Language and Culture Links

Plains Cree (nêhiyawêwin) links:

There are just SO MANY resources out there now, that I have to reorganise this page a bit better so it does not simply overwhelm. I hope the following sub-headings help guide you towards the resources you’re looking for.

Online resources

– Yay, a new resource!  As of November 10, 2011 there are 132 videos loaded up modelling phrases in Plains Cree.  Hearing the language is so, so vital.  This particular dialect uses the ‘ch’ sound in place of the ‘ts’ sound that I am used to for the Cree letter ‘c’, but it is a small difference and the words are just as understandable.

– This site can look a little ‘busy’ sometimes, but it is full of great resources.  Here is an order form for Plains Cree resources.  Here are language instructional resources available in ‘th’ Woods Cree, ‘y’ Plains Cree, and Dene.  I would love to hear from anyone who has actually purchased one of these sets.  There are A LOT of print resources you can get from this site, so I highly recommend taking a look-see.

In addition, there are a number of fantastic online resources.  Check out their interactive learning areas as well as the multimedia pages.  I poke around this website a lot and have not yet exhausted all the materials they continue to develop!

– Click on Stories to read the accounts of various Elders both in English and in Cree.  The stories are for advanced learners, but the English translations provide important access to the cultural messages being shared.

– This demo flash resource from the Bear Hills Cree is a good start.  Only the demo version is accessible right now.  I’m not sure what’s happening with this, because as you’ll see in the next link, the project seems to have been moved to a different platform.

– The above resources seems to have been moved here and expanded.  Keep checking back, because it is in Beta mode currently…but new activities are being put up on a more regular basis.  There are syllabics drills, for example, and memory games which model the proper pronunciation for you.  So far the audio is only up for the number memory game, but it looks like they’ve really been putting some effort into expanding this!  Definitely good for kids.

– Miyo Education also has links to many printable Cree resources in PDF format.  I’ve just recently discovered this resource and I’m loving it!  Note that a lot of newer language development in Alberta is being done in syllabics rather than in the RSO.  Here is an order form for many, many Cree resources. Here is a link to the printable resources.

– This is a short series (hopefully a growing one) of youtube videos which model various Cree phrases for practice.

– This resource focuses entirely on Cree kinship terms and provides a comprehensive explanation of grammatical structures used as well as a decent description of basic kinship roles.  There is some audio provided.  This resource is more suited to older learners.  At the end, there is even a test 😀

-I stumbled upon these recently.  As of 03 June 2011, there are 40 sets of flash cards with vocabulary and translations.  I was excited that there seemed to be audio included, but it is apparently some form of automatic digital reading that definitely does not give you proper pronunciation.  I suggest just forgetting it’s there at all 😀

What I LOVE about this is that there is great vocab…such as these sets on the theme of Tim Hortons, KFC and Facebook/internet slang!  Some of this is definitely Creelish, but it’s relevant and funny.  There is a testing function that allows you to see if you can remember the terms you are learning.

– CD for purchase

– This blog inspired me to start my own.  The author is a hardcore Plains Cree addict/linguist (same difference?) and he discusses various interesting aspects of the language.

– this site provides a list of books in Cree and where possible gives you links so that you can order them.  What is great about this site is that they review the books to ensure that they use standard Roman Syllabic Orthography and are in the Plains Cree dialect.

– A wonderful streamed resource!  You can listen to three legends as told by members of the Atahtakoop (Sandy Lake) First Nation. Most of the stories are told in English, but with many Cree words and phrases.

Video interviews in Cree

– no subtitles or text provided, full on Cree.

Cree curricular resources

I figure there are enough out there, that I could use a sub-heading.  I will confine these entries to documents that are specifically developed to be approved curricular documents.  For those unfamiliar with such documents, a program of studies is the ‘bare bones’ part of what student outcomes should be met in a program.  The guide to implementation usually also contains lesson plans and sample work sheets which can be very useful for in-home use.  I am providing links to both.  (Keep in mind, the guides to implementation are hundreds of pages long)

After this are classroom assessment materials specific to certain grades.  They are linked to specific curricular objectives in the program of studies, and are much smaller files.  The K-3 implementation guides have these assessment materials as appendices, whereas the grades 4-6 have stand alone assessment files too.

