Cree Months

1870203.jpg

Months in the Cree language are a recurring topic of conversation in our communities as these have mostly been supplanted by English or French names. It is quite natural, in fact, to hear elderly monolingual speakers make use of the English or French names, often followed by the Cree ᐲᓯᒽ, meaning ‘month.’ There are a number of reasons for this, one of which is the variability from one community to another that complicates communication when the calendar is involved. This is largely because months are often named after seasonal phenomena that naturally vary from region to region. As a result, certain names that are common to multiple dialects may not always refer to the same month.

Below, you will find a comparison of the names of the months in six Cree dialects, those spoken at Attawapiskat (eastern Swampy Cree, an N-dialect), Moose Factory (Moose Cree, an L-dialect), Waskaganish (southern coastal East Cree, a Y-dialect), Waswanipi (southern inland East Cree, a Y-dialect), Opitciwan (Atikamekw, an R-dialect), and Pessamit (southern Innu-aimun, an L-dialect). The names will be spelled phonologically using syllabics to facilitate the comparison. It is important to note that only the first four dialects are officially written using syllabics. The others have adopted Latin script orthographies.

January

Attawapiskat ᑭᔐ ᐸᐙᐦᑕᑭᓇᒽ
Moose Factory ᑭᔐ ᐹᐦᐲᐙᐦᑕᑭᓇᒽ
Waskaganish ᒪᑯᔐ ᒌᔑᑳᐤ ᐲᓯᒽ
Waswanipi ᐗᔭᐐᒪᑲᓄ ᐲᔑᒽ, ᑳ ᒋᓄᔑᑦ ᐲᔑᒽ (F)
Opitciwan ᑫᓄᓯᑦ ᐲᓯᒽ
Pessamit ᒋᔐ ᐲᔑᒽ

February

Attawapiskat ᑭᔐ ᐲᓯᒽ
Moose Factory ᑭᔐ ᐲᓯᒽ
Waskaganish ᑳ ᑕᐦᑯᑯᒋᐦᒃ ᐲᓯᒽ
Waswanipi ᑳ ᑕᐦᑯᔑᑦ ᐲᔑᒽ
Opitciwan ᐊᑯᐦᑲᒌᔥ ᐲᓯᒽ
Pessamit ᐁᐱᔑᒥᓂᔥᑴᐤ

March

Attawapiskat ᒥᑭᓯᐎ ᐲᓯᒽ
Moose Factory ᒥᑭᓯᐎ ᐲᓯᒽ
Waskaganish ᒥᒋᓯᐤ ᐲᓯᒽ
Waswanipi ᒥᒋᔑᐤ ᐲᔑᒽ, ᒥᑭᔑᐤ ᐲᔑᒽ
Opitciwan ᓂᑭᑯ ᐲᓯᒽ
Pessamit ᐐᓇᔥᑯ ᐲᔑᒽ

April

Attawapiskat ᓂᔅᑭ ᐲᓯᒽ
Moose Factory ᓂᔅᑭ ᐲᓯᒽ
Waskaganish ᓂᔅᒋ ᐲᓯᒽ
Waswanipi ᔒᔒᐱ ᐲᔑᒽ, ᓂᔅᑭ ᐲᔑᒽ
Opitciwan ᑳ ᐙᓯᑲᑐᑦ ᐲᓯᒽ
Pessamit ᔒᔒᑉ ᐲᔑᒽ

May

Attawapiskat ᐊᓃᑭ ᐲᓯᒽ
Moose Factory ᐊᓖᑭᔑ ᐲᓯᒽ
Waskaganish ᐋᔑᒸᑯ ᐲᓯᒽ
Waswanipi ᒸᑯ ᐲᔑᒽ
Opitciwan ᐙᐱᑯᓐ ᐲᓯᒽ
Pessamit ᓂᔅᓯ ᐲᔑᒽ

June

Attawapiskat ᓵᑭᐸᑳᐎ ᐲᓯᒽ
Moose Factory ᓵᑭᐸᑳᐎ ᐲᓯᒽ
Waskaganish ᒧᔖᐌᐦᔮᐤ ᐲᓯᒽ
Waswanipi ᐙᐱᑯᓐ ᐲᔑᒽ, ᔖᒋᐸᑳᐤ ᐲᔑᒽ, ᓇᒣᐤ ᐲᔑᒽ (F)
Opitciwan ᐅᑌᐦᐃᒥᓐ ᐲᓯᒽ
Pessamit ᐙᐱᑯᓐ ᐲᔑᒽ

