I recently made the decision to stay with my teaching job at Sally Ross School. I submitted my letter of intent to continue working at my hometown of Hall Lake. It was a hard choice but I feel it is better for my family and myself.
I had some thoughts of going back to my old job as web developer because it was easier than what I had to go through on a day to day basis with my job as grade 5 and 6 teacher. I have met challenges that I thought were too much to handle. I felt inept and too inexperienced to deal with my students who I though deserved a better teacher. I still believe they do, but they are stuck with me until the end of the school year.
I have had much trouble with classroom management and discipline. I have much support and will try to get the understanding of the parents to try and do better. I hope there is some type of understanding worked out because I want all my students to do well.
As for this website, I will continue on because it is my pride and joy. Whenever I am going through a tough time, I know I can get some appreciation for the time and effort I put into this website from my many followers and visitors. It has got me through, time and again and I do not want to lose the support I have garnered from my visitors. I enjoy writing stories and providing a supplement to any Cree program through my efforts. I have enjoyed and used many resource people, especially Solomon Ratt, Simon Bird and Arden Ogg. There are many others of course but these have been my main sources because they are constantly online to support me (more than they know).
I refer to many sources for my website. Without these sources I would be spending enormous amounts of time to complete my blogs about Cree. As a semi-fluent speaker, writer and reader of Woodland Cree, the following sources are invaluable to me.
I have used this website from time to time to see what many prominent Cree teachers are up to. There are too many people to mention, and I do not want to leave anybody out. Check it out yourself for the video, audio and text.
This website is one I built using Adobe Flash with the help of many great people in the Lac La Ronge Indian Band. Unfortunately, the Flash app is pretty much obsolete. It still works on desktop computers but it will be discontinued in 2020 by Adobe (The demise of Flash – https://sdtimes.com/webdev/the-demise-of-flash/).
The websites below are from a Google search, maybe you will find them useful in your quest to learn our beautiful language.
At the beginning of the year, Heinz Mayochup was making headlines as an exciting new condiment that combined mayonnaise and ketchup in one bottle. However, it made headlines again because when translated to Cree, it meant ‘poop-face.’ Several news websites picked up the story and caused quite a stir on social media.
Before this condiment came out, I have never tried mixing mayonnaise with ketchup, I have used both separately but not at the same time. It sounded interesting to me.
When it came to Canada, I decided to give it a little time before I bought it because it seemed expensive to me at $4.95. I am kind of “thrifty”, if you know what I mean.
I had it in my fridge for a while but when I tried it, I liked it. It goes well with bologna sandwiches and I do not have to decide on ketchup or mayonnaise, I just use Mayochup.
Now back to the Cree translation controversy. If I attempted to translate to Cree, it would sound more like ‘poop-eye’ as commented on by Arok Wolvengrey on Arden Ogg’s post on the Nêhiyawêwin (Cree) Word/Phrase of the Day:
While I did not chime in at the time, I gave it much thought myself but since I did not even know how it tasted, I felt I needed to test it out. I did not think it tasted like poop or anything.
The picture at the top of the page is the meal I had about 20 minutes before I decided to give my late review. It was probably not the healthiest breakfast, however, it was still very satisfying. You can tell from the almost empty bottle that I have used it many times before (I am the only one in my household who has the guts).
Growing in La Ronge, Pesiw Lake and Hall Lake, I never heard of the term, Treaty 6 Territory. I would hear of Treaty Days and I enjoyed the events that would happen on that day. The whole community would get together and have events such as sack races, plank races and various other fun events. I do not remember hearing about the numbered treaties until I was in grade 10, at Sally Ross School, where I now teach grades 5 and 6.
I have taught my students about treaty 6, where and when it was signed, and about the year our band, the Lac La Ronge Indian Band (LLRIB), signed an adhesion in 1889. I have showed them the poster of the timeline of chiefs, which is available on the LLRIB website – History of the LLRIB Chiefs. I showed them the videos on the page to make them more aware of our first chief, Chief James Roberts and where he is buried. A few students were actually at the headstone ceremony this past summer. The ceremony is also on video, on the linked page.
The students were engaged and very interested in the information. Questions came up such as, what I remember about the previous chiefs and which ones I met. I told them I had met Harry Cook when he was chief and that former chief, Miles Venne came to my high school graduation in 1995 at Senator Myles Venne School. For some reason, his first name was misspelled, but I have not asked about it either.
Books were more about the southern Saskatchewan Indians regarding the buffalo and the hardships of land being stolen and ripped away from them. After hearing so much about the atrocities of the treaty signings and the lies perpetuated by the government, I started to wonder about our history, where do we fit, in the timeline of Indigenous events.
I completed the work for the LLRIB during my time as web developer. Recently, I decided to go to an outside source for more information that I may not have heard about. I asked a friend of mine, Samuel A. Hardlotte, about what he knows of the treaty signing, below was his response:
Our 1889 Adhesion to Treaty 6 was signed at the North end of Montreal Lake it was Not signed at molanosa. The settlement of molanosa did not exist in 1889 and it later began when some white men, began harvesting trees in that area and set up a sawmill, inland, from Montreal Lake. Our Acting Chief Sam Roberts, Hope and I visited Little Hills on Sept. 28th/19 to commemorate the historic event of the very 1st Annuity Payments. Tubby Bell was the person that took us out there. It was an emotional day for all of us. It was also an honour to be at Little Hills on that day.
