TENAS WAWA--The Chinook Jargon Voice "Sawmill John"

Episode 5

Sealth: "John, ka maika illahee?" "John, where you country?"

Sawmill John

John: "Naika chako siah kahkwa konaway chee tillikum yukwa. Naika illahee siah enatai la monti wake siah hyas saltchuck ka sun chako. Yaka Boston illahee. Naika illahee nem New Hampshire." "Me come far, same all new people here. Me country far across mountain near ocean where sun come. Him America. Me country name New Hampshire."
Sealth: "Nu Habsha?" "Nu Habsha?"
John: "New Hampshire!" "New Hampshire!"
Sealth: "Nu Habsha!" "Nu Habsha!"
John: "Aha, nawitka, New Hampshire." "Yes, correct, New Hampshire."
Sealth: "Ikta 'Nu Habsha' kopa Chinook wawa?" "What 'Nu Habsha' in Chinook talk?"
John: "Yaka kahkwa chee Hampshire. Hampshire, yaka town nem kopa King Chautsch illahee." "Him same 'new' Hampshire. Hampshire, him town name at England."
Sealth: "Mmm, naika kumtux." "Mmm, me understand."
John: "Naika papa, yaka mitlite moola kopa New Hampshire." "Me father, him have sawmill at New Hampshire."
Sealth: "Maika papa potlatch maika moola kumtux?" "You father give you sawmill knowledge?"
John: "Delate. Naika pe ow mamook kopa papa moola kunsih nesaika tenas pe kwanesum mamook yahwa kimtah." "Correct. Me and brother work at father sawmill when us small and work there always after."
Sealth: "Maika kwan kopa Nu Habsha?" "You happy at New Hampshire?"
John: "Aha." "Yes."
Sealth: "Naika tum-tum kloshe maika chako yukwa, keschi, spose maika kwan kopa Nu Habsha, kahtah maika chako yukwah?" "Me feel good you come here, but if you happy at New Hampshire, why you come here?"
John: "Well, Tyee, ahnkuttie, hiyu hyas stick mitlite kopa Boston illahee, keschi delate hiyu tillikum chako yahwa. Klaska tikegh house. Moola tillikum whim stick, mamook la plash. Alta, konaway hyas stick kopet. Alta naika tikegh nanitch hyas stick yukwa." "Well, Chief, past many big tree be at America, but very many people come there. Them want house. Sawmill people fall tree, make board. Now, all big tree finish. Now, me want look big tree here."
Sealth appeared to be gazing into the future. His voice was barely above a whisper, but the lines of his face disclosed a fear of what he knew was inevitable.
Sealth: "Klonas alki, hyas stick halo mitlite okoke illahee." "Maybe future, big tree not be this country."
John said nothing. It was very quiet for a while. The S'Klallams has been talking together, and now they picked it up again.

John looked over at Jim and the others. The food and utensils had been cleared away. Molly's hands were clasped together and she was shaking them up and down and sideways, chanting with fervor. Everyone was watching intently. All of a sudden, her hands separated and four beaver teeth fell to the mat in front of her. Everyone cheered as Sealth's wife took a small stick from a pile beside her and tossed it to Molly.

John asked Jim what was going on. Jim explained that the two women were playing the beaver-tooth game. Two teeth are marked on one side with circles or dots. They represent women and are called "sla-ani" in S'Klallam. The other two are marked on one side with lines, and represent men. These are called "swaika."

One of the teeth with lines has a string wrapping, and is called "i kak i sen." When all the marked sides are either up or down, the thrower gets two sticks from her opponent. If the sides of the women teeth are up and the men down, or vice versa, the thrower gets one stick from her opponent. If the teeth fall so that the face of the "i kak i sen" is up and the others down, or vice versa, the thrower receives four sticks. Whoever wins a stick continues to throw. When one player has all the sticks, the game is over. The stakes are discussed before playing.

Jim added that it was usually women that played this game, but occasionally men played also. John was intrigued, and asked what it was called.

