Article Title

The Nêhiyawak Nation through Âcimowina: Experiencing Plains Cree Knowledge through Oral Narratives


Nêhiyawîhcikêwin, Plains Cree Culture, is an oral culture that shares their wisdom, insights, teachings, and warnings through the voices of the elders to the generations that will one day fill their place. Oral narratives have been used by the Nehiyawak nation for hundreds and if not thousands of years, and for particular interest we will focus on âcimowina, oral narratives of a time after Wîsahêcâhk, Elder Brother, but also touch on aspects of âtayôhkêwina, sacred stories that account how the world was shaped, when animals and humans could talk, and when Wîsahêcâhk transformed the world. This paper begins with the importance of oral narratives to various Indigenous peoples around the world as it presents the cultural value and ontological foundations of this intellectual tradition and Indigenous methodology. From there I will discuss Nêhiyawak âcimowina that gives insight into a living past and not a written history, as I present primary sources found in Winona Wheeler’s ‘Cree Intellectual Traditions in History,’ and Neal McLeod’s Cree Narrative Memory: From Treaties to Contemporary Times. As a Plains Cree woman myself, I aim to explore how in depth the cultural protocols of Cree âcimowina are and how oral narratives offer lessons and teachings from a Plains Cree perspective, and I thank Winona Wheeler and Neal McLeod for taking the time to learn and share there insights, and the numerous elders and ancestors that guided, talked, and walked with them as they put forward these pieces. Though I am unable to present every facet of acîmowina, this paper aims to reveal a world outside our conceived realities through Western education and dominant discourse, as we witness the Plains Cree world through Plains Cree voices.

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