On becoming Neshnabe

Ode Neshnabe

So, let us take a look at what it takes to become Neshnabe, eh?

Being Neshnabe means you were born that way….you’ve always been that way, there was no alternative but that for you. This means you grew up speaking the accompanying language that goes with being Neshnabe, you also grew up with those mores, norms, standards, sanctions, and taboos. Everything you are, were and became means you learned it all through the target language of the group you were born into.

Definition of Neshnabe.

You learned nothing you currently know in English, it was not gleaned from University studies, nor from any other book learning, or in any other form of English inspired action. It wasn’t learned in English passed on to you from a heritage fluent speaker who trained you. This means you literally learned all that you know, all that you are, from your experiences as a traditional person growing up with the language, surrounded by like speaking elders and peers,

This sort of person can be referred to as Gete Neshnabe! The modern- day world identifies him/her as a traditional person. Traditional because they are heritage fluent speakers, schooled and skilled in all of the lore and craft of their origins, adept and expert in the physical, material, and spiritual culture of their heritage speaking group they emanate from. One important fact, this kind of person was not trained in anything, they were taught from their youth up….

What of others who appear to be like them?  Those who mimic these people? Those who sound like them, but were not taught like them, but were trained by Gete Neshnabek who must specialize in training those who have not been taught, but have become separated from their archaic ways and the language so needed to find the way back to their origins?

These people could properly be referred to as quasi traditionals, or even pseudo traditionals then, borrowing upon the modern day terminology used by the dominant society they have become part of. Can they ever become like their Gete cousins one might ask? Can they somehow transpose themselves into what they want to be or study so hard to be?

The undisputable answer is YES, with perseverance and a strong commitment!

The best they can do is follow the teachings of those who are Gete Neshnabek, become trained in the lore, the craft, the sacred ways, learn their heritage language, and begin the process of learning so their offspring can be taught, instead of having to be trained like them. One teaches a child, one trains a person who has not been raised with their language and culture. We, who are Gete Neshnabek were taught, not trained!

I am using English to inform those who will read and listen and take appropriate action, but for those who read and do not listen and do not take any action, I can do nothing….also, there becomes no hope for their offspring, no hope for the generations who come after them. They must look to the future so those who come after them have a chance to survive as Gete Neshnabek.

Our old people used to tell us we had to render decisions with Seven Generations in mind, so there could be a future for those who would come after us. This kind of thinking has nothing to do with Self, or other sorts of  pleasures. We must remove Self from the pedestal and return to that Seven Generational thinking our forefathers utilized in their decision making. Only then can our offspring/children have a chance to become Gete Neshnabek once again, and then there shall be those who are taught the sacred ways of the Gete Neshnabek again.

Learn your Language! Which many of you are now doing!

Live your life for the future generations so that anything you become trained in today can benefit them. Live like a Gete Neshnabe even if folks refer to you as a quasi neshnabe, but do not be a pseudo neshnabe or live your life like one, especially in front of your children. Embrace the teachings and learn your heritage language and become trained in them, so you have something to teach your offspring.

Nin se Neaseno…

Construct verbs using body parts and other things…..

Construct Verbs using Body Parts and other things…

Noun FormConstruct Form
Nibden – my teeth-yabdé -abdé  or -denwi
Nenji – my hand-nejé
Nzet – my foot-zeté
Njash – my nose-jané
Ndon – my mouth or my lip-doné
Ntog – my ear-togé
Ndep – my head-debé
Nshkishek – my eye-gwé (eyed or faced)
Ngotagen – my throat-dagwné, -gotagé
Ndamken – my chin or my jaw-damké, -damkné
Nek – my arm-neké
Ken – bone-kené
Nwinsesén – my hair-sesé or -nankwé
Ndesam – my skin-wshé
Nkaké – my chest-kaké
Ndodosh – my breast-dodoshmé
Nowéy – my cheek-nowyé
Wnagen – dish-wnagé
Nibi-water-abo (liquid)


-Gwé and kwé can sound suspiciously similar, so it is very important to listen carefully and use correct pronunciation.  -Gwé can refer to the face or to the eyes.

            Jigwé                          Thunder (Next to His Face)        

            Shomigwé                He/she is smiling

            Mniwnagigwé         Infected runny eye

            Pesangigwé             Black eye (bruised eye)   

            Meningwé                He/she has eye boogers

            Bokigwé                    one-eyed, single-eyed

            Bokigwénwi                         Wink

            Winingwé                             Dirty Face

Other endings to watch for are -kadé and -gadé.  -Kadé refers to “legged,” while -gadé is an inanimate intransitive ending.

            Nyéwokadé                          He/she is Four-legged

            Nishokadé                            He/she is Two-legged

            Gkejgadé                              Something is hidden

            Wébnegadé                         Something is discarded

Here are some contextual examples of endings, some coupled with other particles.  This language is based on PARTICLES which have meaning, but must be attached to other particles to form complete thoughts.


