Ode Espen atsokan

 Wéch makdewanginwet o éspen yajmowen

The story about why the raccoon has black on his face.

Ahaw ode ngodek ga zhewébek. Bnewi gi ne’angdonwek gode mejbyeyek, jeyjey shena ginan.

It happened at one time. Long ago all the animals could talk to one another just like us.

Ode je o éspen mine o meingen gi dneswek shi megwemtegwakik.

This racoon and wolf were hanging around in the center of the forest.

Pene shena gi nantkwedewek.

They were always talking to each other.

Mech jé o éspen ga napnengogwen ni se meingenen.

Once the raccoon made the wolf sick??

I je shena o éspen enangekwebet ekche nagdewendek ni na wa zhechket ewi ashtowa’at ni meingnenen.

That raccoon was sitting with his head down thinking hard about what he was going to do to get even with the wolf.

Wika sena gishendem o éspen nina wa napnenat ni meingenen.

Finally the raccoon made up his mind he would make the wolf sick.

Ije égibsegwit éspen ezhyat ibe bementapetonet ni meingenen.

Then the raccon got up and went over to where the wolf would be running by.

Ngot na I myewes égi nme nagtot.

He was following along on one path.

Peshkwaswen je zhi pme igwan I mtekwake I je zhi enesesek I myewes.

There was a cleared field along the forest where the path lead.

I je zhi megwe-peshkwa ga zhyat o éspen.

Then raccoon went into the middle of the field.

I je égi mizit, eje égi wawyechinek ni wmojisen.

He took a poop, and he rolled his poop into a ball.

Beshoch je I myewes ezhdesen bme je neta zhyat o meingen.

He layed it out close to a trail the wolf liked to travel on.

Ezhgadebet je wgi-tonen wmochen ga wnejinek.

He spread out the poop he had in handfuls(balls?)

Ah ebababwichget, bama she gete edebabmat ni meingen ebichbetonet.

He waited, later he checked on the wolf as he came running up.

Ah je o éspen égi dapnek ngot o gaw nejinek, bikwa je shena emamijet.

Then the raccon he picked up one of the rolled up deals, that looked like food.

Bama shena noch beshoch ebye yenet, hey meingen kedo, e shena gé wi ezhe

Later he was closer to where he was, hey the wolf said” when the wolf

ngabtot o meingen. Stopped running.

Widopmeshen nwa wisen wde-nan, ah je o meigen, oh I yedek egi bonenmegwyan o esben nendem ge wi.

Come sit and eat with me he said to him. Ah o wolf I should leave him alone thought the raccoon.

I je o esben ngotmenek I o mowech egi pedowat.

Then the raccoon threw (one) of the poop to him

Ah ni pkede se ge wi o meigen, egi nkwebtot I moewech ene meswegwdek.

The wolf was hungry, he caught the poop and swallowed it whole.

Ga gish jak pekdewat I wmowech egi kanchgdemat.

After he threw the poop to him he (swallowed it?)

Ha ha meigen nmowech gmijen wde-nan.

 Ha hah wolf my poop you are eating he said to him.

Ahaw ni je da zhechket o meingen gi gwyash mijen gena I mowech.

Ok what could he do that wolf. He was suprized the food was poop.

Oh, shewgedaso o meingen, eshna egi kche mokitwat ni espenen.

The wolf become mad, and really starting attacking the raccoon.

I shna ge wi o espen egi gwekpowet, nesh pana shi kche mtek jige peskwa ga bmekset,

So the raccoon turned and ran, accidentally (he left tracks) near the big tree in the field

egi kwedasiwbowet o espen,

Where the raccoon had climbed the tree in a hurry( ran)

I je eko ndo nisasit egwashkwnedagwet ni meingnen endo debnegwet.

Then he tried to climb the tree and tried jumping up the wolf did so he could grab the raccoon.

Gega shena gbe gishek gi dnengwe ewi nisasit.

All day he was trapped in the tree he climbed.

I shena ge wi neyakwset o meingen.

The wolf started to become tired.

Ahaw nge-mbekas shede eme o meingen,

Ok I am going to pretend to go to sleep thought the wolf.

 bama she kche mbayan nenmegwyan wi ndo dgeski shedea.

 Later when I am sleeping hard I think he will try to escape thought the wolf

Natsek she nisasi o espen egi dbabmat ni meigenen.

(After a while) the raccoon climbed down to check on the wolf.

Gete shna mbetek, nge endo dgeski shdea.

If truly he is asleep(doubt) I will try and escape he thought.

Agach ene nisasit, pepichen she wdebabman a je dokinet.

So he carefuly started climbing down to check on the one sleeping.

Oh kche mbekaso ge wi o meingen, gawa she doskabe ewabmat ebye-nisasinet.

The wolf he was really pretending hard to be asleep, He barely opened an eye to see the raccoon come climbing down.

Bama she apje beshoch bmeyet nge-debena nendem.

Later he came real close to where he was I will grab him he thought.

Egach enenisasit, depi she megwa wa zhe nisasit I kekow egi nispowet egi skwenwe’at ni meigenen.

Far off he was still climbing down and suddenly While he was in the process of carefully getting down, he started running down to save the wolf.

Egi bsegwitset ge wi o meingen, ni je wgweshkwnewegon se eshna mtegos egi dapsotot

As the wolf stood up, How he was surprised by a branch (falling?) and he had a cramp.

Meingen egi naskenamat ni espenen.

The wolf approached the raccoon

Nanawshkishgon egi negnamat.