– this is a PDF document which consists of complete lesson plans and assessments for teaching reading and writing in Plains Cree at an elementary level.  So far it is one of the clearest and most helpful educational documents I have found and can be easily modified to be used at home.  Saskatchewan puts out some really quality Cree language resources!

– this is a resource list intended for Alberta teachers, but some of these materials are also available for you to purchase.  In addition, many of these resources are available directly through the organisations that developed them.


Other Cree dialects/ assorted links:

– these materials were produced by the Northwest Territories Languages Program.  The above is a PDF resource bibliography of Bush Cree books and other resources for children.  The readers are leveled.  I have purchased pretty much the whole set and it’s not for the faint of heart.  There are no translations and not everything is understandable from context alone, especially the more advanced materials.  However, it is good that there are materials which go beyond counting and introductions.  I find that coming from a Plains Cree background, Bush Cree is fairly easy to understand compared to other dialects.

– this site features a number of wonderful stories in English, and Cree.  The Cree stories come with transcription in syllabics.  There are also lesson plans for storytelling activities from K-8 which are well laid out.

– this site allows you to hear the same words as pronounced in a variety of Cree dialects and Cree communities across Canada.

-resources in Cree, Oji-Cree and Ojibway dialects from the Treaty 9 territories can be ordered from here.  They consist of technical language glossaries specific to Electronic and Educational terminology.  A great resource for specialised terminology.  In addition, there are other educational resources available from this site.

– open source language learning software in the Swampy Cree dialect.  Only a few modules are completed, but it’s an interesting idea someone could build on…

Eastern James Bay Cree

– there are enough resources in this dialect out there that I think we need a new sub-heading!

– there is an online dictionary, grammar lessons and various other resources available.  This is the dialect of Cree that I am surrounded by here in Quebec.  It is significantly different than Plains Cree…think trying to understand Portuguese as a Spanish speaker.  I have found that the coastal dialect is closer to Plains Cree than the inland dialect.  Once you figure out the different sounds (a lot of ‘ch’ and ‘sh’ sounds we just don’t have) it becomes easier.  It is also significantly different than the James Bay Cree you’ll find on the western Hudson’s Bay.

– oh my girls LOVE this site!  These are a series of videos done in eastern James Bay Cree with English subtitles, depicting legends and stories.  My girls really love the Chikabash/Tcikabesh legends from this area and the videos really got them excited.

– a documentary series on APTN done all in eastern James Bay Cree with English subtitles.  It covers some great ground!

– You can listen to recorded radio episodes on various issues related to Eeyou Istchee here.  This program seems to deal a lot with culture and social issues.

– this is another Cree language radio show with many back episodes available for listening.

Other Aboriginal Languages

I love my Cree language intensely, but I also love the other indigenous languages we have the luck to be gifted with.  With that in mind, I want to also share links to other aboriginal languages.  Note that “Our Voices” linked to above represents all aboriginal languages spoken in Saskatchewan, not just Cree.

– this online language platform offers you lessons in 5 Inuit dialects.  I’m still checking it out, but I’m loving the audio files and conversational lessons!

  • Episodes of the Berenstain Bears…in Lakota!

Ever cool!  I have long wished we could have something similar in Cree!

–  This is Ojibwe from Manitoulin and is comprised mostly of word lists.  There is no audio, however and the organisation of the pages is a little confusing.  However, there are quiz functions.

– this platform is not always completely stable, and right now there are very few Cree entries, but it’s a positive step forward.

-there are stories you can listen to in Anishinaabemowin, as well as short video clips.  Stories about Nanabush are being added to the site incorporating bilingual video and audio content.  Very much a work in progress.

– a great online dictionary which breaks down the words for you and often links to other resources, including audio recordings of the words and some conjugations!

– Ciimaan is an Anishinaabemowin language community operating out of Toronto and surrounding areas.  It is a wide-ranging project which includes the collection and storage of stories and wisdom from fluent speakers as well as providing immersion language opportunities.  Eventually the tehsopitaasowin (community storage) project will be available online.  The piitaapan page offers narrated stories in Anishinaabemowin where the words are also shown in syllabics and one of the double-vowel spellings used by Anishinaabek.

I have heard many good things about this project because of its ability to link urban natives to the communities, and because it promotes a bi-lingual approach to language and life which I think is something we cannot really do without anymore.

