If your New Year’s resolution is to learn or use more Cree, you will find this downloadable pdf to be a helpful gift!
How to Spell it in Cree was written to help those who are fluent speakers learn to spell in SRO. And if you click the link, you can download your own printable pdf copy as a gift from Jean and Arok, and from the Cree Literacy Network.
Like every other computer program, Facebook needs consistent spelling to make it work. Sure, people can spell words as they please in their posts, but the stuff that the computer uses in the background to make it all work just doesn’t compute when there are spelling errors.
When Facebook recognizes other languages – like French, or Russian or Finnish – it starts by looking for the words in its English dictionary. When it doesn’t find them there, it goes on to other carefully edited dictionaries and language tools that it has stored in the background. When it finds a match, Facebook suggests a translation. When the spelling is wrong, nothing matches and Facebook can only guess. Badly. When the spelling is “just like it sounds to me”? Facebook can’t even guess what language it’s supposed to be.
What’s the next step?
Before we all write to Facebook and tell them to recognize Cree (which is a great idea), we need better agreement amongst ourselves! The standard used by the Cree Literacy Network is Arok Wolvengrey’s Cree: Words, which is based on decades of use by pioneers like the late Freda Ahenakew and Ida McLeod, who devoted their lives to exactly this cause. Their foundation is being used right now to help develop better computer tools for Cree, that rely on standard spelling to work!
So back to this downloadable gift:
To help Facebook learn to recognize Cree, spelling consistently is step one. How to Spell it in Cree is a reference tool designed to help fluent speakers (and for those who wish they were) write Cree in a way that even Facebook might eventually understand. Of course there’s some work involved in reading it and using the rules. But considering the value of Cree language migration to the internet?
*ocêhtowi-kîsikâw, New Year’s Day; lit., ‘kissing day’
**kakwâtaki-miywâsin! lit., ‘It is very good’ In English, one might say, “Priceless”.
Allen Sapp. From the collection of Dr David MacKinnon.
I was privileged last summer to visit the Allen Sapp Gallery in North Battleford, and see some of the work in person that I previously only knew through books. I also got to meet lawyer, writer and activist Michelle Good (who spoke at the Cree Healing Workshop). Following are Michelle’s personal reflections on the passing of Allen Sapp, whom I also hope to honour by passing on her invitation to reflect on the significance and beauty of his contributions in documenting the Plains Cree way of life in the 20th century.
I heard the news this morning that Allen Sapp has passed on. I ask everyone to look at these images of his paintings and honor him in your hearts and prayers for the great legacy he created and has left for the world to experience. In his art he told the story of our Red Pheasant people; of a time in history, of a way of life. He has created hundreds, maybe even thousands of masterpieces and yet did not have a single art lesson in his life. His career started when he would sell his charcoal drawings for piddling amounts on the streets of North Battleford, He was fortunate that a benefactor, Dr. Gonor came into his life and encouraged and supported him with art supplies and praise. Allen soon became known as the Canadian Van Gogh with his pieces selling all over the world for thousands of dollars. Still he remained a simple man with a simple wish to illuminate our story; our reality through his spectacular art. All he needed was a new hat and a new pair of cowboy boots and he was satisfied. I saw him not long ago when I was visiting my auntie and thanked him for his great gift to the world. I am not sure he understood me, being quite deaf. My personal world has been graced with his art and his work inspires my own. May your journey across the Milky Way to the green grass world be wondrous as you leave behind the burdens of this life and you live in the fullness of spirit.
Because Cree Literacy is so much more than reading and writing words, I was delighted to discover this new series of videos via YouTube from amiskwaciy-wâskahikan / ᐊᒥᐢᑲᐧᒋᕀ ᐋᐧᐢᑲᐦᐃᑲᐣ (Edmonton, Alberta, lit., Beaver Hills House) thanks to Simon Gowen on the Facebook Cree Phrase/Word of the Day group. The link below plays the first video in the series, which will lead you to others in the weries, including Reuben Quinn’s two-part history of Cree language that includes his star-chart teaching of the syllabic writing system. Congratulations to those involved: Here’s hoping there are lots more videos to follow!
dear santa claus. you have become very chubby. i am really worried about you. if you get any more chubby, you will get diabetes. there are only berries downstairs. please eat them. be careful what you eat santa claus, be careful.
It was an honour to receive this greeting from Solomon Ratt (who is always much more prepared than I am!) and to pass it on to everyone in our Cree Literacy Network. The artwork is Sol’s own pastel rendering of the church in his home community of Stanley Mission.
‘Pocket Oji-Cree’ is a book to help anyone learn his traditional language, but he especially hopes it will encourage youth, said broadcaster and translator Jerry Sawanas. (Amy Hadley )
Congratulations to Pat Ningewance Nadeau for launching the fourth (fourth!) pocket phrasebook in her series from Mazinaate Press, and congratulations to Jerry Sawanas of Sandy Lake, Ontario for his role in bringing the concept to Oji-Cree. Listening to Jerry in the CBC interview is just magic. To paraphrase: it is through knowing the language that one comes to know the creator’s gifts.
The Swampy Cree edition by Ken Paupanekis is still available from McNally Robinson or from Mazinaate Books (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
I can’t wait to see the Plains Cree edition that is currently in the works, perhaps for release in 2016.
An aerial view looking east over the Prince Albert Residential School grounds in March of 1965. The grounds are now part of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation urban reserve, just east of Victoria Hospital. The large building at centre is now the Senator Allen Bird Memorial Gymnasium. Prince Albert Historical Society archives
Thanks to Solomon for sharing this bittersweet memory to coincide with the release of the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission – and in time for Christmas.
(For more of Sol’s residential school stories, click on “Read Along with Solomon” above, or type his name into the search box on the right.)
When I was a child I too got taken away to go to school away from my home, I went to Prince Albert (Prince Albert Indian Students Residential School.) A lot of times I was lonesome for home. Now that Christmas is coming I want to tell a story about what went on during Christmas at that school.
Some children’s parents were able to send for their children to go home to spend Christmas with their relatives. Not us. First my older brother, and my older sisters and later my younger siblings (when they too came to school), we stayed behind because there were too many of us, the bus was too expensive, it was not possible for my parents to be able to afford the bus for all of us to go home too. So there we stayed to spend Christmas.
The children who were sent for would be called (to the office). Although I listened hard, always hoping to hear we too being called, but that was never the case. Once, however, I heard my older sister being called.
When it was time to go for supper, who did I see? My older sister. I ran to her right away. I asked her why she hadn’t gone home. She told me that she was called only to go shake hands with her friends parents.
Now then most of the children had gone home, just a few of us left behind. When it was time of the Great Night (Christmas Eve) before Christmas Day, we went on a bus to view the Christmas lights in town. I loved the sights! When we got back to the school we hung our stockings.
When it was Christmas Day in our stockings we found toys and candy. All morning we played with our new toys. At noon we had a big meal. In the afternoon we were gathered together and sang songs, and who should arrive but Santa, giving toys to all of us.