Tag Archives: woodland

Sanderson Lake, a warm Winter Stroll from Hall Lake – January 31, 2021

Today I went for a walk to one of the places where I would hunt ducks and do a bit of fishing: Sanderson Lake. It was a great experience, great that I actually walked that far from my house and great because the beauty was awesome.

The first thing I saw when I got on the lake was a small island. I looked all around the lake. It was deafeningly quiet. No sound and no other people in sight.

It had been years and years since I saw the place. I was going to walk back from there but I decided to walk to a peninsula to the right.

I remember as a boy, my father would take us through this lake to take us to La Ronge on a snowmobile. We would be bundled up in the back in a sled and covered in one of his huge blankets. The trips would be long and bumpy, but I would feel alone in my thoughts. I am not sure what my sisters were going through, but I doubt they were sleeping with the rough ride. During this time as a small boy, I would never see the trails or portages because we were obviously covered up. Almost each time, we would stop at a cabin to warm up. My late grandfather Moses would have a fire going and a fresh pot of tea. Sometimes there was food to eat. Those were great times.

As we got older, there were fewer trips because my father would hire a taxi to take the family to La Ronge and he would travel by snow machine himself and we would meet him there. We usually went to Bigstone or 101 Reserve.

The few times we travelled together, my father and I would take off before sunset. The one time, it was a warm, breezy day and as we were about to go down a hill, he said, “Look, no hands.” Before he could grab the handlebars, he hit a small spruce tree and dented the bumper bar. He was not going very fast, so it was fine. He straightened it out when we got home.

My father told me that somewhere near this trail, there was a cabin at one time. He tells me there is probably no evidence of a dwelling but it would be interesting to explore in the summer.

As a teenager, I used to walk through the portage like I did on this day, January 31, 2021. Of course, it looked exactly as it did because nobody lives there. The beautiful shorelines in all their glory, quiet, undisturbed, and seemingly very welcoming. However, I did not have snowshoes to explore the shore. The weather has not been favourable lately because it has been so cold. My father has snowshoes that I can borrow, so I hope I can go soon.

Another story about Sanderson Lake, a friend of mine and I went for a trip to the next lake to look for ducks or beavers. We scared up a small flock of ducks and we did not get a shot. We did not take the canoe over the portage because it was getting late. On our way back to Hall Lake, we were on the lake during a stunning sunset. As we paddled along, there was a small bat flapping around us. My friend quickly got annoyed and proceeded to blast the air with the shotgun we carried. Suffices to say, the bat went away.

One other time, another friend of mine wanted to check out the lake and do some fishing and to look for beaver. We hoped to see ducks too but were we too noisy to get close enough for a shot. During this trip, we took the canoe over the portage and explored the shores of Sanderson Lake in our borrowed canoe.

It was a beautiful sight in the clear summer day as we paddled around. He knew about the place more than I did and told me about some of the people who had camped there. We stopped at an island and it felt surreal to get on the small piece of earth in the middle of the lake. We talked about how our ancestors might have stopped here during long trips to eat food and drink tea, before moving on to other destinations.

My first trip to Sanderson Lake by myself when I was a teenager, was by mistake. I was across the lake on the shores of Hall Lake when I decided to venture into the woods to look for grouse, I parked my father’s snow machine and off I went. The snow was knee deep but light enough that I could wade through it. I hoped to see a grouse right away because it was snowing.

On the Hall Lake side of the portage.

As I went along for a few minutes longer, I decided to turn back before I lost my trail. I thought I would cut through my winding trail because it looked to go in a curve. About 20 minutes later, I came out of the shore and did not recognize the area I was standing. Thankfully, I figured it out and went back to where I came from and finally arrived on the shores of Hall Lake again. It was about half to one-third of a kilometre away from where I left my father’s snow machine, but I was happy to see it. I remember not being that worried about it because I was too young to realize that it could have ended tragically. I took too many chances as a young man.

On my way back, I noticed some strange tracks and I enhanced the next few images so you can see what I see. Take a close look and I think you may notice that maybe a fox or coyote may have caught fowl of some kind and took it to the bush. I did see some feathers, but they are not clear in the pictures I took. Anyway, something happened and it is too bad I was not there to see it.

The images are not clear, it was getting dark by the time I started walking home.

