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)
One wintry autumn day, maskwa was strolling along a path toward his sleeping spot for the winter. As he was walking, mikisiw was flying overhead to start his trek to the warmth of the south, to the warm rivers, lakes and other areas where game is plentiful during the cold, winter months.
maskwa called out to mikisiw, “tānisi, ikwāni cī sāwanohk iwī ispithayin?” – (Hello, are you flying south for the winter?)
“īhī” – (Yes), said mikisiw, “osām māna kāti akwatihk īkāsocik kinosīwak“– (because when it freezes, the fish are hiding under the ice).
“nīsta ikosi, ikā mīna kīway mīnisa, īyawis ipākihtīki” – “For me too but also because the berries are gone, they have all fallen” maskwa explained.
“mitho nipā maskwa, kihtwam kawāpimitin sīkwahki“ – “Have a good sleep maskwa, see you in the spring.” said mikisiw.
“kīsta mīna” – “You too,” relied maskwa.
maskwa – bear
mikisiw – eagle
mīnis – berry
mīnisa – berries
kinosīw – fish (singular)
kinosīwak – fish (plural)
Directions – These are terms that I heard being said.
North – kīwītinohk
My grandfather and I used to get up at the crack of dawn and got home at nightfall most days to check our snares and traps. We had been getting some good luck on the rabbit snaring but we noticed our rabbits started to go missing. “awīyak awa ika kimotit ki wāposoma” – Somebody is stealing your rabbits.
As a boy of about 6-7 years of age, it got me thinking of many scenarios of what might be stealing our rabbits, which totally impeded our intake of rabbit soup. I loved dipping my thick crumbly bannock that nimosōm used to make, into the salty, peppery, “pahkwīsikanapoy” – flour soup. What could have been taking our rabbits? I thought maybe an ōhō – owl or mahkīsīs – fox.
I imagined ōhō perched on a branch, looking side by side and then noticing a rabbit, free for the taking. I thought maybe mahkīsīs would be snooping around, stalking its next prey and finding our rabbits, frozen on the ground like they were placed there for them (they kind of were I guess).
I am sure my late grandfather knew what was eating our rabbits, but I had no idea because as young as I was, I didn’t notice the tracks and only listened to the part about “awiyaK” – somebody. It sounded ominous to me at the time because it sounded like it could be anybody or anything that might be deemed evil, like a creature of some kind.
It was late fall, early freeze-up at time and there was not much snow. I remember we may have been walking along the icy shore where it was thick enough to hold us. If we went too far, the ice would start cracking. This was a risk many families had to make to survive. My grandfather had enough experience and knowledge, that we were relatively safe out in the wild.
One morning, when we got to “maskīkohk” – to the muskeg, nimosōm went up ahead to take a piss first but quickly came sneaking back, “awayak awa niwapamaw” – I see somebody. He took his gun that was resting on a tree truck and he loaded it before he went back.
I was completely freaked out, what could he have seen? The look he gave me, was one of excitement when he saw something. I was scared to think of what it might have been. As he loaded up the gun, I went up a bit to see what it was.
I saw some movement where our first snares had been and saw the biggest cat I have ever seen in real life. Having little knowledge of the more diverse animals in the north, I thought it was a cougar. Like the kind I would see on TV in town. This cat looked straight at me for awhile and made a face, I was very amazed and fascinated at the sight of the cat. I stepped back to my original position as nimosōm aimed his gun and shot the “pisiw” – lynx, right between the eyes. The cat dropped instantly, surrounded by rabbit fur and blood. The mystery was solved.
Chances are, my grandfather knew it was a lynx all along, he just wanted to entertain me by sounding frightening in a way. He would have a bit of smile when he mentioned the mysterious thief. It was all in good fun and I fondly remember the many times he told me the tales of wīsahkīcāhk and wihtikō for late evening entertainment. His facial expressions and hand gestures, were gold, in the storytelling process.
When I started working with the Gift of Language and Culture in 2005, I moved into my maternal grandmother’s house in La Ronge, SK. Her name was Evelyn Venne, ōhōsis was her nickname, meaning little owl in Cree. She was happy to have me live there because I was her favourite grandson (according to me).
She asked me if I was still in school: “kīyāpic cī ī-tāyamihcikīn?” (Are you still going to school?)
I told her no, and that I started working in La Ronge. “tānsi māka īsi ī-ātoskīn?” (What are you working as?)
I was anticipating that question way before the conversation, “Web Developer kīsi ātoskiyān,” I said. The look on her face was one of confusion. I did not expect her to understand in anyway and wondered how I could put it in a way she would comprehend. Out of nowhere, she said: “mamahtāwi-āpacihcikan?” (computer).
īhī, (yes) I said, ikotowa kīkway. She looked and smiled her beautiful smile because she knew she caught me off-guard. Lesson learned, just because a person is elderly, does not mean they are not paying attention to the changing world. She knew I was in a computer training program, so I guess she just put two and two together.
She used to enjoy looking at all the pictures I had in my computer and was always amazed at the things it was capable of. I would scan old pictures and she would ask me: “tamahkapihtayin” – make the image larger.
How would one say Web Developer? Kohkominahkīsīs iyāpiy kā osihtāt – one who makes spider web, haha, maybe not. It would likely be a reference to using a computer for work, I think. Something like, mamahtāwi-āpacihcikan katoskātahk – one who works with computers. I believe it would be the general term for maybe IT admin or computer support worker.
Maybe one of the readers of this blog has an idea, I would love to hear it. Any words having to do with computers or maybe mobile devices, would great.
Happy New Year to all my readers out there, here’s hoping for a great year in stories and Cree blogs.
After Christmas, it was back to the old grind for the family in the trapline. We needed to check out traps, nets and snares for food and the weather did not always cooperate with us. Nimosōm was going to check anyway because like he would say: “namwāc wītha nītha nika kipihtinikon kīkway, kīyām ithikohk kātahkāyāk.” (Nothing is going to stop me, no matter how cold it is).
So off he went to check the traps and I hoped he would trap a “wacaskos” – muskrat. I loved boiled muskrat with napatākwa – potatoes, the “pahkwīsikanapoy” – flour soup, afterward would really hit the spot. If it was all mixed into one pot, even better. The supper that day was great, “kwayask nimitho micison” – I ate well.
ocīmikīsikāw (literally ‘kissing day’) New Years Day was like the rest of January, we said our greetings of Happy New Year and then went on with our day. During the month, we did much of our fishing not far from camp, of course as it is with all fishermen, we tried many spots and even made the lake look like a slice of swish cheese, holes of many sizes but none too big to fall into. “niki mohcikihtān kākī kwaskwīpicikiyān” – I had fun when I was fishing.
“ocīmikīsikāw” (literally ‘kissing day’) – New Years Day