T’əmánəwas boards among Lower Chehalis + Chinooks

Like a number of other highly important cultural terms that Geo. Gibbs reports in his 1877 ethnography, I take it that the phrase “tamahno-ūs boards” was definitely Chinuk Wawa.


I couldn’t find images of t’əmánəwas-laplash, so instead, here’s Adam McIsaac doing Chinook-style carving (image credit: The Reflector)

I mean, it must’ve been t’əmánəwas-laplash.

Here’s a passage from Gibbs’s incredibly informative “Tribes of Western Washington and Northwestern Oregon” (page 203) about burial and spiritual customs:

In case of chiefs or men of note, much pomp was used in the accompaniments of the rite. The canoes were of great size and value, the war or state canoes of the deceased. Frequently one was inverted over that holding the body, and in one instance, near Shoalwater Bay, the corpse was deposited in a small canoe, which again was placed in a larger one and covered with a third. Among the Tsinūk and Tsihalis, the tamahno-ūs board of the owner was placed near him. The Puget Sound Indians do not make these tamahano-ūs boards, but they sometimes constructed effigies of their chiefs, resembling the person as nearly as possible, dressed in his usual costume, and wearing the articles of which he was fond.

The phrase t’əmánəwas-laplash is another “new discovery” to us, in quotation marks — it’s an expression that was never noted down in the Chinook Jargon dictionaries of old times, but nonetheless made appearances in the writings of folks who knew what they were talking about. 

Bonus fact:

Henry Allen, who identified as a Skokomish tribal member, told the anthropologist/linguist William Elmendorf that Lower Chehalis Salish people had c’áx̣ʷu.

He described these as:

“(earth dwarf) images, about four feet high, made like a person, of wood, with a handle in back to hold them by. We Skokomish don’t use those, but we call them c’aʹx̣ʷu too. And they are tamánamis, and that tamánamis is little-earths…”

Would these be the Tsihalis (Lower Chehalis) “tamahno-ūs boards” that Gibbs was describing?

Little earths are spiritually powerful dwarf beings, as I understand.

Henry Allen’s pronunciation tamánamis reflects Chinuk Wawa t’əmánəwas ‘guardian spirit power’.

This is from Elmendorf’s book “Twana Narratives”, page 242.

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?