Tag Archives: cree

Moose in Woodland Cree – painting by Molly Ratt

Showcased in Molly Ratt’s Gallery 2

Artwork by Molly Roseanne Ratt

mōswa – one moose

mōswak – more than one moose

onīcāniw – cow moose (female)

iyāpīw – bull moose (male)

nōsīs – cow moose (female with a calf)

The spelling is how I remember it in school using Standard Roman Orthography.

Nimosōm and my Uncle track the wihtikō

tracks
Not the actual tracks

As a boy, one of the many stories my late grandfather told me was when he thought he might have tracked the wihtikō. One day, in the winter, he was out with my late uncle (nohkomis) on the frozen lake, way before I was born. I listened attentively as he told his story about a set of tracks they had seen along the way to their destination. He did not know what kind of tracks they were and that he had seen many types of tracks over the years, but nothing like the ones they saw that day.

My late grandfather – Charlie Ross

He described them as kind of a twig laden track. It was hard to vision what he was talking about. He said it in Cree, something like “watihkwanisa” or “wacihkwanisa.” It was a very vague description, but I was more interested on what or who it could be. My grandfather went on to say that my late uncle Jacob, did not seem interested before they went back on their journey. Nimosōm looked at me and said: “matwānci ana wihtikō kāki namimihāk?” (Maybe it was wihtikō tracks that we found?).

It was a story that intrigued me and left me wondering and wanting more. I imagined the wihtikō traveling around the boreal forest, looking for his next meal, maybe one of us at the camp. I was in awe of the possibility of his story being true that it stayed on my mind for many years. What if the wihtikō was nearby? Maybe he was looking for an opening to take one of us at the most opportune time and gobble us up, one by one. I cringed at the thought that he may have been observing me standing near the camp, waiting to pounce and drag me away when he had the chance.

MOLLY’S ART – http://firstnationstories.com/?page_id=608

I did not want to tell my mother this story because I did not want her to kill my fantasy, as it were. I wanted to believe there might be some loathsome creature that is real and evil. I wanted to find out more but without asking my parents what they might have thought. In short, I did not want to hear the truth because there had to be something out there and I wanted to believe my late grandfather’s tale and his adventure. I was totally exhaled at his fascinating storytelling. The mystery and thought-provoking ways he told his stories, were the most entertaining I ever heard, even to this day.

It is hard to say what it was that they tracked on the snow. The only thing I can think of, is maybe big boots with very rugged treads from another trapper. He did not elaborate where they might have tracked the foot/boot prints, but he told me this story when we were at our cabin at Pesiw Lake (he used to call it pīsiw sākahikanihk) in Northern Saskatchewan, about 120-130KM from the town of La Ronge.

“Twig” and “sprig A small branch or twig,” translation – courtesy of Online Cree Dictionary – http://www.creedictionary.com/search/?q=twig&scope=0

nimosōm – my grandfather

nohkomis – my uncle (dad’s side)

wihtikō – windigo

watihkwanisa – twig

wacihkwanisa – sprig A small branch or twig

matwānci ana wihtikō kāki namimihāk? – Maybe it was wihtikō tracks that we found?

pīsiw sākahikanihk – Pesiw Lake

I am not sure if I pronounced the twig and sprig properly but I did the best I could.

I need a new microphone, this old webcam mic is not cutting it.

Nimosōm Storytelling in the Trapline

As a little boy in the trapline, my late grandfather used to tell me many stories after a day of checking snares and traps. I wish I could remember them in detail but they are pretty much a blur at this point in my life. I also remember when i turned 8 years old and knew how to read. I would return the favour to my grandfather by reading Archie comics and translating to Cree as he sat intently listening to the shenanigans of the ‘ol gang.




The stories he told me were enhanced with his use of hand gestures and body language to emphasize the main points. His tone of voice would change, depending on the situation in his stories. His great humour would shine through, as his shoulders would bounce up and down as he bellowed in laughter. I was mesmerized by his masterful telling of legends and some that were his very own. I will tell the story of the time he thought he tracked a wehtigo (wendigo in other areas)  at his trapline in another blog entry.   

Story telling has a big part of my life since then and I used to tell stories to my children, right off the top of my head, as they listened to my sensational stories without planning them first. I wrote a few in detail as they are on my website: http://firstnationstories.com . I am happy to share what I remember for everyone to read and hopefully share themselves to people they care about. Have great evening.

