About

The Index of Cree Mythology is a work-in-progress intended to index the entire canon of mythology of Cree-speaking peoples. The index is updated on nearly a daily basis and features an alphabetical listing of mythological stories, their sources, and the stories themselves when their published versions are in the public domain.

What We Mean by Cree Mythology

Mythology is here taken to refer to that particular canon of stories referred to as âtarôhkân in Old Cree and variations of that name in the modern dialects. These are stories of a mythological past. They often feature animal characters as in Greek fables, giants and giant animals, and trickster tales. Cannibal stories are included here as they often straddle mythology and history. Stories of belief in, or even sightings of, mythological or supernatural beings are included as well. Not included, however, are stories of war with the Iroquois, Inuit, Sioux, or other as of yet unidentified historical enemies collectively referred to as pwât.

Cree-speaking peoples refers to the various groups whose languages are considered to be dialects of Cree. To be clear, there is no single Cree language and no single all-encompassing linguonym. Rather, Cree is better understood as a continuum of closely related dialects referred to generally in English by various names, including Cree, Innu, Naskapi, and Atikamekw (represented by the acronym CINA), but all descending from a single ancestor language that may be termed Old Cree. However, these four terms do not represent discrete dialects and peoples – the origin of these names is much more historical and political than cultural or linguistic. Although much work remains to refine our understanding of Cree dialects, the following list is fairly accurate and represents what is meant by the Cree language in the context of this index.

CreeNorthern Plains Cree, Southern Plains Cree, Woods Cree, Western Swampy Cree, Eastern Swampy Cree, Moose Cree, Southern Coastal East Cree, Southern Inland East Cree, Northern East Cree, Northern (Whapmagoostui) East Cree
InnuWestern (Mashteuiatsh) Innu, Western (Pessamit) Innu, Central Innu, Eastern Innu, Labrador Innu
NaskapiKawawachikamach Naskapi, Natuashish Naskapi
AtikamekwNorthern (Opitciwan) Atikamekw, Southern (Wemotaci & Manawan) Atikamekw
These dialect names betray close associations between dialects that may be described as belong to two different groups. For example, Whapmagoostui East Cree is much closer dialectally to Kawawachikamach Naskapi than it is to Southern Inland East Cree, Moose Cree is much closer to Northern Atikamekw than it is to some members of the group labeled as ‘Cree,’ and the Southern Inland East Cree dialect spoken in Mistissini is much closer to the Southern Mashteuiatsh Innu than it is to Northern East Cree.

Dr. Kevin Brousseau is a medical doctor who has dedicated much of his life to the promotion of Cree culture and language. He completed a B.A. in linguistics at Concordia University and an M.A. in the same field at UQAM under the supervision of Lynn Drapeau. Between 2011 and 2015 he endeavoured at establishing a department of Cree toponymy as well as a Cree Language Commission under the Cree Nation Government in northern Quebec. Since then, the Cree Nation Government has undertaken a serious effort at surveying, recording, and promoting Cree place names under the direction of their skilled toponymist and cartographer, John E. Bishop. Their first Cree Language Commissioner, Jamie Moses, was hired in 2020. Over the past twenty years Dr. Brousseau has translated and edited dozens of children’s books and has published linguistics articles, glossaries, and dictionaries of the Cree language. He is the editor of the Dictionary of Moose Cree. He also maintains a blog about the Cree language and is currently building a morphological dictionary of Old Cree. He is Cree from Waswanipi.

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