I am finally ordering a book I had my eye on for a long time, Woods Cree Stories by Solomon Ratt. I cannot wait to read the stories. Unfortunately, I will not receive it for another couple of weeks or more. According to the Amazon website, it will arrive between December 31, 2020 and January 6, 2021. If I subscribed to Amazon Prime, I would have gotten it sooner and FREE shipping. Hmm, with the Holiday shipping deadlines in Canada going on, I may not get it for a long while.
It is a paperback, so it will be easy and comfortable to read while I lay on my bed. I have read many short stories on my computer and cell phone, but this book is not available on Kindle. Which is fine, I just have to wait for it and hope it gets here as soon as possible. Maybe the weather will be so good, that the shipping will be extra quick. Wishful thinking, since the shipping companies are already swamped with packages needed to get to their destinations.
The book includes nine stories–including Boys Get Lost, Foolishness, and Animals Become Friends–and a Woods Cree-to-English glossary (Amazon description). I hope be inspired by this book and enjoy a book written in my dialect (TH), which is difficult to find anywhere. Most of the books I read are in the Plains Cree dialect, while I can understand the dialect just fine, I want to read the Woodland Cree dialect by one of the foremost Cree Teachers in Saskatchewan, Solomon Ratt.
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.
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 as wheels to make a kind of wagon. I failed at both 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.
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.
Learn Cree – http://learncree.ca/ In 2020, the Lac La Ronge Indian Band (LLRIB), revamped the Gift of Language and Culture website to a more modern format and to work on mobile devices. It is awesome and it is being used in all the band schools for their Cree Language programs.
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).
Today we had the first major snowfall in Hall Lake. I woke up to the world covered in snow. I almost posted a picture for my FB friends who do not have a window but that is a joke I overused already, and I don’t want to get banned from Facebook.
I took a few pictures that I will show here, on my website because I love showing my pictures on my website as opposed to just uploading them to FB. It gives me more control over my own content. I like my intellectual property to stay mine, but I have given up many pictures to Facebook. I just need to keep my tech skills sharp in case they are needed again to make a living.
I remember as a boy looking out at the landscape at the trapline and watching the first fall of snow, I would always get a lonely feeling from it. It reminded me of the old Hank Williams song that my uncle Abel used to sing, “At the First Fall of Snow.” I can still hear him singing and walking along the trail to nimosōm’s cabin. My uncle is still alive today and he lives just down the road. I still see him walking from time to time, but he doesn’t sing anymore.
This reminds me that I have some stories I wanted to share about my uncle, but I will have to ask him first. Maybe he has some ideas too about what I can write, thank you for visiting.
A total of $110 was transferred to my bank account, when I only had $2 to my name.
My website has had ads on since 2012 and from then to October 2018, I made a total of about $10.61, that is it.
From November 2018 until June 21, 2019, I made $104.44 in ads because I started creating and developing more content in stories, Cree translations and memes.
I use the lowest ads setting because I do not want too many intrusive ads on my website. It takes longer to make money and a developer must wait until there is a threshold of $100 before money is transferred to a bank account.
So, this is the first I have ever made a dime on this great website, and it only took seven years, ha ha. I put so much work into my website, but it does not feel like work. It is a privilege for me to be able to provide a bit of entertainment and to share my stories with the fine visitors to my website and followers of my Facebook page.
My work is almost completely independent, no grants or funding of any kind. It is a labour of love and I will continue to keep the website online, as long as I am capable.
ninanāskimon kā ayimihtāyin nitācathohkīwina. Thank you for reading my stories.