Six Seasons in Woodland Cree (La Ronge, SK)

 Six Seasons in Woodland Cree
break-up
Break Up

mithoskamin – break-up

spring
Spring

sīkwan – spring

summer
Summer

nīpin – summer

fall
Fall

takwākin – fall

freeze-up
Freeze-Up

mikiskāw – freeze-up

winter
Winter

pipon – winter

All pictures and audio are my own, if you feel there may be a mistake in the audio pronunciation or written text, please let me know (cv2k@hotmail.com)

 

 

Raven – kāhkākiw

 

My daughter Caitlyn took this picture of a raven scavenging for food. The term we use in La Ronge for kāhkākiw, check out the audio above and comment your community’s version.

raven2-cree

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.

ohtāwīmāwikīsikāw – Father’s Day (Woodland Cree)


ohtāwīmāwikīsikāw – Father’s Day in Woodland Cree, it might be similar to Plains Cree. Audio available.

fathers-day-copy

My Time with The Gift of Language and Culture Project (2005-2011)

banner_glcp
http://www.giftoflanguageandculture.ca/ (new window)

In 2005, I started working for the Gift of Language and Culture Project as a casual web designer. Little did I know that they were expecting a Flash based website with images, text and audio all rolled into one for each category. I was overwhelmed by the expectations but I was happy to at least be working. I put in many extra hours at home to learn this new application.

cree-syllabicsI knew enough about image and sound formats but he text part gave me trouble because I had never worked with different text fonts other than the generic types we are all used to such as, Times New Roman, Arial or Comic Sans. I had to learn quickly because the demands of the project team was high and I was expected to work miracles and with new Aboriginal language fonts I never heard of. dene_swallow

We had Cree, Dene and syllabic fonts that needed to be installed on all our computers and I had to make sure people at home and schools could view the fonts on documents so I had to provide a link to the fonts for personal installation. There were also applications I needed to familiarize myself with, such as, CorelDraw, Publisher, Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Audition and of course Adobe Flash (Macromedia Flash at the time). I already knew about Adobe Photoshop so that was a big help with the images that needed to be edited and manipulated.

The project team was great and the people were dedicated and willing to put forth much effort to accomplish what we could, to provide resources for Aboriginal language learners all over the country and even some in the United States. We had curriculum developers who compiled the Cree and Dene word lists and translations, illustrators who provided the original clip-art we needed, audio/visual personnel who recorded the audio and video required and of course the material developers who put the resources together for print and distribution.

Part One & Part Two

I personally collaborated with all staff to get what I needed to build the website and put their work together and develop what we see today. If it were not for the cooperation and hard work of the team, I could not do what I did for the website. I am grateful for the experience and I was so sad to see it all come to an end in 2011. It was a big part of my life, 7 years of my life that it still has a profound effect on me today.

I think I did well on my self-learning because we ended up with a great Cree website that is still online and used all around the world and has been viewed by 147 countries. It has had 276,357 hits and 100,226 unique visitors (as of June 17, 2015) which is pretty good for a non-mainstream language and website.

Last 500 hits
Last 500 hits
youtube_glcp_image
YouTube

The YouTube Channel has 407 subscribers 260,379 views as (of June 17, 2015). The channel has songs, concerts, and animations for the whole family to enjoy. There are also a couple of instructional videos for snowshoes and birch bark baskets and many interviews with elders, some who are not with us today.
(https://www.youtube.com/user/TGLCP/videos).

theGiftOfLanguageAndCulture_screenAs the web designer/Flash developer, I received praise for the work I did but I always mentioned the people behind all the important work that needed to be done before I could even develop an animation or Flash exercise. I had a good working relationship with all my co-workers and while they contributed all the work, I made myself extra useful by troubleshooting their computer’s hardware and software when ever they needed it. There was no way I could do my work if they could not do theirs, so it worked out for all of us.

I am currently training to be a teacher at Nortep and hopefully in a couple of years I will be able to contribute to the Cree language professionally with much more credibility. I decided to go back to school because I needed more training in the area of education and to hopefully expand my horizons for myself and to contribute more to the learning environment of our students in other areas where it is needed.

On a side note, I would receive emails and phone calls from Montana, Ontario, British Columbia and the all the prairie provinces to let me know what a great job the Gift was doing. One person in particular called from BC to tell me that he loved the website and that two of his children were learning Cree from their mother who was a Cree woman he married from Saskatchewan somewhere, I cannot remember where specifically (it might have been Pelican Narrows). It was a morning call out of nowhere but it was a nice surprise way back about 2010.

I wish the project could have continued but all good things come to an end. Maybe one of these days there will be a revival and if there is, I would love to be involved again and provide my experience and expertise.

i-shall-see-you-again

cv

 

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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