A series on short prayers for the first recording.
A basic introduction for the 2nd recording.
Potawatomi Language and Culture
A series on short prayers for the first recording.
A basic introduction for the 2nd recording.
Wi future (will or want to)
Ke/ge future (not as strong)
Ta/da future (can, should, could)
Ki/gi past (have or did)
Ki/gi gish past already
Wa future (subordinate form)
Ga past (subordinate form)
Da gi should have
É immediate future intent
Jo no, not
Jo wi not (emphatic)
Jo mamda not possible
Jo wika never
Jo weye no one
Jo gégo nothing, zero
Jo mshe not yet
Jo ngoji nowhere
Éhé yes (northern)
Konegé yes (southern)
Mojma irregardless, anyway
Mamkach have to
Néyap back, same
Nanbén too late
Nawech at the same time
Gégpi finally, at last
Ayapen the same
Abdég have to, be necessary that
Neko used to
Iw yédeg must be
Bama later, wait
Bama pi later on
Égaj take it easy, slow down
Éshkem harder, more intense
Gaga almost, soon
Gawa hardly, scarcely
Gnewésh for a long time
Kyénep hurry up, go quickly
Nangodgen sometimes, once in awhile
Pi unit of time
Mamkaj have to
Mamey early, soon
Mano let him/her, anyway, its all right
Ézhi over there
Bijbyék in the water
Bijigwan inside something
Giwta yégwan around something
Jigakwa at the edge of the woods
Jigatek by trees
Jigbyék by the water, on shore
Kwedbyék on the water
Kwejbyék on top of the water
Nambyék under the water
Namkemek under the ground
Namsek in the basement, under the floor
Nanaw yégwan in the middle of it
Nbené yégwan on one side of something
Nekmek everywhere, different places
Ngoji anywhere, somewhere
Pemé yégwan on the side of something
Shkwé yégwan at the end, the last
Shpemek above, in the air. Heaven
Shpemsegok somewhere up above
Zagje yégwan outside of it
Zhiw, zhi there
Bbon, pon year
Dwe kind, sort
Gégo something, anything (inanimate)
Jak gégo everything
Jo gégo none, nothing (inanimate)
Jo weye no one, nobody
Mje gégo trouble, bad thing
Weye someone, somebody, something (animate)
Wégwdegwén whatever, I wonder what (inanimate dubitative)
Wégwdegwéndek whatever, I wonder what (inanimate dubitative)
Wégwén whoever, someone, something (animate interrogative)
Bbonog, ponog last winter
Dgwagog last fall
Égme-bbon, égme-pon every winter
Égme-gishek every day
Égme-niben every summer
Égme-waben every morning, every dawn
Gaggé forever. implying eternal
Keshéb early in the morning
Aizhok back and forth
Aidwegmeg on both sides of the house
Aidwe-yégwan on both sides
Azhwe-yégwan on the other side, beyond
Azhokne across the road
Azhodaki, azhodakig over the hill
Azhogmeg behind the house
Azho-odan across town
Azhwekwe beyond the woods
Azhegamdés on the other side of the room
Azhweseg in the next room
Bijigwan inside of something
Bke-yégwan off to the side
Bnoj far away
Jigateg by trees
Jiggemeg near a house or lodge
Jigigwan near here
Jig-mbes next to the lake
Jig-myéw next to the road
Jig-odaneg near town
Jig-shkwedé by the fire
Jig-zibe next to the river
Kwédagon on top of the snow
Kwédbeg on the roof
Kwédbyég or kwéjbyég on the water
Kwéjgemeg or kwédgemeg on top of a house
Kwéjigwan on top
Mchig in the open, on the ground
Anwe all right, okay
anasab, nasab the same
Ashteg next, in turn
Babkan all different
Wzam too much
Neshna any old way
Dédénewé of ones’ own, in a close relationship
Anet some or part
Mine anet some more
Mine ngot another
Mjésh many, a lot
Ne ish both
Ayanet some of each
Jag, jak all
Bgéji a little
Jag gégo all, everything
Jag weye everyone
Mamwé together, in all, in total
Dso a certain number, a certain amount, so many, so much
Dbégas an inch
Dbégen hour, yard, mile, a large measurement
Abtoshkas twenty five pound bag
Abtoshken fifty pound bag
Ngot-gishkbojgen one bushel
Ngodokek one painful
Ngodoshkas one little sackful
Ngodoshken one sack, one sackful
Ngodwabyék one piece
Ngodwadswabyék six pieces
Ngodwéwan one pair, one set
Ngod dégas one minute
Ngod dbégen one mile
Ngod gizes one month
Ngod kiwés one acre
Ngod kwénamwas one second
Ngod nemégizhek one week
Ngod zet one foot
Nswabyék three pieces
Nizhwéwan two pairs, two sets
Nsek three times
Nyanek five times
Nyano bbon five years
Nyano dbégas five minutes
Nyano dbégen five hours
Nyano gizes five months
Nyano kwénamwasek five seconds
Nyano nemégizhek five weeks
Nyanogwen five days
Nyanwabyék five pieces
Nye’w dbégen four hours
Nye’wabyék four pieces
Nyéwek four times
Nyéwgon four days
Éko-nisheg the second
I gwien, I gwshe gwiyen thank you (southern)
Migwéch thank you (northern)
Wéwéne thank you, it is right, proper
Ne (indicates a yes/no question)
Wéni je who
Wégni je what
Ni je how—-why
Ni je na how are you
Ni pi je where, where?
