyes

nikot – my nose


nitōn – my mouth

nīpit – my tooth

nīpita – my teeth

nitīthaniy – my tongue


nihtawakay – my ear

nihtawakaya – my ears


nicihciy – my hand

nicihciya – my hands


nispiton – my arm

nispitona – my arms


nisit – my foot

nisita – my feet

niskāt – my leg

niskāta – my legs


I mainly used the ITWEWINA website below to help with possessive and singular terms. It is a great resource as you can see from the screenshot below featuring “eye.”

Here is the link: http://sapir.artsrn.ualberta.ca/itwewina/detail/crk/eng/misk%C3%AEsik.html?no_compounds=true&lemma_match=true

I hope this has been helpful, if you notice any mistakes or have a question, please do not hesitate to ask.

ī-wāpahtamān niyaw kāpasikowān – I saw my body when I got up

On February 2009, nikī-akosīn – I was sick. My head was killing me, and phlegm escaped from me with a vengeance. I had a dream of being dead and getting up in another dimension of sorts. The dream was confusing at first, but I was able to recall everything. The following is a present-tense narrative of that day/night.

I go to bed and hope the pain is gone in the morning. My flu-like symptoms ravaged me since the day before and I wonder how much longer I will suffer. I lay in bed hoping sleep will come soon as I close my weary eyes and hope the pain goes away.

I open my eyes to know that I am better, I sit up on my bed and see a strange sight before me, I see myself lying on the bed. I am astonished to see myself, am I still sleeping? I get up to look once more. This place I live in 101 Reserve used to be jumping with activity. I get up to walk to the hallway and as I walk I can see that it is daytime, something I did not notice when I got up because my windows were covered with a dark blanket.

I go into the hallway and look ahead. There is activity, I see my late auntie Jill in the kitchen area looking after some children I do not recognize. She talks to them and feeds them. She has the look of happiness as she smiles and comforts those who seem to need her and her caring demeanor. As I look while I am halfway through the hallway, my late grandfather comes out of my then living grandmother’s room. He looks at me: “tīniki kā-pīkīyokīn” (thank you for visiting) he says.

As he walks me through the house, he tells me that Jill is taking care of children who have passed at an earlier time. The children were unfamiliar to me and he said I would not know them, they passed before I was born. Jill is their caretaker who is looking after them at this time. I asked about his late father Daniel and he said that he was out visiting the living to see how they were doing. I asked what he was doing in my grandmother’s room and he said he was visiting her. He said we can’t be seen by the living and we can’t see them unless we allow it to happen. He said he was just checking on her to see how she was doing. My grandmother was doing fine at the time and she loved having me and my daughter in her home.

I didn’t step out of the house but I imagined it looked the same as it did before I passed. My grandfather said I can visit who I want but not to let them see me, it would be too frightening to the living. I look to watch my late auntie Jill taking the children out to play, she did not acknowledge me. She was too busy taking care of the children. My grandfather had his arm on me and hugged me and thanked me again for visiting. Visiting, I thought I am just visiting, maybe I am still alive, I thought of my body on the bed.

I wake up in the same position as I was when I was sleeping.

I told very few people of this dream but it has been on my mind for the longest time. It was a great dream to have.

ī-wāpahtamān niyaw kāpasikowān – I saw my body when I got up

pawātamowin – dream

ī-pawātaman – I am dreaming

nikī-akosīn – I was sick

nipasakwatāmon – I have thick mucus, phlegm.

tīniki kā-pīkīyokīn – thank you for visiting

miyaw – body; corpse, dead body

niyaw – my body

wiyaw – his/her body

Resources:

http://sapir.artsrn.ualberta.ca/itwewina/detail/crk/eng/%C3%A2hkosiw.html?no_compounds=true&lemma_match=true

http://www.creedictionary.com/

 

Nimosōm wihthōwinis nimīthik – My Grandfather gives me a Nickname

From as far as I can remember, nimosōm called me “cīpic,” which is a reference, to a man named David, a man who lived across the lake from my grandfather’s cabin. All the way from seeing him in La Ronge when I was a boy living on 101 reserve, to his cabin in Pesiw Lake and to his new house (at the time) in Hall Lake, he called me “cīpic”.

