I made a video sharing what I learned from my teacher about the basics of writing and pronouncing the Spirit Markers for Nehiyawewin; there are many ways to write Cree–this is how it was taught to me through a class offered by the Centre for Race and Culture.
Learning to count to ten in Cree
I found Brian MacDonald’s cd (Onion Lake, SK) in the Edmonton Public Library (epl.ca). The music cd “For the Generations” and lyric booklet is part of their Cree Family Language kit; this song is called “The Number Song” and my son and I listened to it to learn the Nêhiyawêwin Cree numbers from 1-10. This was a fun way for us to spend a Saturday when my wife was called in to work. The syllabics below were generated using the Maskwacis Plains Cree Syllabic Converter on the Online Cree Dictionary site.
I don’t know how many mistakes (spelling, etc.) we made, but that’s how it works, doesn’t it? We gave it a go and now it’s now a song that we can sing sometimes to try and keep it fresh, and we can revisit it at some point in the future.
- peyak ᐯᔭᐠ
- nîso ᓃᓱ
- nisto ᓂᐢᑐ
- newo ᓀᐅᐧ
- nîyânan ᓃᔮᓇᐣ
- nikotwâsik ᓂᑯᑖᐧᓯᐠ
- (ekwa) têpakohp (ᐁᑲᐧ) ᑌᐸᑯᐦᑊ
- ayinânew ᐊᔨᓈᓀᐤ
- kêkâ-mitâtaht ᑫᑳ ᒥᑖᑕᐦᐟ
- (mina) mitataht (ᒥᓇ) ᒥᑕᑕᐦᐟ
êkota isko nitakihcikān ᐁᑯᑕ ᐃᐢᑯ ᓂᑕᑭᐦᒋᑳᐣ (“this is how far I’m counting”—thanks to RQ for translation!)
I just watched Muffins for Granny, an extremely powerful documentary film consisting of interviews with seven elders who were survivors of residential schools in Canada. (available at Edmonton Public Library). Every time I learn more about this part of Canadian history, I feel an ever-deepening sense of sadness and disbelief that our government deliberately set out in this direction for so long.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued their final report earlier this summer; watching this documentary, it strikes me that “Truth” definitely does need to come before “Reconciliation”—as a non-indigenous person, I’m probably not alone in feeling a need to learn so much more about the history of my own country, and how much of it continues to repeat and evolve into more phenomena that should horrify every citizen.
“Residential schools also known as industrial or boarding schools refer to a variety of institutions which have existed in Canada. The schools were established to assimilate Aboriginal children into white society. Aboriginal children were discouraged from speaking their own language and practicing their native traditions or else suffer punishment. Beyond the emotional abuse of being taken from their families, many children experienced physical and/or sexual abuse. Estimates show that 24 to 42 per cent of children in some schools died of tuberculosis infection. By learning English and adopting Christianity and Canadian customs, the government hoped that the children would pass their adopted lifestyle on to the next generation and native traditions would be abolished in a few generations. “(original link is now broken, there is another reference here and here— or you can spend an afternoon exploring titles at the Edmonton Public Library)
CBC Radio Interview: http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/Stolen+Children/Stolen+Children+Audio/ID/1521960841/