1862: Siletz chiefs’ speeches for back-translation into CW (Part 1 of 6)

nayka wáwa drét háyú mási kʰapa David Gene Lewis, PhD, for inspiring this mini-series.


I’m sorry I could’t find an image of Sixes George! Here is a woman of the same tribe, Sixes Julia (image credit: Native North American Indian Old Photos)

Many thanks to Dr. David Gene Lewis, tribal researcher, for sharing this material on his site.

David provides enormous quantities of great information on Oregon Native people as a public service.

I felt this particular post from his site deserved more attention from those of us who speak Chinuk Wawa.

For Part 1, do you care to back-translate the following early Siletz chief’s speech to CW?

Sixes George addressed the Superintendent as follow[s].

We look upon you as our leader and friend. We are glad to see you and talk with you. I do not wish to offend you, but I must talk straight (truth). Palmer was the first “Tyee” (Supt Ind Affairs) I ever saw. He gave me good advice and I have obeyed it. Our country was on the Sixes River. We were in three tribes and each tribe had their own chief. Our country bordered on the Coquille River. We made a treaty with Palmer and sold our country to the white people, and came here. Since then we are told that the President had to approve the treaty, and that he has not done so yet. I want to know what you have to say about it. If the President does not approve our treaty, then we have not sold our country, and wish to go back to it again. Your people have got the gold of our Country. Will they pay us for it? We have never been at war with the whites and never killed anybody. The Indians that have killed the whites, have had their treaty ratified and ours is not.

I think our people have improved some, and would become like white people if they had any help. Palmer told me that I would be a white man in two years. I have been here five years and am not a white man yet. I don’t know but I will soon be a horse, as I am eating oats.

Do you know of any country where white people eat oats like horses? Our people have had to eat frozen potatoes, that are rotten, and the carcasses of dead horses. They are dying very fast, and my heart is sick. I think rotten potatoes are not good for any people. I can eat oats but don’t like them.

My people complain of hunger and want to go back to the Sixes River again. I would rather have our treaty ratified and have the things we bargained for and stay on the reservation. Do you think you are paying us for our country by giving us one blanket to every four or five Indians, and giving us such things as oats and rotten potatoes to eat?

If I was allowed again I could kill some elk. I never did kill any white man. You should not be afraid of me. When we started to come here our guns were taken from us, and we have not seen them since. They promised to give them back when we got to the reservation. I don’t know that I will ever see you again, and I talk plain. As I would if the President was here. I have never [said] this to the agent, because I knew he had nothing to do with the treaty. I have told the truth & am not ashamed.

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?