I remember my parents discussing this when I was a boy and they suggested that it was because nimosōm did not want to say his own name, Charlie. “īkwīmīsiyān nimosōm” – I have the same name as my grandfather.

That was the understanding I got, and I stayed by that explanation since. Whenever he was proud of me for something, he would say, “wahwā cīpic,” or “wahwāy cīpic.” It was a term of endearment that I appreciated and wondered about, as a boy.

During the summer of one of our duck hunting trips, we went up to a mīnistik (an island) with the intention of landing on it and crossing to the other side. We were sneaking up on what had to be at least 200 sīsīpak (ducks) spread out over a sparse wild rice patch.

Before this, he been giving me one .22 “mōsonīy” bullet at a time when we were shooting ducks, and only after he shoot at a group of ducks with a shotgun and some getting injured. We would shoot at them before they would dive in.

When we were done crossing the island, we got to the ground and snuck up to a huge flock. My grandfather slowly brought out his shotgun and BOOM! Many ducks went flying up in all directions as he continued to shoot with his pump-action.

After the blitz of birds, my grandfather started to pick off the injured ducks that were trying to dive in. At this time, he handed me two .22 bullets, he looked at me and said: “wahwā, cīpic ikwa iwī nipahīw sīsīpa” – Wow, Charlie is going to kill a duck now.

I was so happy to get the bullets, I tried so hard to concentrate and make a kill, but I ended up missing. I was sad but the exhilaration of getting not one, but two bullets was great.

cīpic

nimosōm – my grandfather

pīsiw sākahikanihk – Pesiw Lake

wahwā cīpic – Wow Charlie

wahwāy cīpic – Wow Charlie

mōsonīy – bullet

sīsīp – duck

sīsīpak – ducks

wahwā, cīpic ikwa iwī nipahīw sīsīpa” – Wow, Charlie is going to kill a duck now.

īkwīmīsiyān nimosōm – I have the same name as my grandfather

Related pages:

NIMOSŌM – NĪSTĀW AND I, FELL THROUGH THE ICE

BIRDS IN WOODLAND CREE

niwītawīmāwak niwahkōmākinak – I play games with my family

When I was a boy back in the trapine, my siblings and cousins and I, would entertain ourselves without the modern devices we have today. We had many outdoor games like “tag” and others that involved running around and catching or tagging others in teams or individually. We would have slingshot targeting contests with old cans and bottles. We would make our own bows and arrows and shoot at targets or objects.

There were other types of games we called maci-nocikwīsīs –witch, I am sure there are many variations that other communities played. We would have a witch going after the children of a mother. The mother would have all the younger and smaller children lined-up behind her and the witch would try to get around the mother and snatch a child. This would go on until all the kids were snatched, it would get pretty intense towards the end, great times.

Another game we played was indoors, in my parent’s cabin at the trapline. nisīmis ikwa nitawīmāw (my younger sister and female cousin from father’s brother), would play a variation of “house,” my sister would be my sister and my cousin would be my wife. At the time, we called our cousin, pithōthā, Flora, or pithōthā cīn which means Flora Jean, my sister would sometimes call her pokopoy but I don’t know why.

We called the house game, “Isiah.” I would be Isiah and Flora would be my wife. We would start by living together until I decide to burn down the house and my sister would help her get away and to another house, along with luggage and children. Once they moved into a new house, I would come along and find them and burn that house down too. Be aware that we were between 5 and 7 years of age and did not know the how disturbing it would sound the if the story was put on paper or a website, just like I’m doing now.

My family had been living in Bigstone Reserve during the summer months and during that time, we saw a house on fire. It belonged to our auntie Annie and her husband Isiah. We heard a rumour that Isiah had accidently burned the house down and they ended up losing their home. Now in order to add a character element to our house game, we decided that Isiah did it on purpose just to terrorize his family, as in a “bad guy.”

