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mitoni niya nêhiyaw / Cree is Who I Am

nêhiyaw-iskwêw mitoni niya / Me, I am Truly a Cree Woman

Sarah Whitecalf (As told by) H.C. Wolfart (Edited and translated by)
Freda Ahenakew (Edited and translated by)
Ted Whitecalf (Preface by)

ISBN: 9780887559426

Publication Date: Mar 2021

Format: Paperback

Strong women dominate these reminiscences: the grandmother taught the girl whose mother refused to let her go to school, and the life-changing events they witnessed range from the ravages of the influenza epidemic of 1918-20, to murder committed in a jealous rage, to the abduction of a young woman by underground spirits.
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Strong women dominate these reminiscences: the grandmother taught the girl whose mother refused to let her go to school, and the life-changing events they witnessed range from the ravages of the influenza epidemic of 1918-20, to murder committed in a jealous rage, to the abduction of a young woman by underground spirits who grant her healing powers upon her release. A highly personal document, these memoirs are altogether exceptional in recounting the thoughts and feelings of a Cree woman as she copes with the impacts of colonialism but also, in a key chapter, with her loneliness while tending a relative's children in a place far from home-and away from the company of other women. Her experiences and reactions throw fresh light on the lives lived by Plains Cree women on the Canadian prairies over much of the twentieth century.

Sarah Whitecalf (1919-1991) spoke Cree exclusively, spending most of her life at Nakiwacîhk / Sweetgrass Reserve on the North Saskatchewan River. This is where Leonard Bloomfield was told what would be collected as Sacred Stories of the Sweet Grass Cree in 1925 and where a decade later David Mandelbaum apprenticed himself to Kâ-miyokîsihkwêw / Fineday, the step-grandfather in whose family Sarah Whitecalf grew up.In presenting a Cree woman's view of her world, these memoirs directly reflect the spoken word: Sarah Whitecalf's reminiscences are here printed in Cree exactly as she recorded them, with a close English translation on the facing page. These chapters constitute an autobiography of great personal authority and rare authenticity.
Illustrations 22 illustrations
Pages 366
Dimensions 248 x 165
Date Published 30 Mar 2021
Publisher University of Manitoba Press
Series Algonquian Text Society
Subject/s linguistics   Indigenous peoples   Sociolinguistics   Biography & True Stories  
  • PART I Becoming a Cree woman
  • Chapter 1 êkosi nikî-pê-ay-itâcihonân / This has been our way of life
  • Chapter 2 êkosi nikî-tâs-ôy-ohpikihikawin / This is the way I was raised
  • Chapter 3 mêh-mêskoc nikî-pimohtahikawin / I was taken back and forth
  • Chapter 4 miton ê-kî-pê-na-nêhiyaw-ôhpikihikawiyân / I was truly raised as a Cree woman
  • PART II Being a Cree woman
  • Chapter 5 êwak ôm ê-kî-ay-itâcimisot awa nikâwiy / This is my mother's own story
  • Chapter 6 iyikohk ê-kî-sôhkêpayik anima nipahtâkêwin / So horrible was that murder
  • Chapter 7 ê-nipahi-kâh-kaskêyihtamân / I was desperately lonesome
  • Chapter 8 pikw êkwa niya / Now I had to take charge
  • PART III The spiritual life
  • Chapter 9 ê-sîkâwîhcikêhk / Observing the mourning ritual
  • Chapter 10 manitow kâ-matwêhikêt / Where the spirits drum (I)
  • Chapter 11 manitow kâ-matwêhikêt / Where the spirits drum (II)
  • Chapter 12 manitow kâ-matwêhikêt / Where the spirits drum (III)
Sarah Whitecalf (1919-1991) spoke Cree exclusively, spending most of her life at Nakiwacîhk/ Sweetgrass Reserve on the North Saskatchwan River. Her lectures are collected in The Cree Language is Our Identity.

H.C. Wolfart is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at the University of Manitoba.

Freda Ahenakew (1932-2011), founding Director of the Saskatchewan Indian Languages Institute, earned her MA in Cree linguistics at the University of Manitoba. In 1997 she was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Saskatchewan. She was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1998.

Ted Whitecalf is Sarah Whitecalf's son and a professional photographer. His Sweet Grass Records/Productions in Saskatoon has been publishing recordings of Indigenous music and photographic books for over twenty-five years.

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