Tipsu Tyee counts coup in Chinuk Wawa

A short sentence, not of death.

The following early-frontier anecdote shows Oregon Native leader Tipsu Tyee honorably counting coup rather than killing when he had the opportunity. (Contemporary sources say his name meant “Bearded Chief” as Tipsu in Chinuk Wawa is ‘hair; grass’).

Tipsu Tyee, whose home was in the mountains between Applegate and Bear creeks, used frequently to be seen in Jacksonville. This savage, less interesting and attractive than the others, was a bugbear to the miners and settlers, because of his occasional “insolence” and mysterious character. Yet his impulses were not all bad, as the following anecdote will show. This is given on the authority of Henry Klippel, who was an eye-witness. John Sands, a rough miner, intoxicated himself and meeting Tipsu Tyee in Jacksonville, struck him over the head with a stick. The insulted savage, bow in hand, drew an arrow to the head, and appeared about to pierce his assailant’s heart; but shouting “Hi yu lum; nika wake memeloose mika!” lowered his bow. Experts in the Chinook jargon translate the above as “You are very drunk, or I would kill you!” This is certainly a case of forbearance on the Indian’s part, as he had ample opportunity for escape to his brushy kingdom in the hills.

— page 211 of “History of Southern Oregon: Comprising Jackson, Josephine, Douglas, Curry and Coos Countries, Comp. from the Most Authentic Sources…” by Albert G. Walling (Portland, OR: A. G. Walling, 1884)

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