One day, nipāpānān – our dad, told us namowitha ikosi takī isi mītawīk – you kids shouldn’t play like that. We stopped for awhile and pretty much discontinued, until he was gone, and we started up again. It was too much fun to stop. Our dad was right though, it was very disrespectful to our auntie because they lost their home in La Ronge. I’m glad we never told him about the time we were walking on the ice kākī mithōskamik – when it was break-up.

maci-nocikwīsīs – witch

namowitha ikosi takī isi mītawīk – you kids shouldn’t play like that

kākī mithōskamik – when it was break-up

pithōtha cīn – Flora Jean

pokopoy – nickname for Flora from my sister Susan

 

nōhkom wāpahtam machi-pimithākan – My grandmother saw a UFO

nohkom – my grandmother Emily Ross

When I was a boy, nōhkom (my grandmother) from my father’s side,  told us a story a story about how she saw a UFO. It was skimming over the trees across from nimosōm owāskahikanis (grandfather’s cabin). She was with nitawīmāw (my female cousin from father’s brother) when they were at the shore and saw the UFO. I believe this was before I was ten years old.

I was fascinated at the story nōhkom was telling me at the time because UFOs were all the rage on the kithāskīwi masinahikana (lying books) tabloids, such as The National Inquirer and Weekly World News. I could only imagine what it might have looked like and her story is actually where I got the idea for one of my many stories on this website: Machi-Pimithākan – UFO (http://firstnationstories.com/?page_id=1582).

I recently chatted with my cousin about it because it never occurred to me to ask when we were growing up. This is what she said:

Well her and I went outside at night…I needed to use the bathroom cause I was scared to go alone…then she said to me in cree…hey what is that up in the sky and I told her it can’t be a plane…so told me to hurry and said there was monsters on that plane that will take us away with them…then we went back in the cabin just scared lol…then late grandpa said they won’t bother u if your inside a house…so I felt better after that ..I always believed our late grandparents [sic]

Of course, at the time, there were no cell phone cameras to take a quick picture, so imagination is all we have for stories like this. We have all seen many pictures online and drawings of such phenomenon, but they always seem so blurry and pixelated. Videos of UFOs are difficult to make out because the objects are always so far away and the good videos look too fake to me. With a little time on my hands, I could make a fake picture or video, but I won’t because it would be too time consuming.

In the chat with my cousin, my grandparents seemed to have an intimate knowledge of such encounters with that type of craft. The reference to monsters, which I take to be the aliens, seems to be a description of a creature they had no words for. The assurance that “they” will not bother you when indoors, tells me that there may be a risk of being abducted when you are outdoors and are close to a UFO. Scary thoughts come to my head when I think about that, considering all the UFO abduction stories in books, TV and online.

Speaking of scary thoughts, one-time, nōhkom told us a story about a family that was living out in tents in late fall. One of the people saw a craft landing on the ice and he/she went running inside. They all laid in their sleeping bags and blankets, cowering in fear when suddenly, a group of small beings went inside the tent. One of the women was pregnant and had a miscarriage from being so terrified. nōhkom said the beings were as short as children. I cannot remember the rest of the story, but my siblings and I, shuddered at the possibility. We were staying in tents at the time because my grandfather’s cabin was being worked on. I had to have been six years old when we were told this story.

The only time I remember having a close encounter, was when my friend and I were walking home from another friend’s house in Hall Lake. We were walking along near a birch bark tree, when suddenly, a flash of light went streaking over the birch bark tree, we saw our shadows on the ground and we quickly looked up. We did not see anything or hear a sound, at least not from what I remember. We tried to rationalize by asking each other what it was, but when my friend told me it was probably headlights shining, I responded with “from up there?” We both looked at each other and ran back to our friend’s house.

When we got there, we told him everything. He told us that he heard that when you see a flying saucer once during the night, you won’t see it again. It wasn’t too assuring for us because we were scared out of our minds. We still had to go home, however, my friend lived closer than I did and so after I dropped him off, I still had a way to go before I got home. I was very paranoid during that walk.

nōhkom – my grandmother

nimosōm – my grandfather

machi-pimithākan – bad flying device or object, UFO, flying saucer

wāpahtam – he/she sees (something)

nohkom wāpahtam machi-pimithākan – My grandmother saw a UFO

nimosōm owāskahikanis – grandfather’s cabin

kithāskīwi masinahikana – lying books (such as The National Inquirer and Weekly World News)

nitawīmāw – my female cousin from father’s brother

ninanāskimon kā ayimihtayin nitācithohkīwina.  I am thankful that you are reading my stories.

