nêhiyawêwin: Learning Language
Singing the Land
Plains Cree language songwriting project
Intergenerational collaboration in partnership with miyo music artist and mentor, Cheryl L’Hirondelle, and Cree artist and elder, Joseph Naytowhow, nistamîkwan is pleased to collaborate on the continued nêhiyawewin (Plains Cree language) songwriting project. What began as a simple seed conversation between Moe Clark and Cheryl L’Hirondelle in 2012 has grown into an ongoing collaborative process with an award-winning nêhiyawêwin music video.
Their first meeting was at a creative residency on the edge of katepwa lake in Qu’Appelle Valley in 2013. A strong relationship was established between them, sharing stories and gathering strength together to sing about land, language, memory, belonging and sacred relationships. Again, they met at Artscape Gibraltor Point on Toronto Island in 2016 to create another four captivating songs. They’ve created seven original songs and an interpolation of Buffy Sainte-Marie’s song “Qu’Appelle Valley”. “nitahkôtân”, their lullaby to Mother Earth, was adapted for film (Clark + Wapikoni Mobile, 2014) and won best music video at the ImagiNative Film Festival in 2015. “nitahkôtân” was presented on a sub-zero screen built from ice and snow at the opening ceremonies of Skábmagovat Indigenous Film Festival in Sápmi (Northern Finland) in 2016.
Their song “nêwo atoskêyâkanak,” created at the “Singing and Sounding Toronto Island Residency” was initiated as an honour song for water ceremonies to acknowledge the strength and importance of water as an essential life giver.