– there are bilingual books to be ordered, even a bilingual kids magazine you can get!  Oh I’d love this in Cree!

– this site offers a Robert Munch book translated into Hul’q’umi’num, a Coast Salish language.  You have to register in able to access the book, but it is a simple process and a wonderful audio/visual resource.

– I taught for three years in Inuvik, and so I have a special place in my heart for the Inuvialuit.  This is a very cool digital journey.

– all the other bibliographies of resources published in aboriginal languages in the NWT can be found here.

Cultural Links

– Legends of the Atahtakakoop is the tenth part of a series which includes legends from various nations.  The rest of the recordings are available on this site.

– this is less of a language site and more of a companion site to a television show on APTN.  I haven’t seen the show yet because I don’t have television 🙂

– This resource focuses on the Camperville Michif dialect right now, and just launched last summer.  There are plans to expand it, and it really pushes digital boundaries.  Beautiful graphics and use of still photography to create movement…please check it out!

– Another cool interactive site…you can ‘go back to Batoche’ as it was in 1885 and see what is going on there these days.  Very cool to navigate around.

– This is also from the Gabriel Dumont Institute in Saskatchewan, and you will be able to find tonnes of audio and video files in Michif as well.  A lot to look through.

– This is a really neat resource!  There are video and audio resources, but also a role-playing game for kids.  Well worth spending some time checking out!

– This last link might upset some people, but I’m going to risk it.  The page in question lists a number of organisations that ‘play at being Indian’.  You may have your own opinions on the matter but I think it’s a good issue to raise.

– This is a CBC series on the people and programs in place in Edmonton, AB for aboriginal peoples.  Many inspiring stories!

13 Responses to Language and Culture Links

  1. Arden Ogg says:

    Hey Chelsea! How wonderful to see you’re doing this, and for making me go “miywâsin” at your header image. I like your contributions to the Cree word of the day, too. I’m glad to make another connection.

    Just wondering — have you met Manon Tremblay at Concordia? She runs the Aboriginal Students Centre, but she’s a Cree speaker (and linguist) from Muskeg Lake, Saskatchewan, and a relation by marriage to the late Freda Ahenakew. If you and she haven’t met, I’d be thrilled to do an email introduction.

    Very best,


  2. Emo says:

    There’s a terrible irony to the archive of Louis Bird’s recordings (, linked to above) … and I comment because I’m the one who sent you that link in the first place (and it because it takes some time to dig through the files on that site… only one of which is currently in Cree! The website vaguely states that Cree material will be added (gradually?) as their budget allows… and the one e-mail I sent them “bounced” with an error message that suggests to me their office isn’t exactly running at full steam… but I digress..).

    Currently, the website provides much more of the storyteller’s critique of government policy (and missionary policy, etc.) than it does provide language resources. The saddening irony here is that the guy providing the audio recordings (Louis Bird) is himself (1) archly critical of the project as an endgame to cultural genocide, and (2) is archly critical of the role of technology and government subvention of precisely the kind that has produced the website. The guy actually has a pretty incisive view of charity as culturally destructive –and, as he puts it, of infrastructure and technology as a “new religion” that is finally destroying Cree culture (in a way that the waves of missionaries, etc., failed to do).

    Here’s a sample in his own words (and, I note, the transcription seems to contain a few errors…).