Jim: "S'Klallam tillikum yahul okoke 'smetale.'" "S'Klallam people call this 'smetale.'"
Sealth: "Naika tillikum yahul okoke 'metalah.'" "Me people call this 'metalah.'"
John: "Oh, Suquamish pe S'Klallam la lang halo kahkwa?" "Oh, Suquamish and S'Klallam language not same?"
Sealth: "Wake! Suquamish tillikum pe S'Klallam tillikum, klaska kowkwutl wawa kunamokst." "No! Suquamish people and S'Klallam people unable talk together."
John: "Keschi, naika kumtux kopa kwolan maika pe Jim wawa kunamokst pe mesaika halo wawa Chinook!" "But me hear you and Jim talk together, and you not talk Chinook!"
Sealth: "Nawitka. Jim, yaka kumtux Suquamish la lang." "Indeed. Jim, him know Suquamish language."
John: "Jim, kahtah maika kumtux Suquamish la lang?" "Jim, how you know Suquamish language?"
Jim: "Kunsih naika tenas, Chimakum tillikum chako naika town. Klaska mamook piah kopa house. Klaska mamook memaloose hiyu naika tillikum. Klaska kapswalla naika pe naika chako elite. Tyee, klonas kloshe spose maika wawa okoke ekahnum." "When me small, Chimakum people come me town. Them burn house. Them kill many me people. them steal me and me become slave. Chief, maybe good if you tell this story."
Sealth: "John, ahnkuttie, Chimakum tillikum pe S'Klallam tillikum, klaska halo sihks, Suquamish tillikum pe S'Klallam, tillikum klaska halo sihks. Suquamish tillikum delate halo tikegh Chimakum tillikum. Ikt sun hiyu Suquamish canim pe hiyu man klatawa Chimikum town. Nesaika mamook memaloose hiyu Chimikum tillikum pe naika kapswalla ikt tenas man. Naika tum-tum klonas yaka kloshe elite. Naika nehwa yaka yukwa. Naika pe naika klootzman delate kiawali okoke tenas man. Yaka mitlite yukwa ikt yeah pe iskum kumtux Suquamish la lang. Okoke tenas man, yaka Jim. Jim wawa nesaika yaka S'Klallam, halo Chimakum. Nesaika tum-tum klonas kloshe spose nesaika nehwa Jim kopa yaka S'Klallam town. Nesaika klatawa. Jim mama pe papa, klaska youtl nawitka. Kimtah, nesaika kloshe sihks." "John, past, Chimakum people and S'Klallam people, them not friend. Suquamish people and S'Klallam, them not friend. Suquamish people, them very not like Chimakum people. One day many Suquamish canoe and many man go Chimakum town. Us kill many Chimakum people and me steal one boy. Me think maybe him good slave. Me bring him here. Me and woman very love this boy. Him be here one year and get know Suquamish language. This boy, him Jim. Jim talk us him S'Klallam, not Chimakum. Us think maybe good if us bring Jim to him S'Klallam town. Us go. Jim mother and father, them happy, indeed. After, us good friend."
Sealth leaned over and patted Jim's knee. The two men smiled knowingly at each other. The smetale game was over. Molly proudly held up a beautiful little coiled basket, her prize. Chikamin Charlie, Prince Albert and Captain Drake had reclined in place, under their blankets. Sealth rose to his feet, smiling down.
Sealth: "Molly, maika tolo kloshe! Jim, John, chako. Nesaika klatawa klahanie!" "Molly, you win good! Jim, John, come. Us go outside."
Jim and John got to their feet and followed the Chief outside.

The rain had ceased and the sky was clear. The moon was full and high in the east, over the Cascade mountains. It was mirrored on the glass-like water of Agate Pass. A loon called in the distance.

Sealth: "Tomollah kloshe." "Tomorrow good!"

To be continued...


(Copyright © 1993 by Duane Pasco)

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