Psalm 49:16-17

ᐁᑳᐐᓚ ᑯᔥᑖᒋᐦ ᐃᔅᐱ ᐊᐌᓇ ᒦᔕᑭᐦᐃᐦᑌ, ᐃᔅᐱ ᐁ ᐃᔑ ᑭᔥᑌᓕᐦᑖᑾᓂᓕᒃ ᐐᑭ ᐊᑎ ᓚᐦᑭᐸᓕᓕᑫ; ᐌᓴ ᐃᔅᐱ ᓂᐱᑌ ᓇᒪᐐᓚ ᑫᒀᓕᐤ ᑲᑕ ᑭᐦᒋᐎᑖᐤ; ᓇᒪᐐᓚ ᐅ ᑭᔥᑌᓕᐦᑖᑯᓯᐎᓐ ᑲᑕ ᓅᔅᐱᓇᑎᑯᐤ᙮



Inspired by the the 3rd edition of A Dictionary of Moose Cree, “Wâpikwanîwan” is a drawing by Holly Pichette, the same artist responsible for the cover art of this dictionary. It was first posted on her Facebook media page in January of 2020 and is being shared here with her permission. 

ᑳ ᒥᓄᑌᐦᐁᑦ

Midnight Shine, a popular Cree band from northern Ontario, recently released a cover of Neil Young’s Heart of Gold, with a twist. Instead of singing the lyrics as they were written, the band instead offers a bilingual version, switching to Cree halfway through the song. The Cree lyrics, written in the dialect spoken in Attawapiskat, are provided below in syllabics. They begin around 2:17. Enjoy!

ᓂᐐ ᐱᒫᑎᓰᓐ
ᓂᐐ ᒦᓂᐙᓐ
ᓂ ᓈᓇᑕᐙᐸᒫᐤ ᑳ ᒥᓄᑌᐦᐁᑦ
ᒨᓇ ᓂᑮ ᐃᑣᓐ ᐆᐦᐅ ᑫᒀᓇ

ᐁ ᓈᓇᑕᐙᐸᒪᒃ ᑳ ᒥᓄᑌᐦᐁᑦ
ᐋᔕᔾ ᓂ ᑭᔐᓂᓃᐎᓐ
ᐁ ᓈᓇᑕᐙᐸᒪᒃ ᑳ ᒥᓄᑌᐦᐁᑦ
ᐋᔕᔾ ᓂ ᑭᔐᓂᓃᐎᓐ



The chars belong to a genus of fish known by the Latin name, Salvelinus. Three species of char are indigenous to Cree country – the arctic char, the brook trout, and the lake trout. Of the three, the lake trout is the largest, with the heaviest recorded catch weighing in at 102 lbs. But it is also notable for another reason – it is the only fish indigenous to Cree country who’s scientific name is Cree!

The lake trout’s binomial is Salvelinus namaycush. The first part identifies it as a member of the genus of chars, but the second part is actually a Cree borrowing. Namaycush, or rather namekos (following a Cree orthography), is one of two names used for this fish in Cree communities around Wînipek(the body of water otherwise known as James Bay). Its other Cree name consists of three closely related variants mainly used in coastal communities, namely kôkamew, kôkames, and kôkamekw.

The names of many American animals and fish are in fact borrowings from indigenous American languages, but few have been assigned an indigenous scientific name. Pointing out the lake trout’s binomial to Cree-speaking school children will surely make these budding scientists proud!