BC Indigenous people’s Chinuk pipa script: History, analysis and texts

BC Indigenous people’s Chinuk pipa script: History, analysis and texts.


This is a paper I gave at the 47th International Conference on Salish and Neighbouring Languages in Cranbrook, BC on August 3rd, 2012.

  • In it, I give the first analysis of how the ‘Chinook writing’ was structured.  You might be surprised: It’s quite a mental exercise to try breaking an alphabet down into its basic parts!  You’ll learn why the Chinuk pipa is properly seen as an alphabet, despite a century of rumours that it’s one of those Indian syllabaries, you know…
  • This paper also delves into the history of ‘Chinook writing’.  I managed to give a sketch of where it came from, how it was developed, how it caught on, and the direction it took from there.
  • And I close the paper with several examples of actual Chinuk pipa use by Native people.  This part was quite enjoyable for me; I hope you’ll find it interesting to have rare visual examples of shorthand Chinook Jargon, Shuswap, and Thompson Salish in several surprising media.

Will you post comments and questions here, after reading it?

Thanks from

–David Douglas Robertson, PhD–