fbpx

Cree Language Revitalization and Reclamation

Revitalizing the Cree language, one experience at a time.

Cree scholar, Belinda Daniels, began her nēhiyawēwin language journey so that her children would be able to speak Cree and communicate with their grandparents. She believed that if she wants this for her children then there must be many others who want this for their children too. On her journey of learning Cree and finding Cree language teaching methods she decided to create the nêhiyawak Summer Language Experience. Daniels’ education, both from Western institutions and teachings from her community have prepared her for this life’s work. She hopes that when people learn the Cree language they will understand how the language comes from the land and that the language is connected to life in this place.

Resources:

  • Herman, C., Daniels, B., Lewis, K., & Koole, M. (in review). Awakening sleeping languages in Saskatchewan with culturally appropriate curricula and technology. In H. Crompton and J. Traxler (Eds.) Critical Mobile Pedagogy: Cases of Inclusion, Development, and Empowerment. London, UK: Routledge.
  • Daniels, B., & Sterzuk, A, Turner, P., Cook, W., Thunder, D., & Morin, R. (in press). e ka pimohteyahk nikanehk ote nikan: nehiyawewin (cree language): Revitalization and Indigenous knowledge (re) generation – An ethics of southern research. In K. Heugh, C. Stround, P. De Costa & K. Taylor-Leech (Eds.). A sociolinguists of the South. Routledge

Buffalo Hide Tanning and Teachings – Part 1 – Introducing Buffalo People Arts Institute

The resilience of the buffalo is in our blood and we must re-learn and remember our relationship with the buffalo. 

Joely BigEagle-Kequahtooway and Lorne Kequahtooway are artists and leaders behind the Buffalo People Arts Institute (BPAI). Founded in 2015, BPAI became a non-profit organization whose mission is to share traditional Indigenous teachings and knowledge in order to raise social consciousness and create awareness of the power and strength drawn from blood memory and our connection to the buffalo.

In collaboration with NCCIE and Common Weal, BPAI documents the process of and teachings about buffalo hide tanning. This series of stories entitled, Buffalo Hide Tanning and Teachings, takes you on a journey of exploring connection to the buffalo while also reflecting on the social and historical realities of the buffalo and the people who rely on its survival.

Buffalo Hide Tanning and Teachings – Part 2 – Making a Buffalo Bone Scraping Tool

In Part 2 of the series, Lorne shares his knowledge about and models making a buffalo bone scraping tool used on buffalo hides. 

Lorne Kequahtooway walks the audience through a demonstration of traditional tool making while discussing the history of the tools. The first steps in making a buffalo or moose bone scraping tool is to boil the bones and remove any meat or fat left on the bone. Once the bone dries there may be hair or skin on the bone that needs to be removed. Then, the edge of the bone needs to be cut at a 60 degree angle with grooves cut into the angled edge creating a serrated edge. The serrated edge is filed and sharpened which allows for a more efficient hide scraping. The last step of this process involves drilling a hole through the bone to install a leather loop handle.

Joely BigEagle-Kequahtooway and Lorne Kequahtooway are artists and leaders behind the Buffalo People Arts Institute (BPAI). Founded in 2015, BPAI became a non-profit organization whose mission is to share traditional Indigenous teachings and knowledge in order to raise social consciousness and create awareness of the power and strength drawn from blood memory and our connection to the buffalo.

In collaboration with NCCIE and Common Weal, BPAI documents the process of and teachings about buffalo hide tanning. This series of stories entitled, Buffalo Hide Tanning and Teachings, takes you on a journey of exploring connection to the buffalo while also reflecting on the social and historical realities of the buffalo and the people who rely on its survival.

Buffalo Hide Tanning and Teachings – Part 3 – Preparing the Buffalo Hide for Scraping

In Part 3 of the series, the Buffalo People Arts Institute prepare the buffalo hide for scraping.