July

Attawapiskat ᐅᐸᔥᑰᐎ ᐲᓯᒽ
Moose Factory ᐅᐸᔥᑰᐎ ᐲᓯᒽ, ᐸᔥᑰᐎ ᐲᓯᒽ
Waskaganish ᐅᐸᔥᑰᐤ ᐲᓯᒽ
Waswanipi ᒣᒀ ᓃᐱᓄ ᐲᔑᒽ, ᐅᑌᐦᐃᒥᓐ ᐲᔑᒽ (F)
Opitciwan ᒥᐦᑯᒥᓐ ᐲᓯᒽ
Pessamit ᔐᑖᓐ ᐲᔑᒽ

August

Attawapiskat ᐅᐦᐸᐦᐆᐎ ᐲᓯᒽ
Moose Factory ᐅᐦᐸᐦᐆᐎ ᐲᓯᒽ
Waskaganish ᒥᔕᑳᒣᐦᔮᐤ ᐲᓯᒽ
Waswanipi ᐊᑎᐦᑌᐎᒥᓐ ᐲᔑᒽ (F)
Opitciwan ᐅᑕᐦᑕᐦᑯᓐ ᐲᓯᒻ
Pessamit ᐅᐴ ᐲᔑᒽ

September

Attawapiskat ᐌᐦᐌᐎ ᐲᓯᒽ
Moose Factory ᐌᐦᐌᐎ ᐲᓯᒽ
Waskaganish ᐌᐦᐌᐤ ᐲᓯᒽ
Waswanipi ᐊᑎᐦᑲᒣᑯ ᐲᔑᒽ
Opitciwan ᑳᑯᓀ ᐲᓯᒽ
Pessamit ᐅᔥᑰ ᐲᔑᒽ

October

Attawapiskat ᐅᐱᒪᐦᐊᒧᐎ ᐲᓯᒽ
Moose Factory ᐅᐱᒪᐦᐊᒧᐎ ᐲᓯᒽ, ᐱᒪᐦᐊᒧᐎ ᐲᓯᒽ
Waskaganish ᐐᔖᑯ ᐲᓯᒽ
Waswanipi ᐱᓈᔅᒌᐤ ᐲᔑᒽ, ᐐᔖᑯ ᐲᔑᒽ
Opitciwan ᓇᒣᑯᓯ ᐲᓯᒽ
Pessamit ᐙᔅᑌᔅᓰᐤ ᐲᔑᒽ

November

Attawapiskat ᑲᔥᑲᑎᓂᓯᐤ
Moose Factory ᑲᔥᑲᑎᓂᓯᐤ
Waskaganish ᑲᔥᑲᑎᓐ ᐲᓯᒽ
Waswanipi ᒪᔥᑲᐗᑎᓄ ᐲᔑᒽ
Opitciwan ᐊᑎᐦᑲᒣᑯ ᐲᓯᒽ
Pessamit ᑕᒀᒋ ᐲᔑᒽ

December

Attawapiskat ᐸᐙᐦᑕᑭᓇᔒᔥ
Moose Factory ᐲᐧᐋᐦᑕᑭᓇᒽ, ᒪᑯᔐ ᐲᓯᒽ
Waskaganish ᐲᐦᒉᒪᑲᓄ ᐲᓯᒽ
Waswanipi ᐲᐦᒉᒪᑲᓄ ᐲᔑᒽ, ᒪᑯᔐᒌᔑᑲᓐ ᐲᔑᒽ (F)
Opitciwan ᐲᐦᒋ ᐱᐳᓐ
Pessamit ᐲᔑᒧᔅᔅ

Sources for the above are as follows: Attawapiskat, Angela Sheesheesh (Facebook post, 2020); Moose Factory, Dictionary of Moose Cree – 3rd edition (2019); Waskaganish, Annie Whiskeychan’s Lexicon (1973); Waswanipi, Waswanipi Realities and Adaptations: Resource Management and Cognitive Structure (Feit, 1978), Jane Saganash (2020), Allan Saganash (2020), Maggie Gull (2020), and Emma Sagansh (2020); Opitciwan, Atikamekw Morphology and Lexicon (Béland, 1978) & Dictionnaire atikamekw (online, 2020); and Pessamit, Dictionnaire français-montagnais (Drapeau, 1991).

Note that the Waswanipi is a mixed dialect transitioning towards Southern Inland East Cree. The speech of elders speakers of this dialect contains many features of the dialect directly to the south, that of Opitciwan. There are thus a variety of month names collected in this community. Terms followed by (F) were unknown to speakers consulted and are therefore only found in Feit, 1978.

Fieldwork in the six dialects undertaken by the author of this blog informs the above phonological spellings.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s