            Magwzede                           He/she has Big Feet or Smelly Feet

            Kchemagwzede                  He/she has Really Smelly Feet

            Génozedé                             He/she has long feet

            Tkozedé                                He/she has short feet

            Gachzedé                             He/she has little feet        

            Wawagzedé                         He/she has pigeon feet (crooked feet)

            Mbiwzedé                            He/she has wet feet         

            Datkezedé                            He/she has toes that point outward

            Begwzedé                             He/she has dry feet

            Nchiwzedé                           He/she has ugly feet

            Mskwiwzedé                       He/she has bloody feet

            Mskwéwzedé                      He/she has red feet

            Mkedéwzedé                      He/she has black feet

            Winzedé                               He/she has dirty feet

            Binzedé                                 He/she has clean feet

            Zheshkiwzedé                     He/she has soil or sand on feet

            Goniwzedé                           He/she has snowy feet

            Mkwemizedé                      He/she has icy feet

            Gishkzedé                             He/she has a cut off foot

            Mnozedé                              He/she has good feet

            Mowzedé                             He/she has poopy feet

            Mtakgwzedé                       He/she has bare feet

            Gzinzedé                               He/she washes feet

            Gziszedé                               He/she scrubs feet

Mbegzedégabo                   He/she has a flat tire (literally:  He/she is standing there with a flattened foot – implies vehicle)


            Mbiwdebé                            He/she has a wet head

            Gzindebé                              He/she washes head

            Psakwdebé                          He/she has a burning head (has a fever)

            Peshkwdebé                        He/she is baldeHe/

            Binagdebe                            He/she has a clean head

            Winagdebe                          He/she has a dirty head

            Mbwakawdebe                  He/she uses his head (smart or wise)

            Édbesendebe                       He/she thinks lowly thoughts (humble)

            Édbeséndezot                     H/s thinks lowly thoughts of himself/herself


            Wabshkewzhé                    He/she has White skin

            Mskwiwzhé                         He/she has Blood on skin

            Gzibigwzhé                          He/she washes their skin

            Mektewzhe                          He/she has black/dark skin

            Gzibinsewzhe                      Wash your skin

            Bmedewensewzhe            He/she has greasy skin


            Mniwabdé                            He/she has an abcessed or infected tooth

            Wasadbégabo                     He/she stands with shiny teeth

            Niskabdénwi                        He/she bares h/h teeth

            Gsiyabdé                               He/she brushes teeth

            Gsisyabdé                             He/she scrubs teeth

            Throat and misc.

            Gishkakgwendagwné       He/she has a sore throat

            Gikijdagwné                        He/she has a sore throat

            Zagdamknégabo                He/she stands with chin sticking out

            Zagdamknéshen                 His/her chin sticks out

            Gikmenejé                            His/her hand or finger is numb

            Magnowyé                           He/she has big cheeks

            Magdodoshmé                   He/she has big breasts

            Magtogé                               He/she has big ears

            Winankwé                            He/she has dirty hair

            Binankwé                             He/she has clean hair

            Mbiwnankwé                      He/she has wet hair

            Mishigwé                              He/she has a hairy face

            Mishkadé                              He/she has hairy legs

            Mskwiwjané                        He/she has a bloody nose

            Gzigwé                                  He/she washes face

            Gzinjé                                    He/she washes hands

            Gzibingé                                He/she washes things

            Gzinagé                                 He/she washes dishes

            Gsisega                                  He/she scrubs the floor

            Winsega                                The floor is dirty


            Zamdoné                              He/she has a big mouth (talks too much)