In the center of his eye he put something?

Megwe segya e gina powet o espen egi wnebat ni meingnen.

Amongst the thick bush the raccon ran while the wolf slept.

Ah je weyabek zibiwesek ezhyat o espen egkanabdesot, bame shna ga mektewangigwet.

Ah the next morning the raccoon went to the creek and looked at himself in the water, His face was black

Iw je ngom ode espen we je mkedewangingwet ga napengwet ni meingnen, kedownanget.

So to this day the raccon has a black face because he tried to make the wolf sick, That’s what they say.

Iw enajmoyan The end of what I have to say.

His-story, but not ours.

Most of us associate the holiday with happy Pilgrims and Indians sitting down to a big feast.  And that did happen – once. 

The story began in 1614 when a band of English explorers sailed home to  England with a ship full of Patuxet Indians bound for slavery. They left behind smallpox which virtually wiped out those who had escaped.  By the time the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts Bay they found only one living Patuxet Indian, a man named Squanto who had survived slavery in England and knew their language.  He taught them to grow corn and to fish, and negotiated a peace treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Nation. At the end of their first year, the Pilgrims held a great feast honoring Squanto and the Wampanoags. 

But as word spread in England about the paradise to be found in the new world, religious zealots called Puritans began arriving by the boat load. Finding no fences around the land, they considered it to be in the public domain. Joined by other British settlers, they seized land, capturing strong young Natives for slaves and killing the rest.  But the Pequot Nation had not agreed to the peace treaty Squanto had negotiated and they fought back. The Pequot War was one of the bloodiest Indian wars ever fought.  

In 1637 near present day  Groton, Connecticut, over 700 men, women and children of the Pequot Tribe had gathered for their annual Green Corn Festival which is our Thanksgiving celebration. In the predawn hours the sleeping Indians were surrounded by English and Dutch mercenaries who ordered them to come outside.  Those who came out were shot or clubbed to death while the terrified women and children who huddled inside the longhouse were burned alive. The next day the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared “A Day Of Thanksgiving” because 700 unarmed men, women and children had been murdered.

Cheered by their “victory”, the brave colonists and their Indian allies attacked village after village. Women and children over 14 were sold into slavery while the rest were murdered.  Boats loaded with a many as 500 slaves regularly left the ports of New England. Bounties were paid for Indian scalps to encourage as many deaths as possible.   

Following an especially successful raid against the Pequot in what is now  Stamford, Connecticut, the churches announced a second day of “thanksgiving” to celebrate victory over the heathen savages.  During the feasting, the hacked off heads of Natives were kicked through the streets like soccer balls.  Even the friendly Wampanoag did not escape the madness. Their chief was beheaded, and his head impaled on a pole in Plymouth, Massachusetts — where it remained on display for 24 years.   

The killings became more and more frenzied, with days of thanksgiving feasts being held after each successful massacre. George Washington finally suggested that only one day of Thanksgiving per year be set aside instead of celebrating each and every massacre. Later Abraham Lincoln decreed Thanksgiving Day to be a legal national holiday during the Civil War — on the same day he ordered troops to march against the starving Sioux in Minnesota.

This story doesn’t have quite the same fuzzy feelings associated with it as the one where the Indians and Pilgrims are all sitting down together at the big feast.  But we need to learn our true history so it won’t ever be repeated.  Next  Thanksgiving, when you gather with your loved ones to Thank God for all your blessings, think about those people who only wanted to live their lives and raise their families.  They, also took time out to say “thank you” to Creator for all their blessings.

Our Thanks to Hill & Holler Column by Susan Bates  susanbates@webtv.net

Ahau gkweshkwatadmen

Gkweshkwatadmen- Lets get acquainted.

Bozho                                               Hello.

Ni je na gin?                                     How are you?

Mno wi shna anwe                           I’m doing well/fine.

I zhe anwe                                        I’m fine.

Gin je?                                             And you?

Ndézhnekas                                     My name is….

Ni je ézh ne kasyen?                                 What is your name?

Bama mine gwabmen                       Until we meet again. (sing.)

Bama mine gewabmenem                 Until another time. (pl.)

Migwétch                                          Thanks.

Igwien                                              Another way to say thanks.

Mishen i                                           Give me that.

Nenmoshen i                                    Hand me that.

Byénenmoshen i                               Bring that to me.

Byénen i                                           Bring that.

Byénan                                             Hand it over.

Byédon i                                           Bring that.  (inan.)

Byéna o                                            Bring h/h.  (anim.)

Bidgén                                              Come in.

Byébidgén                                        Welcome, do come in.

Jibteben                                           Sit down.

Jibteb i pedyebwen                           Sit in that chair.

Jibteben zhi                                     Sit there.

Jibteben shote                                  Sit here.

Nedwendan gégo ne                          Do you want something?

Nde- Noswen- my name

Wé ni je o?                                        Who is that?

Zhenkazo                                         he/she is called.

Zhnekazo                                         same.

Ni je ézhnekasot?                             What is his/her name?

Ni je ezhnekazwat                             What are their names?

Nmedagwenma                                 I like him/her

Wewene zabenma o                          I like him/her.

Yawe                                                he/she is someone.

Ndaw                                               I am.

Yé                                                    to be.

Wé ni je gin?                                     Who are you?

Nde da                                             Where I live.

Nde nweshmoge ngom                      I am retired now.

Megwa enokiyan                               I’m still employed. (for hire)

Kenomagwet                                    instructor.

Agnomaget                                       teacher.

