Most people think this is an Inuit song. However, when songs like this are transcribed, the origin and lyrics are often lost.

The first part of the tune comes from the Swedish song "Björnen sover".


*This line is sometimes transcribed as, "Emi, sademi, sadula misade"

This song is sung by Scouts and in schools around the world.


Heather wrote: "I grew up in Canada and learned 'Oki toki unga' as a child, but now live in Norway and was interested to hear that kids sing 'Atte Katte Noa' to the same tune:

Attekatte Noa, attekatte Noa.
Emmisa, demissa dollamissa du!
Setra kallamissa rato, setra kallamissa rato.
Attekatte Noa, attekatte Noa.
Emmisa, demissa dollamissa du.

No one here seems to know where it comes from or what it means, and they don't associate it with anything Inuit, but it's obviously the same song... Wonder if Norwegians learned it through the UK version or if the Norwegian roots go way back to their own direct contact with Inuit people through their history of seafaring. Would love to believe it was the latter, and given that it's considered a traditional historical children's song here I'm inclined to believe they learned it directly. The song gave rise to a kids' TV program in the '80s and is also the name of a kid's clothes store, which makes searching on the internet for more info on the Norwegian version kind of tricky…"


Melanie wrote, "I remember this song as well, eleven years ago when I was in second grade with my class. I remember that we had to use canoeing paddle motions."


L.L. wrote, "In the Netherlands they teach this to children to improve their articulation."


Nadine wrote, "When we did it in brownies you started off by rowing, then you search for the whale or whatever it was, paddle closer, throw the rope out, draw it back in, throw it out again, heave it over the boat, then… it's all a blank, i know the tempo changed with the actions too which i loved."


Soderbo wrote, "Yes, I've heard this song. Some kindergarten kids in Stockholm, Sweden, sang (and mimed?) the 'Atte Katte Noa' version to me in the 80's (?). The melody was 'Gubben Noak' (or 'Björnen Sover'), björnen sover is an extremely well-known Swedish children's song [actually a drinking song from the 18th century (Carl Michael Bellman, 1740-1795)]."


If anyone can identify the language, confirm the country/culture of origin, and/or confirm the lyrics and translation of this song, please email me. Thanks! -Mama Lisa

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Thanks and Acknowledgements

Thanks to Heather, Melanie, Soderbo and Nadine for commenting on this song! Thanks to Monique for the midi.