            Winagdoneket                    He/she is foul mouthed

            Mbwakawdonet                 He/she speaks wise things

            Mishkwedone                     He/she sounds ambitious or full of resolve

            Mjekewdone                       He/she talks evil

            Natkotagdone                     He/she has a smart mouth

            Gikajgedone                        He/she has argumentative mouth

            Genotagdone                      He/she tells tall tales/lies

            Gimojtagdone                     He/she tells sneaky/shady stuff

            Mnowejtagdone                He/she speaks good things

            Shiwejtagdone                    He/she talks fierce

            Gimojtagwdonet                He/she speaks falsely


            Mnowejshkizhgoke           He/she sees good things in others

            Zheshkiwshkishek              He/she has dirt or sand in eye

            Mektewshkishek                He/she has black eye

            Mjewejshkishek                 He/she has evil eye

            Wakjeseshkizhgwen         He/she has crooked/crossed eyes

Questions aptly put

Where are you going?Ni pi je ézhyayen?
Where are you all going?Ni pi je ézhyayék?
Where are we going? (ex)Ni pi je ézhyayak?
Where are we going? (in)Ni pi je ézhyaygo?
Where is he/she going?Ni pi je ézhyét?
Where are they going?Ni pi je ézhyéwat?
What are you doing?Ni je éschegéyen?
What are you all doing?Ni je éschegéyék?
What are they doing?Ni je éschegéwat?
What is he/she doing?Ni je ézhechkét?
What did we do? (ex)Ni je ga zhechkéyak?
What did we do? (in)Ni je ga zhechkéygo?
What will you do?Ni je wa zhechkéyen?
What will you all do?Ni je wa zhechkéyék?
What did you do?Ni je ga zhechkéyen?
What did you all do?Ni je ga zhechkéyék?
What did he/she do?Ni je ga zhechkét?
What did they do?Ni je ga zhechkéwat?
Where did you go?Ni pi je ga zhyayen?
Where did you all go?Ni pi je ga zhyayék?
Where did he/she go?Ni pi je ga zhyét?
Where did they go?Ni pi je ga zhyéwat?
NowhereCho ngoji
Over thereIbe
I am going to the hospitalMshkekiwgemek nwi zhya
We are going to the hospital (ex)Mshkekiwgemek nwi zhyamen
We are going to the hospital (in)Mshkekiwgemek gwi zhyamen
I am going to the storeDawéwgemek nwi zhya
We are going to the store (ex)Dawéwgemek nwi zhyamen
We are going to the store (in)Dawéwgemek gwi zhyamen
Who is that?Wéni je o?
What is that?Wégwni je i?
Who are they?Wéni je gi?
What are those?Wégwni je ni?
He is a bearMko o yawe
He is a dogNemosh o yawe
She is a dogKwésmo o yawe
She is called WinnieWinnie zhenkazo
He is called BobBob zhenkazo
What did you do yesterday?Ni je ga zhechkéyen wnago?
What did you all do yesterday?Ni je ga zhechkéyék wnago?
What did they do yesterday?Ni je ga zhechkéwat wnago?
What did he/she do yesterday?Ni je ga zhechkét wnago?
What are you going to do tomorrow?Ni je wa zhechkéyen wabek?
What are you all going to do tomorrow?Ni je wa zhechkéyék wabek?
What will they do tomorrow?Ni je wa zhechkéwat wabek?
What will he/she do tomorrow?Ni je wa zhechkét wabek?
What will we do tomorrow? (ex)Ni je wa zhechkéyak wabek?
What will we do tomorrow? (in)Ni je wa zhechkéygo wabek?
Do you want something?Gégo ne gnedwendan?
What do you want?Ni je énedwendemen?
What do you all want?Ni je énedwendemek?
I want some waterÉnedwendayan anet mbish
More?Mégwa ne?
Hurry upYabjeyen!
Are you hungry?Gbekté ne?
Are you all hungry?Gbektém ne?
Yes, I am hungryÉhe nbekté
Yes, we are hungry (ex)Éhe nbektémen
We are not hungry (ex)Cho nbektésimen
I am not hungryCho nbektési
What is this?Wégni je ode?
What is your name?Ni je ézhnekasyen?
What are you all’s names?Ni je ézhnekasyék?
I am called JohnJohn ndezhnekas
We are called John and MaryJohn mine Mani zhenkaswik
Come hereByan shote
Come here (you all)Byak shote
Put it backTon i néyap
Put it downBgednen i
Don’t do thatGégo i zhechkéken
Don’t do that (pl)Gégo I zhechkékék
Turn it onMajibdon
Turn off the lightsAtebdon i waskonenjegen
What are you going to eat?Ni je wa je wisneyen?
What are we going to eat? (ex)Ni je wa je wisneyak?
What are we going to eat? (in)Ni je wa je wisneygo?
What are you all going to eat?Ni je wa je wisneyék?
What is he/she going to eat?Ni je wa je wisnet?
What are they going to eat?Ni je wa je wisnewat?
Help meNizhokmoshen
Help usNizhokmoshek
Where are you from?Ni pi je wech byayen?
Where are you all from?Ni pi je wech byayék?
Where are they from?Ni pi je wech byéwat?
Where is he/she from?Ni pi je wech byét ?
I am from OklahomaOklahoma ndoch bya
We are from Oklahoma (ex)Oklahoma ndoch byamen