Ni pi je wéch byayen?                       Where do you come from?

Ndoch bya                                        I come from.

Noegmtene ndet se ponges               I am seventy years old.

Nin                                                   I.

Gin                                                   you.

Win                                                  he/she.

Ninan                                               we – u.

Ginan                                               we + u.

Ginwa                                              you all.

Winwa                                              they/them.

Ahau, gda nweshmon

Lesson 10:  Gda nwéshmomen – We should rest   

This lesson shall discuss other miscellaneous household activities

Wabnotakjegen gde wabdamenWe are looking at the TV
Wabnotakjegen gde kewabdamenWe are watching the TV
Wabnotakjegen gde kanabdamenWe are staring at the TV
Notakjegen gde bsedomenWe are listening to the radio
Msenegen nde nebyégé’anI am writing a letter
Msenegen nde wawidanI am reading a letter or a book
Msenaksegen nde kewabdamenWe- are watching a movie
Gda mbwach’ewémen nomekWe should visit a while
Byéwidbemshen émbwach’ewéygoCome sit by me and we will visit
Nishwabtek dbégasnen nwi wawjigéI will read for 20 minutes
Ni je wa zhewébek gojek wabek?What will it be like outdoors tomorrow? (weather)
Kewabdan ode wa je zhewébzewenWatch the news
Wi gméyamget wabekIt will rain tomorrow
Wi bonimget wabekIt will snow tomorrow
Wi ngwanket wabekIt will be cloudy tomorrow
Wi ksenyamget wabekIt will be cold tomorrow
Wi gshatémget wabekIt will be hot tomorrow
Ni je ga byédot o bébamodot?What did the mail carrier bring?
Gégo ne byédot o bebamodojgét?Did the mail carrier bring anything?
Mkekwen gi byédot o bébamodotThe mail carrier brought this box
Gda bodwanashenYou should make a fire for me
Byéwidbemshen jig-shkwewdéCome sit with me by the fire
Gojek gda o chikasomY’all should go play outside
Wawatesiyek nde wabmamen épabmiséwatWe see fireflies flying about
Negosek nde kanabmakI am staring at the stars (star gazing)
Skonozhechkéwen ngi gizhtonI finished my homework

Here is miscellaneous vocabulary to go with our miscellaneous activities

NounsVerbsOther wordsParticles
Wabnotakjegen – tv, device that makes noise that you look atWabdan – see/look at somethingNomek – for a whileGde – you or we are doing something, check verb ending
Notakjegen – Radio, device that makes noise, can be a speaker or cd playerKewabdan – watch somethingNishwabtek – 20Gda – you or we should do something, check verb ending
Msenegen – paper, book, letter, bill, magazine, etc.Kanabdan – stare at something, study itGojek – outdoorsNwi – I or we will do something, check verb ending
Msenaksegen – movie, moving picture, tv show, videoBsedon – listen to somethingWabek – tomorrowNi je – combination asking who or what
Dbégasen – minuteNebyégé – to writeOde – thisWa je – future purpose or direction
Zhewébzewen – news, happeningsWawidan – read somethingGégo – somethingWi – something will happen in the future
Bébamodot – mail carrier, delivery personMbwach’ewé – visitO – “that” if it’s animate, go do something if in front of a verbGa – past purpose or direction
Bébamodojgét – mail carrier, delivery personByéwidbemshen – come sit by me Jig – by, near, next to
Mkekwen – boxWawijgé – to read Ngi – I or we did something in the past, check verb ending
Shkwewdé – fireZhewébek – to happen, an inanimate form  
Wawatesiyek – firefliesZhewébze – to be a certain way, personal happenings, an animate form  
Negosek – starsGméyamget – it is raining  
Skonozhechkéwen – homeworkBonimget  – it is snowing  
 Ngwankwet – it is cloudy  
 Ksenyamget – it is cold  
 Gshatémget – it is hot  
 Byédot – bring something  
 Bodwana – make a fire for someone  
 Chikaso – play  
 Kanabma – stare at someone  
 Gizhton – finish something  

Let’s take a closer look at these phrases:

  1.  Modern day events are difficult to describe in an ancient language, but it can be done. 
    1. A radio is a device that makes noise, so notakjegen
    1. A TV is a device that makes noise that we watch, so wabnotakjegen
    1. Skonozhechkéwen does not literally mean homework, it refers to “school doings.”  Whatever was assigned at school that needs doing.
    1. A mail carrier or delivery person is someone who walks around carrying a load.  Hence Bébamodot or Bébamodojegét.
    1. Msén is wood.  We make paper from wood.  Msenegen is pretty much anything made from paper, including books, bills, letters, paper, magazines, newspaper, etc.  We can get specific if we want, for example, Gizo-msenegen would be a calendar, or a “moon-paper.”  But we don’t have to.
    1. Msenatsegen is a moving picture.  Pulling from the books and the pictures, all on paper, now brought to life on the screen, it’s a moving story on screen.  As it has evolved, it can now refer to a video in any form.
  2. The “seeing” verbs can be in animate or inanimate form, depending on what you see.  Wabma is seeing someone, Wabdan is seeing something.  Kewabma is watching someone, Kewabdan is watching something.  Kanabma is staring at or studying someone, Kanabdan is staring at or studying something. 
  3. Zhewébze and Zhewébek are idiomatic verbs.  They refer to things that are happening. 