Lake – sākāhikan

Island – mīnistik

Portage – onikahp

Peninsula (point) – mīnistikopihk or nēyāw

Shore – wāsakām

 

I ordered a new book on Amazon – Woods Cree Stories

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.

Solomon Ratt has his own FB page called Cree Language Videos, check it out.

Solomon Ratt Links:

From our friends at the Cree Literacy Network ⇒ creeliteracy.org

 

Solomon Ratt, MA

 

 

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/

 

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

Staying with Teaching

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).

St. Patrick’s Day – okanātisokīsikām

The Cree word is a reference to the “Patron Saint of Ireland.” I got the translation from the Gift of Language and Culture website. It is not a holiday that is celebrated on our reserve, but it is acknowledged, and people enjoy the horror movie about an evil leprechaun.

I remember as a child, I would ask about the leprechaun and I would be told that he had a crock of gold at the end of a rainbow. I would sometimes imagine going on a quest to find the gold so I could be rich. Haha, thankfully, I never did go on such a quest, but the thought was fun.

Woodland Cree Yearly Calendarhttp://giftoflanguageandculture.ca/glcp/calenderfla.htm (will not work on mobile devices).

St. Patrick’s Lifehttp://www.saintpatricksdayparade.com/life_of_saint_patrick.htm

Image by LaShonda1980 from Pixabay

Call for Stories on Trapline Cabins

Artwork by Molly Ratt – Follow the link to see her Facebook page

This is a call for stories on trapline cabins. I want you to share stories of your time in a trapline cabin. All stories are welcome. It would be great to hear about your time in a trapline cabin. You can write about anything you want from how and when it was built, or maybe just the times your family traveled to the cabin during certain seasons. While I would like to publish all stories, there are a few guidelines I would like to inform you about.

  • I cannot offer remuneration or a prize, but I will publish shared stories as deemed appropriate.
  • I will give full credit and a link to your Facebook profile.
  • It needs to be between 150 to 1000 words. I can be flexible on this, in the case of several short stories, I will combine stories into one page on the website.
  • Appropriate language is encouraged
  • Happy stories are encouraged but sad stories will not be refused
  • Deadline is March 27, 2020, but I will add stories before that date over the weekends.
  • No real need to be formal, but I will make minor edits if needed. This is a story telling website, not an English class.
  • Please inbox me your stories and I will reply during evenings and weekends. I am a full-time teacher and I do not go on Facebook during the day. You can also email me the original document to cv2k@hotmail.com Please write subject as “trapline cabin”

Just a note that this is not a contest, it is more of a chance to share your story with us.

A big thank you to Tom Ballantyne for giving me the idea. I hope you decide to share your story with us at some point.

Months in Woodland Cree

I learned these terms during my schooling in the band schools of the LLRIB. They are a bit different from the southern dialects because the seasons move along differently down south. This is how it was explained to us by our Cree teacher, I believe it may have been Mary Cook (In Memorium, opens new window).

January – opāwāhcikanasīs

February – kisīpīsim

March – mikisiwipīsim

April – niskipīsim

May – athīkipīsim

June – opiniyāwīwipīsim

July – opaskowipīsim

August – ohpahowipīsim

September – nimitahamowipīsim

October – pimahamowipīsim

November – kaskatinowipīsim

December – thithikopīwipīsim

 

The meanings of the months, can be found in the sources below:

Cree Literacy Network – https://creeliteracy.org/2019/09/05/2020-calendar-solomon-ratt-y-and-th-dialects/

LLRIB LearnCree – http://learncree.ca/yearly-calendar   

It is winter – īpipohk

I did this video for my Facebook page last year. It came with no translation, but I decided to include it this year. The original comments show varying interpretations and they sound better than mine.

aski māna mithonākwan kā pipohk
kōna māna mithonākoso
īthikohk māna īwāpiskāk aski
āskō māna macikīsikāw
kā tōsāmi mispok, īyati āthimahk pimohtīhowin
nanisīhkāc kāpahkisihk kōna, kwayask mithonākoso
ikwānoma kwayask kitāti māmispok
nākatāpimisok nitōtīmak

The earth looks nice when it is winter
The snow looks beautiful
The earth is so white
Sometimes, the weather is bad
When it snows too much, travel is difficult
When the snow falls gently, it is very beautiful
Now it is going to start snowing more

Take care of yourselves, my friends