1901: Martha Douglas Harris’s “Chee-chee-ka” (Part 3)

mink and wolf

(Image credit: One-Elevenbooks.com)

As our story develops, we find signs of the author’s ties to old Fort Vancouver.

A reminder — underlined words do not seem to be Chinuk Wawa, but local Hul’q’umin’um Salish used for narrative colour.

A list of those Salish words, with their more usual Jargon counterparts:

  • stqé:ye’     ‘wolf’     lílu
  • chiy’əʔ-chiy’əʔ*     ‘bluejay’     qísqis
  • chuchí’q’un’     ‘mink’     mínk
  • k’wet’un’     ‘mouse’     xúlxul
  • s-kwelsh*     ‘hide it’     mamuk-ípsut [Ø] ‘make-hidden [it]’
  • k’wuluw’     ‘skin, hide, pelt’     skín
  • sx̣uy’us     ‘head’     latét
  • x̣á:m-uthut* / x̣ʷáŋ*     ‘weep’     kʰiláy
  • shélh-s*     ‘their road(s)’     łaska úyx̣at
  • ‘ul’élush     ‘sisters (of a single man; brothers of a single woman)’     áts ‘sister(s)’
  • sq’é:t’l     ‘land otter = river otter’     nanámuks
  • miláləm*     ‘to confer'(?)     wáwa kʰanumákwst / kʰanumákwst wáwa ‘talk together’
  • sx̣uy’ukwus     ‘raccoon’     q’áləs
  • swúy’qe’     ‘man’    mán

Stikya wawau kopa, “Chea-Chea, halo mika nanitch nika tenas?” Nika
stqé:ye’ wáwa kʰupa chiy’əʔ-chiy’əʔ* [1], (“)hílu máyka nánich nayka tənás? náyka
wolf say to bluejay, “not you see my child? my”
DDR: ‘Wolf said to Bluejay, “Haven’t you seen my child? My” ‘
LBDB: ‘He asked the blue-jay to find the child, […]’

tumtum hiyu kwass kloonass yaka memaloost. “Nawitka,” Chee-Chee wawau.
tə́mtəm hayu-k’wás(h)(,) [2] t’ɬúnás yáka míməlust.(“) “nawítka,”chiy’əʔ-chiy’əʔ* wáwa.
heart much-fear(,) maybe he dead.(“) “indeed,” bluejay say. 
DDR: ‘heart is fearing he may be dead.” “Indeed,” Bluejay said.’
LBDB: ‘[…] so this boaster said: “Oh, yes, […]’

Hyas kull pos nika nanitch, nika mamook killipi.
(“)hayas-q’ə́l pus náyka nánich, náyka mamuk-k’ílapay.(“) 

very-hard in.order.that I look, I make-return.
DDR: ‘ “It’s very hard for me to look; (but) I’ll be back.” ‘
LBDB: ‘[…] I will try, but it will be hard.” So off he flew to look.’

Tenas lele okook Chea-Chea-Ka wawau. “Klonass, nika klap yaka.” Yaka hyou
tənəs-líli úkuk chuchí’q’un’ wáwa(,) “t’ɬúnás, náyka t’ɬáp yáka.” yáka hayu-
little-long.time that mink say(,) “maybe I find him.” he much-
DDR: ‘After a bit, that Mink said, “Maybe I’ll find him.” He was perfectly’
LBDB: ‘Then Chee-che-ka came forward and said: “Perhaps I can find your son.” […]’

cumtux kah okook tenas mitlite.
kə́mtəks qʰá úkuk tənás míɬayt
know where that child be.located.

DDR: ‘aware where that child was.’
LBDB: ‘ “Very well,” said the wolf; “if you bring him to me alive, I will be your slave.” ‘

Pe Chee-Chee-Ka, hyou mamook temanous, konamost yaka oluk [space] ats, pe
pi chuchí’q’un’ hayu-mamuk-t’əmánəwas, kʰanumákwst yaka úlq’-áts, pi
and mink much-make-magic, with his snake-sister, and
DDR: ‘And Mink did a lot of magic along with his snake sisters, and’
LBDB: ‘So Chee-che-ka began to sing with his sisters, the snakes and […]’

quietan ats.

DDR: ‘(his) mouse sisters’
LBDB: ‘[…] mice. They beat the sticks and sang, and he called his spirits to help.’

