Kinipīminaw – Our Water

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

 

ANOTHER IDEA FOR CUSTOM MADE WOODLAND CREE CLOCK

I came up with another idea for a custom clock. I made a collage of pictures above and below the actual clock face. It is similar to the one I made for my sister. Feel free to share and maybe make your own Cree clock.

masinipīsinowin – picture or photograph

pīsimohkān – Clock

 

 

Nimosōm okwāskīpicikan – My Grandfather’s Fishing Rod

Living at the trapline meant long days of walking and checking snares and traps for nimosōm and I. Other times, I would just observe him skinning animals and preparing them for trading in La Ronge at Robertson Trading Ltd. Mr. Robertson was always happy to see nimosōm because my grandfather always tried to bring in quality furs for trade. “haw, āthik ikwa naka nitōwāpamāw” (Now I will go see Alex). He used to call Robertson’s company, “āthikosihk.”

There were days, however, when we could relax: listen to the radio or read, but my favourite thing to do was go out ice-fishing. Nimosōm rarely fished at the usually spot because he liked to test out other areas of the wāsāw (bay) we stayed at near his cabin. He would go across the bay and take his chisel and spend an enormous amount of time making holes, at least to my impatience as a boy.

If I got bored waiting, I would use a knife (yes it sounds dangerous, but we were taught to be responsible) to cut out pieces of the hard snow and attempt to make an igloo, I never finished one because it would then be time for fishing. nimosom would be done the “pīkwatahōpān” (water hole in the ice). “wāskahikanis cī īkakwī osihtāyin nōsisim” (are you trying to make a little house grandson) he would say, as he let out a bit of a laugh with a big smile on his weather worn face. I can still hear and see him today as looked at me with amusement and pride.

nimosōm – my grandfather Charlie Ross

One of my memories takes me back to when, after a storytelling session, he decided to make a special fishing rod. It was a bit longer than a regular size wooden rod that we were used to. It was bent and fashioned into a bow, he even put a sting on it to make a little bow. “cīstī nōsisim, kīsi kwāskīpitaki kinosīw, tapimok” (see grandson, after I catch a fish, I can shoot it with an arrow). I looked at the bow and I was excited about it because I made my own bows and arrows outdoors (generally making a biodegradable mess outside).

He looked at his invention with a smile and then the smile went away. He looked at it again with a bit of distain and said: “mmm kīyām namōwitha katāc, namwāc ītokī kitīspathin” (hmm, maybe not, I don’t think it will work). I was so disappointed but far be it for me to disagree with nimosōm. I have a suspicion that he may have been just trying to entertain me. nōhkom was not impressed with the rod so maybe that could be why he changed his mind. I wish I could still talk to them at this point in time, they seemed so alive and not old.


Nimosōm okwāskīpicikan – My Grandfather’s Fishing Rod

āthikosihk – at Alex Robertson’s place

nōsisim – my grandchild

nōhkom – my grandmother

nimosōm – my grandfather

wāsāw – Bay

pīkwatahōpān – water hole in the ice

kinosīw – fish

kwāskīpicikī – fish (act of)

kwāskīpicikan – fishing rod

Thank you for visiting, I realize I repeat many words from blog to blog (I hate this word). I try to include new words as well, it may seem unstructured and may get the seasoned speakers irked but please enjoy and keep visiting.

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

 

Simple Commands in Woodland Cree

I did some audio for simple commands; some people have asked for these basic words and hopefully this post will answer their questions.

pihtokī – come inside (as in “come inside the house” or “come indoors”)

awas – go away

āstam – come here

kīwī – go home

api – sit down

pasikō – get up

itwī – say

kāwitha – do not, or don’t

aswīthihta – be careful

 

The resources I used:
https://creeliteracy.org/2018/01/25/its-all-about-the-verbs/
http://sapir.artsrn.ualberta.ca/itwewina/eng/crk/?lookup=command
http://nisto.com/cree/lesson/6.html – N dialect

Have a Happy Birthday – mitho tipiskansi

Since I am celebrating my 45th birthday (where did the time go) I decided to post a birthday meme with audio. Up here in Northern Saskatchewan, we say “ī tipiskahk” when someone has a birthday. It is from the word “tipsiskaw” – (night), so it is my 45th night, so to speak.

