1947: “Island Indians would greet” Truman in Chinook
At this point, can we find any Commanders-in-Chief who haven’t been spoken to in Chinuk Wawa?!
The actual sweater (image credit: Cowichan Valley Museum)
This time it’s a cross-border message of affection from allies, soon after World War 2 was put to an end.
It’s important for us to acknowledge the major role of Indigenous communities in stewarding Chinook Jargon after the frontier period.
BC Colonizers may no longer have felt they needed to talk Chinook after about 1900, but the following is one of countless demonstrations that the language was kept alive in the minds of First Nations knowledge keepers.
The Jargon spellings you’re about to see are as homemade and expressive of people’s feelings as the Cowichan sweater that they accompanied.
Island Indians Would Greet U.S. President
If President Truman visits Canada in the near future he will be welcomes not only as the president of the United States but as “Thalgethethe Siaye” (Chief of Peace) of the Cowichan Indians.
This title was conferred upon President Truman by Chief Fred Thorne of the Cowichan Indians in a colorful ceremony in Duncan in December 1945.
Ceremony was marked by the presentation of one of the famous Cowichan Indian sweaters to President Truman, accepted on his behalf by Troy L. Perkins, U.S. Consul in Victoria.
A message accompanying the sweater read, in Chinook, “Okooke ickta delate warm, karkwa nesika tumtum kopa mika pe mika illihie.” (This garment is very warm, like unto our thoughts towards you and your country.)
Knitted by Mrs. Patric Charlie, the white, zippered sweater, size 42, had an eagle design on the back.
— from the April 12, 1947 Vancouver (BC) Daily Province, page 10
The Hulq’umi’num’-language expression written as Thalgethethe Siaye above seems to contain the word for ‘friend’ (syeyu). I haven’t figured out the first word.
Here’s a closer peek at the Chinuk Wawa, which is perfectly fluent:
“Okooke ickta delate warm, karkwa nesika tumtum kopa mika pe mika illihie.”
úkuk íkta dlét wám, kákwa nsayka tə́mtəm kʰupa mayka pi mayka ílihi.
this clothing really warm, like our heart to you and your country.
DDR: ‘This piece of clothing is very warm, like our feelings towards you and your country.’
‘This garment is very warm, like unto our thoughts towards you and your country.’
Big thanks to reader Darrin Brager for sharing this lovely piece!
[Editing to add —
Alex Code found this image of the Chinook greeting noted above. Thanks to you too!]