“Coolie konaway Kah Tipsoo pos nanitch tenas stikya.”
“kúli kʰánawi-qʰá [Ø] típsu pus nánich tənəs-/tənás* stqé:ye’.

“run all-where [in] grass in.order.to see little-wolf.”
DDR: ‘ “Run around everywhere in the grass to look for the wolf cub.” ‘
LBDB: ‘He told his sisters to go all about the grass and woods, and to pretend to find the young wolf.’

Pe yaka coolie konaway illi-hi, pe halo. Alta Chee-Chee-Ka cultus wawau, yaka
pi yáka kúli [Ø] kʰánawi ílihi, pi hílu. álta chuchí’q’un’ kʰə́ltəs-wáwa, yáka
and they [sic] run [to] all place, but nothing. and.then mink worthless-talk, he
DDR: ‘And they ran all over the place, but there was nothing, so then Mink ran his mouth, he’
LBDB: ‘Then they came back, emptyhanded, and then he, with a great show of noise, […]’

mamook squalish, copa yaka ats. Pe yaka iskum okook tenas stikya. Yaka
mamuk-s-kwelsh* [3], kʰupa yaka áts. pi yáka ískam úkuk tənəs-/tənás* stqé:ye’. yáka
make-hide.it(?), with his sister. and he get that little-wolf. it
DDR: ‘had hidden it (?), with his sisters. And he got that wolf cub that’

memaloost, yaka mash yaka qualo, konamoxt yaka schyus.
míməlust, yáka másh yaka k’wuluw’, kʰanumákwst yaka sx̣uy’us.
dead, he throw its skin, with its head.
DDR: ‘was dead, he threw out its skin, together with its head.’
LBDB: ‘[…] brought out the head and skin, stuffed, of the poor young wolf.’

“Nah, nanitch mika tenas!” Alta konaway stikya tillicum hyu haam.
“ná, nánich mayka tənás!” álta kʰánawi stqé:ye’ -tílikam* hayu-x̣á:m-uthut*. [4]
“hey, look your child!” and.then all wolf people much-weep(?).
DDR: ‘Hey, look(,) your child! Then all the wolf people were weeping (?).’
LBDB: ‘ “Here is your son, Stikya.” Then the crying and mourning began, […]’

Pos-kahta mika mamook mamcloos [sic] niska [sic] tenas?
(“)pus-qʰáta [5] máyka mamuk-míməlus nayka tənás?(“)
(“)for-how you make-dead my child?”
DDR: ‘ “Why did you kill my child?” ‘

Alta konaway tillicum coolee pos iskum Chee-Chee-Ka pe wake kahta pos iskum.
álta kʰánawi tílikam* kúli pus ískam chuchí’q’un’ pi wík-qʰáta pus ískam [Ø]. [6]

and.then all people run in.order.to catch mink but not-how in.order.to catch [it].
DDR: ‘Then all the people ran to catch Mink but couldn’t get him.’
LBDB: ‘[…] and some of the animals made a dash to catch Chee-che-ka, but […]’

Chee-Chee-Ka klatawa killipi, copa quietan illi-hi, yaka ipsoot copa scholtz pe
chuchí’q’un’ łátwa-k’ílapay, kʰupa k’wet’un’-ílihi, yáka ípsut kʰupa ?shélh-s? [7] pi
mink go return, to mouse-land, he hide on their.road(s)(?) and
DDR: ‘Mink went back to mouse country, (and) he went into hiding by their roads  and’
LBDB: ‘[…] he had turned into a mink and disappeared down a mouse-hole and ran along their roads and […]’

winapie yaka chachow copa klahanie, pe hyou enyalish.
wínapi* yáka cháku kʰupa łáx̣ani, pi háyú* ?‘ul’élush?. [8]
eventually he come to outside, and many siblings[=sisters.of.a.single.man/brosofsinglewoman](?).
DDR: ‘eventually he came out, with (?) many (of his) siblings (?).’
LBDB: ‘[…] came up outside.’

Tenas lele, Scattle, mamook iskum Chee-Chee-Ka pe tillicum hyou melalum.
tənəs-lili, sq’é:t’l, mamuk-ískam [9] chuchí’q’un’ pi tílikam* hayu-miláləm*. [10]

little-long.time, land.otter make-get mink and people much-confer(?).
DDR: ‘Shortly, River Otter collected Mink and the people held a conference.
LBDB: ‘Just then the land-otter caught him, and the animals all came to hold a court and try him for killing their friend’s son.’

