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Simple Story translated verbally in Ojibwa
“Nitaataa Mahkwa” / “My Father the Bear”
by Courtney Vanessa Arthur

Note: Courtney elected to study Ojibwa in addition to her other studies at University to better understand the predecessors to the land in which we live. Following is a simple short story that she had to compose during a class (first year) and give verbally to her professor and class.

Courtney was a voracious reader from the time she was born, reading all the classics, topical, spiritual, organic, political and native works...thus her elective to study Ojibwa at University.

The Ojibwe (also Ojibwa or Ojibway), Anishinaabe (also Anishinabe) or Chippewa (also Chippeway) are the largest groups of Native Americans–First Nations north of Mexico. They are divided between Canada and the United States. In Canada, they are the second-largest population among First Nations, surpassed only by Cree. Ojibwe are principally in the region around Lakes Huron and Superior but extending as far west as Saskatchewan and North Dakota.

The Ojibwe peoples are a major component group of the Anishinaabe-speaking peoples, a branch of the Algonquian language family which includes the Algonquin, Nipissing, Oji-Cree, Odawa and the Potawatomi. The majority of the Ojibwe peoples live in Canada. There are 77,940 main-line Ojibwe; 76,760 Saulteaux and 8,770 Mississaugas, in 125 bands, stretching from western Quebec to eastern British Columbia.


“Nitaataa Mahkwa” / “My Father the Bear”

Boozhoo. Courtney nitishinikas. Mississauga nintoonci. Onaako, nimaamaa kii-tipaacimo.

Hello. My name is Courtney. Mississauga is where I’m from. Yesterday, my mother told a story.

Jane ishinikaso ekwa Stratford oonci. Niin ekwa nimaamaa, kii-kitapimin ekwa kii-kiminihkwemin tii.

Her name is Jane and she is from Stratford. My mother and I, we sat down and we drank tea.

Kii-kipootawemin. Kii-kishite piinciyahii waahkaahikanink. Nimaamaa kii-ihkito,

We built a fire. It was warm inside the house. My mother said,

Weshkac, kii-tipihkaa ekwa nikii-shikatentam. Kii-aapihtaa-tipihkaa ekwa kaawin nikii-nipaasiin.

Long ago, it was night and I was bored and lonely. It was midnight and I wasn’t sleeping.

Nikii-pahkihtehan tihkinaakan. Oohshta! Nikii-wanishkaa ekwa nikii-papaamohse.

I hit the cradleboard. Ow! I got up and I walked about.

Nikiiwii-wiihsini ekwa tahsh nikii-amwaa piihswe-aanahkonaa ekwa pimite. Nikii-minihkwe nipi kaye.

I wanted to eat so I ate bread and lard. I drank some water also.

Wiipac, nikii-tepiwiihsin. Tahsh, nikii-nannantawaapamaa awiya waahsa. Ekwa tahsh, nikii-maacaa waahkaahikan.

Soon, I was full. But, I was searching for someone, far away. So, I left the house.

Akwaciink, kii-nootin ekwa kii-tipihki-piihsim. Waapanonk kii-oncinowe. Niikii-maaciihatoo noohpimink.

Outside, it was windy and the moon was full. The wind was blowing east. I set off on a trail into the bush.

Kii-tahkaayaa ekwa kii-kashkawan tahsh kaawin nikii-kohtaacisiin. Nikii-tepihtaw awiyaashiishak. Nikiiwii-tootem.

It was cold and it was dark but I wasn’t afraid. I heard the sounds of animals. I wanted a friend (or clan).

Shiipahii wanankohshink, nikii-waapamaa waapoos. Waapoos kii-amwaa ohkaataahk.

Under the stars, I saw a rabbit. The rabbit was eating a carrot.

Nikii-waapamik ekwa kii-kohtaaci. Nikii ihkito, “Piishan! Kiwii-tootem na?” Tahsh, waapoos kii-maacaa.

S/he saw me and s/he was afraid. I said, “Come here! Do you want (to be) friend(s)?” But the rabbit left.