Zhewébze and Zhewébek

Gmnozhewébes ne?Is it going well for you?
Éhé mnozhewébesYes I’m doing well             
Ngi mnozhewébzemen shote ngomIt went well for us here today
Gi mjezhewébes ngomIt went badly for me today
Ni je ézhwébziyen?What’s the matter with you?
Ni je ézhwébzet o?What’s the matter with him/her?
Ni je ga zhewébek?What happened?
Ni je wa zhewébek?What will happen?
Ni je ézhwébek?What is happening?
I yé i ga zhewébekThat’s what happened
I yé i wa zhewébekThat’s what will happen
I yé i ézhwébekThat’s what’s happening
Ni pi je ga zhewébek?Where did it happen?
Ni je pi ga zhewébek?When did it happen?

Wabdan, Wabma and Wabmek

Potawatomi verbs do not function the same way English verbs do, and sentences in Potawatomi are not formed the same way they are in English.  Instead of using the order of the words to show who is doing what, we use the verb itself. 

Msenegen nwabdanI see a paper
Mko nwabmaI see a bear
Mko nwabmekA bear sees me
Msenegen nde kewabdanI am watching a paper
Mko nde kewabmaI am watching a bear
Mko nde kewabmekA bear is watching me
Msenegen nde kanabdanI am staring at/studying a paper
Mko nde kanabmaI am staring at/studying a bear
Mko nde kanabmekA bear is staring at/studying me
Msenegen nde dbabdanI am checking on a paper
Mko nde dbabmaI am checking on a bear
Mko nde dbabmekA bear is checking on me
Tetagen nnodanI hear a bell
Mko nnodwaI hear a bear
Mko nnodwekA bear hears me
Tetagen nde bsedonI am listening to a bell
Mko nde bsedwaI am listening to a bear
Mko nde bsedwekA bear is listening to me


Shema (feed someone) and Shemgo (be fed) are similar to Wabma and Wabmek.  Try using them in phrases and sentences. 

Ge Binjegemen

Lesson 9:  Ge Binjegémen! Let’s Clean Up!

Ahau, ge binjegémen!Ok, let’s clean up!
Mnéschegén i dopwenStraighten up the table
Byédon i mbop mkwemitaswenek Bring the soup to the refrigerator
Byédon ni mskwéwnagnen taswenek Bring the red dishes to the cabinet
Ton zhi i zaskokwadék  Put the frybread there
Ni pi je ga wje toyen i ziwtagen?Where did you put the salt?
Ziwtagen ndeton shoteI have the salt here
Dopwenek étémget i waskekThe pepper is on the table
Ézhiwton mkwemitaswenek ga shotmegoPut away what we didn’t eat in the fridge
Zagjewébdon ni wabshkyagzidon’egnen Toss out those white napkins
Zigwébdon ni gzidon’egnen Throw away those napkins
Ni pi je ndo zawgzinwnagjegas?Where is my brown dish rag?
Zagech ézhiwton i zigwébnekek Put the garbage can outside
Zagech ézhiwton i mamgengéwkekPut the recycling bin outside
Majipton i wnagagzinjegéwen Start the dishwasher
Zhishchegén i mchik bwamshe égzizgengéyen  Sweep the floor before you scrub it
Bindon éjegzinjik bwamshe égzinwnagéyenClean the sink before you wash those dishes
Gégo pamséken shote njeshek ngi gzizgengén i mchikDon’t walk around here I just scrubbed the floor
Gégo pamsékék shote njeshek ngi gzizgengén I mchikDon’t walk around here (to more than one person) I just scrubbed the floor
Mamgenen ni mkekwen Recycle those boxes  (reuse those boxes)
Gégo ngetoken ode wizaw mkekwenDon’t lose this yellow box
Mamgenen ni skebygamodésen Recycle those green bottles (reuse those bottles)
Taswenek ézhiwton ni zhabwémodésenPut those see through bottles in the cabinet
Ggi gish gzinwnagé ne? Are you finished with the dishes?
Ahau, ge o nwéshmomenOk, Let’s go rest.

Our vocabulary matrix from these phrases:

NounsVerbsOther wordsParticles
Dopwen – tableBinjegé – to cleanAhau – ok, greeting, acknowledgementGe – something will happen in the near future
Mbop – soupMnéschegé – to straighten up, put in orderI – “that” when that is inanimateMskwé – red
Mkwemitaswen – fridgeByédon – bring a thingMkwemitaswenek – locative for fridgeZaw – brown
Taswen – a closet, cabinet, or cupboardByédonen – bring more than one thing. Not used for commands.Taswenek – locative for taswenWizaw – yellow
Wnagnen – dishesTon – put itZhi – thereNi pi je – particles meaning “where”
Zaskokwadék – frybread (participle)To – have it or put itShote – hereGa wje – past purpose or direction
Ziwtagen – saltTé – to be in a place if it is inanimateDopwenek – at/on the tableGa – something that happened
Waskek – pepper (participle)Ézhiwton – put something awayNi – those, if those are inanimateNdo – my
Ga shotmego – leftovers (participle – what we didn’t eat)Zagjewébdon – throw something outside, toss something outWabshkya – whiteZaw- brown
Gzidon’egnen – napkins, face clothsZigwébdon – discard something, pour something out, throw awayZagech – OutsideNgi – Nin did something in the past
Gzinwnagjegas – dishragMajipton – start something mechanicalBwamshe – beforeOde – wizaw
Zigwébnekek – garbage canZhishchegé – sweepGégo – stop, don’tZhabwé – something is clear or see-throughg
Mamgengéwkek – Recycling binGzizgengé – scrubNjeshek – just happenedGgi – Gin did something in the past
Wnagagzinjegéwen – dishwasherBindon – clean somethingSkebgya – greenNe – yes/no question marker
Mchik – floor, ground, horizonGzinwnagé – wash dishesGish – finished, already happenedO – in front of a verb, it means go do something
Éjegzinjik – sink (participle – where we was our hands)Pamsé – walk around  
Mkekwen – boxesMamgengé – recycle  
Modés – bottleNgeto – lose something  
 Nwéshmo – Rest  