He/she is from OklahomaOklahoma wej byé
They are from OklahomaOklahoma wej byék
Are you thirsty?Gashknabagwé ne?
I am thirstyNgashknabagwé
We are thirsty (ex)Ngashknabagwémen
I am not thirstyCho ngashknabagwési
We are not thirsty (ex)Cho ngashknabagwésimen
Hello, friendHau, nikan
Hello, my friendBozho, nnikan
How are you?Ni je na?
How are you all?Ni je na ginwa?
I am fineIw she anwe
We are fineIw she anwe géninan
I am fine (another way)Anwe she shena
I am living wellNmno bmades
We are living wellNmno bmadsemen
Are you sick?Gdaknoga ne?
Are you all sick?Gdaknogam ne?
Are they sick?Yakwnogék ne?
Is he/she sick?Yakwnogé ne?
I am sickNdaknoga
I am not sickCho ndaknogasi
We are sick (ex)Ndaknogamen
We are not sick (ex)Cho ndaknogasimen
They are sickYakwnogék
They are not sickCho yakwnogésik
He/she is sickYakwnogé
He/she is not sickCho yakwnogési
Are they dancing this evening?Nim’edik ne ode pkonyak?
How far is it to your house?Ni je épichiyak édayen?
We are going to the storeDawéwgemek nwi zhyamen
Come eatByé wisnen
Come eat (all of you)Byé wisnek
Are we lostGgiwanimen ne?
Where are you hanging around?Ni pi je édnesyen?
Where are you all hanging around?Ni pi je édnesyék?
Where are they hanging around?Ni pi je édneswat?
Where is he/she hanging around?Ni pi je édneset?
Do you like this?Gmedagwendan ne ode?
Do you all like this?Gmedagwendak ne ode?
How is your mother?Ni je éshbmadzet o ggiyé ?
How is your father?Ni je na o g’os?
We are going to the beach (in)Jikbyék gzhyamen
Thank youMigwech
Thank you (heartfelt)Igwien
It is goodWenet
It is badMyanet
Are you working today?Gmikchéwi ne ngom?
Are you working hard today?Kchemikchéwi ne ngom?
I am eating soupMbob nmijen
I have already eatenNgi gishwisen
Do you ever see John?Wika ne ggi wabma o John?
Do you ever see them?Wika ne ggi wabmak gi?
I live on the Citizen Potawatomi ReservationShishibéni skongen nda
Are you going to sleep?Gwi o mba ne?
Go to sleep!Wi ne mban!
Go to sleep! (all of you)Wi ne mbak!
Look over thereNek she ibe
Be carefulNasana
Be careful (another)Wigézen
Let’s visit for a whileGmbwach’ewémen nomek
Come visit meMbwach’ewéshen
Come visit usMbwach’ewéshek
Later againBama mine
I will see you again laterBama mine gwabmen
Little bit laterShkejiméyek
Are you busy?Gdotmes ne?
Are you all busy?Gdotmesem ne?
I am busyNdotmes
I am not busyCho ndotmesi
We are busy (ex)Ndotmesmen
We are not busy (ex)Cho ndotmesimen
Come with meWijeweshen
Come with usWijeweshek
Are you Indian?Neshnabé ne gdaw?
Are you all Indians?Neshnabék ne gdawem?
Yes I am IndianÉhe neshnabé ndaw
I am not IndianCho neshnabé ndawsi
I am an Indian womanNeshnabékwé ndaw
Are you Potawatomi?Bodéwadmi ne gdaw?
I am PotawatomiBodéwadmi ndaw
I am not PotawatomiCho Bodéwadmi ndawsi
I am a Potawatomi WomanBodéwadmikwé ndaw
Where are you enrolled?Ni pi je éndebendagziyen?
Where are you all enrolled?Ni pi je éndebendagziyék?
I am enrolled with Citizen Band PotawatomiShishibéniyek ndebendagwes
I am enrolled with Prairie Band PotawatomiMshkodéniyek ndebendagwes
We are enrolled with Citizen Band PotawatomiShishibéniyek ndebendagsemen
We are enrolled with Prairie Band PotawatomiMshkodéniyek ndebendagsemen
I am enrolled with Forest CountyKsenyaniyek ndebendagwes
What’s happening?Ni je éshe webek?
What happened?Ni je ga shewebek?
What happened to you?Ni je ga she websiyen?
What’s up?Ni je she shpemek?
What’s going down?Ni je nisajwen?
I don’t knowNemetsena
I don’t know anythingNemetsena gégo
It’s hotGshatémget
Something is hotGshedémget
It is rainingGmowen
It is hazyPkwenemget
It is warmYabwamget
It is blazing hotWiskakdemget
It is a downpourZigbisamget
Light rain/drizzleWenbisa
Light rainGmowas
It is raining (another)Gméyamget
It is coldKsenyamget
It is coolTkéyamget
It is a nice dayMno gishget
Are you broke?Gbokshka ne?
Are you all broke?Gbokshkam ne?
When did you first start speaking Indian?Ni je pi nétum ga je webneshnabémyen?
Do you speak Indian?Gneshnabém ne?
Do you speak Potawatomi?Gdebodéwadmim ne?
Where did you park your car?Ni pi je ga je toyen gdodabyanem?
Are you ready?Gdozhita ne?
Behave (pl)Dadokmebek
Take it easy/Be QuietÉgach
My back achesNgigijpekwene
Do you know that man?Gkenma ne o nene?
Do you know that woman?Gkenma ne o kwé?
Do you know those people?Gkenmak ne gi bmadzejek?
What time is it?Ni je étso yawek?
What time is it? (another)Ni je tso dbegnek
It is one o’clockNgot dbegenek
It is noonNawkwék
It is midnightAptadbeket
Good morningMno waben
Good eveningMno pkonyak
Good afternoonMno gishnawkwék
I want some coffeeÉnedwendayan anet gapi

