Going to blazes with Chief Andrew

Follow the blazes and the notes tacked to the trees, to get through the woods with Chief Andrew of Chu Chua!


(Photo credit: the blogger)

Here is how:

Chi alta nsaika kilapai kopa Kamlups. Saia nsaika
I’ve just gotten back to Kamloops.  I took a long 

kuli, kanamokst taii Andryu kopa SShB pi <20> wiht
trip, together with Chief Andrew from St John the Baptist [Chu Chua] and 20 

iaka tanas. …
of his followers…

Shulai <1st>, nsaika
July 1st, we 

mash SShB. Nsaika klatwa kopa kyutan, klunas <10>
left Chu Chua.  We rode horses, about 10 

mails sahali kopa SShB, wik saia iaka lipii
miles above Chu Chua, near the base of 

ukuk aias mawntin iaka tomtom ihpui SShB chok iaka
the high mountain whose heart hides Chu Chua Creek’s 

wihat. Iawa nsaika klatwa inatai ukuk aias
course.  Then we crossed the big 

stalo. Lili nsaika mamuk pi nsaika kanawi
river.  We toiled for some time until we all 

ko inatai kanamokst kanawi nsaika kyutan.
arrived across with all of our horses.  

Pus nsaika k’o inatai, iaka chako pulakli, pi
When we got across, it was getting to be evening, and 

nsaika kamp wik saia iaka haws iht tlus Kanada
we camped near the house of a nice Eastern Canadian 

man iaka nim Limiyu*, iaka mitlait iakwa.
man called Lemieux who lives here.  

Tanas son <2> Shulai nsaika gitop…
On the morning of July 2 we got up…


Klunas <4>, klunas <5> mails nsaika kuli,
We traveled maybe 4 or 5 miles, 

pi nsaika tlap iht pipa kopa oihat, iaka k’aw kopa
and we found a letter [in Chinuk Wawa shorthand] on the trail, it was fastened to 

stik, iaka wawa ukuk pipa: klunas msaika chako
a tree; this letter said: “You folks may have gotten 

olo kopa oihat, kakwa tlus msaika iskom ukuk
hungry on the way, so you should take this 

mawich mitlait iakwa. Ilip man chako kopa oihat
deer that’s here.”  The first person to come along the trail 

iaka nanich ukuk pipa, pi wiht iaka nanich ukuk
had seen this letter, and also saw that 

mawich lipii mitlait kopa stik, iaka iskom ukuk lipii
deer leg hanging in the tree, and took that leg 

pi wik iaka iskom ukuk pipa. Pi kimta man chako, iaka
but didn’t take the letter.  And the next person to come along, he 

nanich ukuk pipa, pi pipa wawa pus iaka iskom mawich
saw that letter, and the letter said to take the deer 

pi wik kata iaka nanich mawich. Mawich kopit mitlait.
but he couldn’t see any deer.  The deer was all gone.  


Wik lili kopit sitkom son nsaika ko kopa iht
… A while later in the afternoon we got to a 

swamp, pi iawa, wik saia kopa swamp, mitlait iht
swamp, and there near the swamp, was another 

pipa iaka pind kopa stik. Ukuk pipa iaka siisim pus
[Chinuk Wawa shorthand] letter pinned to a tree.  This letter claimed that 

kluchmin ayu lisi, kakwa tilikom wawa aias tlus pus
women are lazy, so people suggested they should 

wik klaska makmak. Kansih tilikom klatwa ilip kopa
not get to eat.   Several people had gone ahead of 

nsaika, pus mamuk tlus oihat; klaska mamuk
us, and cleared the trail; they had 

cim ukuk pipa kanawi. Iawa nsaika ayu tomtom pi
written all of these notes.  At this point we were distracted and 

ayu ihi kopa iaka siisim ukuk, pi nsaika 
laughing about the message in this one, and we 

mash tomtom nsaika k’o kopa swamp ilihi, pi wik
forgot we had gotten into swampy land
, and it wasn’t 

lili, pi kyutan iaka lipii klatwa drit kikuli kopa
long before a horse’s feet were really sinking into 

ukuk swamp ilihi, pi wik kata iaka wiht mamuk
this swampy ground, and it couldn’t 

chako klahani iaka lipii, iaka tiki mimlus kopa ukuk
pull its feet back out again, and it was about to die in this 

ilihi. Pi ayu tilikom mitlait, kakwa wik iaka mimlus iht
place.  But there were plenty of people present, so not a single 

kyutan kopa ukuk swamp ilihi.
horse died in this swampy place.  


Pi kimta nsaika ayu
And afterward we were 

wawa kanamokst kopa ukuk pipa, iaka patlach hloima tomtom
talking to each other about that note that had distracted our attention 

kopa nsaika, pi wik nsaika komtaks swamp ilihi mitlait.
so that we weren’t aware there was a swamp.  

Pus nsaika kopit kopa ukuk swamp ilihi nsaika tlap
When we got through with the swamp we reached 

tanas tlus oihat, pi nsaika tanas aiak klatwa
a little better trail, and we were able to go a bit quicker, 

klunas <24> mails nsaika kuli pus kopit sitkom son…
and we went about 24 miles in the afternoon…

Wiht nsaika tlap siisim kopa oihat. Klunas
We found another message along the way.  Maybe 

tilikom chako kopit klaska pipa, pi klaska mamuk kakshit
the people’s paper had run out, so they would chop 

stik kopa lahash, klaska mamuk drit flat ukuk
a tree with an axe; they really flattened off the 

stik, pi ukuk stik chako kakwa pipa, pi klaska mamuk
tree, and the tree became like paper, and they 

cim kopa ukuk stik, klaska wawa pus klaska mamuk
wrote on the tree; they said that they had 

mimlus mawich pi bir kopa ukuk ilihi.
killed a deer and a bear in this place.  

(KW #132, September 1895, page 132)

This is my favourite Chinuk Wawa shorthand anecdote 🙂

(Updated: ) Here’s an image of a blazed tree from Frederick Whymper’s 1869 book “Travel and Adventure in the Territory of Alaska”, page 85:

Blazed tree in Whympers Travel and Adventure in the Territory of Alaska page 85