Tag Archives: family

Smoking on the Rez, and other Places

I remember I was about 10 years old that I was curious about smoking a cigarette. Many of my family had been smoking for as long as I could remember. My parents did not smoke cigarettes. My father did chew snuff, but I never saw him smoke.

Both nimosōmak smoked cigarettes and nōhkomak chewed snuff, their brand of chewing tobacco was   Copenhagen. The snuff boxes were made of cardboard. I used to collect the snuff boxes and stack them together and I distinctly remember wanting to make a balancing scale with them and attempting to use them wheels to make a kind of wagon. I failed at the attempts, but it was fun imagining what I could do, and it kept me busy. We did not have game consoles at the time.

I was about twelve when I first started puffing on cigarettes. It was from peer pressure; I was convinced that it was cool to do so. I did that for a while, īpīhtwāhkāsowān – pretended to smoke, for a few months. Then on a cool crisp autumn day, I took a real drag. I got such a big head rush; I almost fell to my knees. I was so dizzy; I told my friends that I did not feel well and that I might have been getting sick. They looked at me blankly and just nodded. Something told me that they knew what had just happened to me.

 

From there, my tolerance increased and then I became addicted enough to pick and smoke stubs from the ground. I sometimes searched far and wide to get my next drag and so did my friends. I told myself it was a bad thing to smoke. One day I got an almost full pack, I threw the pack on the side of the road. Much later, I went back to get them, they were damp, but nothing a little heat could not fix.

I remember as a teen, my friends and I went to a restaurant and one of them pulled out a pack of smokes. They provided little aluminum ashtrays at the time and we all happily smoked our cigarettes like we were adults. The restaurant owners did not send us out, they must have been glad to have customers, as we were the only ones sitting around. We thought we were so cool (we must have looked stupid).

In my twenties, I smoked like a chimney whenever I was partying. They did not even have to be my smokes; I would bum one after the other if I could. Of course, after a while, the one with the smokes would start rationing the smokes and giving the rest of us bums, one smoke to share and not all the time. Sometimes he would smoke one halfway and give us the other half to share. Great times (not).

Many of my family had smoked or chewed tobacco when I was a kid. Today, some of them have quit. Tobacco is not as popular anymore, but there are many youngsters today smoking cigarettes like they could afford them.

I have a difficult time quitting. Correction, I have an easy time quitting, I just cannot seem to stay away from smoking. I must have quit seven times last year. Some spanning a day, and others for a week or two. One of these days, I need to put more effort into staying away from smoking. With all the restrictions these days on where you can smoke, you would think it would easy, but it is not.

cv

nimosōmak – my grandfathers

nōhkomak – my grandmothers

pîhtwâw (Verb) – s/he smokes. MD

pîhtwâhkâsow (Verb) – s/he pretends to smoke CW

ciscêmâs (Noun) – Tobacco

mîcisowikamik (Noun) – restaurant; dining room

Cree word source:

Itwêwina: Plains Cree Dictionary – https://sapir.artsrn.ualberta.ca/cree-dictionary/

Image source:

Man, and cigarettes Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Cigarette Image by Ralf Kunze from Pixabay

Ashtray Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Stubs Image by Semevent from Pixabay

Cold in the Cabin

It is a cold day today and I am glad I was provided with a teacherage to bring my family together. The girls have their rooms, and my wife does not have to deal young people coming in and out of our oldest daughters house.

It is 15 ᴼC, 23 with the windchill. My daughter and I were staying at the cabin while my wife and other daughter stayed at our oldest daughter’s house. Right now, I would be busy keeping the cabin warm for my daughter by making sure the fire was going. Having those thoughts reminds me of the struggles (my struggles) at the cabin we lived in at the trapline when I was a child.

The mornings were always cold, even if nimosōm put a fresh birch log in the stove to slowly burn through the night, it would be cold. There would be the odd time when the weather would be nice, but those days were few and far between. It was better than living in a tent, which we had done before the cabin was built, so it was good. A cabin beats an old canvas-tent anytime.

I was too young to make the fire at the time, but many times the fire would already be going by the time I got up. It was a nice surprise to wake up to. Nimosōm was already getting pretty old at the time but his pride would not stop him from being the man and taking care of what needed to be done. My father was the same way, when we moved into the house in Hall Lake, he made sure we always had firewood.

He would use his skidoo to get wood. Later as I got older, he would set up the wood in the bush and have me make the trips to haul the logs back to the house. Those were fun times because I got to use the snow machine. A few times I had to take my little brother because he was a King or something.

I am not sure what kind of chores my sisters did. I am not even sure if they did anything. I would ask, but I am sure they have some tall tales about how much work they did. Besides, I am sure they did not know what kind of chores I had to do, which included hauling water from the lake and chopping wood. I love my sisters of course, and I am sure they had much work to do, I just did not pay attention.

