Many years ago, my grandfather was packing his supplies to get ready. He had his gun, food and other camping gear laid out and was talking to nōhkom and to himself in Cree while he packed. Being 5-6 years old that time, I was curious as to where he was going.
Nimosōm, tānitī ōma īwī itōhtīn? (Grandfather, where are you going?)
acithow kotak wanīhikīskanaw īwih ispiciyān. (I’m moving to camp at another trapline for awhile).
Kinwīsk na? (For a long time?)
ispi ta wanihimowak nikik ikwa amisk, mihcīt itokī nika pīsiwāwak (Until I trap an otter and beaver, I’ll probably be bringing many of them home).
So off he went with his toboggan (otāpānāsk) all packed and ready to go. I wondered about all the places he would be travelling to and what kinds of animals he would meet up with. Would there be wolves? Moose? Or maybe even a coyote or two.
Speaking of coyotes, at night, we would hear the howling of what sounded like a pack of coyotes, one long drawn out howl after another. One time I ask if there might be very many coyotes across the lake looking at us. Namwāc ītokī, ahpō ītokī pīyak āwakācī nīso mīscacākanisak (Probably not, there is probably only one or two coyotes), he went on to say.
As I looked at him in disbelief, nimosōm looked at me with amusement and laughed a bit at my confused expression.
As it turns out, one or two coyotes can sound like many of them. I never forgot this lesson and is a story that I always wondered about until I was old enough to research on my own (not that I doubted my grandfather).
When he came back, he had a much bigger load on his sled (otāpānāsk), and it turns out that he brought much more than an otter or beaver, he had many muskrats and squirrels. We had a good harvest that year, all around, including for my father and uncles.
ikosi, tiniki kayamihtayin nimasinahikiwin – Thank you for reading my blog
My grandfather – nimosōm
Coyote – mīscacākanis
beaver – amisk
otter – nikik
sled, toboggan – otāpānāsk
muskrat – wacaskos
squirrel – anikwacās
Coyotes: Decoding Their Yips, Barks, and Howls – https://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2014/03/coyotes-decoding-yips-barks-howls.html