Greetings to one another

Men’s greetings to one another and within groups….

Hau bozho ginwa

Bozho jayek ginwa












When addressing both male and female;

Nenwedok mine kwedok



Women addressing one another…..

Hau bozho ginwa

Hau bozho jayek ginwa









Some immersion type stuff

  • Gégo bye bidgekén. Gde bogtheshkwewzede! Don’t come in. Your feet are muddy!
  • Pegdowshen i pkwakwet. Throw the ball to me.
  • Pegdow i pkwakwet. Throw him/her the ball.
  • Bokdonenwi o ndanes. My daughter is pouting.
  • Megwetsownekeni – Octopus
  • Wgi thagzedzo o ngwes dbekok. My son burned himself last night.
  • Nekwsegwzedejen. I have a splinter in my foot.
  • Wdenwan ni wdedeymen. He takes after his dad.
  • Wdenwan ni wneneymen. She takes after her mom.
  • Mikwnebwamshen. Remind me.
  • Wdapkadebzo. He/she is having a Charlie horse.
  • Ngi-mikwnebwama. I reminded him/her.
  • Anmikwa – to take someone to task for something
  • Cho ngeshktosin ewi mbayan. I am unable to sleep.
  • Nbakwnemak – he/she opens it for me
  • Kenandep – skull/bonehead (Some use this jokingly to say “bonehead.”)
  • Ni je etsegongezet o penojes? How many days old is that baby?
  • Boniken! Leave it alone. (singular)
  • Bonikmok! You all leave it alone. (plural)
  • Ngi-bonikan. I left it alone.
  • Dapneshen. Pick me up.
  • Mbagnek shgeshem o penoje. Put the baby on the bed.
  • Ngi-pamse’a o ndeish. I am walking the dog.
  • Mbemse shi myewesek. I am walking on the path.
  • I shna ewi jakgishgewat nnijansek wpi nishwabdekpbomgek. In 20 years, my kids will be all grown up.
  • Gégo jinewsekén. Don’t be greedy.
  • Gégo kwansegsekén. Don’t be stingy!
  • Anodze – another word for greedy
  • Metawgak – sandy area
  • Ngi-nkweshkak. He met me.
  • Nmokjane. I have a pimple on my nose.

Some brain teasers for translation by one of my students.

Gnebech                       Perhaps, maybe, I think that

Ndenim                         My husband (possessive of nene)

Ndeygwam                   My horse

Ndey                             My dog

Mbé                               See, I told you so!,  There!

Wégmakwé wdansen            Queen’s daughter

Wégmakwés                           Princess (diminutive)

Békadzet                       Be quiet, be calm, be patient, be peaceful

Nbékades, mbékades, nde békades

Békadze                        He/she is

Békadzet                       One who is

Kéndaswen                   Knowledge, education, art of becoming knowledgeable, becoming knowledgeable

Cho wi nda zhya si ibe énim’ediwat nde gizsom ndeto odo pi, i yé i ézhewébek égizsoyesh ébyat.

Mteno gi gizhabék mine gi gizhakwék ébidgéwat ibe éméndokaswat.





Ndebénma o ndey.

Mbwachewé’a o nitawes wabek gnebech.

Wgi gishpnedo ni waskonédonen o ndenim.

Nmedagwéndmenem gi ndokyanek, o ndéygwam mine o ndey.

Ggi wabma ne o wégmakwés égi zhyayen ibe épa nim’ediwat gi neshnabék.

Wgi bkadze ne o ga wje pkenagé i naganiwen wnago.

Ngi kigdo’a o wgyéyom wnago ga wje pkenagét, békadzet yawe o gi kedo.

Mbé, i yé i ga kto yan kche weswnago.

Mbé, i yé édépsenyan.

Mbé, i yé i ne ga wje widmoyan.

Hau                                         Well, so! Can also be a greeting or recognition.

Majishkat                               Move

Méméjek                                In particular

Bédo                                       I hope that/I wish that

Asho igwan                            On the other side of

Débso                                     Quite a bit/enough of

Shpemsegok                          Upstairs, somewhere up above

Iw se                                       And/used in story telling

                                                So/used in story telling

Dbenwé                                  Real

Agmesé                                   Walk in snowshoes

Ndagmesé                               I walk in snowshoes

Agmesét                                 Walk in snowshoes

Ni’wesh                                  lover/secret lover

Shpemek                                Above, heaven

Shpem                                    Up, above

Débwétwa                              Believe some one

Éwabdemok édébwétmok    Seeing is believing

Cho she ngi débwétwasi

I really didn’t believe him/her

Gbmadsownenan se gzheshmownenan

Our life is our language

Gzheshmownenan se gbmadsownenan

Our language is our life

Ni’wesh ma o yawe.

Méméjek ode Bodéwadmimwen nwi kenomagé nomek pkonyak.

Hau, gishpen ode zheshmowen ébédoyék ékéndemyék pené she gwi shketoyék ékigdoyék éwi débséyék, méméjek i bodéwadmimwen.

Sneget se ode gzheshmownenan éwi kéndet weye ma shna dbenwé i.

Gishpen ékéndet weye ode majmowen wéwéne i émno majishkat pené o bémadzet.

Iw se égi kedwat gi getsimnajek mno wi pi mine gwi mno zhewébes ézhyayen asho igwan naké shpemsegok gishpen éneshnabémyen.

Pené égi wipémwét ngoji o, ik she yé i ga wje agmesét.











Gi gmowen bédbekok shote mjésh gi bgeshnomget i mbish gaga she gi moshknowen.

Kyétnam shna gi gméyamget geshép ngom.

Nyézanzik gode gigabések ga wje bambetowat shote mine ibe kche odan dbekok, mjesh i mbish gi mnoshknémget ni myéwnen.

