Cree is one of the most widely used native languages in North America and is spoken across Canada, from Alberta to Labrador, by approximately 50,000 speakers.

The word Cree is the name given to a closely related yet diverse group of Algonquian languages that were spoken in Canada long before English. The Cree language is divided into five major dialects, accounting for their regional variations: Western/Plains Cree, Northern/Woodlands Cree, Central/Swampy Cree, Moose Cree, and Eastern Cree.

Cree dialects are traditionally written using Cree syllabics, but can also be written using the Roman alphabet.

Here are some helpful phrases and vocabulary to get you started speaking Cree.

Hi! How are you? Tân'si
Fine, and you? Namôya nân'taw, kiya mâka
The same, it is truly a nice day. Pêyakwan, tâpwê miyo-kîsikaw
How are you called (What is your name?) Tân'sîsîyihkâsoyan
________ is my name. ________ nit'sîyihkâson
Days of the week  
Sunday (it is) Ayamihêwikîsikâw
Monday (it is) Pêyakokîsikâw
Tuesday (it is) Nîsokîsikâw
Wednesday (it is) Nîsokîsikâw
Thursday (it is) Nêwokîsikâw
Friday (it is) Niyânanokîsikâw
Saturday (it is) Mâtinâwikîsikâw
1 pêyak
2 nîso
3 nisto
4 nêwo
5 niyânan
6 nikotwâsik
7 têpakohp
8 ayinânêw
9 kêkâmitâtaht
10 mitâtaht
Spring (ice breakup) miyoskamin
Spring sîkwan
Summer nîpin
Fall takwâkin
Fall (early winter) mikiskon
Winter pipon
yes âha / îhî
no/not namôya
big/small misi / apisci
quick/slow papâsi / nisihkâc
early/late wîpac / mwêstas
cheap/expensive wîhtakihtêw / mistakihtêw
near/far kêhciwâk / wahyaw
hot/cold temperature: kisitêw / tahkâw
weather: kisâstêw / tahkâyâw
full sâkaskinêw
easy/difficult wihcasin/nayihtâwan / âyiman
heavy/light kosikwan / yahkasin
open(it is) /shut yôhtêkotêw / kipahikâtêw
right/wrong(it is) kwayaskwastêw /namastêw
old/new kayâsâyowin / oskâyowin
old/young person kisêyaya / oskiyaya
Elder Kêhtêyaya
good/bad (I) miywâsin / mâyâtan
worse (it's getting) nawac mâyihtâkwan
all kahkiyaw
everybody pokâwiyak

More from our James Bay online exclusive:
Travelling the James Bay Road
James Bay damming project: Water under the dam
Dam science
Renewable energy: Wind versus water
Climate change: Taking the heat
Cultural travel
Tolkien landscape: subarctic wilderness of northern Quebec
A conversation with Matthew Coon Come
A brief history of Cree
How to speak Cree