A lot of work goes into preparing the buffalo hide for scraping. First, you start by spreading out the hide and washing it, keeping it wet so it doesn’t dry out and harden. Before working on the hide it is important to smudge and pray for the hide, to work with it in a good way. It is important to remain open to the teachings of the hide and reflect while you are working on it. Then, in order to string up the hide it needs many holes cut into the edges of the hide. In order to make the holes it is important to cut the fat off from around the edges before it is strung up, otherwise it becomes too difficult scraping around the rope and holes. After the crew is done scraping around the edge and the holes are made, they can begin to make the 10×10 frame with which the hide will be tied to and strung up so that they can begin scraping.

Joely BigEagle-Kequahtooway and Lorne Kequahtooway are artists and leaders behind the Buffalo People Arts Institute (BPAI). Founded in 2015, BPAI became a non-profit organization whose mission is to share traditional Indigenous teachings and knowledge in order to raise social consciousness and create awareness of the power and strength drawn from blood memory and our connection to the buffalo.

In collaboration with NCCIE and Common Weal, BPAI documents the process of and teachings about buffalo hide tanning. This series of stories entitled, Buffalo Hide Tanning and Teachings, takes you on a journey of exploring connection to the buffalo while also reflecting on the social and historical realities of the buffalo and the people who rely on its survival.

Buffalo Hide Tanning and Teachings – Part 4 – Scraping a Buffalo Hide

In Part 4 of the series, the Buffalo People Arts Institute demonstrate hide scraping tips and techniques.

The meditative act of scraping a buffalo hide activates and re-awakens who we are through both physical and spiritual memories in our hearts and minds. As we do this work, we remember that our ancestors were trained from a young age to do this work and by knowing this we feel connected to them. We do this work together and are committed to seeing it through which bonds us as women. Joely BigEagle-Kequahtooway explains, “just like the buffalo we have made it through the dark times of colonization, and now we have to do this hard work to make it through the next parts.” For BigEagle-Kequahtooway, the buffalo feeds her spirit and by doing this work it makes her spirit happy – one lesson is to take actions that feed your spirit.

Joely BigEagle-Kequahtooway and Lorne Kequahtooway are artists and leaders behind the Buffalo People Arts Institute (BPAI). Founded in 2015, BPAI became a non-profit organization whose mission is to share traditional Indigenous teachings and knowledge in order to raise social consciousness and create awareness of the power and strength drawn from blood memory and our connection to the buffalo.

In collaboration with NCCIE and Common Weal, BPAI documents the process of and teachings about buffalo hide tanning. This series of stories entitled, Buffalo Hide Tanning and Teachings, takes you on a journey of exploring connection to the buffalo while also reflecting on the social and historical realities of the buffalo and the people who rely on its survival.

Buffalo Hide Tanning and Teachings – Part 5 – Dry Scraping the Epidermal Layer

In Part 5 of the series, the Buffalo People Arts Institute demonstrate scraping the epidermal layer of the hide.

This video reveals the physical, mental, and emotional challenges involved in days of scraping a buffalo hide. The endurance of the people scraping reveal a strong mind and strong spirit which help them arrive at the next phase of buffalo hide tanning.

Joely BigEagle-Kequahtooway and Lorne Kequahtooway are artists and leaders behind the Buffalo People Arts Institute (BPAI). Founded in 2015, BPAI became a non-profit organization whose mission is to share traditional Indigenous teachings and knowledge in order to raise social consciousness and create awareness of the power and strength drawn from blood memory and our connection to the buffalo.

In collaboration with NCCIE and Common Weal, BPAI documents the process of and teachings about buffalo hide tanning. This series of stories entitled, Buffalo Hide Tanning and Teachings, takes you on a journey of exploring connection to the buffalo while also reflecting on the social and historical realities of the buffalo and the people who rely on its survival.