ī tipiskahk – she/he is celebrating a birthday, or it’s his or her birthday

ī tipiskaman – it is my birthday

Resources I used:

nīso mihkināhkwak mītawīwak – two turtles play

Artwork by Allen Morrow

Two mihkināhkwak (turtles) were floating through the universe with no real purpose in their lives. They would often race to see who could get to a planet or other celestial body. sīpihkosiw (she who is blue) would always challenge askihtakosiw (she who is green), to anything they would see ahead of them. It was mainly planets they raced to because they were safer, they usually stayed away from the hot balls of iskotiw (fire). sīpihkosiw was the outgoing, rebellious type of mihkināhk and askihtakosiw was a maternal , caring mihkināhk.

One time (there were no days), sīpihkosiw saw a beautiful bright star that shone much light and warmth to all in its path. sīpihkosiw decided it looked safe because of the light and warmth and could not be harmful. askihtakosiw was not so sure but she did not want to disappoint her only friend.

The race was on, sīpihkosiw grabbed an opportunistic head start as askihtakosiw noticed an almost dead planet as it rested by the wayside. sīpihkosiw called out, “niwī otahikan, osām īpapīcīn, ikwa nītha ītatāstapiyān.” – (I will win because you are too slow, and I am fast).

sīpihkosiw would not even look back and kept going toward the star. She did not even think about how dangerous it might be because she wanted to win, yet again against askihtakosiw. askihtakosiw looked ahead and noticed the star was looking brighter and not with warmth, but with more heat. sīpihkosiw thought it was just a ploy when askihtakosiw called out to her. “aswīthihta, kisisow  acahkos.” – (Be careful, the star is very hot).

Artwork by Allen Morrow

It was too late; the star grabbed the left fin of sīpihkosiw and did not let go. askihtakosiw stopped because she knew it was too late. She knew it was all over for her dear friend that she loved so much. Her maternal instincts wounded her heart, as her friend became absorbed into the raging hot star. sīpihkosiw added to the heat of the star and it became the sun. The star just needed the fuel to become a sun and provide light and warmth to the dying planet that was on its last span of existence.

Artwork by Allen Morrow

askihtakosiw floated idle by as her friend was no more. pīsim (the sun) called out to askihtakosiw: “kinanāskomitināwāw, īmīthīk kīkwāy kita mīkiyān, pimācīhowin.” – (I thank you both, you both gave me something that I can give, life).

pīsim was happy but not sad for sīpihkosiw because she was now a part of something big, renewed life for the dying people. askihtakosiw was sad to have lost her friend. What would she do now? pīsim told her that she can do a very great thing, and that is to give something for the benefit of the dying planet and its people, her body.

Artwork by Allen Morrow

pīsim said to askihtakosiw, “kinawāpahta anima kawāwīyiyāk, ikota kowisimo, ikwa kita waniskāwak nīhithowak kita wīkicik, kiyaw.” – (Look at the circular thing, there go to sleep, there the Cree’s will wake up and live on, your body).

Ever since that time, when time began, turtle island became the home of the people, the beginning of time immemorial.

Based on Allen Morrow’s artwork

mihkināhk – turtle

mihkināhkwak – turtles

sīpihkosiw – blue (animate colour)

askihtakosiw – green (animate colour)

iskotiw – fire

acahkos – star

pīsim – sun

 

 

 

namwāc wīkāc kawanikiskisimotin – I will never forget you

A Love Poem in Woodland Cree

namwāc wīkāc kawanikiskisimotin
ithikohk isākīhitān
ithikohk imithosīyin
namwāc kika nakatitin
kītha poko nakasīni
ikospi niti kita pahkwīpathin

I will never forget you
I love you so much
You are so beautiful
I will never leave you
Only if you leave me
That is when my heart will break

nisīmis and her Custom Made Woodland Cree Clock

Two weeks ago, nisīmis (my younger sister) lent me $40. Last week, I showed her my Woodland Cree clock and told her maybe I should make them with personal pictures as a background. She thought it was a good idea and then asked me to make her a clock with her sons as the background to pay for the $40 bucks I owe her. I agreed and worked on it last night.

I had the picture laminated and placed it in a document frame. I took the glass out and replaced it with the laminated picture. It turned out okay and looks good. I choose a light plastic frame which is light enough to be held up by a thumb tack.

I just thought I would share the story and maybe give some ideas on what can be done with a custom clock. Have a good evening. maybe next time, I will try an 8×10 frame, this was an 8.5×11 frame so I would not have to cut the laminated picture.

nisīmis – my younger brother or sister

masinipīsinowin – picture or photograph

pīsimohkān – Clock

tipahikan – Hour

cipahikanis – Minutes

mīna āpihtāw tipahikan – Half past the hour

For example – 1:30 would be, piyak mīna āpihtāw tipahikan

Previous post about clocks:

FREE PDF DOWNLOADS – PLAINS & WOODLAND CREE CLOCK

 

 

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