Baptiste of Shhkaltkmah writes to the editor

A young Secwepemc man writes with news of a tragedy…

This is one of the earliest extant letters written by an Indigenous person in the brand-new Chinuk pipa alphabet:


Baptiste letter

     Shan. < 31, 1892. >
January 31, 1892.

     Naika tlus papa Pir Lshyun, 
My good father Pere Le Jeune,

     Kanawi naika iktas chako paia: pi naika haws 
All of my belongings have burned: and my house

iaka paia: pi naika mama iaka iktas iaka paia, 
is burned: and my mother’s things are burned, 

pi naika papa iaka iktas iaka paia. Drit naika 
and my father’s things are burned. Really I 

ayu sik naika tomtom alta. Ilo iktas 
am feeling very sad now. No belongings 

alta naika mitlait. Pus maika nanich ukuk
at all now do I have. When you see this  

pipa maika sik tomtom. 
letter you’ll be sad. 

     Naika Batist kopa Shhkaltkmah.
I am Baptiste from Sahhaltkum.

– from Kamloops Wawa #12[a], February 7, 1892, page [45]

What have you learned?