Ni pi where?
Ni je wpi/ni jo pi when, when?
Ni wpi when?
Ni je wi why, why?
Ni je dso how much, how many?
Wa? Huh?, what?
Se (se wi, se wi zhe)
Iw pi that’s when
Iw dso that’s how much
Yé that’s it (used with iw, niw, etc., for example)
I ye’ I “that’s it!”
Migwéch thanks (Northern)
Wéwéne thanks (Southern, Pokagon Band)
Bozho hello (accompanied by a handshake)
Ahaw okay (in agreement)
Gwshe emphatic (possibly means “obviously”)
Iw je and then
Je but, and
Iw je and then
Gé too, also
Je wi zhe but
Wi zhe but
Anaké either, or
Ma wi but (ma used with emphatic wi)
Haw, hau well, so
Ahaw, ahau okay, (in agreement)
Hé hey, so!
Iyo hey! Ouch!
Kwansegkemeg terrible! (women use) amazing, surprising
Mamkadkemeg terrible! (women use) amazing, surprising
Téya, wa téya my gosh! (men use)
Bégesh, bégesh na wish that
Iw je pi then
Bgosénjegé hope for s.t.
Bedo to hope for/to wish for
Dodaské beseech, ask with great imploring
PRAYER is an essential part of life. It is also a way of communicating with the powers of this world and the next. Communication with the unseen is an essential thing for all of us. It is the stuff of faith, what faith is built on, it creates trust between God and man.
Prayer must be spontaneous, coming from deep within, not memorized, but allowed to flow freely from the heart. This is why one’s natural language, like Potawatomi, plays such an important part in that communication. When one speaks to the universe and all that is contained therein, in one’s native language, it can be said that all of heaven listens and responds.
Prayers would follow a format –
Acknowledgement of Mamogosnan
Various names of same
Acknowledgement of powers (13 powers)
Recognition of :
Recognition of Grandmother Earth, Mother Earth, Daughter Earth
The world and all of its plant life;
Weather and its many conditions
Being thankful for all things
Prayer for Food
Prayers for the Sick
Prayers for all of life
Two Legged and Fire
Four Legged and Rock
Creeping Crawling Things and Water
Winged Nations and Green
Prayers for Harvesting Medicine
Songs were sung – Songs are Prayers
Special Ceremonial Songs
Thank You Songs
Many other types of songs went along with Prayers
Each plant Had songs.
Eternal Past Death Songs
Eternal Present Funerary Songs
Understanding possession requires knowledge of the personal pronouns and their corresponding prefixes and suffixes. In Bodewadmimwen, body parts and relatives fall into a special class of nouns that are considered “inalienably” possessed. This means that to be grammatically correct, you cannot just have a Foot or a Mother; you have to specify whose foot or whose mother it is. Body parts and relatives are considered “Dependent” nouns.
Nkat My leg Ngyé My mother
Gkat Your leg Ggyé Your mother
Wkaten His/her leg Wgyéyen His/her mother
Nkatmenan Our leg (not yours) Ngyénan Our mother (not yours)
Gkatmenan Our leg (+you) Ggyénan Our mother (+you)
Gkatmewa Your leg (pl.) Ggyéwa Your mother (pl.)
