05 May 2008

Aohkii Naatoyiiwa

ll Ainihkiyi Matsiyikkapisaiksi…

Just as I’d suspected would happen, when the last sliver of saommitsiki’somm disappeared, matsiyikkapisaiksi iimataniiyaa. The evening before, nitsipapainoaa naamsskii, an orange ki brown salamander… nitaanistaitsihtaa it’s a signal for us to go ahead ki plant naawahko’tsisi for the season. I doubt we’ll have another frost.

Matonni, piipiiaakii ki niisto travelled around kainaissksaahkoyi. We picked some asparagus at sspopiikimi. There were only a handful of nice fat ones; it looks like we should wait a few sleeps for the rest of them to grow out. Our next stop was at awakaasomaahkaa ookoowa. I wanted to throw my fish trap in the water there, ki to get an update from him about some of the niitsi’powahsin phrase recordings he’s been doing for the Kainai Studies website. Aaniiwa he had a chance to visit with Francis, who spoke about sa’aiksi in the past being so numerous that the oyiiyiistsi would completely circle most omahksikimiistsi. Francis aaniiwa this is what is meant by “momma’pis” (the same as we call our stone tipi rings). I was excited to hear this, because as an iiyaohkiimi it makes a lot of sense. It had taken me some years before I came to appreciate the parallels between moistom, niitoyis, ki kitawahsinnoon. In so many naatoyinihkssiistsi, we refer to kookoonnoonistsi as naatoyii. But what does this mean? At least in part, it speaks to the connection between kiistonnoon ki kitawahsinnoon. If we think of mansstaamiksi as niitahtaistsi, the limb-bones ki ribs of our ecological body, then what is to become of us when we pollute them, or pinch them down into narrow spikes with our dams? We’re hazarding the collapse of kookoonnoon, which cannot be other than our physical bodies. The other thing that impressed me about the idea of momma’piistsi being like oyiiyiistsi around omahksikimi is how it might enhance one’s appreciation of the camp arrangement at aako’kaatssin. There, kanakkaaatsiiksi ki mi okaan are all in the middle of the circle, essentially separated from kookoonnoonistsi by a body of water. Ki this reminds me of iihkitsikaamiksi ki pawaksskii… in both akaitapiitsikikssiistsi, it is a large expanse of water that separates us from the home of naato’si ki ko’komiki’somm.

These thoughts lingered with me for the rest of the day, as nitsitsiimiihkaahpinnaan – first up on mookoansiitahtaa, behind Buck Many Finger’s place, where we found that the trout had not made it that far upriver yet, then back in the wetlands around awakaasomaahkaa ookoowa, where the pike were small but hungry.