More about “Skin Tyee”

Confirmed: a BC First Nation has a Chinuk Wawa name.

(See “Skin Tyee Band“.)

skin tyee 01

page 453

Skin Dyee. E[nglish]+Ch[inook Jargon]: Skin + dayï, name, “skin + chief” Chinook: Originally name of a François Lake trapper, hence “skin”; a Witsuwit’en chief who lived in Hagwilget, brother of Samooh, with the feast name Gibukan and Samooh, of the Yatsadkus (Dark) House of the Gilserhyu (Frog) Clan.

Further use of Jargon loans in local names is found here:

tyee lake

page 456

Tyee Lake, tyee. (Ch) + bin (W[itsuwet’en]) [Tyee Bin] “Tyee Lake”: Lake near the Telkwa Highroad in the territory of Tyee Lake David.

— from ” ‘Hang Onto These Words’: Johnny David’s Delgamuukw Evidence” by Antonia Mills (Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press, 2015)


(Image credit: Warrior Publications)

One interesting question is how Chinook Jargon came as far north and inland as Wet’suwet’en territory.

These folks have strong cultural ties with Tsimshianic-speaking bands on the nearby coast, which for decades was a Jargon-speaking zone, but Tsimshians are an ethnic group that had markedly little use for CJ.

So perhaps it’s from their interior BC relatives, like the Tsilhqot’in and Dakelh people, that the language came to Wet’suwet’en.

Whatever the source, Chinuk Wawa has a definite footprint in the tribal Dene language there. Among other CW words, “potlatch” (spelled as balhats) has become entrenched, in this case as a label for their traditional governance system.

What do you think?