“…all the things Whites have been saying lately about violence”

Another unpublished Chinook Writing letter, seemingly dispelling rumours of a Chilcotin uprising…

< L.J.C.e.M.I. > [1]
< William’s [2] Lake Industrial School >

< 150 Mile House, B.C. >

Kopa naika tlus papa Pir L Shyun ukuk pipa < X > < 12 > Shulai < 1915 >
This letter is to my dear father Pere Le Jeune. 12 July 1915 

Naika mash kopa maika < #9 > [sic] tala pus paiii ukuk < 12 > aias
I’m sending you $9 dollars to pay for those 12 big

buk [3] < X > Naika wiht paiii < #3.50 express > [4] < X > Nikst taim ilip tlus pus
books. I’m also paying $3.50 express [shipping fee]. Next time it would be better if

naika tlap ukuk ayu buks kakwa ankati kopa < freight > < X > Pi naika
I get these several books as before, by freight [cheaper shipping]. But I’m

tlus tomtom pus naika tlap ukuk buks < X > Tilikom aias tiki [Ø] [5] 
happy that I’m receiving these books. The [Indian] people love [them]

pi iaka tlus kopa klaska < X >
and they’re good for them.

Alta naika kilapai kopa saia kuli kopa stik < X > Tilikom chako
I’ve now returned from a long trip through the bush. The [Indian] people are

tlus iawa < X > Ayu iskom ⊕ [6] pi klaska tlus nanis [sic] kopa naika
improving over there. Many received communion and they take good care of me

< X > Klaska saia kopa tikop man pi klaska ilo ayu wawa kopa 
They are far from White people and they don’t go on about

kanawi ikta tikop man klaska wawa alta kopa pait < X > Kopit 
all the things Whites have been saying lately about violence. Only

kopa ST klaska tomtom < X >
God do they think about. 

Pi wik saia naika kuli tanas lili kopa tikop man! Aiak
And soon I travel for a little while to the White people! Quickly

kilapai < X > Pus naika kopit styuil wiht naika kuli kopa klaska < X > 
returning. When I’m done praying I’ll be traveling to them too.

Kopa iakwa kanawi ikta iaka tlus ilo sik tomtom < X >
Over here everything is fine, no bad feelings. 

Poto[h] < X >

Naika maika tilikom
I’m your friend

Pir Toma < X >
Pere Thomas


[1] L.J.C.e.M.I. is the traditional Latin greeting laudetur Jesus Christus et Maria Immaculata ‘praised be Jesus Christ and Mary the Immaculate’. It’s very common at the start of letters written by Oblate missionaries such as Father Thomas to their colleagues.

[2] Williams Lake, BC, got that name from chief William, so originally it was spelled with an apostrophe. In the USA and Canada, postal standardization eventually removed such punctuation marks from place names.

[3] buk and, just below, buks are interchangeable for the plural ‘books’. This fact reflects both normal Chinuk Wawa grammar, which doesn’t need to change the form of a noun to pluralize it, and the reality that non-anglophone Jargon users picked up new words “on the fly”. That’s to say that they didn’t receive lessons in English grammar, but instead learned additional words from that language through everyday, unpredictable interactions with White people, where either “book” or “books” would be frequently heard.

[4] < express > written in English spelling, as well as < freight > below, are likely to have been the words that were used also in Kamloops-region Chinuk Wawa, where plenty of new English loans existed compared with other dialects of the pidgin.

[5] As in yesterday’s letter, my symbol Ø indicates the “lack” of any pronoun said out loud in reference to an inanimate object. Typical for third-persons in Kamloops-region Chinuk Wawa, singular and plural normally aren’t distinguished, so this “null pronoun” can reflect nouns that e.g. English would give as plurals (‘books’; ‘them’) as well as singulars (‘book’; ‘it’). In fact, look no farther than the words right after Ø for an illustration of iaka meaning not ‘it/she/he’ but instead ‘they’!

[6] ⊕ is a frequent symbol in Chinook Writing for the word likalisti ‘communion’ (from French l’eucharistie ‘the eucharist’).

Father Thomas’s previous letter had told that he was going to visit the Dakelh (Carrier) community of Kluskus, the mixed Dakelh-Tsilhqut’in (Chilcotin) community of Ulkatcho, and “the Chilcotin”. Chilcotin people had a sustained reputation among Whites as potentially hostile, and I take Thomas’s remarks about rumours of violence to relate to that.