Category Archives: Cree

Cree language words with translation

Nimosōm takes me on a Hike

I mentioned before that nimosōm would sometimes stay with us on the reserve at my parents place during the summer. Those were good times because I got to listen to my grandparents whenever they would talk about the old days.

It was a beautiful summer day when he decided to go on a hike. He told me that there was an old trail he used to take to a small lake east of Hall Lake: “wīcīwin nosim, kiwī itohtāhitin apisci sākahikansīs, itī māna ikī kaskimohtiyān koskinikiyān.” (Come with me my grandchild, I will take you to a small lake, it is where I would go when I was young by cutting across).

So, it was set, we would be on foot and we were actually out to look for spruce grouse and partridges. He had a single-shot .22 caliber gun and I used a straight-bow and carried 5 store bought arrows. At this point, I had only shot small spring birds to make flour soup and missed many more squirrels (which brought in $1 a piece during trapping season). During the winter before, I had gone out on my own and tried to hunt down a partridge which I just kept on missing, it was very disheartening.

About 15-20 minutes into our trip, we came across an old bear snare that was rusted and deserted to hang precariously on a log. He mentioned a name of the person who may have left it there and how they were so inept at looking after their snares. “tāpwī īsa ikī kakīpatiso awa kākī tāpwakwīt, nītha wītha nika tāpakōmoha maskwa.” (This person that set the snare was so stupid, I would have snared the bear).

As we got deeper into the woods, we came upon a group of ptarmigans. Nimosōm flashed his big smile, “watch out pithīw, watch out.” He went sneaking up on them and I heard a shot, bang! He got one of them, “īniyānanicik pithīwak” (There is five partridges). He managed to kill four of them and I got one right through the neck, it was such a proud moment for me.

After our kills, we did end up walking to the small lake, which is actually a part of Hall lake river system. We sat and admired the view from afar as there was much marshland. We had our rest and we went back home. I hope to go back there this summer with my son (unless there are many bear sightings).

A note on my translations: The translations I made on this blog might be off for some people, however, it is the way I understood my grandfather when he talked to me.

Nimosōm – My grandfather

paskisikan – gun

 

SSL for First Nations Stories Website

I have recently purchased an SSL Certificate for my website. There may be some technical instabilities during the week but I hope it will be brief and not too disruptive for my visitors. I realize this type of info is not what visitors are looking for, but I just thought you would interested in the fact that I care about this website and my visitors.

Ever since Google started pushing SSL certificates on websites, I have been considering an SSL integration to the website. I held back because I do not sell products on my website. However. there has been a nagging icon on the address box that says, Not secure.

I do not like it. It tells visitors that my website is not secure.  With some of my donation money, I have purchased an SSL certificate and I want to get it done during the week. I hope it goes smoothly.

If I ever decide to sell any products, my website will be ready for business. For now, I will continue to share stories and memes that interest my visitors and potential visitors (spread the word and share).

 

This year was not a good year for blueberries in my area

This year was not a good year for blueberries in my area. I remember three years ago in 2017, there were so many berries that were still on the plants in mid to late September. Large bunches of berries literally falling off the plants when you touched them. My daughter and I went for a long walk that time, and we had our fill of large soft blueberries by the time we were done.

I remember as a boy in Hall Lake, my good buddy and I were admiring our momma’s buckets of blueberries. We decided to get some of our own. We grabbed margarine containers from the cupboards and off we went. We knew the general area where they got their berries from.

We did not venture very far when we came upon a natural garden of blueberries, just bursting off the plants. Okay, maybe not that many but there were plenty. We filled up our containers quickly and picked some to eat right off the shrubs. On our way home, we came to a large gravel pit and walked along the edge with our containers on hand.

As we worked our way down the pit, my buddy tripped over a rock or something. You could see the concerned look on his face as he held up his container and managed not to drop one berry when he hit the ground. We both started laughing. He was okay, he did not get hurt. He would have been hurt if he spilled all his berries, but he was fine.

Blueberry – ithinimin

Blueberries – ithinimina

I pick berries – nimawison

We (but not you) pick berries – nimawisonān

he/she falls down – pahkisin

I laugh – nipāhpin

We (but not you) laugh – nipāhpinān

September – nimitahamowipīsim

Cree word sources:

learncree.ca

itwêwina 

Cree T-SHIRT Designs

A friend of mine, Arden Ogg from the Cree Literacy Network, recently suggested that I redesign an image I developed with the Cree phrase, “I Am Cree”. She believes that it is a powerful phrase for learners, and I wholeheartedly agree.

Below are the redesigned versions of the Cree memes with only the Cree words written on them.

Download JPG ⇓

Woodland Cree – I am Cree – Yesterday – Today – Forever

Download JPG ⇓

Plains Cree – I am Cree – Yesterday – Today – Forever

My only request, is that you please leave the https://firstnationstories.com text on the image, if you decide to get a custom t-shirt using my design.

