Don’t wail like Coyote, weep like a whiteman

wail-like-a-coyote-2

The priest tries to kill the Indian to save the person, or at least their soul…

     Iaka na tlus pus tilikom aias
Is it good if (Indian) people

skukum krai pus klaska tilikom
wail when their relatives

mimlus? = Pus msaika tilikom
die? =If you folks’ relative

mimlus, pi msaika tlap ayu sik tomtom
dies, and you get very sad

pi msaika ayu krai kopa ukuk, wik
and you weep about it,

masachi ukuk. <X> Kopit pus
that’s not bad. <X> Only if

tilikom aias skukum krai kakwa kayuti
people wail like a Coyote

pus tilikom kolan klaska kopa saia
for people to hear them from far away, 

wik tlus ukuk.
that’s no good.

— Kamloops Wawa #205 (June 1903), page 47

This advice to Indigenous readers hit me forcefully, with its calculated slap at traditional beliefs.

First, the priest is insulting Coyote.  That’s a low blow.

Second, he’s urging people to lay off of traditional mourning customs.  To pick just one community source of information, from the Splatsin band,

Groups of women were designated as the “official wailers”.  They came around the corpse and said their prayers for the soul of the departed and then would begin to wail.

A History of the Shuswap People, page 11

So today’s paragraph packs a lot of cultural conflict into a few words of Chinook Jargon.

(See further attacks on Indigenous mourning traditions: no bathing!)

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