Category Archives: Stories

Nimosōm – wīsahkīcāhk and the Foreign Object in my Eye

Image of wihtiko were taken from the Gift of Language and Culture website catalogue

When I was a boy, I used to love hearing about wīsahkīcāhk, the trickster, and all the shenanigans he got himself into. I remember a story about when the trickster met with wihtikow (wendigo in other areas). Wīsahkīcāhk had been walking around the forest, as usual, when he met with the cannibalistic entity. In the end, the trickster got away when he found a set of antlers and turned to face the wihtiko and scared him off. Like I said in another blog, I wish I could remember the details of the story but they are not at all clear because I was just a boy, many, many years ago.

One evening, I had something in my eye (īpisinīyān) and I told my grandfather about it. He told me not to worry because it would be gone by morning. I laid there wondering what he meant so I asked him. He looks at me in a half smile, that wīsahkīcāhk would be coming in the middle of the night to take it out of my eye. I said “wīsahkīcāhk?” His shoulders rolled in a bit of laughter I remember vividly to this day, “īhī,” he said, “tāpwī, tipiskāki kita pī-otinam kīkwā, kiskīsikohk ohci.” (for real, tonight, he will come to take it out of your eye).

Image of wīsahkīcāhk taken from the Gift of Language and Culture website catalogue

I lay there thinking, “could this be real?” I wondered how wīsahkīcāhk looked. I imagined he looked like the character from the legends we used to have in school; long braids, with a full animal hide outfit. I wondered how he would come in. Is the rickety door even locked? Does he come in spirit form? As soon as I thought of that, I got scared. Terrified even, I ended up staying up late the night wondering if every noise was coming from him. I finally fell asleep at some point.

In the morning, lo and behold, the thing in my eye was gone. I shuddered to think if my grandfather was right and being truthful. Of course, we all know today that it was tearing that slowly brings out the foreign objects. My mom revealed to me that part when I told her what my grandfather told me. She laughed when she thought about it and kind of exposed nimosōm’s storytelling ways.

Audio of Woodland Cree terms below:

wīsahkīcāhk

wihtiko

īpisinīyān – something is in my eye

īhī – yes

tāpwī, tipiskāki kita pī-otinam kīkāw, kiskīsikohk ohci – for real, tonight, he will come to take it out of your eye

 

Images of wīsahkīcāhk and wihtiko were taken from the Gift of Language and Culture website catalogue: http://giftoflanguageandculture.ca/catalogue-and-order-form/

Freeze – Up, in the Trapline with my Grandfather

freeze-up

mikiskāw – freeze-up

I fondly remember growing up the trapline around this season when I was a boy. My grandfather went out one time, just before freeze- up (mikiskāw) and told me that he was going to go check out a couple of places that needed his attention. I wanted to go with him but I could tell from his body language that he didn’t want me coming along. I wanted to go so badly but I didn’t ask, he went off and was on his way using the old rickety canoe that we used on so many duck hunting outings.

That evening, I waited patiently at my parents cabin for his imminent return as I noticed the weather changing drastically. The temperature dropped very noticeably and we all knew there would be ice the next day. He did not come back the next day and I missed the evening Cree story telling I enjoyed in the early nightfall. I was getting worried about him as the camp felt empty to me, without him.

On the second day, the ice was already getting thick, as there was very little wind to break the newly formed ice. I went to the shore again to see if he was coming home. It must have been my third trip to the shore that day. It was nearing about 4:00 PM, or somewhere around there, when I saw a familiar speck across the lake where the ice must have been thinner.

As he came closer, I could tell he was starting to need to put more effort into his paddling. The ice near the shore was at least an inch thick but my grandfather, wanting to show the man he is, broke through at a snails pace to get to shore. I was so happy to have him back home, and with him, was a couple of ducks that didn’t make it down south.

That evening, I read out some Archie comics (in Cree) to him as he sat listening intently, to another Archie vs Reggie adventure.

The LAKE – A Counter-Narrative VIDEO

I completed my final class project and I thought I would share the video I narrated with memories from when I was a little boy, I wrote it in the present tense. Travelling across the lake to our trapline with my father paddling us. It’s more a slide show than anything, along with text.

It is a counter-narrative in that it is an example of going out on the lake as an underprivileged family that does not have the riches to use a big boat or take huge supplies with only what we have.

maskotīhkom – Spruce beetle/bug

maskotīhkom – Spruce beetle/bug. This is a feared insect that is common in northern Saskatchewan and many other places.

spruce_bug

Although summer is a welcome season, the spruce bug is an unwelcome visitor to many people who are out enjoying the outdoors or when they leave a window open, which is how I was able to get a picture of this particular friend of ours.

I was bitten by this type of insect once but it was a grey one. I was walking through a trail when I was about 6 years old in Hall Lake and one landed on the back of my head, it crawled to the back of my neck and bit me. It hurt me but when I grabbed it and felt the spiny legs and hard shell I freaked out and threw it. Creepiest feeling ever, the physical pain was nothing compared to it.

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