Buffalo Hide Tanning and Teachings – Part 6 – Braining a Buffalo Hide

In Part 6 of the series, the Buffalo People Arts Institute demonstrate how to prepare the buffalo hide for braining, how to brain the hide, and how to scrape a brained hide.

This video reveals the physical, mental, and emotional challenges involved in days of scraping a buffalo hide. The endurance of the people scraping reveal a strong mind and strong spirit which help them arrive at the next phase of buffalo hide tanning.

Joely BigEagle-Kequahtooway and Lorne Kequahtooway are artists and leaders behind the Buffalo People Arts Institute (BPAI). Founded in 2015, BPAI became a non-profit organization whose mission is to share traditional Indigenous teachings and knowledge in order to raise social consciousness and create awareness of the power and strength drawn from blood memory and our connection to the buffalo.

In collaboration with NCCIE and Common Weal, BPAI documents the process of and teachings about buffalo hide tanning. This series of stories entitled, Buffalo Hide Tanning and Teachings, takes you on a journey of exploring connection to the buffalo while also reflecting on the social and historical realities of the buffalo and the people who rely on its survival.

Buffalo Hide Tanning and Teachings – Part 7 – Smoking a Buffalo Hide

In Part 7 of the series, the Buffalo People Arts Institute smoke a buffalo hide.

On Day 15 of buffalo hide tanning, the Buffalo People Arts Institute show how to smoke a buffalo hide with punk wood. While sitting around a camp fire they reflect on the process of hide tanning and how they learned the tanning method.

Joely BigEagle-Kequahtooway and Lorne Kequahtooway are artists and leaders behind the Buffalo People Arts Institute (BPAI). Founded in 2015, BPAI became a non-profit organization whose mission is to share traditional Indigenous teachings and knowledge in order to raise social consciousness and create awareness of the power and strength drawn from blood memory and our connection to the buffalo.

In collaboration with NCCIE and Common Weal, BPAI documents the process of and teachings about buffalo hide tanning. This series of stories entitled, Buffalo Hide Tanning and Teachings, takes you on a journey of exploring connection to the buffalo while also reflecting on the social and historical realities of the buffalo and the people who rely on its survival.

The Story of wesakecāk and sihkos

This is the story of how the weasel was able to change the colour of its pelt.

Simon Bird is the Director of Education for the Lac La Ronge Indian Band and he shares his wealth of knowledge teaching Cree. At the Regina Elders Gathering held in February 2020, Bird encouraged audience members to engage in his Cree Bingo game. During the game he teaches Cree words and will often tell stories. This time, Bird shared the story of how the weasel’s pelt changes colour in different seasons.

Empowering Young Men – The Warrior’s Club at Sturgeon Lake Central School

The Warrior’s Club is a land-based education group that meets bi-monthly to learn experientially about the land. 

Tanya McCallum, is one of the land-based instructors at Sturgeon Lake Central School who help leads a Warrior’s Club for Indigenous male youth ages 11-15, she along with Lionel McKenzie. The Warrior’s Club educates youth and encourages them to develop a relationship with the land. Between the skills that they develop and the connections they make, the activities they engage in are meant to empower the next generation of men. The Club meets twice a month and engages in the following activities: camping, snaring, harvesting deadfall from the bush and chopping the wood, fire keeping, fishing, ice fishing, kayaking, canoeing, history lessons, and Cree language instruction.

Recently, the boys received chainsaw and axe safety lessons prior to using the equipment. After that, they were able to harvest the deadfall from the bush, chop the wood, and deliver the chopped wood to Elders and families in the community who were struggling financially. The boys are eager to provide this service to their community and the community members value the youth for their efforts. 

This program has been made possible since 2017 due to the collaboration between Belinda Daniels and her uncle Velmer Ermine, who write up the grants and reports for and through Jordan’s Principle. This is a community collaboration, a ‘grassroots’ initiative between all who all support the program and the youth involved, and a special gratitude to the numerous guest speakers who enrich this program throughout all of the years.