Miina, Nikii-shikatentam. Miina, nikii-papaamohse piinciyahii pihkwatahkamik.

Again, I was lonely. Again, I walked around within the forest.

Wiipac, nikii-waapantaan saakahikan. Nikii-waapamaa miskwatehs tahsh kii-nipaa.

Soon, I saw a lake. I saw a turtle but s/he was sleeping.

Niyaananiwak kinooshek kii-papaamaatakewak ekwa kii-paahpiwak. Kii-ihkitowak, “Aan entootaman?”

Five fish were swimming and laughing. They said, “What are you doing?”

Nikii-ihkito, “Ninanaantawaapamaa tootem.” Kii-ihkitowak, “Kiwiitamwaaishinaan na?!”

I said, “I’m searching for someone.” They said, “Do you want to eat us?!”

Nikii-ihkito, “Kaawin! Nitepiwiishin. Nikii-miicim pimite!” Kinooshek kii-ihkito, “Kiwii-metawe na?”

I said, “No! I am full. I ate lard!” The fish said, “Do you want to play?”

“Eha!” Ekwa tahsh, kii-kipapaamaatatemin. Tahsh, wiipac, nipi kii-tahkayaa. Nikii-ihkito, “Miikwehc,” ekwa nikii-kiiweontan pihkwatahkamik.

“Yes!” So, we swam. But soon, the water was cold. I said, “Thank you,” and I returned to the forest.

Miina, kii-kashkawan. Miina, nikii-papaamohse. Nikii-waapamaak shikaak, mahkeshi, ekwa moos.

Again, it was dark. Again, I walked about. I saw a skunk, a fox, and a moose.

Keka, nikii-waapamaa mahkwa, weti nanti-waanipiiyaa. Nikii-waapamik ekwa nikii-shoowinkewhtawik.

Finally, I saw a bear, there beside the pond. He saw me and he smiled at me.

Mahkwa kii-ihkito, “Aan eshinikaasoyan?” Nikii-ihkito, “Jane nitishinikas… Kimaamakaatenimin!”

The bear said, “What is your name?” I said, “My name is Jane… I am amazed by you!”

Mahkwa kii-paahpi. “Taapishkooc mahkeshi! Ekwa aan waa-tootank ihkwe?”

The bear laughed. “Like a fox! And what does the woman want to do?”

Nikii-ihkito, “Cisaakihinaan ohshaa ehta niwii-tootam!” “Kisaakihihsh na?” “Eha! Kisaakihin!”

I said, “All I want to do is love you!” “Do you love me?” “Yes! I love you!”

Naake, mahkwa kii-ihkito, “Aasha saakahte ekwa wanishkaan!”

Later, the bear said, “The sun is rising now, get up!”

Nikii-ihkito, “Kekonen tahsh? Kiiyaapic hsha niwii-nipaa!”

I said, “What for? I want to sleep more!”

Mahkwa kii-ihkito, “Kika-maacii-anohkii aasha wiipac.”

The bear said, “You will start working soon.”

Nikii-maw. “Kaawin niwii-anohkisiin! Kaawin niwii-kiiwehsiin!”

I cried. “I don’t want to work! I don’t want to go home!”

Kii-ihkito, “Kisaakihin, taash maacaan!” Tahsh, mahkwa kii-maacaa. Miina, nikii-shikatentam.

He said, “I love you, but (you must) leave!” But he (the bear) left. Again, I was lonely.

Noonkom, kii-kishika ekwa kii-anwaahtin. Nikii-kiiwe. Tahsh nikii-mikoshkaatentaan…

Now, it was day and it was calm. I returned home. But I felt worried… 

Nitaanihs, kitaataa mahkwa. [Courtney: Tepwe na??] Eha.

Daughter, the bear is your father. [Courtney: Is that true??] Yes.

Niin kahkina kekoon nitipentaan kii-inentam. Kii-nihtaa-nootikwewe kaye…

He thought, “I know everything.” He was always after the women too…

Kimaamiikwentam na noonkom? Paanimaa mina waapank.

Are you overwhelmed now? I will tell a legend again tomorrow.

End