My work here is done. I think.
The sun is up. Finally. The entire publication is up on the wall, ready for the printer. Ready for our reading public. I hope they like it.
What can I tell you that you don’t already know. I’ve been away working, playing, thinking of things other than the Nation. My apologies.
We try only our best here. We slave, scramble, scream to bring you the news and whatever else is happening in and outside of our borders.
Sometimes it doesn’t quite work out the way we wish it would. C’est la vie, as the French and Quebecois say.
It might interest you to know what I’ve been up to for the past few issues. I have been chasing people, wildlife, weather, moments, and words of wisdom for a documentary to be aired on national TV.
The subject of the documentary is an old story but still very unusual. You watch TV nowadays and the documentary is about sex, war, a movie star or the mating habits of mosquitoes. All very well but not something that would come first to mind when you’re Cree.
Our story is like any other. We have a beginning, a middle and an end. Pure Hollywood right?
Our tale has to do with the Cree language. Its birth, it’s near fall, it’s resurgence, it’s glory. Phoenix.
What an unusual subject for a TV documentary. Language. How exciting. How riveting. Real edge of your seat viewing. It could compete any day with Cops, Funniest Home Videos, Oprah or late night soft porn eh?
You can imagine how discouraged we were when the idea was first proposed. Language!?! A documentary on language!?! Has anyone ever tried it?
But we hardly knew how to make a film. But that’s how you learn isn’t it? You watch, you learn, you do. That’s the Cree way. It’s always been that way and it always will be. Never forget that.
Language is precious. Without it your culture withers and finally, dies.
Five hundred years ago there were almost three hundred Native language in North America. Today, in Canada, three Native languages are expected to survive. Cree, Ojibway and Inuttitut. Sad isn’t it?
I say. But the tide turneth. Our tongue will not go the way of Choctaw, Mohican, Yaqui, the buffalo. We will speak Cree for generations to come.
Other Nations look to us for guidance and are inspired by what we have done in our schools. We are pioneers in Native education. We were, a few years back, the only people to teach our children in our own language.
It was not always that way.
Our people would be punished for speaking Cree. Not punished, you-don’t-get-to-watch-TV punished, but hot-pepper-or-soap-in-the-mouth punished.
Our language was suppressed, ridiculed, forbidden by law and religion.
We have triumphed. Our language is alive and well. It is returning with a vengeance. It will never be taken from us. It is our strength, our staff, our beacon, our identity.
It is us.