Lewis + Clark were real chiefs, Settlers are “but tilikum”

A fine little master class in the traditional distinction between táyí & tílixam…


Portrait by Paul Kane (image credit: Discover Lewis & Clark)

…And the overtones of meaning in both words:

but tilikum

The spot on which Lewis and Clarke’s winter encampment was fixed is still discernible, and the foundation logs remained till within a year or two. It was on the west bank of a little river, called by the Indians Netul, but generally known as Lewis and Clarke’s River, about two miles from its mouth. The trail by which they used to reach the coast can also be traced. Their visit produced a stronger impression than any event before the arrival of the Astoria party, and they are still remembered by the older Indians. One of these Indians told a settler that the captains were real chiefs, and that the Americans who had come since were but tilikum, or common people. Ske-mah-kwe-up, the chief, and almost the last survivor of the Wahkiakum band of Tsinūk, preserved with great pride the medal given him by Lewis and Clarke, until within a year or two, when it was accidentally lost, to his great grief. 

— from page 238 of “Tribes of Western Washington and Northwestern Oregon” by George Gibbs (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1877)

George Gibbs had a wealth of experiential knowledge and insight into Pacific Northwest life, so I’m paying attention when I read these remarks.

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?