Check out these online custom t-shirt stores with Canadian rates:

Entripy – https://www.entripy.com/ 

Vistaprint – https://www.vistaprint.ca/

You may use any image from the site gallery, and please keep my logo and/or url on the image.

Find other images on the link below:

FREE CREE IMAGES

Thank you for visiting

cv

 

Monolith – pīyak asiniy īcamasot

There has been many news stories about a monolith appearing in many places. It started in Utah and has continued to interest all our nations, as new monoliths have appeared in other areas.

I recently discovered a monolith on my rez. It was disturbing to me to see the structure, however, my wife has confirmed it was there before. Hmm, maybe it is not so mysterious.

To be serious, I have been wondering about the steel structures that have been popping up during the past week or so. Some say Aliens and others say just human pranksters.

I decided to look up the definition and it reads: “a large single upright block of stone, especially one shaped into or serving as a pillar or monument.”

So in Cree, it would mean:

pīyak asiniy īcamasot – monolith (one stone or rock, standing upright). Please suggest other possible translations.

I just had a chat with Johnjames Boychiets Spence
(Jjspence) on Facebook and he has a Cree term that better describes what I am trying to say – kipohtchikan (key/poo/cheek/can)

Thank you to James. Here is his Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/groups/johnjmes3

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utah_monolith

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/dec/01/utah-monolith-removed-by-humans

https://www.cnn.com/style/article/utah-monolith-viral-art-moment/index.html?fbclid=IwAR2PxYY1v7Q3o4IKJfDAHrx1xqnNXxoK_WejR31Ed3u2xuiO5jkXDAW9AbI

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/monolith-found-utah/

 

Shooting at Cars with Bows and Arrows, on the Rez

For as long as I can remember, I had been making my own bows and arrows. On the rez in Hall Lake, I would use mīcosis – a small popular tree for bows and I would use the blue rope used for fish nets. The arrows would be made from popular trees and it would be heavy wood. When the bow and arrows dried up, they would be warped, which was fine for the bow, the arrows not so much. However, the bow would become too hard to pull and when I did pull as hard as I could, they would break.

I started using waskwāsak- small birch trees for the bows and they worked so much better. I started using cut-up 2X4s for the arrows, and they worked better because they were already dry and stayed straight. I must have been eight years old at the time.

My family would go to La Ronge for long visits and sometimes I would get bored. I had friends from school, but I usually spent time by myself. 101 reserve was our home community in La Ronge before we got a house in Hall Lake, so I was familiar with the area. There were many small birch trees to cut down and use.

I had an older cousin, Johnny Venne, who was one of the cooler athletic types. He seemed a bit obnoxious to me and seemed to bug our other cousins on purpose by teasing them and running away. One time, we were around several of our older cousins and they were smoking cigarettes and he would tell them, “You should be like me. Don’t smoke.”

I rarely hung with him because I was 3-4 years younger and he had many friends his own age, who were so much cooler than I was. One day, he came by nohkomonān owāskihikan – our grandmother’s house, to visit and he noticed I had a bow and some arrows.

He was checking it out and he was asking me who made it for me, and I told him that I made it for myself. I was giddy to get my cousin’s attention, here was my cool cuz conversing with me about something I do. So of course, I offered to show him how to make one.

We spend a good afternoon in the bush with knives we took from somewhere, I cannot remember, but anyway, we found some good size birch and scrounged up some rope. We made our bows and arrows and we had fun shooting at targets, not targets from the store, but old cans and beer bottles that were all over the rez.

Johnny, being as cool as he was, got bored of just shooting at random objects, he wanted some action. 101 reserve is beside Highway 2, and the road curves around the rez to get from the village of Air Ronge to the town of La Ronge. It was late evening in the summer, and many vehicles use the road. It is the only major highway linking the tri-community of LLRIB, La Ronge and Air Ronge. My cool cousin had a wild idea.

He suggested we go to the brush on the side of the road and shoot at the vehicles driving by. I remember thinking it was a bad idea that only bad kids did that sort of thing, but I wanted to stay in the good graces of my cuz who I looked up to. I hesitantly agreed against my better judgement and off we went.

Actual area of our adventure – 101 Reserve by the main highway

Our first attempt at shooting vehicles, we did not even get to the roadside. Our uncle, who lived in a small cabin near the highway, saw what we were going to do, and he broke our bows in half. I felt so ashamed of myself and wondered if he would tell my parents what we were trying to do. So, Johnny figured we should try again the next day, and I nodded yes.

The brush was tall around the roadside so it would be difficult to be seen by the unsuspecting, innocent drivers. The first few shoots dropped on the pavement. We heard a couple of arrows thumping onto a car or two, but they kept driving. Then there was this big truck, it looked like a U-Haul moving truck. It was getting dark, so we were well hidden. Johnny took a shot, and we heard the arrow loud and clear when it fell on top of the truck. The truck stopped. We froze and looked at each-other for a split-second, and then we ran as fast as we could.

