Cree language releases are part of a larger shift toward Indigenous curriculum content

Sharing these teachings “as a gift” is key for Darlene Pearl Auger

The Little Women’s Lodge kit is an exciting new resource designed to help children learn about traditional parenting roles and responsibilities. At the same time, they are learning Cree language, story, and singing.

Darlene Pearl Auger’s four Cree picture books, illustrated by Chloe “Bluebird” Mustooch, are a key component in this exciting new venture, which also includes CDs.

Mîkiwâhp: The Traditional Tipi tells the story (in Cree and English) of the importance of the Cree tipi in the process of birth, and explores the symbolic meaning of the various elements of the tipi. Auger’s poetic voice is perfect for these stories:

Darlene Pearl Auger
Darlene Pearl Auger

When little ones are born unto

the earth,

they are slowly let down with a Rope into the Tipi.

The Rope represents the spirit mother’s umbilical cord.

This cord is the rope that ties all

of the tipi poles together.

It creates a nest on top of the tipi

Wîpison: The Baby Swing tells how and why the baby swing that soothes and comforts the baby came to be. Wâspison: The Moss Bag tells about the moss bag that is used to cradle and carry the baby. Big sister Morning Star is a key character in these two stories.

In Nitisîh: My Belly Button, Kîstin, whose name means Whirlwind or Little Tornado, tells the story of her birth, and how the belly button provides a special connection to one’s spirit.

Author Auger is a Cree woman (Nehiyaw Iskwew) from Wabasca, Alberta. For 20 years she has been learning Cree traditions and teachings from the Elders and Spirit. “I have for a long time been wanting to share them – to give back the knowledge I had gained, as a gift,” she says.

Auger notes that the majority of the school systems were set up to deliver English or French curricula within Canada, and the Indigenous cultures have been left out of this framework.

She is proud to be part of the current shift in education.

“However, the tides are turning,” she says, “and there are more and more Indigenous scholars writing cultural curriculum, and there are more and more Indigenous teachers within the schools that are able to deliver the curriculum. In addition, we are now finding more and more land-based schools within Indigenous communities who make it their sole focus to reignite the language and culture through practical applications of learning that are based on Indigenous methodologies.”

Encouraged by a wise mother and a burgeoning supply of art materials, Chloe “Bluebird” Mustooch has been making art since she was a child.

This encouragement continued in her education culminating at Emily Carr University. “I’ve been working as a First Nations artist and graphic designer ever since,” she says. The Little Women’s Lodge series was her first run at book illustration.

“The stories Darlene has written and the teachings within them are very special to me,” she says. “I found myself having this automatic emotional connection upon reading them. That was the best part.”

The Little Women’s Lodge Kit (isbn: 978-1-926696-66-9 for the whole kit) also includes the following: Cree Women in Song (booklet of lyrics): isbn: 978-1-926696-71-3; paperback / Cree Women in Song (Cd): $25.00 (includes booklet of lyrics) / Little Women’s Lodge Stories Read Aloud (dvd): isbn: 978-1-926696-72-0, $25.00

For more information about the kit, contact Eschia books.