nēhiyawēwin Resources

Overview

nēhiyawēwin or Cree is part of the Algonquian language family. It is also spoken in parts of British Columbia, Alberta, Montana, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador. It is the most widely spoken Indigenous language in Canada.

In 2019, there were 256 speakers in the NWT.

nēhiyawēwin is itself considered a macrolanguage and the name derives from its most widely spoken dialect (Plains Cree). Speakers may refer to Cree, or one of its dialects and sub-dialects spoken in the Northwest Territories by the terms nēhiyawēwin (Plains Cree, y-dialect) or nīhithawīwin (Wood or Bush Cree, th-dialect). Unlike in the prairies, the variety of Michif spoken by Métis people in the Northwest Territories is Michif French, an archaic form of Canadian French with a few Cree and Dene loan words.

nēhiyawēwin is the primary Indigenous language spoken in:

  • Fort Smith
  • Hay River

International Standards Organization (ISO) codes

  • Cree (macrolanguage) – CRE
  • Plains Cree – CRK
  • Woods (Bush) Cree – CWD
  • Michif – CRG

Orthographic conventions

Within the NWT, Cree Standard Roman Orthography (SRO) is used, rather than Cree syllabics.

Upper case letters should not be used, unless referencing a proper name or loan word. In those cases, the capitalization standards of the originating language should be followed.

Diacritics

  • Macrons (overposed lines) will be used. Circumflexes (overposed “hat”), that are often found in Southern texts, should be avoided.

Consonants

The following letters are never used in nēhiyawēwin: b, d, f, g, j, q, u, v, x, z

c

h

k

m

n

p

s

t

w

y

Vowels and diphthongs

a

i

ı̄

o

 

aw

āw

ay

ēw

ey

iw

ı̄y

ow

ōw

oy