Stories: 1897 “Foks pi Kayuti” + “Coyote and Fox”

It’s time to update the first linguistic study I ever published on Chinuk Wawa. (That’s a live link, if you want to go read some scholarly prose.)

fox vs coyote
(Image credit: A-Z Animals)

That paper, co-written with Professor Henry Davis of UBC, examined an 1897 story “Fox and Cayooty”, collected by Father JMR Le Jeune from a St’át’imc (“Lillooet”) Salish person in the St’át’imcets language. Le Jeune published it in the Kamloops Wawa newspaper with a CW translation, which was made slightly literary [see the bracketed stuff in it below]. 

Much has been learned in 20+ years. I wasn’t even in grad school in 2000. 

And since then, a kind colleague has pointed out a treasure trove of Chinook Jargon letters written in the shorthand “Chinuk Pipa” alphabet by southern interior BC tribal people. I analyzed these, and wrote my linguistics PhD dissertation on them. (Another live link, if you’re looking for a really deep dive.) 

Lots more material has emerged from archives, too, making it clear to us that the Jargon divides pretty neatly into 2 distinct dialects — the early-creolized, older, southern one centred on Fort Vancouver, and the re-pidginized, later, northern one focused in southern British Columbia. 

Plus, my research has come to indicate that both dialects, for separate historical reasons, have Métis lineage.  

And I’ve managed to find a likely “relative” of the “Fox and Cayooty” story from the same region and time, “Coyote and Fox” from the Upper Thompson Salish people, collected by anthropologist James A. Teit and published in 1916.  

In today’s article, I’ll show you the 1897 Kamloops Wawa version of this “rez story”, as one commentator has described it to me. Then I’ll let you compare it with the very similar 1916 tale. See what you think! 

I’m intentionally translating “Fox and Cayooty” here into the kind of English I’ve heard my whole life in the Pacific Northwest. 


foks pi kayuti 1

foks pi kayuti 2

Kopa Pavilion ilihi nsaika tlap ukuk hloima siisim kopa Lilwat wawa:
In the Pavilion (BC) area we [Father Le Jeune] got this goofy story in the “Lillooet” language: 

<Fox and Cayooty.>

Iht son chako kanamokst Foks pi Kayuti.
One day Fox and Coyote ran into each other.

Pi Foks, iaka nim wiht Talapus(,) wawa kopa Kayuti:
And Fox, who was also called “Talapus”, said to Coyote: 

= Halo, maika mitlait?
“Hello, is that you there? 

Kata maika, Kayuti?
How are you doing, Coyote?” 

= Naika olo, wawa Kayuti. 
“I’m hungry”, said Coyote. 

= Ikta mamuk maika olo, wawa Talapus: ayu cikcik chako kopa oihat, patl kopa tlus makmak.
“How come you’re hungry”, said “Talapus” [Fox} — “Lots of wagons come along the road, they’re filled with good food.”

= Pi wik klaska patlach Ø kopa naika, wawa Kayuti.
“But they don’t give any to me!” said Coyote.

= Nanich naika, wawa Talapus.
“Watch me”, said “Talapus” [Fox]. 

Iawa Talapus klatwa li dawn kopa oihat, kakwa mimlus.
And then “Talapus” [Fox] laid down in the road, like a dead body. 

Chako iht tkop man, ayu tlus makmak mitlait kopa iaka cikcik.
This White guy comes along; there was lots of good food in his wagon. 

Iaka nanich Talapus kakwa mimlus kopa oihat pi iaka wawa:
He saw “Talapus” [Fox] like a corpse in the road and he said: 

= O, aias tlus ukuk kalkala; tlus naika iskom iaka; alki naika mash iaka skin pi naika sil Ø kopa ayu chikmin.
“Wow! This critter’s really nice; let me just pick him up; I’ll skin him and sell it for a lot of money.”

