Although many Cree homes now have computers and are connected to the Internet, many people may still be unaware that we have a website dedicated to the Cree language. The Cree Programs staff of the Cree School Board and Dr. Marie-Odile Junker of Carleton University in Ottawa, have been developing www.eastcree.org as a home for the Cree language in cyberspace.
Not only do you have the choice of browsing the website in English or French, but you can also read the site in Southern and/or Northern Cree. But in order for you to browse in Cree syllables, you’ll need to have the fonts installed in your computer. These are available in the Resources section of the website for both Mac and PC computers. With the fonts installed on your computer, you can also create your own documents on your computer using the Cree syllables fonts.
The online dictionary is very practical for those interested in finding definitions or to
see correct spelling. The dictionary is provided in both dialects. It has several search options to look for the beginning, middle or endings of Cree words. Both syllables and roman orthographies are available. There are also spelling manuals, Cree spelling lessons, read-along stories, grammar information and also the electronic Cree dictionary which you can download to your computer. There is a Forum for those working with the Cree language, to add new words or to suggest corrections to the definitions for the online dictionary. Over 2,500 names spelled in Cree are also available in the Forum.
One very important part of the website is the section with the recordings of Cree Elders telling stories and legends. You can listen or even download the stories and legends, some of which have been recorded over 40 years ago, of Elders who have already passed away. The audio recordings are in mp3 format, so it’s not different from listening to or downloading music from the Internet. Imagine, listening to our Elders recounting a legend on your iPod!
The website is still undergoing development and is constantly being updated with old and new words, dictionary definitions, and audio files of stories and legends added to the list. The French-Cree version of the dictionary will be available soon, as well as a complete set of interactive lessons to learn to read and write Cree syllables.
We’ve seen other First Nations people lose their language here in Canada. Our language is very much alive and that is something for us to treasure. Today, we have the opportunity to use technology to preserve and develop our language because this will also be a source of pride for future generations.
Note: Some summer jobs are available for Cree students to work on the eastcree.org project. For information contact Prof. Junker: firstname.lastname@example.org