 

 

nisīmis ikwa nitawīmāw īpimiskohtīyahk – My sister, my cousin and I, walk on the ice

break-up

piyakwāw kaki sīkwahk (once when it was spring), but maybe it was more mithōskamin (break-up of the six-seasons), nisīmis ikwa nitawīmāw (my younger sister and female cousin from father’s brother) decided to go check out the lake. We were across the lake from nimosōminān (our grandfather’s) cabin waiting out mithōskamin so niwahkōmākinānak (our families) could travel there once the ice was gone.

nisīmis had the ever-bright idea for the three of us tapimiskohtīyahk (to walk on the ice). There were trails of hard snow on the otherwise melting ice. We walked carefully and nisīmis went a bit further than we did. The atimwak (dogs) that followed us around did not follow the trails and would end up falling halfway through the ice and jumping out again. This happened as we were at least 15-20 feet from the landing. We all looked at each other and ever so carefully walked back to shore. nimitho pathīhokonān (we were lucky).

I cringe when I see a child walk on the unsafe ice, I instinctively yell at the kid or kids when I see them. Taking such a chance for adventure is something that, unfortunately, many children do. Please look out for your children and even if you think they will behave themselves because they would never do such a thing, there are always bad influences out there.


I have worded out many of the Cree terms below the way I remember them. If you feel the need to correct me on pronunciation or spelling, feel free, we are all always learning.

piyakwāw kaki sīkwahk – once when it was spring

pimiskohtī – you walk on the ice (command)

īpimiskohtīyan – I walk on the ice

īpimiskohtīyahk – we walked on the ice

nisīmis – my younger sibling

nitawīmāw – female cousin from father’s brother

niwahkōmākinānak – our families (this is how I understood the Cree term, corrections are welcome).

sīkwan – spring

mithōskamin – break-up

nimitho pathīhokonān – we were lucky, something good happened to us (I hope I got that right)

atim – dog

atimwak – dogs

 

 

Kinipīminaw – Our Water

Update: Husky to pay $3.82M in penalties after guilty plea in 2016 oil spill
Jun 12, 2019 - https://larongenow.com/2019/06/12/husky-to-pay-3-82m-in-penalties-after-guilty-plea-in-2016-oil-spill/
"Chief Wayne Semaganis of the Little Pine First Nation said the damage caused by the spill has limited band members from hunting, fishing, trapping or farming on certain reserve land near the river for fear of being poisoned."

I am glad they have been fined for more they did initially but it would be great if they could guarantee no more spills. I think we all know that spills are inevitable.


Over two and half years ago, the North Saskatchewan River was threatened by a spill of 200,000 to 250,000 litres of heavy oil. Husky Energy scrambled to clean up, “the city was able to reopen its river intake in September 2016, more than two months later” (The Star Phoenix).

La Ronge Lake – 2014

This situation hit close to home (I live 240KM north of Prince Albert), and īkoskonikowān (it woke me up) at the very real possibility of the many sākahikana (lakes) and sīpiya (rivers) getting contaminated near where we lived, mistahi sākahikanihk– (La Ronge).

Hall Lake – Fishing

I was paddling in my father-in law’s canoe with my future wife at the time, when I closely looked at the pristine waters of mōso-sākahikanisīsihk (Hall Lake), my home community, and realized what a tragedy it would be if this beautiful lake became ravaged with oil. I could not imagine such an event. There have been many oils spills in this country, but it is also the development of oil that ravages the environment.

Hall Lake

My personal reliance on oil is high. I used it for fuel and for the plastic products I buy and use. The biggest use for me, is the very device I am using to write this blog for all to see, mamahtāwi-āpacihcikan (computer). It is the way I make a living. I have lived on the land as a child but even then, we needed oil products to survive. There is no going back for many of us.