Nwésh mowe o sekmekwé, i yé i ga wje bgednot o mamogosnan i mbish, mine i wawyastowen, mine i kche nodnen, wa je zibyéné’at o gokmeskignan, naké o sekmekwé.

I yé i wa zhe wébek gishpen émowet o sekmekwé.

Iw se ga kedwat gi kekyajek nangodgen égi penojéwiyan.

Iw énajmoyan, mbé!

Nwi zagnena’a o nemosh bwamshe zhishignegét.

Ggi zagnena’a ne o nemo.

Pené she ézagden’at o nemo.

Zagdenéa nemo yawe o kwésmo.

Zheké kenomagé o nde kwéyom pkonyak.

Wéwéne ga wje zhechkét o kwé égi kenomagét ode zheshmowen.

On independent tenses and demonstratives


Tense forms and/or markers

Nde                     present

Nge                     immediate future

Ngi                     past

Nwi                     future

Nda                     future intent

Some verbs:

Maji                    leave/go/h/s is leaving-going-goes

Mnekwe                  to drink/h/s is drinking-drinks

Wisne                   to eat/h/s is eating-eats

Bembeto/bmeto            to run/h/e is running-runs

Giwse                   to hunt/h/s is hunting-hunts

Mikjewi                 to work/h/e is working-works

Nimedi                  to dance/h/s is dancing-dances

Negmo/wgemo             to sing/h/s is singing-sings

Mbwachewe               to visit/h/s is visiting-visits

Dawe                    to buy-sell/h/s is selling-buying

Wabma                   to see/h/s sees s.o.

Zhya-zhye               to go/h/s is going-coming

Tadi                    to gamble/h/s is gambling-gambles

Wenkwenge               to drive/h/s drives-is driving

Zgabyenge               to drive/h/s is driving-drives

Emphatic pronouns:

Nin                     I, me, my, mine

Gin                     you, your, yours

Win                     he/she, her/him

Ninan                   we – you

Ginan                   we + you

Ginwa                   all of you

Winwa                   they


Inanimate:              (singular)

Ode                     this

I                       that

E I                     that over there

Inanimate:              (plural)

Node                    these

Ni                      those

E ni                    those over there

Animate:                (singular)

Ode                     this

O                       that

Ago                     that over there

Animate:                (plural)

Gode                    these

Gi                      those

E gi                    those over there

Some units of time factors:

Pkonyak                 tonight/night

Ngom                    today/now

Wabek                   tomorrow

Wnago                   yesterday

Odo pi                  at this time

Ode she pi              right now


Ni pi je                where

Ni je pi                when

Ni je wej               how

Ni je o                 who

Wegni je                what

Ni je wej               which

Ne                      refers to query asked

A format for constructing some simple phrases:





Nda_______________________odo pi.

Nde_______________________ode she pi.

Cho ngi_____________________si.

Cho wi ka nwi______________________si.

Ni je pi wa____________________yen (yek) ?

Ni pi je ga_____________________yen (yek) ?

Ni je pi gwi____________________yen (yek) ?







Neko ngi_______________________________

Gwi___________________ne wabek ?

Gwi___________________ne pkonyak ?

Gwi___________________ne ngom ?

Gwi_____________________ngom edawat gi neshnabek.

Some phrases Potawatomi phrases:

Nwi nokana o ngwes enizhokmoshet wabek ewzhegeyan i nwigwamen.

I will ask my son to help me build/fix my house.

Nwi pa zhyamen i kche odan ewi gishpnedoyak anet mingaswenen.

We are going to the city to do some shopping for gifts.

Nge wjanda anet ni wawnon mine gi penyek wa je mijyak pkonyak.

I am cooking some eggs and potatoes that we can eat tonight.

Nda she bmose odanek ewi mawjeshnoyak ibe.

I should walk to town where we will meet.

Nge gbashma o negeshesnen wa je wisniywgo wabek emawjeshnowat gi neshnabek.

I am cooking some sausages to eat tomorrow at our Indian gathering.

Nde she pabmades ibe kche odan ewi mbwacheweyan gi ndenwemagnek.

I am going to travel to the city to visit those relatives of mine.

Some thoughts from one of my notebooks

Donald A. Perrot

Ne ah si noh

Notes from Blue Notebook

A       ah

É       eh

I        ee

O       oh

E       uh

Í        ih

Á       âh


Inanimate Demonstratives

I.D. have (3) degree of distance

Inanimate Singular

Close                   ode             This

Not Close  i                  That

Far              éi                That over there

Inanimate Plural

Node          These

Ni               those

Éni             Those over there

Animate Singular

Ode            This

O                That

Ago            That over there

Animate Plural

Gode          These

Gi               Those

Égi             Those over there

I _____________.                N-/Nd- ________________.

You ____________.            G-/gd- _________________.

We (and you) __________. G-/gd- _____________men.

We (but not you) _________.      N-/nd- _____________men.

You all _____________.     G-/gd- _____________m.

They _____________.         _____________-k.

