What do you call a meteorite in Chinook Jargon?
Bobby, I don’t know (this is paraphrasing James Brown because we are talking about rock history), but whatsoever I call it, I got to make it “Tomanowas“. Chinook Wawa history is stone soul down with rocks. I will give examples that help explain my tortured puns.
That’s the name (t̓əmánəwas meaning “spirit power” in Chinuk Wawa) long used in reference to the Willamette Meteorite, sacred to the Grand Ronde tribes. (It’s now partly sliced into souvenirs, sadly.)
Another t̓əmánəwas stún is a natural monolith called Tamanowas Rock, located in the traditional and contemporary territory of the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state. (It’s now defaced with lovelorn graffiti, sadly.) This news report adds the strangely dense crypto-Chinook-Jargon information that:
“Tamanowas” means “spirit rock” in the S’Klallam language. It was used by a group called Blackface, a S’Klallam fraternal society, as well as a group of Lummi called Redface, [Gideon] Cauffman [cultural resources director of the tribe] said. “They came here to do ceremonies. Nobody knew exactly what,” he said.
First off: tamanowas is straight Chinuk Wawa. I believe it originally denoted specifically a shaman (I can do a separate post on that some time), and then its meaning broadened to refer to spiritual powers, especially those associated with Indians. It’s likely that it was taken into the S’Klallam (Klallam, Clallam, Northern Straits Salish) language due to intercultural contact. We see it used in various spellings, which is the usual thing for Indian words, recorded by Whites in the second half of the 1800s. The knowledgeable Rev. Myron Eells–first white person born in Washington–testifies disapprovingly to its use in Jargon in relation to the Twana, S’Klallam and other local Indians of that time.
Second: the reason for Myron E.’s disgust with tamanowas is that he was in competition with its practitioners. He and other settlers, in their diaries and newspapers, note the presence of “the black tamanowas” and “the red tamanowas” as secret religious societies of Native people. The former is said to have been malevolent in its nature, and the latter benevolent. By the way, these are almost certainly the Blackface and Redface noted by Cauffman, which I expect are terms in another contact-caused idiom, Indian English. They aren’t translations of the Klallam-language words for them; I see an entry for “black face dance” in Tim Montler’s awesome dictionary, but the word for it is glossed:
A private hereditary spirit society with rights to wear black face paint made from devil’s club charcoal…
[The definition goes on for a long paragraph.]
And as we might expect from Cauffman’s information, there is no entry for “red face dance” in Montler’s dictionary.
I’m going to finish up with a short reference to one more tamanowas rock, the Hee Hee Stone.
This was (it’s now destroyed, sadly) a landmark on the terrain of northeast Washington, another big rock that held enormous spiritual significance for the local Native people. I won’t go into background on it, but it’s easy and rewarding to learn more by googling this one.
So you can see that Chinuk Wawa and spiritual rocks have a long association. You could broaden this concept by including t̓əmánəwas-lamutày (Spirit Mountain) and others…
[Edited to link to an old newspaper story that Sharon Seal sent me: a woman’s tamanawas was a spider and it interfered with her giving birth…]
Interesting post. I have encountered the word tamanowas (with spelling variations) a lot in my reading on the Columbia Plateau people, and had always assumed it was a Sahaptin word. I have found it used in books, journals, news accounts and interview notes and transciptions.
Thanks, Sharon, for the link you sent and for your comment. This Chinook Jargon word has always seemed to puzzle scholars as to its origin, so I’m looking forward to writing up my best approach to solving that puzzle. Stay tuned 🙂