Polysynthesis & the Longest Cree Word Ever

I love this new piece from Kevin Brousseau. Just look at all the exciting ways you can play with Cree!

Kepin's Cree Language Blog

The Cree language can be likened to the world’s most mechanically intricate clocks that, despite their innumerable moving parts, display time using only two or three hands. Similarly, our beautiful language is built on a rich, but incredibly complex, grammatical structure, and yet boasts only a simple repertoire of vowels and consonants. In this way, our language sounds deceptively simple, but its grammar has thwarted many in their attempts to learn to speak it.

Certainly, numerous factors aside from grammar conspire against the would-be Cree speakers. Inconsistent orthographies, sparse learning materials, dialectal differences, and even idiolectal differences are complicit. But there is one grammatical feature that is so unfamiliar to speakers of European languages that it usually escapes their attention, only to repeatedly frustrate their efforts at speaking with any degree of fluency. This feature is called polysynthesis.

Polysynthesis is the process of stringing together many morphemes, or word-parts, into long words…

View original post 838 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2016: mikisiwipîsim / ᒥᑭᓯᐏᐲᓯᒼ / February




Thanks to Solomon Ratt for allowing the Cree Literacy Network to share his 2016 calendar, complete with his own original illustrations. Following his request, we will post one image at the beginning of each month. For those who like to plan a little further in advance, a link to a complete pdf is included here:  2016Calendar.

Posted in Calendar | Leave a comment

Nationhood Interrupted: Revitalizing nêhiyaw Legal Systems: Sylvia McAdam (Saysewahum)

Nationhood Interrupted

Sylvia McAdam (Sasewahum) will be speaking in Winnipeg February 10 & 11, 2016. While I continue to find specific details, I’m pleased to share some of the wonderful resources she has created here.

Sylvia is very clear in her video lectures that sharing these teachings far and wide is encouraged:I feel fortunate to help pass them on here.

Her book, Nationhood Interrupted includes a glossary of Cree terms. It is available from McNally Robinson in Winnipeg and Saskatoon, or can be ordered online from Purich Publishing. Global News Saskatoon interviewed her about its launch in March 2015: http://globalnews.ca/news/1861051/book-sheds-light-on-unwritten-indigenous-laws/

A collection of Sylvia’s wonderful lectures – some of which became part of her book – can be found on Vimeo. Listen carefully for the Cree terms!

Sylvia McAdam Teachings Part 1: Sylvia McAdam talks to the Intercultural Leadership Program’s 100 level class about the Cree laws and the human birth.”

Sylvia McAdam Teachings Part 2: Sylvia McAdam talks to the Intercultural Leadership Program’s 100 level class about the Cree Laws. Sylvia also tells the story about her uncle freezing to death and coming back to life three days later bringing an important message.


Posted in Book News, Cree History | Leave a comment

Honouring the Buffalo: A Plains Cree Legend

Book illustrator Mike Keepness with author Judith Silverthorne and storyteller Ray Lavalee. Photo by Adriana Christianson of CJME Radio, Regina

Book illustrator Mike Keepness with author Judith Silverthorne and storyteller Ray Lavalee. Photo by Adriana Christianson of CJME Radio, Regina

In the words of elder Ray Lavalee, “You must always honour the buffalo because they gave us life.”

Thanks to Arok Wolvengrey for directing me to this lovely book for children – Judith Silverthorne’s careful retelling of Lavalee’s words – released in February 2015. And congratulations to everyone involved in its production: Lavalee, Silverthorne, illustrator Mike Keepness, translator Randy Morin, and Cree language editors Arok Wolvengrey and Jean Okimâsis.

More about the book:


Order online:



Media coverage:



Posted in Book News, Cree History, For Kids | Leave a comment

Astronomy via Wilfred Buck – and other Cree Astronomy Links

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 8.11.10 PM“Every culture in the Northern Hemisphere went outside at night and saw the same stars.”

Hope I’m lucky enough to catch Rosanna Deerchild this week on CBC Radio’s  Unreserved to hear more from Wilfred Buck about Cree astronomy.

The show airs Sunday at 7 p.m. and Tuesday at 1 p.m. on Radio One. On Sirius Channel 169, it runs Saturdays and Sundays at 7 p.m. , Tuesdays 1 p.m. and Thursdays 4 a.m, but Rosanna says the link will be available later on the website at cbc.ca/unreserved.

Click to watch today’s video teaser, and the full audio interview.


And the full interview here: 

More from Wilfred Buck via Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre:


Some additional FN astronomy links for further reading:

A Cree astronomy link from NASA, accompanied by beautiful constellation drawings by Edwin Bighetty of Mathias Colomb First Nation, Manitoba.

First Nations Astronomy: Seeing the Cree and Ojibway Sky by Jane Houston Jones, May 11, 2010.


From the northern Dene:


Lakota Star Traditions:


From Rekindling Traditions Series at UofS:

Finally, a 2000  night_sky unit that includes calendars by Scott Nagy from the “Rekindling Traditions” Series produced by the College of Education at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.

Tth’ën / Acâhkosak / The Night Sky by Shaun Nagy. 



Posted in Lesson | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Bloomfield: Plains Cree Texts Online


Photo credit: Neal McLeod

Thanks to David MacKinnon for sharing this link to a complete online scanned edition of Leonard Bloomfield’s Classic Plains Cree Texts.

Bloomfield’s Plains Cree Texts: was originally published in 1934 as Volume XVI of the American Ethnological Society series, in New York by G.E. Stechert and Co.

It was scanned as part of the Rosetta Project (http://rosettaproject.org/),”a global collaboration of language specialists and native speakers working to build a publicly accessible digital library of human languages.”

Find the volume at: https://archive.org/details/rosettaproject_crk_vertxt-2


SRO readers will find some minor differences between Bloomfield’s writing and current SRO, but they are very consistent. This means that readers of SRO should have little difficulty reading the Bloomfield texts in Cree, if they make the following substitutions:

  • Bloomfield’s ä appears in SRO as ê or ē. (All other vowels correspond directly)
  • Bloomfield’s ts appears in SRO as c. (The character /c/ was chosen for SRO so that this sound would have a single symbol in SRO. In fact, this character can be pronounced like /ts/ at the end of English “hats” or like /ch/ English “hatch” – depending on the community – with no change of meaning.)


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cree Vocabulary for Kids: Louis Says on APTN

Louis Says

Louis Says

With Louis Says now in its third season, it’s exciting to discover that all eight Season One episodes of can be viewed online thanks to APTN at http://aptn.ca/louissays/. At eleven minutes apiece, you can even binge-watch the whole set in less than two hours!

And while the English version incorporates individual words, APTN also has a Cree-language edition (th-dialect) that shows on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

I love seeing the little cross-language confusions become part of the fun, and seeing Randy’s mom drawing the connections for him between contemporary and traditional culture.

There’s also an app (that I’ll be testing very shortly): http://www.androidpit.fr/application/com.playrific.android.louis_says

And of course the voicing talents of CLN members Cynthia Cook and Solomon Ratt are another terrific bonus.

Posted in For Kids, Solomon Ratt | Leave a comment