Inanimate Singular

Ode gok ben a gen                This basket

I gok ben a gen            That basket

É’i gok ben a gen                  That basket over there

Animate Singular

Ode ne ne                     This man

I ne ne                                    That man

E’i ne ne                       That man over there

Animate Singular

Ode ne ne                     This man

O ne ne                         That man

Ago ne ne                     That man over there

Inanimate plural

Node mkekwén            These baskets/boxes

Ni mkekwén                          Those baskets/boxes

Éni mkekwén                         Those baskets/boxes over there

Animate plural

Gode kwék                            These women

Gi kwék                        Those women

Égi kwék                      Those women over there

Wdapen i mkek           Pick up that box

Ode ne?                        This one?

É hé, wi yé i                           Yes, that’s it

Nadweshen ni mkekwén      Get me those boxes

Node ne?                      These?

Wi yé ni                        Those are the ones

Byéd weshen i mkek            Bring me that box

Ni nad weshen                       Get me those

Byéd weshen                         Bring (it) to me

Nad weshen                           Get (it) for me

Mishshen (Mizhshen)           Give (it) to me

Nen mewshen                        Hand (it) to me, pass me something

Wabdé shen                           Show (it) to me

What time is it?           Ni get so ya wek?

What time is it?           Ni jet so ya wek?

All my relations           Jage nagomguk

All my relations           Jage nagonan

All, all of us together            Jayék

At the council hall                Gidgaw gum gok

Toothbrush                            Ksiyab teken

Tooth                                      Bet

All of my relations inclusive of all living things               Gdenwémagnedok

Bathroom                     Dzhya ewi sakem yan

Drink                                      Dzhya ewi mnekweyan

Bathroom                     Nwi zhya i sakem gum uk

Drink                                      Nwi zhya i mne kwe yan

Please                                     Ta ga, mojma, gazha

Medicine man/Doctor           éshkukinisnage

Medicine man/Doctor           Éshkekini’snagé

Summer (season)                  Émnokmuk

August month middle of      Émnokmukkises

Winter                                    Épok

The ground is freezing          Éshugtukwok

Spring (season)            Éskumnokmuk

October/month of 1st frost    ÉsksegtukkisIs

In the fall season                   ÉtkwagnIshyagoIn

Fall                                Étkwagouk

Dawning                       Éwésabuk

Matchizibe                             Bad River

Makesit                         Big Foot


Chaskyd                       The Diviner

Chichak (Otchik)                  Crane (Potawatomi Leader)

Chichakose (Tchichaakane) Little Crane (Potawatomi Leader)

Abte’gizhék                           Half Day

Amikwa                        Bear (ojibwe clan community)

Ashkewi                       Mud all over his body

Ashkibi/Eskibee          The New River (Potawatomi Leader)

Assikanak (Ossigunac)         Black Bird (Odawa Leader)

Atsimethe (Etsimethe)          Potawatomi Leader

Awbenabi                     He Looks Back (Potawatomi Leader)

Winamek                      Catfish

Winamekos                            Little Catfish

Windigo                       The Cannibal

Wishé                                     The Yellow Catfish

Wiske                                     Potawatomi Culture Hero

Wizawdep (Ouasado)           The Yellow Head (Potawatomi Leader)

Ninwés                          Little Man

Nokamin(g)                           Early Spring

Mishikese                     Little Snapping Turtle

Mya’en Poch/Poj                  Withered Hand

Nyananseya                           Five Medals

Onangizes/Onaxa/Onaksa    He Flies Away

The Shimmering Light of the Sun

Gabinay                        Gabriel (Potawatomi Leader)

Gises (Kissus)                       The Sun (Potawatomi Leader)

Wiské                                     Culture hero

Chipiyapos/Chibiabos          Potawatomi Culture Hero

Chipo’o                        Soul

Dwagek                         Autumn (Potawatomi Warrior)

Gomo (Okama)            The Leader

Matchiwokama/Missengomau       Potawatomi Leader

Gashke’debé                          Shaved Head

Chemewse                             John Green

Wabaksekwé                          Riffles at Dawn Woman

Mendoké                      Spirit Worshipper or Blessed by the Spirits



Wdapnen i mkesnen             Pick up that shoe

Ode ne?                        this one?

Éhé wi ye’ I                           Yes, that’s it

Nadweshen ni msenegenen  Get me those papers

Node ne?                      These?

Wi yé ni                        those are the ones

Byéd we shen i msenakseken        Bring me that picture

Ni nad weshen                       Get me those

Node ne?                      These?

Wi yé ni                        Those are the ones

Mishen I                       Give that to me

Byédon I                       Bring that

Byédweshen I                        Bring me that

Mingazot                      That which he/she was given

Minat                                      He/she gave

Minet                                      He/she gives

Some handy phrases to know

Weye ne gi wabdan ne i nbiskewagen?           Has anyone seen my coat?

Weye ne gi wabma o ngwes?                           Has anyone seen my son?

Ni je pi éwi bidgéyak?                                      When are we going in?

Ni je pi éwi wisniyak?                                                When do we eat?

Nedwendan ne anet gapi?                                 You want some coffee?

Nedwendan ne anet mkekwabo?                      You want some coffee?

