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Wîsahkecâhkw’s Belt

Told in 2017 by the late Ida Tremblay of Mistahi-sâkahikan (Lac La Ronge) in the Woods Cree dialect. The story was initially brought to our attention by the Cree Literacy Network. A video of her telling can also be located here.

The transcription below was done by Kevin Brousseau. It faithfully records her telling, as well as certain features of her speech, including the retention of the e versus î distinction, which is lost in favour or î in the speech of most Woods Cree-speakers. The ð symbol represents phonetically the sound represented by th in the English word the. It is phonologically equivalent to the Moose Cree and Southern Innu l or the Atikamekw r. Below the Cree transcription is a transcription of Ida Tremblay’s English telling, again faithfully rendered.

Peyakwâw isa Wîsahkecâhkw e pimohtet. Namôða wîhkâc ohci-pôni-pimohtew Wîsahkecâhkw, manâ kâ âcimikosit. Ekwa isa etokwe e papimohtet, ekwa e isi-akâwâtahk, e nôhte-miskawât iskwewa, e kaskeðihtahk. Kâ ati-mitâwisit isa sâkahikanisisihk. Ekwa ekote e wâsakâmisit e pimohtet. Kâ wâpamât isa nete akâmihk iskwewa e matwe-nipâðit.

“Wahwâ ay! Tânisi mîna?” E wâwanâtihkwâmiðit anihi iskwewa. Hay, ekwâni isa.

Mâka wîða isa Wîsahkecâhkw e kî pakwahtehot, iðikohk e kî kinwâpekaniðik animeðiw. Ekwâni isa kâ âpahahk opakwahtehon. Ekote e isi-pimipahtâðit sâkwesiwa.

“Ay, nicîmin âstam!” Ekwâni kâ pe-itohteðit anihi sâkwesiwa.

“Mâhti ôma âsawahotamawin nete akâmihk. Ki wâpamâw-ci nâha iskwew kâ matwe-nipât?” itew isa.

“Ehe,” itwew. Ekwâni isa e ati-pakitâpekinahk isa Wîsahkecâhkw. Ati-sipwehotâðit anihi. Ekwân isa ayâhk. Ekote ekwa e takohtatâwiht. Ayâhk, ecikâni isa ayâhk, e kî kawâsit mistikw. Ekwânihi, watapiyak aniki ayâhk e pimisihkwâw, ekwa e wâpâsocik tâpiskôc awiyak opwâma.

Ekosi isa kâ itikot anihi sâkwesiwa, “Ocicâskay etokwe ôho nistes,” e itwet.

“Awas mâka!” e itwet Wîsahkecâhkw.

Kâwi e isi-otâpekinahk kâ nawatahtamiðit iðini-kinosewa. Papâsîðiwa isa anihi iðini-kinosewa. Ekwâni isa sôskwâc isa e ati-pakastawepitikot. Ekwâni isa opîhtâsowinihk kâ natoniket omôhkomânis. Papâsi-kîskisam isa.

“Kanake nine!” e itwet isa. Ekwa iðikohk ohci nine ekwa kâ ayâcik. Matwân-ci oti?

Once upon a time, Wîsahkecâhkw, he was was always walking, they used to say that he was alone on earth and his friends were all the animals because he was able to communicate with them. And he was lonely this one time – he wanted a woman.

So he walked and walked, and he came out of the bush to a little lake. And he was walking on the shoreline. All of a sudden he seen a… for sure he thought it was a woman sleeping over there on the shoreline with her legs open.

But Wîsahkecâhkw had a long one I guess, he used it for a belt. So he untied his belt. There was a mink swimming by there. He said, “Brother, âstam, come.” And the mink come towards him and said “what?” “Take this across the lake. See that woman sleeping across, take it over there?” He told the mink.

So the mink grabbed it and swam. Wîsahkecâhkw is letting go the belt I guess. And then when the mink got there, it was an old tree fell over, and the roots were sticking out and faded and it looks like lady’s legs from far. So the mink yelled, “It’s a dead tree, brother!” “Okay, let go then!”

So Wîsahkecâhkw is pulling back his belt. A big jackfish got it and it’s pulling him to the water. So he looked in his pocket for his little knife and he cut it really fast. “As long as I have nine (inches),” he said.

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