What we can learn from these phrases:

  1. Mamgengé is a verb meaning to pick up something discarded to reuse it.  This is an old concept to Potawatomi folk, and is now used as a verb for “recycling.”
  2. Most commands listed here are for one person.  When assigning a chore to more than one person, be sure to use the plural form. 
  3. “To” is a unique verb in that it can mean “to have” or “to put.”  It is a relative of the verb “té,” which is the inanimate form of “to be in a place.” 
    1. Ton zhi is a command form – put something there
    1. Ndeton means I have it
    1. Ézhiwton is a command form – put something “away” (put it away is an idiom in English and is hard to translate into Potawatomi)
    1. Ni pi je ga wje toyen – Where did you put it?
    1. Étémget –  it is in a place
    1. Éték – it is in a place (a variant form)
  4. Notice the color prefixes.  There are two ways to express colors in Potawatomi, by prefix or by verb.  Yes, colors are verbs in Potawatomi.  Let’s explore this in further detail:

Colors in Potawatomi

SkebgyaGreen, sometimes blue

These colors can appear as verbs describing objects, or as prefixes attached to objects.

Mskoze o bnéshiThat bird is red
Mskwabnéshi nde wabmaI see a red bird
Mskwane i wnagenThat dish is red
Mskwéwnagen ndetonI have a red dish
Wabshkyamget i dopwenThat table is white
Wabdopwen gdebéndan ne?Do you own a white table?
Wizawamget i pkwakwetThat ball is yellow
Wizawapkwakwet ne gdeton?Do you have a yellow ball?
Zawamget i émkwanThat spoon is brown
Ni pi je i zawémkwan?Where is the brown spoon?
Wabshkyak gi penikThose potatoes are white
Wabshkyapenik ngi gishpnenakI bought white potatoes
Mkedémget i dabyanThat car is black
Medagwéndan i mkedéwdabyanI like that black car
Wjepkwamgetnon ni mkesnenThose shoes are blue
Shkwadémek éték ni wjepkwamkesnenThe blue shoes are by the door
Wjepkwadék i mkekwenThe box is purple
Gégo ngetoken i wjepkwadémkekwenDon’t lose the purple box

Other Chores….

Nda zibiyéngéI should do the laundry
Bkes atsek nda bindonI should clean the bathroom
Mchik nda zosopjegénI should vacuum the floor
Biskemwenen nda zhoshkwé’anI should iron the clothes
Dabyan nda gzibingé’anI should wash the car
Nemosh nda shemaI should feed the dog
Waboyan nda pe’egwadonI should patch up that blanket
Dawéwgemek nda zhyaI should go to the store
Wshkewmkesnen nda wzhetonenI should make new moccasins
Nda jigagwné’géI should shovel snow
Nda biske’anenI should chop wood (small pieces)
Nda msénkéI should chop wood (large pieces)

YOUR CHALLENGE:  identify the chores that need doing at your home….and who is going to do them!


Lesson 8:  Ge Wisnemen Let’s Eat

To help you have a family dinner, here are the words for some of your family members: 

N’os My dad   NoshéMy aunt (mom’s sister) 
DédéDad/DaddyNzheshéMy uncle
NgyéMy momNshegwesMy aunt (dad’s sister)
Néné Mom/MommyNitawesMy cousin
N’okmisMy grandmother  NshiméMy little brother/sister 
GokoGrandmaNshiMy lil’ bro/sis
NmeshomesMy grandfather  NidgekoMy sister
MeshoGrandpaNmeséMy big sister
NdewémaMy older brother (for girls)NikanMy brother/friend
NdanesMy daughterNgwesMy son
NsezéMy older brother (for boys)NijanesMy child
NoseméMy grandchildNosemésMy little grandchild

To make these words mean “your”, you must insert a “G” sound to stand for “Gin” which means “You.”  G’os=Your dad, Gdédé=Your daddy, G’oko=Your grandma, Gnoshé=Your aunt, Gnitawes=Your cousin.

Table Manners

 N’os, mishen gi penik  (My Dad, give me the potatoes)

Goko, nénmoshen i mbedé (Grandma, hand me the butter)

Nidgeko, byénenmoshen i waskek (My Sister, pass me the pepper)

Néné, nénmoshen i ziwtagen (Mommy, hand me the salt)

Mesho, byédweshen anet mbish (Grandpa, bring me some water)

Nshimé, mishen i kcheémkwan (My little sibling, give me the big spoon)

Ndanes, byédweshen anet gapi (My daughter, bring me some coffee)

Nitawes, nénmoshen ni zawjisésen (My cousin, hand me the carrots)

Ngwes, mina i nonagnabo se o gshimé (My son, give the milk to your little brother/sister)

Nijanes, nénmo i mbop se o gnitawes (My child, hand the soup to your cousin)

Our vocabulary matrix: 

NounsVerbsOther wordsParticles
Penik – potatoesMishen – give meAnet – someGi – Those in front of an animate noun, past tense in front of a verb
Mbedé – ButterNénmoshen – hand me I – That (when “that” is inanimate)
Waskek – PepperByénenmoshen – Pass me Ni – Those in front of an inanimate plural noun, also an interrogative
Ziwtagen – saltByédweshen – bring me O – That in front of an animate noun, Go do something in front of a verb
Mbish – waterMina – give something to someone  
Kcheémwakn – big spoon   
Gapi – coffee   
Zawjisésen – carrots   
Nonagnabo – milk   
Mbop – soup   

When verbs end with -shen, they can mean it’s an action that reverts back to me (give me, hand me, pass me), or they can have to do with lying down (zhashgeshen – lay down, weshen – rest, pekshen – fall down). 

