Crees Talk About Their Language

Here are some statements that illustrate commonly expressed feelings about our language:1

“The Cree language is out there on the land. This is why we don't keep students and young people from going out on the land for a certain period of time during the school year. Out there they get a lot of knowledge concerning the Cree language.”
Isaac Masty

“There are so many words from the life in the bush that we don't have in the communities because we don't use this vocabulary in town. When you teach in the bush, in a camp, then the child or the person who is at school can hear what things are really called. The way the elders used to speak and what they called things, the things that we see when we are on the land, like trees and other growing things, the things the animals need to live. These words are not used at all when you are teaching in a classroom.”
Florrie Mark-Stewart

“Some of you may know Ronnie Cowboy. I will tell you about him in Montreal: When he got off the plane, he got onto a moving sidewalk [in the airport]. When you get on this thing, you can go quite a distance just by standing in one place. Ronnie was telling me about his experience and I asked him what he would call this contraption. He answered, “Kaachishiwepahiichaapayich.” These are words that are not even in existence, yet the elders can help us making this possible.”
Robert Weistche

  • 1. Source: Cree Language and Culture Conference held by the Cree School Board in Oujé-Bougoumou, November 1997.