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Tlingit Conversation #49
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant 0853788 and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship 266286-19. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Continuation of #48. Speakers are Ḵeixwnéi Nora Marks Dauenhauer, Ḵaaxʼanshee or La.oos Tláa Ida Calmegane, Kaséix̱ Selina Everson, Lasaayí Emma Shorty, Gusʼdutéen Bessie Jim, and Kaltín Susan Jim. Recorded August 14, 2010, at Carcross/Tagish First Nation Administration Building, Carcross, YT, Canada, by Ljáaḵkʼ Alice Taff.
SYMBOLS: Brackets = {false start}. [translator/transcriber's note]. (added for clarity). ??? = canʼt understand. «quotation marks for Tlingit text». Time-aligned text for this video was accomplished using ELAN ((Versions 6.0 (2020), 6.1 (2021), and 6.3 (2022) [Computer software]. Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, The Language Archive. Retrieved from
Tlingit transcription by Koolyéik Roby Littlefield. English translation by Kaaxwaan Éesh George Davis and Kaséix̱ Selina Everson with Ljáaḵkʼ Alice Taff. Edited by Shag̱aaw Éesh Devlin Anderstrom.
French ásí.
Must be French.
How do you say French in Tlingit?
Gushé. Dleit ḵáa.
I don't know. White man?
Iʼll have to tell him that.
Tell him your younger sister. Tell him heʼll look, take one look and...
Iʼm your older sister.
Sheʼs your grandma.
Heʼll call, heʼll call me your grandma.
I made some fresh coffee.
Look at the gopher.
Wé tsálk.
The arctic ground squirrel.
Catch him! Catch him. I want to eat him.
Lingít! Lingít!
Tlingit! Tlingit!
Haa x̱oodé {yakg̱wa} yoo x̱ʼakg̱watáan.
Heʼll join our conversation.
Kanals'áak ák.wé?
Is it squirrel?
Tléikʼ, gopher.
No, gopher.
Tléikʼ kelsʼáak.
No squirrel.
Ó wujixeex.
Oh, it ran off.
Pauline came and brought a bunch of snacks there.
We just had a gopher trying to join us.
I know. He goes in there and looks around, comes in every day.
I think his name is Henry.
I always tell him,
"Oh, Henry."
Donnaʼs little girl,
she puts away food for,
Iʼll have to tell him... Hey, look, look.
Haa yalatín.
It's looking at us.
Heʼs begging. Heʼs begging.
Take my picture. Gopher joined us.
Look at his cheeks, eh?
Lingít yoo x̱ʼatángi.
Tlingit language.
Tsálk áwé.
It's a squirrel.
Wáa sáyá duwasáakw?
What do you call it?
Arctic ground squirrel.
Arctic ground squirrel.
Arctic ground squirrel.
Arctic ground squirrel.
Arctic ground squirrel.
Tsálgi x'óow áwé wutusiteen dziyáak.
A while ago we saw an arctic ground squirrel robe.
Arctic ground squirrel.
I think we saw it last night when we looked in the museum.
Ha.é, how cute!
Goodness, how cute!
Itʼs fat, itʼs good to eat, eh.
Há! X̱'awditaan.
Oh my! It spoke.
Haa waḵshiyeexʼ wudihaan.
It stood up for us to see.
Sounds like it said something. Made a noise.
Boy is it ever fat.
Yeah because they feed it.
I saw in Juneau on top of the mountain, there was... I looked out and there was a big boulder there. Éh! Big marmot sitting out there.
[video break] But um, the Yanyeidís adopted him.
But he doesnʼt, he shouldnʼt let go of Daḵlʼaweidí. Once born a Daḵlʼaweidí, you stay a Daḵlʼaweidí.
He was just a young man when, uh, a young boy really, only about 11 years old I guess when, um, when his sister, his sister died when he was 10 and his... They start, they start collecting, him and his mother, money for, for the potlatch. And it was really a big potlatch that they had. And the, the Yanyeidí people, the one they with... was really surprised on how that young man work on his mother. Thatʼs why they did that. And that Sam, you met Sam Johnston?
Yeah, I met him a long time ago. 1972 I think. [video break]
We donʼt use that all the time.
Eating with the finger.
S/he ate it with their finger.
Akaawach'ít' du sʼíxʼi.
S/he cleaned out their whole plate with their finger.
Du tlʼeḵshá aawachʼítʼ.
S/he dipped their finger in it (and ate it).
Eex̱ ach'éet'.
S/heʼs eating (seal) oil with their finger.
Dipping seal oil with my finger.
G̱áatl teen aawach'ít'.
S/he dipped a cracker into it.
[Laughter] You guys have so much fun when you talk.
I know.
Everythingʼs funny.
Itʼs a lot of fun to talk Tlingit.
[At.shooḵ] When we get together, you know, as teenagers, the elders tell stories.
You canʼt tell a joke on, I couldnʼt tell a joke on her cause sheʼs Eagle. Sheʼs opposite. I can tell a joke on her, on your side.
But we can tell her Raven cousins, her Raven father about her. [At.shooḵ] The rules are different.
Yeah. Yeah.
When weʼre at a party and the people are standing up telling jokes, my husband, he doesnʼt speak our language. Heʼs not Tlingit. "Tell me the joke. What did they say? You guys are laughing so hard." So I tell him. (Husband says) "Whereʼs the punch line?"
[Laughter] Everything is funny to us. I know. Everything is funny when you speak that language.
What is he, your husband?
He's half Aleut and Skandinavian, I don't know which one.