    Where I speak from today is a is a little community which has been in 1986, the summer of 1986 and it has been designed and funded by the taxpayers money and designed by the top engineers of the world that it will be established as the most modern village. We the most isolated people, we the most innocent who never saw what the other culture can do the peace of mind and dignity of a person we have been chosen, we’ve been tricked us again, we have been brainwashed again. This time it’s not by fur traders, this time it’s by a top engineers of the world to give us the last blessing of the modern progress of the high technology.
    It is not a religion this time, its a modern technology which has brainwashed us by
    the European experts. According to my understanding we are a total alienated First Nation Citizen. We have no way to return, our young children that are born today will never again experience the true meaning of the First Nation and never will they feel or experience the true meaning of Self-Sufficiency on the land. They will never understand, they will [never] experience what it terms living in harmony with nature by the Ancestors.
    My sympathy lies to those yet to be born, our Grandchildren’s who run around outside are five years old, and their children will not see what Self-Sufficiency of the First Nations. If my stories dies with me they will not hear it as I have heard it, and this is what I want to explain. Being exploited our First, our Forefathers being exploited by the European fur trade, and later years with the Christianity they lost their land, and today is the final exploitation has occurred in Winisk people, the relocation and establishment of the most highest standard of community in North America, it seem, because all its infrastructure, there’s no where on earth that a First Nation people can live so highly.
    With all the taxpayers money that has been poured into this small community of 100 and 200 people, it’s very amazing. To my understanding it was the part of Indian Affairs who have choose the Winisk band to experiment them, to make his final push to civilize our people, our coastal region people, and it works today.
    […] I have said the results of the final exploitation of our people, our innocent Cree people who were isolated who were the last people to exercise and practice our Native culture, and I do believe this is a final, I don’t think there will be any other exploitation that will finish off our
    people. And now we have to phase out as a First Nation people, or First Nation culture practice.

    SOURCE: (pages 9-11)

  3. Emo says:

    A 1977 film from the N.F.B., Cree Way deals specifically with language transmission… it is listed online, but the film itself isn’t online (yet) and I’ve never seen the thing myself (NFB would probably send you a copy if you asked). Descr: John Murdoch, principal of the Indian Affairs school at Rupert House, James Bay, and his wife, Gerti, have initiated a curriculum development project using local people and resources. The teaching materials are drawn from Cree folklore, are mainly in Cree, and make use of old photographs, artifacts and books that are written and printed in the community…” (It’s circa half an hour long.)
    The one Cree-related film that the NFB currently does have online (currently) is Cree Hunters of Mistassini, 1974, circa one hour in length, with a simple documentary approach to life on a hunting camp (and, probably, a great deal of nostalgia value for anyone circa ten years older than myself, too).
    Both in print and in audio-visual materials, I’m finding much more by-and-for the James Bay Cree than the Plains Cree.

    • The James Bay Cree of northern Quebec (Eeyou Istchee) are ten communities (if you count Washaw Sibi). They have been politically united since the 70s when they began fighting against the huge dam that Quebec was going to impose on them without the hint of consultation. Because of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA), the James Bay Cree have a centralised Cree School Board (along with many other centralised and Cree run entities) which are better equipped and funded to produced Cree language materials than many other Cree communities in Canada. As well, Cree language use and retention is very high in Eeyou Istchee, with most James Bay Cree being fluent in their language. The entire Annual Assembly takes place in Cree, and most meetings are monolingual settings as well.

      Rupert’s House is the old name for Waskaganish (Little House). The materials you list are indeed quite old. However there are many Cree language publications (print and audio) available through the Cree School Board, the Cree Board of Health and so on. The dialect is about as far away from Plains Cree as you can get, however and not much use to those pursuing Plains Cree. Unfortunately.

  4. Emo says:

    I’m aware of the political history alluded to (although, I note, C.B.C. radio/propaganda still announces plans for large-scale power plants on James Bay in the future tense… so I assume that some part of that history will repeat itself) and I agree that the Plains Cree probably have a number of things they could learn from the James Bay Cree and the Swampy Cree (i.e., in terms of recent historical experience). If given half a chance, it could be that the James Bay and Swampy Cree would find something significant in contrasting the experience of the Plains Cree, too. However, nobody is going to learn anything without a lot of long bus trips. I’ve asked just a few people so far to see if there’s any interest (or if I can stir up any interest) in making a field trip (just to compare the size of the mosquitoes, etc., no grand ambitions on a first trip). The other big however that’s worth noting is sheer demographics: the less-than-infallible Wikipedia puts the number of James Bay Cree at 16,357. In Saskatchewan, there are single reservations with populations around 8,000 … but then, part of the problem is that the population tends to be spread around a large area. (Lac La Ronge plus Ballantyne F.N. totals a land mass comparable to some European nations…) Further West, I have seen some of the in-classroom materials produced in Hobbema, Alberta, where there’s a relatively dense Cree population at the crossroads of several reservations. I don’t know if I could talk anyone at F.N.U. into mounting an expedition to Hobbema (perhaps less exciting than James Bay, even if easier to reach). And, speaking of Hobbema, your language and culture list currently omits Rezofficial, Hellnback, and War Party.

