Syllabics are characters attached with alphabetical sounds. Historians credit the invention of Syllabics in 1840 to James Evans, a Methodist Minister. Cree Legends hold a different version. Cree Legend indicates that the syllabic characters were a gift from Kisemanito(Creator) to the Cree people. Kisemanito is said to have given the characters to two Elders namely; Mistanaskowew and Machiminahtik. Mistanaskowew, Badger Bull, was from Western Canada while Machiminahtik, Hunting Rod, was from Eastern Canada. These two Elders received this gift of Syllabics at the same time but independently of each other. James Evans learned about Syllabics from these Elders He used these Syllabics in the teaching of Christianity to Native People. Syllabics is used among different tribes regardless of their different languages and dialects.

In the Cree Language there are four main vowel sounds that are used in the speaking of the language. They are; a, e, i, and o. Each vowel sound has a corresponding syllabic symbol.

This information taken from

James Evans' Cree Syllabic chart from 1841.

e ē
i ī
o ō
a ā final
Vowel Original_Syllabary.JPG -w final
y -hk final
sp -r, -l final

non-final w: · ( mid-dot)

final -y: ˙ ( high-dot )

h: "

From Nichols: 1984

A few interesting things to notice on this early Syllabic chart.

1. Long vowels are marked not by a dot-accent, but by cancelling (putting a white line through) the character.

2. There is a distinction between short <e> and long <ē>, which does not exist in Cree (all e's are long)

3. There is a rare <sp> syllabic series which is no longer used.

Evans' Cree Syllabic chart taken from
Last modified: Friday, 23 September 2016, 6:30 AM