Nedwendan ne i pwagasen?                              You want a cigarette?

Nedwendan ne éwdeméyen?                            You want to smoke?

Ni je éndewebneyen?                               What are you looking for?

Énedwendayan anet gapi.                                  I want some coffee

Énedwendayan anet wisnewen.                        I want some food

Mishen i ziwtagen                                              Give me the salt

Gégo ziwtagnegékén i wisnewen                     Don’t salt the food

Zheton I kewewen                                              Make a flag

Zheton I wizaw kewewen                                  Make a yellow flag

Zheton nyéwo kewewnen                                  Make four flags

Gdesa ne anet sémau?                                        Do you have any tobacco?

Cho nensémau ndesasi                                      I don’t have any tobacco

Éhe, nde sa nensémau                                        Yes, I have tobacco

Kyénep byan shote!                                           Quick come here!

Kyénep byak shote!                                           Quick come here! (plural)

Ni je eshewebek zagech?                                   What’s it like outside?

Wi gméyamget ne ngom?                                 Will it rain today?

Ni pi je i zakmogemek?                                    Where is the bathroom (outhouse)?

Ni pi je i wisniwgemek?                                   Where is the dining room?

Ndeton anet mingaswenen                                I have some gifts

Ngi byédonen node mingaswenen                   I brought these gifts

Ébgednoyan ode sémau                                     I put down /offer this tobacco

Ébgednoyan ode nibiwen                                  I put down/offer this water

Nwi ngemo                                                         I will sing

Nwi madmo                                                        I will pray

Gwi madmomen                                                We will pray

Ge Wisnemen                                                     Let’s eat

Ge binakjegémen                                                Let’s clean up

Ge bidgémen                                                       Let’s go in

Ge wéwébdamen                                                Let’s begin

Gwi bokpedon ne?                                             You want a break?

Ode se ndekwéyom                                            This is my wife

Ode se ndeniyem                                                This is my husband

Nénmoshen i mbish                                           Hand me the water

Nénmoshen i wiyas                                            Hand me the meat

Nénmoshen i kemsagen                                     Hand me that ax

Nénmoshen i jishtegen                                      Hand me that broom

Nénmoshen I déwégen                                      Hand me that drum

Byénénmoshen I msenegen                              bring me that paper

Byénénmoshen I modes                                    bring me the little bottle

Gi byédon ne I déwégen?                                  Did you bring a drum?

Gi byedon ne I gdewegen                                 Did you bring your drum?

Gi byédon ne anet gishki?                                 Did you bring some cedar?

Nebyégén ode                                                     Write this

Gégo nebyégeken                                              Don’t write

Daga mishen gi penik                                        Please give me the potatoes

Daga byédweshen anet mbish                          Please bring me some water

Daga mina i kemsagen o Mkwabjegé              Please give the ax to Mkwabjegé

Daga nénmo i mbop o Kwénago                      Please hand the soup to Kwénago

Daga mina i kewéwen o Wawashkeshikwé    Please hand that flag to Wawashkeshikwé

Daga mina i gishkbojgen o Mzekwagé            Please hand that saw to Mzekwagé

Ni je éndebendat ode?                                       Who does this belong to?

Ni je éndebendat ode mkesen?                         Who does this shoe belong to?

Ni je éndebendat ode wiwkwan?                      Who does this cap belong to?

I yé I ne?                                                              Is that it?

Éhe, I yé I                                                           Yes, that’s it

I yé o ne?                                                            Is that him/her?

Éhe, I yé o                                                           Yes, that’s h/h

Jibteben shote                                                     Sit here

Jibtebek ibe                                                         Sit over there (plural)

Jayék ginwa ne nodwak?                                  Can you all hear?

Jayék ginwa ne nodweshen?                             Can you all hear me?

Éhé nnodan                                                        Yes, I can hear

Cho wi she nnodansi                                         I can’t hear

Éhé nnodwen                                                     Yes, I hear you

Cho wi she nnodwesi                                        I can’t hear you

Gi nodagé ne?                                                     Did you hear (news)

Gi wabdan ne ode?                                            Did you see this?

Gi wabma ne o?                                                Did you see h/h?

Ngi wabdan i                                                      I saw it

Cho ngi wabdesin i                                            I didn’t see it

Ngi nodagé                                                         I heard

Cho ngi nodagési                                                I didn’t hear

Ngi zhechké I                                                     I did that

Cho ngi zhechkési I                                           I didn’t do that

Ni je éschegéyen?                                               What are you doing?

Ni je wa zhechkéyak wabek?                           What will we do tomorrow?

Ni je ga zhechkéyak wnago?                            What did we do yesterday?

Gkendan ne i?                                                    Do you know that?

Éhe ngekendan I                                                Yes, I know that

Gkenma ne o?                                                    Do you know h/h?

Éhe ngekenma o                                                Yes, I know h/h

chowi she gbbamzewen I                                  that is none of your business

ni je wej kendemyen I                                        why do you want to know that

chowi shna gmnezseyen ekendemyen I           you really don’t need to know that

nsetmok ne egi kenomageyan                          do ya all understand what I have taught?