It is windy outside right now and maybe that is what is reminding me of the past. The crisp-cold air and icy wind would easily freeze the nose and earlobes. We always had plenty of knitted mitts and toques so we would be good and warm as long as we remembered to take them along. It would be easy to forget when it was not so cold and being excited to go sliding. It would not take long to realize we had to run and get the toques we needed and run right back to the hill for more fun sliding.

I remember my earlobes would freeze and later swell twice the thickness they were before and were quite tender. My mom would tell me I should have learned by then that I should remember the toque, at least I always remembered my mitts.

Today is November 11, 2020, Remembrance Day. A day to remember our veterans. Have a great day.

my grandfather – nimosōm

my mother:

nikāwiy

nimāmā (the way we say it here, northern sask)

my father;

nohtāwiy

nipāpā (the way we say it here, northern sask)

My younger sister and my younger brother (one term for both) – nisīmis

nimosōm owāskahikanis – grandfather’s cabin

thōtin – it is windy

tahkāyāw – it is cold

 

IMAGES:

Mitts – Image by Trang Le from Pixabay

Snowmobile image – Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Firewood – Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Call for Stories on Trapline Cabins

Artwork by Molly Ratt – Follow the link to see her Facebook page

This is a call for stories on trapline cabins. I want you to share stories of your time in a trapline cabin. All stories are welcome. It would be great to hear about your time in a trapline cabin. You can write about anything you want from how and when it was built, or maybe just the times your family traveled to the cabin during certain seasons. While I would like to publish all stories, there are a few guidelines I would like to inform you about.

  • I cannot offer remuneration or a prize, but I will publish shared stories as deemed appropriate.
  • I will give full credit and a link to your Facebook profile.
  • It needs to be between 150 to 1000 words. I can be flexible on this, in the case of several short stories, I will combine stories into one page on the website.
  • Appropriate language is encouraged
  • Happy stories are encouraged but sad stories will not be refused
  • Deadline is March 27, 2020, but I will add stories before that date over the weekends.
  • No real need to be formal, but I will make minor edits if needed. This is a story telling website, not an English class.
  • Please inbox me your stories and I will reply during evenings and weekends. I am a full-time teacher and I do not go on Facebook during the day. You can also email me the original document to cv2k@hotmail.com Please write subject as “trapline cabin”

Just a note that this is not a contest, it is more of a chance to share your story with us.

A big thank you to Tom Ballantyne for giving me the idea. I hope you decide to share your story with us at some point.

Year End 2019

The year started off with the choice of staying a Web Developer with LLRIB or apply for a teaching job in Hall Lake, my old home reserve. At that point in my life, I had worked as a web developer for nearly 14 years. I decided to give teaching a try after discussing it with my family.

It was nice to be back home in Hall Lake. I knew most of the people from 14 years before, but I did not know who the children were. I worked for Recreation in the 1990s and many of the kids I worked with, had their own kids. I could see many similarities in the children and could sometimes easily guess who their parents or grandparents were.

The familiar faces were all adults now, and I now had to learn new names, something I was never good at. I am glad to say, that I am getting close to fully reacquainting with all the people from my hometown.

This website would continue to be updated because it is my personal website and I finance and maintain it on my dime and time. I enjoy sharing my knowledge and displaying my tech skills. It has been a big year for the website in terms of visitor and viewer growth. Financially, not so much. The last time I received any remuneration, was June 2019: One-hundred dollars. I stand to make another $100 this month. It is all from the ads you see on the website. So, the website, while it brings pleasure and expression of my knowledge and abilities, it is not making me rich.

While the website would continue, the stability of my employment at the time, was about to be very disrupted. I would go from sitting quietly in my office, pressing buttons and collaborating with leaders and directors, to managing a classroom full of 10- and 11-year-old’s, who ask me: “When is it lunch?”

It has been very challenging. Much of my time is spent trying to manage my classroom, but it has gotten easier. The students have warmed up to me and seem to enjoy my short lectures. It is such a joy when a student has a “EUREKA!” moment. I will be explaining and explaining and suddenly, their eyes will light up when they understand. They go quickly go back to their desk all eager to complete their work. It can be awesome. Not once, has a computer or website given me such a feeling of accomplishment.

I will continue teaching until the end of June 2020, at Sally Ross School, and then, who knows. I will see how it goes.

First Christmas in our New House – Hall Lake 1982

When my parents got the house in Hall Lake, we got our first family Christmas tree ourselves. We made our own decorations. My mother looked stressed out at the time because it was the first house that our family ever had. Until then, we had been living at my maternal grandparent’s house until I was about 8 years old. We lived in a cabin at Pesiw Lake but this was the first time we had a real house.

My mom – nimāmā, wanted to get to get a tree for Christmas like we did at my grandmother and grandfathers house. My dad – nipāpā, had been out line-cutting and would not be back until after Christmas. It was up to my mom to get the tree.