Here are some practice phrases for eating and drinking:

ZéschegénSet the table
Gbekté ne?    Are you hungry?
Cho gbektési ne?   Aren’t you hungry?
MbektéI’m hungry
Kyét nam she mbekté  I’m really hungry
Cho mbektési   I’m not hungry  
Gbektém ne?   Are you all hungry?
MbektémenWe are hungry
GbektémenWe all are hungry
Cho mbektésimenWe are not hungry  
Bkedé ne o?Is he/she hungry?
Bkedéwak ne gé winwa?  Are they hungry?
Gashknabagwé ne?   Are you thirsty?
Éhe ngashknabagwé  Yes I’m thirsty
Cho ngashknabagwésiI’m not thirsty
Gashknabagwém ne?  Are you all thirsty?
NgashknabagwémenWe are thirsty
GashknabagwémenWe all are thirsty
Cho ngashknabagwésimen  We are not thirsty
Gashknabagwé ne o?  Is he/she thirsty?
Gwi mnekwé ne?   Do you want a drink?
Gwi mnekwém ne?   Do you all want a drink?
Wégni je émnekwéyen?  What are you drinking?
Wégni je émnekwéyék?  What are you all drinking?
Ménkwén ode   Drink this
Gnedwéndan ne ode mijem? Do you want this food?
Mégwa ne?    Want more?
Mégwa ne gapi?   Want more coffee?
Mégwa ne mbish?   Want more water?
Mishen émkwanGive me a spoon
Byédweshen bkedjigenBring me a fork
Ni pi je i koman?Where is that knife?
Byénenmoshen i kwabegenPass me the dipper/serving spoon
Nénmoshen ziwtagenHand me the salt

Here is a review of Wisne, Mwa and Mijen.

Wégni je émijyen?  What are you eating?
Ode pen nwi mwa  I will eat this potato
Penyék ne gwi mwak? You want to eat some potatoes?
Peniwabo ne gwi mijen? You want to eat some potato soup?
Mshimenek gwi mwak You will eat apples
Mshimenek nde mwak I’m eating apples
Bidi nde mwa  I’m eating chicken
Wiyas nde mijen  I’m eating meat
Wégni je émijyak pkonyak? What are we eating tonight?
Mdamnabo émijyak pkonyak We are eating corn soup tonight
Gokosh wiyasen émijyak pkonyakWe are eating pork chops tonight
Wégni je éwisneyak pkonyak?What are we eating tonight?
Zaskokwadék gwi wisnemen pkonyakWe will eat frybread tonight
Mnejimnen mine zawjisésen éwisneyak pkonyak   We will eat peas and carrots tonight
Hau, nge wisen  Ok, I’m going to eat
Hau, nge wisnemen  Ok, we (not you) are going to eat
Hau, Ge wisnemen  Ok, Let’s eat (all of us)
Gwi wisen ne?  Will you eat?
Gwi wisnem ne?  Will you all eat?
Gi wisen ne?   Did you eat?
Gi wisnem ne?  Did you all eat?
NdépsenyéI’m full.
Ngi gish wisen  I’ve finished eating/I’ve already eaten
Ngi gish wisnemen  We already ate
Ngi gish wisnemen bwamshe ébyaygo shote    We ate before we came here (exclusive, not you)
Nde mijnenjiganjegé  I’m eating with fingers
Gégo mijnenjiganjegéken Don’t eat with your fingers
Nwi widopangémen pkonyakWe will eat with others tonight (company)
Gwi widopangémen pkonyakWe all will eat with others tonight
Ndanes nwi widopma I will eat with my daughter
Ndenim nwi widopma I will eat with my husband
Ndekwéyom nwi widopmaI will eat with my wife

Your assignment for this lesson is to have dinner!  Use as much of the language as possible while eating with your family or your friends. 

Good day to you….

Gkweshkwatadmen- Lets get acquainted.

Énkwéshmo’ayen Weye                                 Upon Meeting Someone/Somebody

Bozho                                                              Hello.

Ni je na gin?                                                    How are you?/How goes it?

Mno wi shna anwe                                          I’m doing well/fine.

I zhe anwe                                                       I’m fine.

Gin je?                                                            And you?

Ndézhnekas                                                    My name is….I am known as…

Ni je ézh ne kasyen?                                       What is your name/what are you called, known by?

Bama mine gwabmen                                     Until we meet again. (sing.)

Bama mine gewabmenem                               Until another time. (pl.)

Migwétch                                                        Thanks. (meaning, I will give again, at some time)

Igwien                                                             Another way to say thanks.

Mishen i                                                          Give me that.

Nenmoshen i                                                   Hand me that.

Byénenmoshen i                                             Bring that to me.

Byénen i                                                          Bring that.

Byénan                                                            Hand it over.

Byédon i                                                          Bring that.  (inan.)

