What (native American?) language is this song in?

Aaaaargh! They ate my OP, the bastards!

However, I was smart enough to save a copy, here it is:
Back when I was a wee little 'un, we were taught an “Indian” song as part of the standard school/summer camp repertoire. At the time I thought it was pretty cool that I could sing in “Indian” but now I’m wondering what language the song is actually in.

The song, “Ani Kouni” is still taught in French Canada and France as a native American chant but searching the Internet doesn’t yield any info that I didn’t already know. Which is to say jack squat, beyond the lyrics. They go:


Note, that this is French phonetic spelling, so OU is pronounced OO, H is silent and E is AY.

I found a decent real audio stream of the song on this page. (Scroll to Ani Kouni, and click “chant”.)

Well, I’m pretty sure it’s not Sioux. I know a little bit of that language, and don’t recognize any words or common sound patterns.

Wouldn’t it most likely be one of the languages spoken by the original inhabitants of Quebec province? Iriquois or Mohican…?

That’s what I’m guessing. I’m thinking maybe Cree, but this is only on the basis of a vague resemblance of some words with some place names, like Mistassini.

From what I can find, it is an Iroquois lullaby. Here are some of the pages I found:




Thanks, lib, I had the brilliant idea after I posted my op to google some of the words in the lyrics, other than the title, and came up pretty much with the same links you did.

I think it’s a bit of a shame that such a widely-taught song isn’t presented with its proper context to the kids who sing it. (i.e. what language it’s in, what the words mean, etc.)

I don’t know whether this is a translation, but text like this often accompanies the song:

At night, when the moon rises as silver,
illuminating the forest and the prairie,
old wolves of the tribe sing to the spirit,
the spirit of fire.