Pi iaka lolo Talapus pi iaka mash iaka kopa cikcik.
And he carried “Talapus” [Fox] and he tossed him into the wagon. 

Pi Talapus ayu makmak kopa cikcik, pi iaka chako patl.
And “Talapus” [Fox] ate and ate in the wagon, till he got full. 

Pi iaka chomp pi iaka kilapai kopa Kayuti pi iaka wawa:
And he hopped out and he went back to Coyote and he said: 

= Nanich naika, Kayuti(,) naika patl. Tlus maika mamuk kakwa naika.
“See me, Coyote, I’m full. You ought to do like me.” 

= Tlus, wawa lilu.
“All right”, said “Lilu” [Coyote]. 

Pi Kayuti klatwa li dawn kopa oihat.
And Coyote went to lie down in the road. 

Chako iht tkop man.
This White guy comes along. 

Iaka nanich lilu, pi iaka saliks iaka, iaka kakshit iaka kopa stik; lilu ayu krai, pi iaka aiak kuli ipsut, pi wik iaka chako patl.
He saw “Lilu” [Coyote], and he was mad at him, he beat on him with a stick; “Lilu” [Coyote] cried and cried, and ran off to hide, and he didn’t get full. 

Kamloops Wawa issue #151, April 1897, page 60


Coyote and Fox were companions. Coyote thought himself smarter than Fox. Fox was eating cheese when Coyote came along. Coyote asked him where he got it. Fox said, “Ask me that after you have eaten it.” Coyote and Fox ate the cheese; and when they had finished, Coyote asked Fox again. Fox told him that he had stolen it from a white man’s store, which he had entered through a hole. Coyote proposed that they go to get some more. They went to the hole, through which Fox passed easily, but Coyote could hardly pass through. Inside they found a large cheese, which Fox invited Coyote to eat. He said, “I eat all I can here, and then pass out through the hole carrying some more.” When Coyote had about eaten his fill, Fox knocked a over a tin can, and then ran out through the hole. Coyote ran after him, but his stomach was so full that he stuck in the hole. The store-keeper ran in and beat Coyote, who finally escaped after tearing the skin off his sides.

Fox² was travelling, and saw a wagon full of fish driven by two men. He threw himself on the ground, stiffened out, and pretended to be dead. The drivers saw him lying near the road. They said, “There is a dead fox with a fine skin worth much money.” One of them jumped off, picked up the carcass, and threw it into the wagon among the fish, saying, “We will skin him when we get home.” Fox threw out fish here and there along the road while the backs of the drivers were turned toward him, and then jumped off noiselessly. He gathered the fish up, and was eating them when Coyote came along. Coyote asked Fox how he had obtained so many fish; and Fox said, “Ask me that after we have finished our meal.” When they had finished, Coyote asked again, and Fox said, “It is a very simple matter to catch fish like these. You must choose a cold clear night for fishing, make a hole in the ice, and put your tail down in the water. After keeping still for a considerable time, the fish will take hold of your tail, and then you can haul them out, many at a time.” The first cold night Coyote followed these directions. After waiting a considerable time, he thought there ought to be many fish on his tail. Then he thought, “I will wait a little longer, so I am sure to catch plenty.” Coyote tried to pull his tail out; but it was frozen tight in the ice, and he could not get away. Fox came along, and laughed at his plight. He said, “How smart you must be to get caught in that way! You cannot even catch fish the way I do. Don t you know there are so many fish on your tail that they hold you down?” Coyote strained again to pull his tail out, but without avail. At last Fox liberated him.

¹Or story of Fox tricking Coyote. The narrator stated that there are a number of incidents of the Coyote and Fox myth in which Fox gets the best of Coyote, but most of them he had forgotten. — J[ames].T[eit].

     L. Sudre, Les sources du Roman de Renart, pp. 240 et seq. — F[ranz].B[oas].

²Dähnhardt, Natursagen, vol. iv, p. 225. —  F.B. 

kata maika tumtum?
What do you think?