Mr. Hardlotte is very passionate about the history of our Treaty 6 Territory. I joined him and his wife, Hope, with the Treaty Day display at the JRMCC, where they handed out T-shirts marking the anniversary of the treaty adhesion.
It was a showcase of historical documents, pictures and articles about LLRIB. It was very informative, and I did my part by displaying the video or our history on a projection screen.
I had an interesting but friendly debate with Hope during the event. She said that the separation of Stanley Mission in 1910, meant that they should not be included in the timeline of chiefs because in 1900, Peter Ballantyne separated from the Paylist to form their own band under his name, and they are not on the timeline. I argued (in a nice way, lol) that Peter Ballantyne Band is not in the timeline because they did not rejoin us at some point like Stanley Mission did. Anyway, it was a good discussion. Discussions and debates should be encouraged without the bitterness of arguments and escalated disagreements.
I am sure there is more to our history that has not been written, I hope one of these days that there is a project set up, to gather this information and present it for free, to all our schools, the LLRIB membership and the general public.
Scientists have been skeptical of the theory of firehawks spreading fires by carrying burning sticks. The Aborigines have known for centuries, maybe even for millennia, what scientists are discovering today.
There have been other instances of scientists discovering what North American Indigenous people have known all along. Native medicine is getting a second look from many scientists, but unfortunately, many are sponsored by corporations to make money. I see it more as an exploitation tactic as opposed to wanted to heal the sick. The medicine making the rounds on social media is chaga, check out the article and others at the bottom of the page.
While the exploitation might sound devious, how are our many urban “Indians” supposed to have access? It is doubtful that there are enough medicine men around to spread the healing practices to all our people. Capitalistic marketing is what is used today and may be the only viable way to get our medicines to people. I have no idea what else might work, maybe we will have a better system someday. If one of my readers have a good idea, please comment on the Facebook post.
I have personally used wacask ōmīcowin – rat root, for a headache. I still need to get some off my son who has a nice batch of it. I have gone on a field trip with one of my instructors to explore areas and identify Native medicine. This was all good because I got to see for myself, the work it would take to gather and prepare the healing remedies.
As a boy, I had chicken pox in the trapline. My grandfather – nimosōm, took me out on a trail to gather spruce gum. He boiled the chucks that we gathered, but I am not sure what else might have been in it. When it was ready, I placed generous amounts on the affected areas to sooth the itch. It was great to get that kind of relief. We went back to the rez soon after, and he made more when we got to my parent’s place.
As a boy living in La Ronge on the rez of 101, I had an accident. I was playing with a friend of mine; we were throwing small roof shingles at each other to see if we can dodge them. He grabbed a bigger piece than usual and asked if I could dodge it. I said: “haw haw” meaning go for it. He got me right above the right eye, I bled like heck. All I saw was red and I could see my friend hovering over me and try calm me down. We were about 5-6 years old at the time. When the bleeding was controlled, they didn’t take me to the hospital or clinic, nōhkom took me to the muskeg area and we gathered Labrador tea leaves. When we got to the house, she applied it over my eye and added a dressing over it. It was changed several times, over several days (I cannot remember how many times). Eventually, my cut was healed.
As an adult, working for the Gift of Language and Culture, I had been sick for several days. I went to work when I got a little better and told my female colleagues what I was going through (you know how men are, just kidding). One of my co-workers had this concoction of “Indian” medicine. The only ingredient I remember is rat root. Anyway, I made some tea and added a half teaspoon and the symptoms eased right up before lunch. This was after two more teas over the medicine I put in earlier. I was skeptical about the concoction, but I could not explain the way this stuff worked.
I have many colleagues and friends that gather Native medicine, but I hesitate to ask for any because I feel like I should go get it myself. I had hoped to get more into our medicines, but it is difficult to make the time in our “assimilated” way of life. I have work, family and relaxing time, so finding sources of medicine is one thing, it is entirely another to gather and prepare. I can see why it was usually medicine men or women that did all the careful gathering and preparation for their people.
Now to the skeptics. I have been one of these skeptics for the longest time even when I was obviously treated with “Indian” medicine a few times. It may be the spiritual aspects of the practice that throws people off. The ceremony of rising tobacco to the four-directions or giving tobacco to a medicine person, seems a bit arbitrary to one who is not raised to follow Native Spirituality. I have asked such questions before, only to be met with condescending answers, not very helpful. I may have come across as arrogant and rude, but the answer of spirits needing appreciation, did not sound right to me.
I have benefited from the use of medicine but I do not remember being told to offer tobacco. Many people in my area, were assimilated to the fur traders ways. We had a close relationship and still do. Of course, racism rears it’s ugly head on a daily basis, some days are better than others, but I hope things get better and I do not wish to elaborate at this time, maybe another article.
Obviously I was grateful and appreciated the healing from the plants. To the people who gathered and prepared it for me, I am very grateful.
When Scientists “Discover” What Indigenous People Have Known For Centuries