Whe I first met him I thought he was Italian or Turk. He had thick black wavy hair. Now it's real thin. He used to have to have it thinned by a [video break]
Tle i xeitkaadé kʼe eex̱á.
Youʼre eating it onto your chest. [Dropping food on your chest]
Ch'a tlákw áwé yéi kux̱anuk! [nuch]
I do that all the time!
I ḵusteeyí!
Your way of life!
{Tle, tle} ʼ«Tle shakwtóode awdix̱áa!»
“She ate it into the roots of her hair!” [She loves what she's eating. Full.]
they used to say.
Ḵúnáx̱ ḵaa x̱'éi k'eiyí.
When you're eating something you really like.
Tle shakwtóode x̱wdix̱áa!
I ate it right into the roots of my hair!
That was their expressions!
I remember when we were talking about uh, things, when we were talking about um, licking, licking things up. She tell me, uh, she said he, he licked his poop, she said. Thatʼs what we were laughing at.
He scooped it up with his finger and licked it.
‹Chʼítʼ› is to lick your fingers or with something.
Háatlʼ akaawachʼítʼ, she said.
He licked poop, she said.
I'm going to scoop it up with my finger and lick it.
I will lick! See? It's funny!
You say it more than once you can't say it right!
You try to say a word over and over.
You say wajée?
...lick? [attempt to pronounce]
How you say that, lick?
He scooped it up with his finger and licked it.
Iʼm going to scoop it up with my finger and lick it.
I will lick.
I'll dip/lick it up.
Lick it!
You lick.
Lick it.
Heʼs licking it.
{du du}
How you say fingers?
Du tl'eiḵ ach'éet'.
Sheʼs licking her fingers.
Licking your fingers.
You ever hear about that plant sʼíksh?
You ever hear about that plant false hellebore?
False hellebore.
False hellebore.
S'íksh. Sʼiksh.
False hellebore. False hellebore.
That um, Hellboro [false hellebore]. Devil's club. Is that what it is?
Devil club is sʼáxtʼ.
Devilʼs club is (called) sʼáxtʼ.
This one here, it's a flower up in the mountain. I don't know what color it is or anything. My mum tell me about it. She said when she was 14, or 15, maybe 16, they were up in the mountains. And every springtime she said she get a boil there on her neck. And one time they were up in the mountains in the springtime and she had that boil. And my gramma dug that plant out. Never hit the roots or anything, the dirt, dig the dirt around the outside my mum say. And she rub it on her neck and talk Lingit to it, then she put it back in the ground and bury it up. My mom said inside of one week that boil was gone and it never returned again. And she said that plant in the mountains that flower she say its horrible, she say it hold the world together. So, I don't know how it looks or anything, I, she donʼt, she didn't remember the color and stuff or how it looked, eh?
My dad told me, um, told us that the mountains up on the, the flowers up in the mountains are really, really strong, he said not to bother them, if you don't know what it is he say don't bother any of them.
Yea, that's what they tell us.
They say they um, they can make people do things even if they don't want to. So he said, "Leave it alone. Don't bother it," he said.
Maybe itʼs náakw.
Hmmm, yea.
Ḵaa yís náakw.
Medicine for people.
That will make you fall in love with me.
[At.shooḵ] She say this one, this one here you don't drink the medicine. You don't drink it or, or, it's just for outside, you rub it. It's just for rubbing on.
Rubbing on.
Tél x̱wasekú.
I don't know.
When I was a little girl I had that same sore on my neck. And, um, my grandmother was a surgeon. She kept her knife in snoose [tobacco]. Sheʼd wrap that snoose around it. And, uh, when I got that sore in my neck she felt around for days. Iʼd sit down somewhere and uh, sheʼd call me over, she would feel around. She was feeling for the artery. And, ah, one day she said, we are going to do it today. So, after feeling it, she um, peirced it with a pocket knife. Right in there somewhere. Canʼt remember where. And, ah, all of the pus came out, there was a lot of it, because all of my neck was swollen from it. It was a poison of some kind. And that cured me. She, um, kept it open for almost a month. Sheʼd, ah, put twisted twine in there with tobacco on it, in there. And that was to keep it open. And then sheʼd clean it once a day. And, um, she saved me! And then my aunt saved me. I was bleeding to death. And, uh, I was about 9 maybe. I canʼt remember. We were in a cannery. And, ah, I put on my shoes, brand new. My auntie bought them for me. Iʼd put them on and Iʼd go out and play. And, ah, I never got new shoes when we were kids! Iʼd get boots, brand new boots, cause we wore boots a lot. And, um, I was, ah, running outside to play and my mother took my shoes away. And I ran outside without them. And I was playing on a stump and I slid off. I slid right on a glass on my toe. And that, um, made it bleed. It was ok, they bandaged it and everything. And uh, then my, my brothers came home and I got excited I made it bleed again. And this time it was bleeding like I was bleeding [points horizontally straight out], like that. And, um, they put a tourniquet on my leg right there and my grandmother brought out a blanket so I could die in it. And my Auntie went ito the woods; it was dark. She brought that that medicine down from there, from the woods and saved my life. They had coal oil and ah, painkillers, Sloaneʼs Linement. They were sticking my foot in it and itʼs still bleeding hard. And my auntie went into the woods for that medicine and brought it back. And they put it on just once and it was ok. (Unidentified speaker: Isnʼt that something, eh? I know our people are...) We didn't have airplanes, we didn't have fast boats. We were way out on the coast. The cannery was out there. So, for being here, in Carcross, she saved me, my great auntie. Her mouth burned from that medicine. She had to put grease on her mouth. So our medicines were really great. And then, um, I'm afraid to offer it to people, just people that I know who won't complain. So.