Wkatmewa Their leg Wgyéwan Their mother
The pattern looks slightly different when the noun is plural. Remember, body parts are inanimate, while relatives are animate:
Ntogen My ears Nmeshomsek My grandfather
Gtogen Your ears Gmeshomsek Your grandfather
Wtognen His/her ears Wmeshomsen His/her grandfather
Ntogmenanen Our ears (-you) Nmeshomsenanek Our grandfather (-)
Gtogmenanen Our ears (+you) Gmeshomsenanek Our grandfather (+)
Gtogmewan Your ears (pl.) Gmeshomsewak Your grandfather (pl)
Wtogmewan Their ears Wmeshomsewan Their grandfather
Here are some commonly used terms for relatives and friends. Note that some terms are only used by men, while some terms are only used by women.
My maternal aunt Noshé My nephew Negwenes
My paternal aunt Nshegwes My niece Nzhemes
My cousin Nitawes My parents Ngetsimek
My daughter Ndanes My younger sibling Nshimé
My son Ngwes My brother (men) Nnikan
My grandmother N’okmes My daughter in law Ne’agnekwé
My child Nijanes My sister (women) Nidgeko
My grandchild Nosés My sister (men) Ndekwem
My uncle Nzheshé My son in law Ne’angesh
My elder brother of male Nsezé
My elder brother of female Ndewéma
My brother in law of female Nita
My brother in law of male Niji
My elder sister of male Nmesé
My sister in law of male Ninem
Family ties were of utmost importance to the old time Bodéwadmik, and relationships were very specific. Many relationships had special places of honor in society. For example, it was customary for a son-in-law to avoid speaking directly to his mother-in-law out of absolute respect for her.
Here are some commonly used body parts.
My ear Ntog My ears Ntogen
My nose Njash
My eye Nshkishek My eyes Nshkishgwen
My throat Ngotaken
My mouth Ndon
My chin Ndamken
My arm Nnek My arms Nnekén
My hand Nej/Nenji My hands Nenjin
My leg Nkat My legs Nkatén
My foot Nzet My feet Nzetén
My finger Nenjis My fingers Nenjisen
My toe Nzetés My toes Nzetésen
My shoulder Ndenmagen My shoulders Ndenmagnen
My head Nshtegwan
Top of my head Ndep
My hair Nwinsesén
My forehead Ngeték
My back Npegwen
My tooth Nibet My teeth Nibden
Objects that can be removed from a possessor are considered “Alienable.” This means that the noun in question can be given away. Nouns that fall into this category are considered “Independent” nouns. Possession of this sort is shown as follows:
Nkomanem My knife Nkomanen My knives
Gkomanem Your knife Gkomanen Your knives
Wkomanem His/her knife Wkomanen His/her knives
Nkomanmenan Our knife (not yours) Nkomanmenanen Our knives
Gkomanmenan Our knife (yours too) Gkomanmenanen Our knives
Gkomanmewa Your knife (pl.) Gkomanmewan Your knives
Wkomanmewa Their knife Wkomanmewan Their knives
Ngazhoyem My cat Ngazhomek My cats
Ggazhoyem Your cat Ggazhomek Your cats
Wgazhomen His/her cat Wgazhomen His/her cats
Ngazhomenan Our cat (not yours) Ngazhomenanek Our cats
Ggazhomenan Our cat (yours too) Ggazhomenanek Our cats
Ggazhomewa Your cat (pl.) Ggazhomewak Your cats
Wgazhomewan Their cat Wgazhomewan Their cats
There are other ways to show possession of this type:
Ndo komanem My knife
Nin ma ode koman This is my knife (emphatic)
Nin ndebendan ode koman I own this knife
Nin ma o nemosh That is my dog (emphatic)
Nin ndebenma o nemosh I own that dog
Gdo koman Your knife
Gin ma ode koman This is your knife (emphatic)
Gin gdebendan ode koman You own this knife
Ndo komanmenan Our knife
Ndo komanmenanen Our knives
Ninan ndebendamen ode koman We own this knife
Gdo komanmenan Our knife
Gdo komanmenanen Our knives
Ginan ndebendamen node komanen We own these knives
Some special Possessive words:
Nda’i My pet dog
Ndokyan My pet cat (can be used for other small animals)
Ndéygwam My pet horse
 Nikan is also used for “My friend.”