Pe scickikwas wawau, “Chee-Chee-Ka, nika sikhs, halo memaloost okook soyka,
pi sx̣uy’ukwus wáwa, “chuchí’q’un’ nayka síks [11], hílu míməlust úkuk swúy’qe’,
and raccoon say, “mink my friend, not kill that man,
DDR: ‘And Raccoon said, “Mink is my friend, don’t kill this man,” ‘
LBDB: ‘After much talking, the panther said in the court: “Chee-che-ka must die. He has killed our young friend, so must give up his life.” The death sentence was pronounced, but the coon and the raven begged to be heard. The coon said. “Don’t kill him, […]’

yaka nika Kahpho.”
yáka nayka kápx̣u*.” 
he my elder.brother.”
DDR: ‘he’s my older brother.’
LBDB: ‘[…] for he is my friend.” ‘

[to be continued in the next installment]


chiy’əʔ-chiy’əʔ* [1] is my inference of the intended pronunciation; I haven’t found a matching word in Hul’q’umin’um itself, but neighbouring SENĆOŦEN (Saanich) Salish has čiy’əʔ (although not reduplicated) for ‘bluejay’.

náyka tə́mtəm hayu-k’wás(h), literally ‘my heart is much-afraid’, [2] is a rather unusual wording; more common would be something like náyka hayu-k’wás(h)-tə́mtəm ‘I’m much-afraid-heart(ed)’.  

mamuk-s-kwelsh* [3] — in Hulq’umin’um’ dictionaries I’ve only found kwelsh ‘hide it’, but a prefix s- can indeed go on some verb forms; call this word a partial mystery. 

hayu-x̣á:m-uthut* ‘weep’ (?) [4] — the Hulq’umin’um’ word is too long, due to having the Reflexive suffix on it, to be a great match for MDH’s < haam >. Neighbouring SENĆOŦEN’s x̣ʷáŋ is appropriately short, but a less good match in terms of sounds. 

pus-qʰáta (literall ‘for how’) [5] — this apparent expression of ‘why’ (there are plenty of them in various Jargon dialects) reminds me of very old-school lower Columbia River style. Certain early documents of that dialect (e.g. page 47 of Blanchet’s dictionary/religious manual) show ‘why’ expressed as pus ikta (literally ‘for what’), just as the Grand Ronde dialect in Oregon still says it. Along with other “southern” features in MDH’s Mink story, maybe this implicates her father, longtime Fort Vancouver denizen James Douglas, as a major influence on her Jargon. 

wík-qʰáta pus ískam [Ø] ‘couldn’t get him’ [6] is an unusual occurrence of the “null” inanimate third-person object pronoun in reference to an animate object.

shélh-s* [7] should mean ‘their road(s)’ in Hulq’umin’um’. 

‘ul’élush* [8] is about the closest match I can find in the Hulq’umin’um’ dictionaries; this word means ‘sisters of a single man’ or ‘brothers of a single woman’. 

mamuk-ískam [9], as I’ve mentioned a couple of times recently here, typically means ‘accumulate; collect’, so it’s somewhat odd to see it applied to a single object here. 

hayu-miláləm* [10] ‘confer’ (?) is somewhat unclear in meaning, but it’s very exciting to find it documented by MDH, whether in Hulq’umin’um’ or in Chinuk Wawa. The root word is found in a few Coast Salish languages, and it helped form the Catholic C.W. expression < haha milalam > ‘to confess’ (literally ~ ‘sacred conferring’), which is common even as far inland as Kamloops, BC. 

síks [11], according to eyewitness comments in the era, was more typically an inland CW word, not surprising if it’s ultimately from Nez Perce as I’ve argued recently here; it’s also typical of the lower Columbia. A more typical coastal / northern dialect word would be the famous < tillicum > ‘person, people; friend’. 

Summary of the above:

Martha Douglas Harris’s use of Chinook Jargon is, once we see past the usual quota of haphazard punctuation and her quirky deployment of local Salish words, fluent and bears traces of a Fort Vancouver pedigree. That would reflect her family’s long and close association with the Jargon.

What do you think?
qʰáta mayka tə́mtəm?