Byéna o                                                           Bring h/h.  (anim.)

Bidgén                                                             Come in.

Byébidgén                                                       Welcome, do come in.

Jibteben                                                           Sit down.

Jibteb i pedyebwen                                         Sit in that chair.

Jibteben zhi                                                     Sit there.

Jibteben shote                                                 Sit here.

Nedwendan gégo ne                                       Do you want something?

Neshnabé ne gdaw                                          are you Indian?

Bodéwadmi ne gdaw                                      are you Potawatomi?

Ni je ésh ne kas yen                                        what is your name?

Ni pi je wéj bya yen                                        where are you from?

Ni je énwéyen                                                 what’s your tribe?

A possible answer you might get:

_______________ shkwon genek ndoj bya

            I come from the ________________________ reservation.

Some more queries:

Ni je épichiyak ne i gshkwongenek                            How far is it to your reservation?

Manék gi neshnabék ne ibe gdoj bya yen                   Are there many Indians where you’re from?

Gde wichewé ne                                                         are you married?

Ehengh nde widge’eyan                                             yes, I am married.

Gdo nijanes ne                                                                        do you have children?

Éhé ndo nijanes                                                           yes, I have children.

Jo wi nde nijansesi                                                      no, I don’t have children.

Gdo nosemesek ne                              do you have grandchildren?

Ehe ndo nosemesek                             yes, I have grandchildren.

Jo wi nde nosemesesi                          no, I don’t have gchildren.

Jo mshe nde nosemesi                         no, not yet!

Ni je étsowat gi gnijansek                   How many are there, your kids?

Nizh yawik.  Ngot kwézés mine ngot gigabés.

            There are two.  One little girl and one little boy.

Nswéo yawik, ngot gigyagos mine nizh gigabések

There are three.  One little girl and two little boys.

Some possible responses to initial queries:

Hau, bozho

__________________ ndezh ne kas

Bodéwadmi ndaw

Ode shkongenek ndoj bya      (I come from this reservation.)

Jigwé ndotém                                      I am thunder clan.

Ni je o gdotém                                    What is your clan?

Neshnabémo ne                                  Do you speak Indian ?                                   

Hau, gda neshnabémen                       We should speak Indian.

Some more possible queries:

Gi bya ne éméndokasyen

            Did you come for ceremonies?

Gwi nimedi ne wa je zéksowat

            Are you going to dance when they have their doings?

Gwi nimedi ne wa je jingtemwat

            Are you going to dance when they pow-wow?

Gnegmo ne?

            Do you sing?

Gwi ggemo ne

            Are you going to sing?

Manék gode neshnabék énimediwat shote

            There are many these Indians that dance here.

Ode ngot mawjeshnowen mésham ngoji pi shote

            This is one of the biggest gatherings hereabouts.

Énchiwénmoyak i

            We’re proud of that!

Ode se nde kwéyom                           

This is my wife

Gode se nde penojéyek                                  

These are my children

Ibe édayak                                                      

We live over there

Ézhi ne                                                

Over there?

Ndo dabyan ndeto ne                         

Do you have a car?

Éhé dabyan ndeto

            Yes, I have a car.

Cho dabyan ndetosi

            No, I don’t have a car.

Mbusen nde shona gishpen éshyayan ngoji pi

            I go by bus if I go someplace.

Cho she dabyan ndetosi éwzgabyénma

            I really don’t have a car to drive.

Medagwéndan éyajmoyak nomek ngom

            I’m glad we could talk today for a while.

Ébgosénmeyan émedagwéndemyen gawje kigdoyak

            I hope you liked our talk.

Iw se she na ngom

            That’s all for today!

Ode se ndenim

            This is my husband.

Ni pi je ga ye yen wnago

            Where were you yesterday?

 Ni pi je enokiyen

            Where do you work?

Wewene ne edbegazyen ibe enokiyen

            Are you paid well there where you work?

Ngi nkweshmo’a o wenze kwe ngodek egi weshkgeyan

            I met a pretty lady once when I was a young man.

I ye o ga wje widge’éyan

            That is whom I married.

Nyanok gi penojek etoyak, wenzik

            We have five children, they are good.

Wenet i wij’uwewen

            Marriage is good

Memejek enkweshmoyen o wewene wijewagan

            Especially when you meet the right partner.

Necessary stuff to know


Present                 nde

Immediate future         nge

Past                    ngi

Future                  nwi

Future                  nda

Singular                BMOSE

                        To walk

Nde she bmose            I am walking


Odanek nde she bmose          present

Odanek nge she bmose          future

Odanek ngi she bmose          past

Odanek nwi she bmose          future

Odanek nda she bmose          future/intent

Plural                  MBEMSEMEN

                        We are walking


Odanek nde she bmosemen       present

Odanek nge she bmosemen       future

Odanek ngi she bmosemen       past

Odanek nwi she bmosemen       future

Odanek nda she bmosemen       future/intent

Some more examples:

Wi                      h/s is going to

Gwi                     going to

Gda                     could/can

Odanek ne gwi she bmose? Singular

Are you going to walk to town?

Odanek ne gwi she bmosem?     plural

Are you guys going to walk to town?

Odanek gda she bmose.         Singular

You could walk to town.

Odanek gda she bmosem.        plural

You guys could walk to town.

Odanek gda she bmosemen. plural/inclusive

We could walk to town.

Odanek ne wi she bmose?       Singular

Is he/she walking to town?

Odanek ne wi she bmosek? Plural

Are they walking to town?


Mbe bamse                    I am walking around.

