The Nehiyaw (Cree) Language Lessons being offered by the Centre for Race and Culture are different from any of the courses currently being offered in Edmonton. This is due to the unique methodology being used. This methodology is called cahkipehikanak (syllabics), which is better known as the star chart, a traditional format that incorporates the cultural and philisophical teachings of the Nehiyaw language. This method of teaching the Nehiyaw language is not used anywhere in the greater Edmonton area or in the entire educational system in Edmonton.
Our objective is to teach Nehiyaw using this holistic approach based on 44 symbols, 14 consonants and the 8 direction syllabic system. The directions’ philosophies are included as the lessons are taught in the manner of natural law. Learners will feel empowered by learning Nehiyaw using the traditional and historical way of language transmission. This will help participants reclaim their language and ensure the survival of this language.
According to experts, there were an estimated 600,000 Nehiyaw words prior to European contact; currently, there are around 30,000 words in use, and this count continues to drop almost daily. Edmonton has the second largest Aboriginal population of all cities, second only to Winnipeg. Many of our citizens would like to find ways to regain their lost language and reconnect with their cultural identity.
This project has been made possible by the Government of Canada.
Nehiyaw (Cree) Course Outline
Weeks 1 to 4 Introduction to the 8 direction, 44 symbol, 14 consonant star chart system (Nehiyaw cahkipeyihkannah). Logistics of the cahkipeyihkanah.
Week 5 and 6 Articulation. The p, t, k, c sounds are not represented in the English alphabet irrespective of diphthongs. The mechanical function, which is articulation, of speech will be put into practice with each student individually.
Week 7 Greetings and salutations.
Week 8 and 9 Naming animate and inanimate objects; Identifying relationships i.e. mother, father, brother, sister etc.
Week 10 to 14 Basic conversation; Function of prayer
Week 15 Potential Field trip to a Ceremony in which Cree is primarily spoken.
Week 16 and 17 Personalizing the language to one’s needs
Week 18 and 19 Reviewing the star chart; Making a list of Elder, family, library, internet resources; Evaluation
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