As shown above, language can provide an inside look at how the people in that language tell directions. However, this is only one aspect of the Cree culture and language can be utilized to show other aspects. When looking into the Cree language and how it is used within society, there is a part of it that can be described as vulnerable and it is related to the importance of truth within the Cree society (Muehlbauer, 2016). The following paragraphs will look into this concept of truth in the Plains Cree society and how language is used to help make this emerge.
Speeches are an important area where truth plays a major role. One example is counting coup. In the Plains Cree culture, counting coup is similar to a monologue done in a performance but for the Plains Cree it occurs during a gathering and normally a person is talking about themselves, specifically their deeds (Muehlbauer, 2016). The purpose of counting coup is vulnerability because the speaker is being judged by what they are saying. However, they are being judged on the truthfulness, not the content (Muehlbauer, 2016). There are two outcomes that can result after the speech. The first is that everything the person said is truthful so they will be seen as a truthful person. However, the second outcome is that the person said something that is untruthful. As a result, people will be weary of what this individual says (Muehlbauer, 2016). This speech shows how the Plains Cree society values truthfulness which is important when trading, hunting, and in other aspects of everyday life.
Truth can also be seen in other ways during a speech. For instance, another example of a speech is âtâyôhkêwin (Muehlbauer, 2015). This type of speech is similar to a folktale and therefore holds an important meaning behind the story. However, this speech is related to truth because when telling the story, the speaker is in a sense “lying,” and some may even use the word kiyâtisk, which means liar, before telling the story, because the story holds a truth that isn’t theirs (Muehlbauer, 2015). This isn’t saying that the mythological truths in the speech are lies or that the speaker is actually lying, but it is to let the audience know that this isn’t the speaker’s story (Muehlbauer, 2015). In English, we determine truth based off of personal experience with the person, therefore we trust them until they prove us wrong. This is different than the Plains Cree, who constantly put themselves out there whether they are showing people they are trustworthy by not lying in front of them or by stating before a speech whether this speech holds their personal beliefs or if it is someone else’s (Muehlbauer, 2016; Muehlbauer, 2015).
In any society, truth is important because it guides how people interact with us. However, in Plains Cree, it holds more of an importance that it can be seen incorporated into their speeches. In one type of speech called counting coup, the speech is used to judge the truthfulness of the person by making them vulnerable to others (Muehlbauer, 2016). On the other side, in the speech called âtâyôhkêwin, there are truths within the story, but the speaker lets the people know that the truth belongs to someone else and they are just retelling it (Muehlbauer, 2015). These are just two ways that truth can be observed in the Plains Cree society but it shows that this society is built around this concept.