How to learn Cree or an indigenous language

How to learn Cree or an indigenous language

How did you decide to make this diary/textbook?

2019 is declared as UNESCO’s year of International Languages. I am working with a First Nations college on the Maskwacis reserve, Alberta. Language is culture and the indigenous knowledge was passed by our ancestors in their indigenous language and hence it is important to learn the language. Preservation and using the language will keep the language alive. Not everything can be translated or transliterated into the English language. Cree language is a form of expression for a ‘Nehiyaw’ person. Nehiyaw means four bodied and includes elements of Earth, wind, fire, and sky.

What are you trying to achieve with this diary/textbook?

I want to contribute to the simple ways in which we can learn the Cree language with resources around us I our environment. I want to share the numerous ways in which I am learning the Cree language. Learning the Cree language requires a holistic approach of integrating listening, speaking, reading, and writing by using Cree syllabics. My focus is on work place learning on a zero budget and these ideas can be used at home. Have the eyes to see the Cree habitats in our society.

What have you done so far?

Once a week I have written some notes about root words, researchers using Cree words in their writing, environment print and I have posted this on our bog.

Anomalous log

Day Time Minutes Type of learning opportunity Learning Technique Examples Cree words Meaning/Interpretation of Cree word Transfer of learning Resource/Weblink
March 25 4:30 pm 5 mi Research Research and Conversation with self itôtamowin In the article entitled Kwayask itôtamowin : Indigenous Research Ethics, Ermine et al. (2005) list their ethical framework for collaborators Itôtamowin = doing

Miyo itôtamowin = doing good things||
|March 26|12:30 pm|1 min|Lunch time see online Creedictionary

Search SPRING|||· kichimos ᑭᒋᒧᐢ N your cousin ie. A brother’s and a sister’s off spring relation to each other. (MD)

· miyoskamin ᒥᔪᐢᑲᒥᐣ N Springtime. (MD)

· tahchiwepaham ᑕᐦᒋᐁᐧᐸᐦᐊᒼ VP He springs it loose, with an object. E.g. A trap. (MD)

· tahchiwepahwew ᑕᐦᒋᐁᐧᐸᐦᐁᐧᐤ VP He springs him loose, sets him free, with an object. (MD)||||
|March 27|11 am|5 min|CS 2000B|Picture


Learn sentences|Sentences|Atoskeyan

Atoskeci||Atoskayan is part of introducing myself.

Repeat word||
|March 27|10 am|1 min|Meeting minutes


Parking|||||March 12th Cree language and Culture meeting minutes: Jerry: Culture camp planning: I think we should go with Syllabics. A phased agenda; the first phase, where do you park, ota.

Kanakew. Here are a few suggestions; we can also call them by their Indian name, where do you congregate?, Chauffeuring. Second Phase Roman Orthography. The third Phase can consist of setting up of your tent. For example; Onoketam. It’s total emersion. We can also ask Owiyak peteowkeykwey?, did anyone bring lodging? Signal attached to the word. Another example can be Owatak (load the stuff out of the pick-up). Using baby talk, after several rounds of it then they understand.|
|Day|Time|Minutes|Type of learning opportunity|Learning Technique|Examples|Cree words|Meaning/Interpretation of Cree word|Transfer of learning|Resource/Weblink|
|March 28|12:10 pm|5 min|Root words|Self study Online Cree dictionary|taneki|||||

Who is on your team?

Wanted team members

Please share a maximum of three questions. These questions can be specific to your project or address broader open textbook themes.

  1. …Ethical ways of learning an indigenous language
  2. … Practice and resources help expand my learning network and provide supports to learn. How to expand my team
  3. … Community programs are support and Cree habitats

Welcome to the Rebus Community and thank you so much for taking the time to share these details about your project to create a language instruction textbook, for Cree or other indigenous languages!

I’m not sure whether you’ll be around at our 10 am EST/ 2 pm UTC slot or the 3 pm EST / 7 pm UTC, but I’m happy to continue this conversation whenever you are around. :slight_smile:

The story, motivations, and reasons you have for starting this open textbook are truly inspiring. I’m surprised and very pleased to learn that 2019 has been declared the “Year of International Languages” at UNESCO, and this timing/framing is perfect to begin the work on this project. It’s also an especially wonderful project to take on as an OER, so that it can more easily and widely be used and adapted by people hoping to teach other indigenous languages.

This is very important to mention in your messaging and communications about this book!

Since the spoken language will be very important for this goal of the book, I wonder whether you have any mechanism in place right now to provide audio recordings for pronunciation of the alphabet, words, phrases, etc.? I also admire that your audience/ideal learner for the book is someone with no budget, and who is looking for ways to integrate this language in their home.