Pa msewak                    he/she is walking around.

Gbe bamse                    you are walking around.

Pa msewek                    they are walking around.

Wi pamse                     he/she is going for a walk.

Nwi pamse                    I am going for a walk.

Nwi pamsemen                 we are going for a walk/exlc.

Gwi pamsemen                 we are going for a walk/incl.

Ke pamsemen                  let us go for a walk.

Bebamset                     one who walks/sing.

Bebamsejek                   those that walk–also all the/plural.

Bmose or bmosewak             walking or walking by

Bmosek                       walking or walking by/plural

Egi shke wepset              when h/s first started walking.

Ni je pi ga ne wepset         whan did h/s start out walking?

Ni je pi wa ne wepseyen       when are you going to start out walking?

Kwi dnen                lift it or that.

Bseg widnen             raise that.

Some more spiritual terms:

Ke bse gwidnamen

Literal: Let’s raise it!

Spiritual use: means to resurrect something or bring something back

that has been dormant.

Ode ebse gwid nemgo

Literal: As we raise this.

Spiritual meaning: As we resurrect this/As we bring this back to life.

Ode gabse gwid ne gadek

Literal: This thing that we raised.

Spiritual meaning: This thing that was resurrected: i.e., ceremony and/or part of a ceremony, or a sacred object.

Weje bsegwid nemgo

Literal: Why we are raising this.

Spiritual meaning: Why we are resurrecting this!


Usually an offering of tobacco/could be an offering of anything.


Is being being put down as an offering.


Tobacco pouch.


Our Grandmother Earth.


Mother Earth.


Father Earth.


Grandfather Earth.


Daughter Earth


Son Earth


All of our relatives


Our Grandfather (spiritual drum term)


Our Grandfathers (pl.)


Our Father


Creator/The Greatest Father of us all!

Bmedak wchigabo

Stands up to offer a prayer

Ahau, nge bme dak wchigabo

OK, I will get up yo offer a prayer!

Bemdak wchigabot

One who offers a prayer!




Spiritual drum service/doings (having to with the Dream Dance)

Zekson gemwenen

Spiritual Big Drum songs


Water Drum




Staffs that hold the drum off the ground on the Big Drum.


Drum sticks


Drum stick

Shewendag wsowen



Ceremonial prayer/ceremony









Iw enajmoyan

That is all I have to say/Amen!

Iw se nagomgek

Another one!

Etso nangotoygo

Each and every one of us!

ZIBIWEN—-of rivers:

Singular:                         Plural:

Zibe           river              zibiwen

Zibiwes        creek              zibiwesen

Tkepzibiwes    spring creek        tkepzibiwesen

Tkep           natural spring      tkebin

Tkepis         small spring        tkebisen

Mbes           lake               mbesen

Mbeses         small lake          mbesesen

Senajwen       rocky rapids        senajwenen

Wawyajewen     whirl pool          wawyajwenen

Wasjewen       shimmering rapids   wasjownen

Mdwejwen       sound of rapids–river

Bmejwen        flowing by river,creek, etc.

Gwekjewen      current changes direction

Mbishkik       marsh

Askobisen      puddle

Mbeshes        pond in middle of marsh

Kwedajwen      up stream

Nisajwen       down stream

Related terms:

Nambik         under water

Kwedbik        on top of the water

Gmidma         it’s deep water/in reference to water

Tkwidma        it’s shallow water/in reference to water

Gshijwen       fast current

Dokmejwen      quiet/peaceful water–slow current

Bedadga        slow swimmer

Bmadga         h/s is wading or swimming

Neadga         h/s knows how to swim

Bgezo          h/s swims/bathes

Bgeze          another one?

Gogi           to dive under water

Gshi yadga     h/s is a fast swimmer

Bges           swim/bathe

Pamshka        to go boating

Bmeshka        on a boat

Gwijen         floating on water (anim.)

Gwi de mget    it’s on the water (inanim.)

Gwdapne        to drown

Gwashkwebito   splashing/sound of

Love can be oh so splendorous!

Love has many ways of being described. These are just a few words to start with.

These need prefixes or affixes

Love has varying degrees

Love (v)

Ndebandan: stingy/miserly with s.t., treasure s.t. (vti)

Ndebana: treasure or value someone, adore, appreciate, revere, hold s.o. in high regard

Dbandewen: (n) (ni), describing love as a noun

Debandek: (vta), love one another, cherish one another.

Debanawen: (n) love

Maminawendan: (vti) fond of s.t.

Maminawenem: (vta) fond of s.o.

Zagidewen: love, describing love from the heart.

Zagiwe (vai), to love s.o.

Zagiwewen: (n)

Zagidiwak (vaip) love everyone

Nzagi’a o: I love s.o. (vta)

Gzagi’en: I love you (romantically)

Zabendan (vai) don’t care for s.t.  (needs affixes)

Zabenma (vta) don’t care for s.o.  (needs affixes)

Zhawenimawaso: to love children

Zhawendiwak: (vaip) love everyone

Zhawenindiwak (vaip) love one another

Zhawenjege: to have love

Zhaweninge: (vai) have love

Zagidzo: (vai) love oneself

Minwenem; (vta) love s.b.

Nmenwema: I love s.b.

Nmenwemek: he/she loves me

Wijewde’em: (vta) love s.b., (lit. walk along with s.o. in love)

Wijewagen: (n) s.o. who walks along with us, describing s.o. close

Ndemikwenma: (v) remember someone

Ndemikwendan (V) remember something