I don’t know what to think about what I would do without oil products. According to Natural Resources Canada, “Canadians consumed 108 billion litres of refined petroleum products in 2017,” so I cannot be the only one that is torn between the economy and the environment. Both are important and I hope there can be a reasonable balance someday. I hate to say it, but I am on the fence about the whole thing. I like using oil-based products and my livelihood depends on it. I love the environment and I hope it can stay that way forever. It’s hard to say how I will feel in the future.

Hall Lake

I understand what the “water protectors” are doing and I applaud them for making the personal sacrifice for the future generations of First Nations people. nipiy kanākatāpahtācik, is the closest I can come up with for “water protectors,” maybe there is a better word, but I cannot find one. Their situation is very close to home and very real. It has become a tense situation and they are pulling out all the stops to do what they can. kicawāsimisinowak (our children) are the future and I hope someday they do not ask why, I did not do more to protect the earth.

kinipīminaw – Our Water

pimiy – oil, gas

īkoskonikowān – it woke me up

mistahi sākahikanihk – La Ronge

mōso-sākahikanisīsihk – Hall Lake

mamahtāwi-āpacihcikan – computer

nipiy kanākatāpahtācik – water protectors

kicawāsimisinowak – our children

askiy – the earth, land or soil

 

Sources in no particular order:

https://thestarphoenix.com/news/local-news/prince-albert-mayor-wants-1-million-apology-for-oil-spill-from-husky-energy

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/husky-oil-spill-prince-albert-1.4594756

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/prince-albert-continues-pumping-1.3703837

https://huskyenergy.com/

https://globalnews.ca/news/4122905/prince-albert-saskatchewan-water-reservoir-husky-oil-spill/

https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/facts/petroleum/20065

cīpay īpīkīyokīt – A Ghost Comes to Visit

I remember our first year we moved into our oskāyihk wāskahikan (new house) in Hall Lake. I think it was in 1982 but I am not sure. The house had three rooms, my parents had a room and there was one for the girls and one for the boys. It meant I had to share a bed and a room with nisīmis (my little brother). It seems poor now, but we never had it so good.

One night, while sleeping with nisīmis, I woke up to the bed shaking. It was a rapid shake and I was half asleep and bewildered at the event happening. During that cold, dark winter night, I thought maybe somebody was under the bed. I got down to the floor and didn’t see anybody or anything. I quickly got back onto the bed and heard my brother telling me to stop moving. I told him I wasn’t. ikī kīskwīkast (he was half asleep), but he still remembers to this day, he was about 5 years old at the time.

Later that night, I couldn’t sleep, it got very quiet. I thought it was over and done, then I started to hear kitowānāpisk (the stove) making a noise, like somebody scraping the grill on the side with their finger nails. I stayed in bed and but tried to see who it was from a lying position. I didn’t have the courage to get up and check it out, but I had hoped it was just nipāpā (my father) adding wood in the stove. I could never explain what it could have been. Logic tells me that it was one of my sisters pranking me, but they never admitted to anything.

The only other incident I can remember is when they were having a house party there, a guitar went flying from the living room closet to the middle of where they were drinking. I was in my room at the time and saw the guitar falling between them. The party goers stopped talking and laughing and they just stared at each other. īmatsōstākōwiyahk , one of them said which, I think means they experienced a bad omen of some kind.

I cannot remember anything else happening that winter or any other time. My parents still live there to this day and they have not told us any stories about premonitions or anything of the sort. I was about 8 years old at the time and I believe we ended up going to the trapline later that spring, we actually went back and forth from the house, to trapline and La Ronge, so it is difficult to pinpoint a time-frame.


oskāyihk wāskahikan – new house

kitowānāpisk – stove

nipāpā – my father (we don’t say nōhtāwiy where we live).

nipāpānān – our father

ikī kīskwīkast – he was half asleep

īmatsōstākōwiyahk – we experienced a bad omen (it is how I understand it).

nisīmis – my younger brother or sister

cīpay īpīkīyokīt – ghost comes to visit