This is excellent progress so far! Could you possibly share a link to the blog? I also especially enjoyed looking at some of the examples that you shared here, as well as the link to the Online Cree Dictionary.

Regarding the team members on your project, I’d recommend you take a look at our chapters on building a team and specifically a leadership team in The Rebus Guide to Publishing Open Textbooks (So Far) – it will be especially important that members of the Cree community are a part of making this textbook, be it in an advisory capacity or more hands-on by writing, editing, etc.

Coming finally to your questions, now!

This is a very important theme that you raise here. As you noted at the start, “Language is culture and the indigenous knowledge was passed by ancestors in their indigenous language and hence it is important to learn the language” – and do so in a manner that is respectful of this history. Step one would be to grow your team to include members of indigenous communities who speak Cree, and ask them this question as well – what are the best ways to be passing along and teaching the language to to others? I’d also recommend looking into other methods that exist so far, and seeing which might be best for you and your approach. I also wanted to point you to a book in the Pulling Together series by BCcampus, Pulling Together: A Guide for Teachers and Instructors, in case you find it helpful.

Our recruitment guide lists some different approaches you can take to grow your team, so you can take a look for some ideas here. You can also put together a short project summary (take a look at our template), including many of the details that you have put together here, and share these details along with a call for participation in various networks: our Contributor Marketplace, within your institution, on discipline listservs or mailing lists, etc.

This is an important theme to pick up not only in your book, but also when you’re welcoming new members to your team!

I’m really excited to see your team come together, and start laying down the foundations for what appears to be a fantastic resource! Please let me know if you have any follow-up questions. Looking forward to hearing from you. :slight_smile:

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I’d like to open this up to more discussion. Is anyone aware of good resources that could be used to create audio recordings for pronunciation within a textbook? @steelwagstaff, any ideas?

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Hi Manisha! Just want to chime in and share my excitement for this project. It really is a fantastic initiative. Apurva has you well covered on advice, and it sounds like building your team will be the next step. @LeighKP can share some info about how best to create a call for participants that can be shared in our network, I believe!

On the audio question, do you expect most people to access the book as a print resource or as a digital one, either online or offline? I imagine that will have an impact on how you approach things, but it’s an important question to find a solution for.


I can share info on calls for participation!

As @apurva mentioned, Calls for Participation should be posted in the Contributor Marketplace. Create a new topic and include the role you’d like to fill and the subject of your book in the title so that potential contributors can browse with ease. This post includes more details on what to include in a Call for Participation.

To amplify these Calls, I recommend replying to this thread. I receive notifications of new replies to this thread. I then amplify the Calls through the Rebus Community Twitter and on the Rebus Community Newsletter. If you have any more questions about what we do to reach out to contributors, let me know.


Apurva, I am available this Thursday at 10 am. I am very impressed with your publishing background.

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We’re here on the forum everyday, so please feel free to post your questions here whenever! :smiley:

Thanks so much. I’ve learnt more and more about collaborative open textbook publishing thanks to @zoe, @hugh, and all the other great participants here working on different open textbook projects! Looking forward to sharing all this knowledge with you too :slight_smile:

@librarieshelppeople, I wanted to share that we’ve spent some time developing a clear pathway for anyone wanting to start their own open textbook project. If you were interested in moving forward with your Cree language open textbook, you can take a look at our simple process here: Create a New Project.

New projects would receive a dedicated discussion space, in the Open Textbooks in Development category, where they can direct interested collaborators, grow their team, and move along with their project.

As always, if you had any questions or comments, you could let us know here or post in the Help & Questions category. Looking forward to seeing how you get along! :slight_smile:

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Just visiting here. I wanted to say that we’ve been playing with Pressbooks, and had some success embedding images with custom links to audio files on the amazon cloud.

Was built by…


Hi Ed, thanks for sharing this example! @LeighKP check this out – it’s a very neat way of including audio recordings to help with pronunciation; just what you were asking for!

Ed, do you have a link to the book in question, so @librarieshelppeople and I can see how this works within the book?

Agreed! Link please! Thanks for bringing this resources @ed.beck

Here is a URL to the book.

This is a work in progress/collaborative build between SUNY Oneonta and Lumen Learning. This is just a work space that we have been trying different things, so not really meant to be shared broadly.

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Thanks for the link! Sounds like a great collaboration, and nice to see that you have a space where you can experiment and test things out.

The audio recordings worked really well, and I especially like how you have decided to include smaller audio files/recordings along with a longer audio file containing all the audio in the chapter, in case anyone wanted to listen to these in full. Excited to see the final formats when you are ready to share the book more widely!