This website was created to aid in the dissemination of the Cree language-learning audio material developed by C. Douglas Ellis as well as archival recordings of the Cree dialects spoken in Western James Bay (Ontario, Canada).

Who is C. Douglas Ellis?

C. Douglas Ellis is Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at McGill University, Montreal, and currently Adjunct Research Professor in the School of Linguistics and Language Studies at Carleton University, Ottawa. Since his first contact with Cree-speaking people at Moose Factory in 1947, the Cree language has been one of Professor Ellis's major academic preoccupations. He has taught intensive summer courses in Cree for government, medical, teaching, and missionary personnel working in the North, as well as courses at the university level throughout the academic year.

About Cree Lessons:

The Spoken Cree language-learning materials are designed to provide a thorough grounding in the spoken language within the context of Cree society. Conversations, drill exercises and listening-in sections have all been recorded by native speakers to supply the most authentic models of speech for the student.

About Cree Legends and Narratives:

The Cree Legends and Narratives audio material is based on the original recordings that were transcribed to create the Cree Legends and Narratives book. This original material was digitized and edited, then organized in a searchable database. Our objective is to help preserve and transmit the oral tradition by making this material available to speakers, teachers and learners of the language.

About the Dictionary:

The Dictionary contains the glossary of the three volumes of Spoken Cree, organized in a searchable database. We are currently adding the glossary from Cree Legends and Narratives to it.

Language Background:

Source: C. Douglas Ellis, âtalôhkâna nêsta tipâcimôwina: Cree Legends and Narratives from the West Coast of James Bay, 1995, p. xiv

Cree is a member of the Algonquian family of languages and is the most widely spoken of the Algonquian languages of Canada. It covers an extremely large stretch of territory, from Northern Quebec in the east to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in the west. While Cree shows dialect differences, it is recognizably the same language whether on the western plains, in the northern woodlands or on the shores of James Bay. The materials offered on this site are based on the "N" and "L" dialects (also known as Swampy Cree and Moose Cree, respectively) spoken west of James Bay. Swampy Cree is heard from Manitoba eastward through the muskeg and the forest-covered lands of Northern Ontario to the shores of Hudson's and James Bay. To the south and slightly eastward is spoken the closely allied Moose Cree which has preserved the sound represented in English spelling by "l", now lost in Swampy Cree and replaced by "n":

   Moose Cree:      milwêlihtam     (he likes it)
   Swampy Cree:     minwênihtam     (he likes it)

Certain other minor differences exist, but speakers of different dialects, certainly of Moose and Swampy Cree, understand each other readily and are no more inconvenienced in conversation than two English speakers would be, one of whom spoke a British dialect and the other a North American dialect. To learn more about Cree dialects, visit: www.atlas-ling.ca



Please contact us at spokencree@eastcree.org. Questions and comments welcome!