We got our tree but, we did not have many decorations. My mom received some leftover décor from my grandparents, so she cut up some of them and taped the golden strips onto our angel, which was just a cardboard cutout. She made the angel look beautiful. She was happy to see our delighted expressions as she held it up.

My siblings and I joined in to make a chain out of coloured construction paper and made ornaments out of paper cutouts. We did have tinsel and that added a sparkling look to our dismally bald tree.

nimāmā always did the best she could for us. She knew we were used to the big Christmas feasts we had at 101 Reserve and she tried her best to bring cheer to us. We were seemingly isolated from all the family we knew, and she had to do what she could.

The Christmas presents were already purchased while we were in La Ronge at kōmpanihk – The Bay. They were wrapped and not too well hidden. I tried peeking at what was inside them, but I couldn’t do it without ripping the paper. I tried telling by the weight of the present and by the feel of it. I couldn’t even guess what it was.

On a side note, I posted a question on what “kōmpanihk” means on La Ronge Cree Language Group and my friend James Eninew gave me the answer. It means “At the company” in Creenglish (Cree and English mixed together). Thank you James. 

 

nikāwiy – my mother

nimāmā – my mother (the way most of us say it in La Ronge)

nohtāwiy – my father

nipāpā – my father (the way most of us say it in La Ronge)

mistik – tree

mistikwak – trees

 

La Ronge Cree Language Group – Facebook Group

 

nitīm – my dog

nimosōm – my grandfather Charlie Ross

I remember when I was about 10 or 11 years old and nimosōm – my grandfather told me that he used to have a dog team. It was fascinating to hear about the places he travelled with his team. It was places nearby but hearing it as a young boy, it sounded so much more glamorous and seemed to be in faraway places.

It was all well and good when he told me about what he used to do, but he started telling me that he was planning on getting a NEW dog team. I remember being very excited about it and thought I’d be able to see it happen and maybe try it myself the next winter.

He was able to get a big male and a female husky. We were in Pesiw Lake that summer when he acquired the dogs and we moved them to Hall Lake in the early fall. By the next spring, there was pups, many with big feet that nimosōm said, meant that the dogs were going to be big.

I picked out a puppy myself and it turns out nimosōm picked the same one. piyakwan awa kōtinahk, kitīminow awa – we picked the same one, this is our dog. I honestly didn’t know how that was going to work, but nimosōm seemed happy about it and I didn’t ask how it would work if he had to go back to the trapline.

It might have been a week or two later that the situation did not matter. I went for a walk with my friends and near a culvert lay a dead puppy. I was not sure at the time, but it kind of looked like mine. I was upset; however, I hid my feelings from my friends and just went home. I’m glad they didn’t ask why I had to go home, back then; we hid our feelings from each other because only we thought only little kids cried.

Later that evening, it turned out that my puppy had gone missing. A man we called mahkistikwān – big head, had killed and ditched it near the culvert where my friends and I saw it. It was very disheartening for me. I have never had a dog since, not because it was so heartbreaking, but because I decided that maybe it’s too much responsibility.

nimosōm – my grandfather

mahkistikwān – big head

atim – dog

achimosis – puppy (little dog)

nitīm – my dog

kitīm – your dog

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Old Tree behind my Parents House

My parents house

Around 1982, when my parents moved us from La Ronge to Hall Lake, our house and area was a new place to explore for this 8-year-old at the time. There were many trees near and around the house and nipāpā – my father spend days cutting trees down and digging out the tree stumps. I was too small to help with that, but I did haul what scraps I could. I wish I had pictures I could show.

Actual picture of tree before it fell, tāpwī.

There was a mistik – tree, that caught my eye earlier on because it stood out among the mītosak – popular trees behind the house, it was an ithināhtik – black spruce. I immediately noticed the tree had long branches at the bottom and made a natural umbrella, my sisters and I ran to this tree to get away from the rain many times.

Actual picture of tree before it fell, tāpwī.

During the winter of the year, nipāpā had trapped and skinned either a nikik – otter or ocīk – fisher. My memory is a bit fuzzy but anyway, he had thrown the skeleton of the animal on the branches of the ithināhtik, maybe about 3 metres high. Over the years, the bones got higher and higher until I completely forgot about them. When I did remember many years later, I could not make it out. Not a trace. I wondered if it was dragged away by ravens and crows or by the squirrel that made the tree it’s home.

Actual tree after it fell, tāpwī

In late July of this year, 2019, the tree finally fell after a storm. Right away I went to the tree when I found out and looked for the bones that were thrown onto the branches. I did not find the skeleton. I was kind of disappointed but considering its been 37 years, there was little chance it would still be there. I just thought it would be a good story to tell my children as I held up the skeleton, but that is not to be. Like the readers of this blog, it can only be imagined.

 

nipāpā – my father (this is how we say it in our “colonized” reserves).

mistik – tree

mītos – popular tree

ithināhtik – black spruce

nikik – otter

ocīk – fisher

 

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