A History of the Naskapis of Schefferville

This post is to announce the release of a new transcription of A History of the Naskapis of Schefferville, by the late Alan Cooke. In 1975 the Naskapi negotiators for the Northeastern Quebec Agreement (NEQA) asked Alan Cooke to “…write this history as a partial means of clearing up certain misunderstandings and misapprehensions that have recurred at negotiating tables while discussing the Naskapis’ relation to the James Bay Agreement…”

While the History has been useful to the fortunate few who have had access to it, it remained buried in the files of the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach and the Naskapi Development Corporation (NDC) and a few other places until recently.

Because Bill had the need for a textbook to use to teach some of the culture and history component of the “Naskapi” class in the Naskapi-McGill Teacher Education program, he prepared this transcription from the original copies in time to be used by the class this spring. Having received permission from Naskapi Nation council, it is being released to general readership in the Naskapi community and beyond.

As Bill writes in the 2012 postscript to Alan Cooke’s history: “…Since that time more than 35 years have past, and thirty of these have been a time of growth and self-determination in their own community of Kawawachikamach…With the current resurgence in resource development in the north, the Naskapi community is taking advantage of the increased opportunities and moving forward toward greater economic success. Further, a revival of Naskapi interest in their own identity and heritage has resulted in an increased participation in hunting, fishing and other traditional activities along with an increase in motivation towards Naskapi literacy among young people and younger adults, with the result that the Naskapi language and culture is being passed to the next generations. We look forward to the day when they tell their own story in their own words.
—Bill Jancewicz, Kawawachikamach, April 2012″

A 72-page 6″ x 9” paperback version of the transcription, illustrated with selected photographs from the Naskapi Development Corporation archives, containing annotations and newly-drawn maps is available for purchase from this website.

This book takes it’s place now along side the growing number of Naskapi language books and resources published by the NDC here.

Northern Translation Brief: Naskapi-McGill Class

For three weeks in March 2012, Bill was “guest professor” for the Naskapi III class at the Naskapi-McGill Teacher Education course. A cohort of over a dozen of the brightest Naskapi young people in Kawawachikamach are enrolled as undergrad students with McGill University under the First Nations and Inuit Education (FNIE) department.

Naskapi McGill class cohort

The local Naskapi school in the community has set up a classroom that, for all intents and purposes, is part of the McGill University campus in Kawawa. Since September of 2010, these students have followed university-level courses to prepare them to serve as educators in their own community. The organizers of the program, seeing the importance of the Naskapi language in this community, have also included courses in Naskapi reading, writing and grammar, taught by Bill and with guest appearances by Norma Jean (for Naskapi children’s literature and curriculum).

This Naskapi class was held from March 13th to the 29th in 2012, in which the students studied Naskapi language structures (grammar) covering kinds of words, noun inflection, plurals, and applying grammatical features to reading. They also improved in their oral and silent reading skills of Naskapi syllabic texts, and practiced their typing of Naskapi as well.

Each of the classes that Bill has taught them also has a strong component of Naskapi culture and history, because eventually these students will be teaching Naskapi classes of their own. This class we read “A History of the Naskapis of Schefferville” by Alan Cooke, a previously unpublished manuscript that was first written in 1976, but has now been transcribed and made available in book format, now available with the other Naskapi language resources here.

Norma Jean teaches about Naskapi childrens’ books

Bill is pleased to report that all the students did very well and improved a great deal in their ability to read and write Naskapi. Two of his students have recently agreed to serve as “Lay Readers” in the Naskapi church, where for the past several weeks they have been reading the Naskapi scriptures during Sunday services. It is very encouraging to see the strong and growing interest in Naskapi reading and writing among adults since the publication of the Naskapi New Testament in 2007. We are anticipating some ongoing involvement in providing this kind of capacity-building training for the Naskapi community as they take more of the responsibility in maintaining and sustaining their own language.

Bill teaches Naskapi linguistics

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean Jancewicz.

Naskapi 2012 Scripture Calendar

As in previous years, we have prepared a Naskapi language Scripture calendar for distribution at Kawawachikamach, in partnership with the Naskapi Development Corporation. The pictures this year feature archive photographs of “Naskapi Places”.

If you have followed our translation work with the Naskapi over the years, you may have learned that the Naskapi people did not always live here near Schefferville, Quebec–the ancestors of the current Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach were nomadic caribou hunters who traveled over vast tracts of the interior of the Quebec-Labrador peninsula. Since their first contact with Europeans in the 1830s, the records of their travels became linked to the establishment of Hudson’s Bay posts in their territory.

The earliest photograph (for January) is of a Naskapi encampment near Fort Chimo in 1884, attributed to Lucien Turner, who wrote one of the earliest descriptions of Naskapi ancestors for the Smithsonian Institution (Turner, Lucien. 1894. “Ethnology of the Ungava District, Hudson Bay Territory”. in: Eleventh Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, Smithsonian Institution, 1889-1890. Washington, Government Printing Office.)

Each month of the calendar provides a chronological account in photographs of the various locations where the Naskapi were settled from 1884 to the present-day. Accompanying each picture, there is a scripture passage selected for the month, in the Naskapi language and in English.

Further, each month is presented in the Naskapi language, with Naskapi days of the week, and an indication of special days and the seasons of the church calendar that correspond to the Sunday Lectionary (see the posts here and here for more about the Lectionary).

The calendar also has a few bonus pages this year that contain a brief history of the Naskapi people’s migrations from the mid 1800s to the present.

This year, as in previous years, a beautiful printed version of the Naskapi calendar is available along with other Naskapi language materials from Lulu.com for just $8.

We are also running off locally-printed versions of the calendar (on the photocopier) on request distributed from the NDC office in Kawawachikamach. Local residents can purchase a copy at the office for $5.