    • I’ve been limiting my list to artists who send out a positive message. War Party does attempt to do that from time to time, but I am not a fan of the gangster glorification that goes on otherwise. Particularly given the gang violence and loss of such young lives in Samson Cree First Nation which is one of the four communities that make up Hobbema. I think Conway K says it best, “All I hear is talk about stuff that’s illegal…try saying something that will uplift your people!”

      To be honest, I’m not sure what the Plains Cree could learn from the eastern James Bay Cree and vice versa. The situations are very different. The James Bay Hydroelectric project went ahead and yes is still being expanded, but the Eeyou were successful in putting enough pressure to bear on Quebec that they managed to see some of the money from that development as well as expanding the exercise of their rights. The Eeyou communities are northern and isolated, although there has been some recent encroachment on the inland communities. Compare this to the Plains where encroachment has been intense and ongoing for at least half a century.

  5. Emo says:

    A series of (freely available) e-texts on things Cree, ranging from academic treatises to first-person narratives written by Christian missionaries living amongst the Cree 150 years ago.–%20Folklore
    The Cree-specific materials are at the top of the list, with some Haida, Chilcotin and other indigenous-Canadian materials appearing below, apparently not in alphabetical order. Two examples from the list:
    * Grateful Prey: Rock Cree Human-Animal Relationships (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), by Robert Brightman (HTML at UC Press)
    * Two Months in the Camp of Big Bear: The Life and Adventures of Theresa Gowanlock and Theresa Delaney (1885), by Theresa Delaney and Theresa Gowanlock

  6. Emo says:

    And, five minutes later, I’m following up because there is a “Cree Language Texts” category within one of those archives, namely:–%20Texts.&range=subject&bool=exact&subset=all
    Just twelve texts (so far?) but a small library none-the-less…
    As a strange (but perhaps representative) sample, take a glance at the Sermons de Monseigneur Baraga as rendered in Cree syllabics in 1859:
    Relative to sermons such as this, I can honestly say that Gangster rap is part of a wholesome education. (I’m only half-joking.)

  7. Emo says:

    Government of Saskatchewan department of education put together its own list:
    This is useful, despite obvious drawbacks; it includes non-textbook materials (such as short films) that would otherwise be hard to find out about, and illustrated children’s books (unlikely to be mentioned in academic book catalogues). Although I have seen many in-class materials for Cree (especially those produced by particular band councils) I do not think I have seen the “K.I.M. Language Starter Kit” for Cree; it is probably important for people more advanced in the language (like yourself) to see and review resources such as this. It is possible that I saw this set of books at the F.N.U. library already, and didn’t take any interest in it for some obvious reason, but it reportedly covers “kindergarden through grade 12”, etc.

  8. Emo says:

    Have you tried clicking through the multimedia verb tables put together by Blue Quills?
    It is not easy to use, but you can click through to get audio recordings both of particular words, and those words used in context, e.g.,
    Click on the little audio icon, then click on either of the two boxes that specify the origin of the speaker, etc., then press play.

  9. Emo says:

    A major new resource for beginners (I can’t believe they’re giving it away for free):
    The dialogues are “simple”, but delivered in a relaxed and natural accent; you can tell that the intended audience would be adults students with no prior speaking ability. I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of Ken’s textbook, and more of his work.

  10. I’d love to get comments on this blog post here –

    I didn’t find anything about the use of webfonts in the research I did earlier this week.

  11. Just a note that I am starting a Skype Cree language nest for those wishing to speak Cree. My sole focus is oral fluency – I have Cree speaking family and friends that I wish to communicate with – few and (no Elders) who read or write Cree. The group is not limited by dialect although western dialects would be most mutually understandable as most will be Saskatchewan/Manitoba/Alberta dialects of Cree. I am seeking brand new speakers who wish to converse in a respectful and safe environment free of over-correction (unsolicited correction of pronounciation) who are looking for a supportive forum to speak interactively while building skill through dialogues and simple conversations. Speaking ability in all languages develops by focusing on actual communication with others. Developing skill in pronounciation is a longer term goal that takes lots and lots of practice over time! We will start with very basic questions and answers to build into longer dialogues over time – please email me your Skype name if you are interested in joining! (

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