The medicine man argues back…in church!

{Edited to specify: it’s not the medicine man who’s doing the arguing here, it’s someone who supports him.}

When you grasp how, in Kamloops Wawa, liplit “the priest” mentioned in the third person is the same individual as nsaika “us” in the editorial comments, you’re going to realize that the following eyewitness report is juicy as heck.

Even more dramatically, this argument between tamanwas people (medicine-man supporters) and Father JMR Le Jeune happened in precisely the community that, besides Kamloops itself, was the most pro-priest of all.

That village, Coldwater, BC, was in fact the cradle of Chinuk pipa shorthand writing, the home of the crucially important Aboriginal popularizer Máyus (a.k.a. Charley-Alexis Mayoos).

So the extended account that follows is something that “the priest” was mighty upset about, certainly as upset as the traditionalists he’s shown arguing with.

I’ll give credit to Le Jeune for bothering to quote the men he was yelling at; out of this, we get a an intense, nearly first-person Indigenous voice pushing back against the hwait man‘s unquestionably domineering ways.  (The argument likely is translated here from Nłeʔkepmxcín, Thompson Salish, the Indian language that Le Jeune learned first on arriving from Europe.)

This is taken from Kamloops Wawa issue #129 (June 1895), page 86:

The medicine man argues back (2)


<Coldwater.> Mokst man kopa Kol Watir tlap
Two men at Coldwater have turned

aias hloima tomtom. Kansih tilikom kopa Kol Watir
very strange-minded.  Several people at Coldwater

iskom tamanwas ukuk kol ilihi, pi liplit skukum wawa
took up tamanwas this winter, and the priest spoke sternly

kopa styuil haws: Wik kata msaika mamuk nawitka
in church: “You folks can’t believe

kopa ST pi kopa tamanwas kanamokst. Pus msaika tiki
in God and in tamanwas both.  If you folks want

tamanwas, pus msaika mamuk nawitka kopa tamanwas, wik
tamanwas, and you believe in tamanwas,

kata msaika haha milalam, wik kata msaika iskom
you can’t make confession, you can’t receive

Å. Ikta mamuk wik msaika wawa kopa liplit ankati,
communion.  Why didn’t you folks tell the priest earlier,

ilip iaka wash msaika: wik naika kopit kopa tamanwas, naika
before he baptized you: ‘I’m not finished with tamanwas, I

kwanisim tiki tamanwas, pi liplit ilo mamuk wash
still want tamanwas‘, and the priest wouldn’t have baptized

msaika. Pi alta msaika wash; wik saia msaika
you.  But now you folks are baptized; (when) you were about to

wash ankati, liplit wawa msaika: maika kopit kopa
be baptized before, the priest asked you: ‘Are you done with

The medicine man argues back (3)

[center column:]

tamanwas, pi msaika wawa: Nawitka, naika kopit.”
tamanwas?’ and you folks answered, ‘Yes, I’m done.’

Wiht alta iht sno msaika skukum wawa kopa ST
Again a year ago you folks swore to God

pi kopa ShK pi kopa liplit pi kopa kanawi tilikom pus
and to Jesus and to the priest and to all of the people (in the congregation) that

msaika kopit kopa tamanwas. Msaika iskom lakrwa kopa
you were done with tamanwas.  You folks took up the cross in

msaika lima, msaika mamuk cim msaika nim kopa pipa
your hands, you signed you name (in Chinuk pipa shorthand?) to a paper

pus msaika drit kopit iskom tamanwas. Ikta mamuk
that you really were done taking tamanwas treatment.  Why

msaika mamuk kakshit ukuk msaika wawa kopa ST?
have you folks broken this promise of yours to God?

Msaika chako sik pi msaika wawa: Ilo ShK mamuk
You folks get sick and you say: ‘Jesus isn’t

tlus naika; tamanwas man iaka mamuk tlus naika.
curing me; the medicine man will cure me.’

Pus kakwa msaika tomtom, wawa kopa liplit: Tlus maika
If that’s how you’re thinking, tell the priest: ‘You should

kopit chako kopa nsaika, wik nsaika mamuk nawitka maika
stop coming to us, we don’t believe your

wawa, nsaika mamuk nawitka kopa tamanwas.
words, we believe in tamanwas.’

Pus drit kakwa msaika tomtom, tlus msaika kopit
If  you folks really think that way, you need to stop

iskom Å, tlus msaika kopit haha milalam, tlus
taking communion, you need to stop making confession,

msaika mamuk ihpui styuil haws.
you need to close up the church.”

Iht man, ilo Katolik, mitlait kopa styuil haws,
One man, not a Catholic, who was in the church,

iaka kolan ukuk wawa, pi alki iaka wawa kopa tilikom
heard these words, and went on to say to the people,

Wik tlus liplit iaka wawa: Nanich, iaka wawa liplit
“The priest’s words are no good:  Look, the priest says

pus liiam iaka man ukuk tamanwas, kakwa pus liiam ukuk
that somehow this medicine man is the devil’s man, as if this

tamanwas, pi msaika tilikom ukuk tamanwas, kakwa msaika papa
tamanwas was the devil, but this medicine man is you folks’ relative,

iaka, wik kata pus liiam iaka. <X> Wiht liplit
he’s like you father, there’s no way he’s the devil.  <X>  The priest also

iaka cipi pus iaka wawa mamuk ihpui styuil haws
was wrong when he said to close up the church,

wik kata liplit mamuk ihpui styuil haws, ST nsaika
a priest can’t close a church, it’s God our

papa iaka haws ukuk. <X>
father’s house.  <X>

Ukuk mokst man iskom ukuk man iaka wawa, pi
These two men took this man’s word, and

klaska chako hloima tomtom kopa liplit, klaska mamuk
they turned strange-minded toward the priest, they

nawitka pus liplit iaka cipi, klaska wawa, alki
believe that the priest was in the wrong, they said

klaska klatwa kopa lisivik mamuk komtaks kopa iaka
they would go to the bishop to inform him

kata liplit iaka cipi. Kanawi tilikom chako ashnu,
how the priest was wrong.  Everybody came to kneel,

mash tamanwas, tiki haha milalam, tiki iskom Å, kopit
(to) throw off the tamanwas, wanting to make confession, wanting to take communion; only

ukuk mokst man, ilo klaska ashnu, pi klaska kopit
these two men didn’t kneel and they stopped

chako kopa styuil haws.
coming to church.

The medicine man argues back (4)

[right column:]

Kanawi tilikom ayu mamuk pus mamuk kilapai ukuk
The people all worked and worked to get these

mokst man klaska tomtom, pi wik klaska kilapai klaska
two men’s minds to change, but they wouldn’t change their


Mamuk styuil pus ST mamuk chako kilapai ukuk
Pray to God to make these

mokst man klaska tomtom.
two men’s minds change.

Ukuk mokst man kolan kopa hloima man iaka siisim,
These two men listened to a strange man’s story,

klaska mamuk ilip ukuk man iaka siisim kopa
they put that man’s story before

liplit iaka siisim, kakwa chako hloima klaska tomtom.
the priest’s version, so their minds became strange.

Tlus nanich wik kansih msaika kolan kopa
Beware, never listen to

hloima siisim, kopa kaltash siisim.
strange tales, to worthless talk.