“When I first started, when I first started to understand the four directions, I say, ‘Hey Waabanong (East), hey Zhaawanong (South), hey Ningaabii’an (West), hey Giiwedin (North).’ Man I was a holy man. I was a very traditional person because I knew the four directions. And then the old people started talking to me, bizindan (Listen to it). That was one of the first things, bizindan. “And I really didn’t know what they were talking about. But they just kept saying, bizindan; bizindan. Finally, I understood what that meant. I started to listen. I started to listen to things out there in nature. And it seems like the things I was hearing out there, were happening simultaneously inside. And that is where our spirit is, where our language is. It’s still in us. It’s in all of us.”Forget about how to say plastic in Ojibwe. Because what does that mean anyway? Quit trying to say kangaroo. This is what your heart is talking about, because it talks to us all the time. We need to get to that place where we can be quiet. And that could be anywhere. It’s different for each of us. Some like it by the water, or by the rocks, some go out into the woods. How many here go to Walmart? Get a spiritual awakening at Walmart. Ha, good sale! ~Gichi-Ma’iingan (Big Wolf) ROAD TO PONEMAH: The Teachings of Larry Stillday, by Michael Meuers
This is a good read……
Nin se Neaseno.
“Grandfather, Great Spirit, once more behold me on earth and lean to hear my feeble voice. You lived first, and you are older than all need, older than all prayer. All things belong to you — the two-legged, the four-legged, the wings of the air, and all green things that live.
“You have set the powers of the four quarters of the earth to cross each other. You have made me cross the good road and road of difficulties, and where they cross, the place is holy. Day in, day out, forevermore, you are the life of things.”
Aho Mesho Geshemnedo, ngotek mine wabmeshen ebmadziyan shote se aki mine yajshen ebsedweyen ode ekedyan. Gin netem gebmadziyen mine epitziyen se ode mnézewen, mine epitziyen ode madmowen. Jayek nde bendagzem—gode nizho kadejek, mine gode nyewo kadejek, mine gi ebmashiwat, mine jayek ode skebgyewnen edneswat ebmadzewat.
Gin se etoyen mnedowen se ni nyewo we’ji igwanen ode se Aki azhopkanawan. Gin se she azhodakeyan ode wewene myewen mine i snegewmyewen, mine ashopkanawat, iw se she epij mnedowen. Pene she egagiwen, mine epij ebmadzhetoyen jayek bkan bmadzewen.
A number of recorded lessons to enable one to hear the spoken language. Enjoy!
In Bodéwadmimwen, a participle is a way of saying “The one who _______________.” This is done by altering the verb just slightly. Some verbs are simple, you just add a “t” to the end. Other verbs alter slightly
The one who leaves Majit Majijek
The one who dances Namedit Namediwjek
The one who enters Badgét Badgéjek
The one who goes home Gawét Gawéwjek
The one who hunts Gawsét Gawséjek
The one who gets up Bsegwit Bsegwijek
The one who smokes Wédmat Wédmajek
The one who eats Wasnet Wasnejek
The one who drinks Ménkwét Ménkwéjek
The one who fights Migadit Migadiwjek
The one who cleans Binjegét Binjegéjek
The one who stands Nibwet Nibwejek
The one who rides Boset Bosejek
The one who gets dressed Biskonyét Biskonyéjek
The one who works Mikchéwit Mikchéwiwjek
The one who drums Déwégét Déwégéjek
The one who sings Négmot Négmojek
Ked to say s.t.
Kedo h/s is saying s.t.
Ndekto I am saying s.t.
Gdekto you are saying s.t.
Kedwik they are saying s.t.
Some phrases and questions:
Ni je ektot o what is he/she saying?
Ni je ektoyen what are you saying?
Ni je ga kedyan what did I say?
Ni je ga kedyen what did you say?
Ni je ektowat what are they saying?
Ni je wa kedwat what are they going to say?
Wi kedwik wa je byayak they are going to say s.t. when we get there.
Wi ye I, wa kedyan that’s what I’m going to say.
Wi ye I, wa kedwat that’s what they’re going to say.
Wi ye I nda dena that is what I told him/her.