Me, being younger, chubby, and not as athletic, my cuz Johnny was way ahead of me. We ran across the main rez road and I saw him run behind the water well. I finally caught up to him and hid with him. Our hearts were pounding, and I was scared out of my mind, sweat running down my plumpness. While my cuz looked frightened at first, he seemed fine, I think he might have been enjoying the rush of getting away with something.

The next day, I went to the same place where we were shooting the vehicles and he had his posse with him. He had taught them how to make bows and arrows and they were shooting at the vehicles and running away. I did not join them this time. I went back to my usually routine of spending time with myself. My family eventually had to go back to Hall Lake.

Just a note on my cousin Johnny Venne, I told him that I would be writing this blog. I planned on just using “cuz” or “cousin,” but he gave me permission to use his name. Johnny is still athletic and still has abs. He is still the cool kid to me.

ahcāpiy – bow

akask – arrow

nohkom – my grandmother

wāskahikan – house

nohkomonān owāskihikan – our grandmother’s house

mītos – popular tree

mīcosis – small popular tree

waskway – birch

waskwayak – birch trees

waskwās – small birch tree

waskwāsak- small birch trees

 

Cree Source:

http://learncree.ca/

Bow and Arrow Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay
Man shooting at Target Image by kim chungbae from Pixabay

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

Meteors, Comets, and Possibly UFOs in the Sky

I remember the many nights I would be outside my home in La Ronge and watching the night sky. My auntie and I were great friends that time and we would venture out to see if we would see UFOs and shooting stars.

I remember seeing my first satellite and thinking it was more than a star, it had to be a flying saucer. Of course, later, my other aunties had to kill it on me by telling me that what we saw were satellites. They were built by the rocket scientists who made the rockets for space travel. I remember not wanting to believe what they said.

In the trapline, when the night sky was clear, the stars would be very vibrant. It was like you could see every star with the naked eye. Shooting stars were few and far between but satellites would be cruising across the sky and I would wonder if they would collide with the stars (I was about 5-6 years old).

In Hall Lake, I saw a shooting star break into two pieces (it was August that time when the meteor shower would be active). I could never make a wish in time during a streaking star and I do not remember I wished for (maybe they came true).

Some of the static bright stars were more of a mystery because we did not know they were planets. As far as I was concerned, it could have been a stationed UFO hanging in the sky. Now I know the planets make their appearances during certain times of the year.

My cousin and I saw a long streaking comet near the Montreal River bridge in La Ronge. It streaked almost the whole length of the sky. It was awesome. It was in 1986, when Halley’s Comet was due to streak within view of the earth. We wondered if that was what we saw.

Comet Video by Mustafa Keskin from Pixabay

On July 1st of 2015, Canada Day, my wife was walking back to our apartment from town, when she saw three lights in the sky. They looked peculiar because the lights did not look or behave like stars or anything else, she had ever seen. She looked on at the lights as they seem to move on their own. She looked down to her shoes for a second and when she looked back up, the lights were gone.

At the time, I was skeptical of her story and her recollection of the lights behaving the way they did. It was not until recently that I watched a trailer of a documentary called “Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind,” that I noticed the lights were like the ones my wife described. I called her to the room, and she told me that the lights were very similar to what she saw. Incidentally, the video I showed her was recorded on June 21, 2015, ten-days before she saw the lights on July 1st.

I have done some online research on the lights for that year and there seems to be no real explanation. I wish I could see something like that. I really do not have the patience to stand outside and stare at the sky, maybe in the summertime I will (probably not).

kāpahkisīhk acāhkos – meteor

kīsik – sky

kōsōt acāhkos – comet

machi-pimithākan – bad flying device or object, UFO, flying saucer


Weblinks:

Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind: Contact Has Begun (2020) | Official Trailer HD – https://youtu.be/CRK6IA–Swk

Lights in the sky – https://maas.museum/observations/2007/02/22/report-a-sighting/comment-page-87/

The brightest planets in November’s night sky: How to see them (and when) – https://www.space.com/33619-visible-planets-guide.html

CREE WANT ‘SPIRITUAL’ METEORITE RETURNED – http://www.nationnewsarchives.ca/article/cree-want-spiritual-meteorite-returned/

Alberta battle brewing over meteorite “with face of the Creator” – https://www.aptnnews.ca/national-news/alberta-battle-brewing-over-meteorite-with-face-of-the-creator/

Spirit of the Stone – https://www.ecfoundation.org/blog/spirit-of-the-stone/

Alberta meteorite sparks battle for sacred rock – https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/alberta-meteorite-sparks-battle-for-sacred-rock-1.1243774

Manito Stone: Native Cree Beliefs of the Iron Creek Alberta, Canada Iron Meteorite – https://www.researchgate.net/publication/241329389_Manito_Stone_Native_Cree_Beliefs_of_the_Iron_Creek_Alberta_Canada_Iron_Meteorite

71st Annual Meteoritical Society Meeting (2008) – https://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/metsoc2008/pdf/5003.pdf


Meteor Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Comet Image by TheOtherKev from Pixabay

Comet Video by Mustafa Keskin from Pixabay

Astronomy Image by Pexels 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