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.
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
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).
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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
At the time of the incident, I was about 7 or 8 years and nīstāw (my cousin), James, was 8 or 9 years old. nimosōminān – (our grandfather) was getting ready to go somewhere when James and I decided we were going to follow him. He looked at us, “hāw māka, sipwītihtān” – (okay, let’s go), he said.
It was late winter, and the weather was warming up, but this morning was cool enough to harden the snow. The place he was going, was across the lake from our cabins, David’s cabin. David was an old friend of our grandfather’s and many times he would go visit him and have tea or coffee. tī iwī nitowi minihkwīyān – (I’m going to go drink some tea).
nimosōminān was walking far ahead of us while nīstāw and I were wrestling and joking, typical boys horsing around. We were about halfway through the lake when suddenly, crack! We fell through the ice, one leg each. His left leg and my right leg. I was almost up to my knee, while nīstāw fell past his knee. We fell forward, as he grabbed me to keep himself from going in. We got out safely and stood up to assess ourselves. Up ahead, nimosōminān stopped to look back, saw that we were okay and then kept on walking.
When we got to David’s cabin, nimosōminān mentioned to us that maybe we fell into a water hole in the ice. “matwāncī ikī pōsipathīk pīkwatahōpānihk” – (I wonder if you could have fell into a water hole in the ice?).
“namōwitha osām kayās dīpit iki twāhahk pīkwatahōpān.” – (It was not too long ago, that David chiseled a water hole in the ice).
James and I didn’t think so because most pīkwatahōpāna would be too small to fit two legs, maybe one leg but not two. I don’t remember if we tried finding it again because like I said, it was late winter, and the ice crusted snow was hard, and we could not find our exact trail. To this day, we still do not know what we fell into, but the ice did crack and maybe it was just a weak area. We didn’t stay at the scene at the time because we panicked and ran to go warm-up in David’s cabin.
nāpīsis – boy
nāpīsisak – boys
nīstāw – cousin (my father’s sister’s son)
nimosōm – my grandfather
kimosōm – your grandfather
nimosōminān – our grandfather (mine and somebody else’s grandfather, not you and me)