Ngi dena I told him/her
Ngi dena a’o ma she na but I told him/her
Widmo a’o wa kedyen tell him/her what you’re going to say
Some more phrases:
Iw, ga kdot that’s what he/she said
Iw, ga kedyan that’s what I said
Iw, ga kedyen that’s what you said.
Iw, ga kedwat that’s what they said.
Iw, ga kedwat neko that’s what they used to say.
Gda ket ne ode can you say this?
Ni je ode da kedyan how would I say this?
Ni je ode da kedyen how would you say this?
Ni je ode ezh ne kadek what is this called?
Ni je node ezh ne kadek what are these called?
Ni je nda zhen kadmen ode cup
What would we call this cup? (we-u)
Ni je gda shen kadyen ode cup
What would you call this cup?
Gwa begasen she zhna, nda zhen kadan
Gwa begasen, I would call it
Ni je node gda zhen kadyen node dishes
What would you call these dishes?
Desnagnen she zhna, nda zhen kadanen
Dishes I would call them.
Ni je ezh ne kasyen what are you called/what is your name?
Ni je ezh ne kaswat what are they called?
Ni je ezh ne kazyen what are you called?
Ni je ezh ne kazot o what is that person called?
Luke Warmwater zhen kazo Luke Warmwater he is called.
Yabwam mbish zhen kazo “ “
Ni je o yawet who is he/she?
Ni je o who is that?
We ni je gi yawjek who are they?
Ni je gi
Wegwni je I yawek what is that?
Ni je I
Gokbenagen I yawen it is a basket
Ni je ni yawek what are those?
Ni je ni
Gokbenagnen ni yawnon those are baskets
Dasgen je na a o kewezi ni je pi ewabmayen
Shake hands with that old man when you see him.
Gnestoto ne do you understand me?
Gnestetan ne do you understand it?
Gnestotwa ne do you understand him/her?
Gnestotwak ne do you understand them?
Gnestota gwnan ne does he/she understand us?
Gnestota gwnanek ne do they understand us?
Wnestetan he/she understands it
(what is being said)
Wnestotwan he/she understands him/her
Cho, gneste tosnon I don’t understand you.
Cho, gneste totwa I don’t understand him/her.
Cho, gneste totwak gi I don’t understand them.
Cho wi she, gneste tosnon gode weshkjek ngom.
I don’t really understand these young people of today.
Ni je etse dbuh gnek what time is it?
Ni je tso yawek what time is it, but could also mean, how many are there?
Some time phrases:
Ngodek at one time
Ngodek ga zhe webek it happened at one time
Ngodek zhna zhi some day
Ngodek na for once
Nangodgen sometime/once in awhile
Wa wika later/once in awhile/now and then/not often
Bama pi later
Bama shkejimeyek later on
Ngoji mana sometime/somewhere around
Gisneget it was hard times
Bnewi a long time ago
Bnewi pi a long time ago
Megwe pi a long time ago/could be far away too
Bnoch far away
Nomek a little while
Nomye a little while ago
Njeshek just now
Odo pi at this time
Ode zhe pi right now
Mine pi another time
Cho wi pi never
Cho wika never
Cho she gego nothing/zero
Cho wi she gego it’s nothing really
Chom she not yet
Ibe pi over there
Ezhi pi way over there
Mno nes goodness!
Nmno nes my goodness!
Watiya gosh, my god, geez, holy wa!
Mamkatkemek same as above, used by women folk.
Mamkaz amazed at s.t., surprised at s.t.
Mamkadenma surprised at h/h
Mamkadendat surprised at s.t.
Kwansekemek registering surprise at s.t.
Kyetnam expression of surprise
Gshkonwenmat surprised at s.o.
Gshkonwendek surprised at s.t.
Gshkonwezet to be surprised
Mbe a satisfied expression usually with a sigh.
Iw that’s it, I’m done, it’s over, that’s all.
Ahau ok, all right, oh,
I ye I that’s it, that’s ok, that’s correct/right.
Wi ye I same as above
Wi ye o that’s the one, that’s h/h
Iw yedek must be
Iwk she ye I that’s the way it is
Iwk she anwek well it’s better
Iw she anwe so so, better I guess
Nemetsena yedek I really dk
Ngi I did
Nge I am about to
Nda I could/can/would
Nwi I will