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Tlingit Conversation #81
Speakers are Aanx’isk’oox Al McKinley and G̱ooch Shaayí Harold Martin. Recorded March 13, 2012, at Centennial Hall in Sitka, Alaska, during the 2012 Sharing Our Knowledge conference by Ljáaḵkʼ Alice Taff.
This material is based on work supported by National Science Foundation grant BCS-0853788 to the University of Alaska Southeast with Ljáaḵkʼ Alice Taff as Principal Investigator and by National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship 266286-19 to Ljáaḵkʼ Alice Taff. 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 National Endowment for the Humanities.
Tlingit transcription by Yat Tootéen Mallory Story. English translation by Shakʼsháani Margaret Dutson with LjáaḵkʼAlice Taff. Edited by X̱ʼaagi Sháawu Keri Eggleston.
SYMBOLS: {false start}. (added for clarity). [translator/transcriber's note]. ??? = can’t understand. «Lingít quotation marks». 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
Go ahead.
Lingít x̱ʼéináx̱
In Tlingit
Aanx̱ʼisḵʼoox yéi ax̱ duwasáakw.
[name] I'm called.
Ax̱ káak saayí tsú ax̱ jeet wuduwatée.
I was also given my maternal uncle's name.
George Jim [Yaanashtúḵ???] yéi duwasáakw Keiḵóok.
George Jim [name] he is called, [his other name].
Wooshkeetaan áyá x̱át.
I am Wooshkeetaan clan.
Tʼaḵdeintaan yádi.
Child of Tʼaḵdeintaan. [fatherʼs clan]
{ax̱} Ax̱ éesh,
My father,
ax̱ éesh ḵu.aa,
my father though,
Glacier Bay ah, Glacier Bay-dáx̱ ah, ???
Glacier Bay uh, from Glacier Bay
Chookaneidí clan.
Chookaneidí du éesh.
Chookaneidí clan, his father [his fatherʼs father].
Ax̱ léelkʼw hás {???} has wusitee.
My grandfatherʼs people were (Chookaneidí).
Chookaneidí dachx̱án áyá x̱át.
Iʼm a grandchild of the Chookaneidí.
From Hoonah.
{ax̱} Ax̱ léelkʼw ḵu.aas ??? yóo duwasáakw.
My grandparentʼs name was ???
Kilisnoo-dáx̱ áwé
From Kilisnoo
he was born.
Ách áwé
Thatʼs why
{a a ax̱} ax̱ káak
my maternal uncle
(was) from Angoon.
Ax̱ léelkʼw ḵwá, Albert Mills yéi duwasáakw
My grandfather though, was called Albert Mills
{lingít} dleit ḵáa x̱ʼéináx̱.
in English.
Kake aawasháa.
He married (a woman from) Kake.
Ách áwé
thatʼs why
ax̱ x̱oonxʼí áwé {áa} áa yéi s yatee,
my relatives, they lived there,
Ax̱ tláa ḵu.aa,
As for my mother,
Dundas Bay-dáx̱ áwé ḵuwdzitee.
she came from Dundas Bay.
Glacier Bay, Dundas Bay. Yéi áwé.
Glacier Bay, Dundas Bay. Thatʼs it.
X̱wáachgi Éesh yóo x̱at duwasáakw.
[Name] I am called.
Yéil áyá x̱át.
Iʼm a Raven.
Tʼaḵdeintaan clan.
{Yéil Kúdi yá dá} Yéil Kúdi Hítdáx̱ áyá ḵux̱wdzitee.
Iʼm from the Ravenʼs Nest House.
Yóo Ḵʼéex̱ʼxʼ áwé ḵux̱wdzitee.
I was born in Kake.
Áa kei x̱at uwawát.
I grew up there.
Ax̱ aaní ḵú Xunaa áyá, Xunaa áwé.
But my home is Hoonah, itʼs Hoonah. [Motherʼs origin]
Ax̱ tláa Tʼaḵdeintaanx̱ wusitee.
My mother was Tʼaḵdeintaan clan.
Yeideekáx̱ yóo dusáagun.
Yeideekáx̱ was her name.
Yanyeidí yádi áyá.
I am child of the Yanyeidí clan. [fatherʼs clan]
{ax̱} Ax̱ éesh,
My father,
Sagudéi yóo dusáagun.
Sagudéi was his name.
Tʼaaḵúdáx̱ yawligáasʼ.
They migrated from Taku.
They migrated.
Kaagwaantaan yádi áyá x̱át.
Iʼm child of the Kaagwaantaan. [Grandchild though his mother?]
Ax̱ éesh niyaanáx̱ ḵu.aa,
Through my fatherʼs side though,
{G̱aanax̱} G̱aanax̱.ádi dachx̱ánx̱ x̱at wusitee.
Iʼm a grandchild of the G̱aanax̱.ádi clan.
Íx̱tʼi tleinx̱ satéeyin {ax̱ ax̱} ax̱ léelkʼw.
He was a big spiritual healer, my grandfather.
Tootsóow yóo dusáagun Gambier Bay Jim.
Tootsóow was his name, Gambier Bay Jim.
Yéi áwé.
Thatʼs it.
Hél ax̱ daa yaa ḵushoosgé
I donʼt understand
shaman {d y} daat yoo has x̱ʼala.átgi,
when they talk about shaman,
daa sáwé "shaman" yóo duwasáakw?
what do they call “shaman”?
Lingít x̱ʼéináx̱ «íx̱tʼ» yóo duwasáakw. Ahah.
In the Tlingit language they call it “spiritual healer.” Uhuh.
Yéi ákwé {i tuwáa i i} i daa yaa ḵushusigéi? Yeah.
Is that the way you understand it?
Ḵutx̱ has shoowaxeex x̱áawé, hóochʼ. Mmm.
They have all vanished see, all gone. Yes.
Íx̱tʼ, íx̱tʼ, íx̱tʼ.
Spiritual healer, spiritual healer, spiritual healer.
Dleit ḵaa x̱ʼéináx̱ ḵu.aa "witch doctors"
In English though, “witch doctors”
yéi s duwasáakw.
they call them.
Spiritual healer
íx̱tʼ {hél} hél witch doctor áwé íx̱tʼ.
a spiritual healer is not a witch doctor, a spiritual healer.
Spiritual man yóo duwasáa {has} medicine man.
“Spiritual man”, he was called, medicine man.
Witch doctors,
they spoiled the name for medicine men.
Nakwsʼaatíx̱ has wusitee.
They became witches.
Ḵutx̱ has shoowaxeex.
They are all gone.
Wé {ha wé náakwsʼaa}
{yóo} yóo nakwsʼaatxʼí yéi s duwasáakw x̱á
witches they call them, see,
Lingít x̱ʼéináx̱.
in Tlingit.
Yá Sheetʼkáx̱ {haa haa haa} haa wligásʼ x̱á.
We moved from Sitka, see.
Long ago.
Ax̱ x̱oonxʼí
My family
yá introduce-x̱ {hu} dulyéix̱ x̱á, ax̱ léelkʼw ḵwá
is introduced, see, my grandparent,
Jessie Price,
{Lingít x̱ʼéi uh} dleit ḵáa x̱ʼéináx̱ yéi duwasáakw Jessie Price.
in English sheʼs called Jessie Price.
Lingít x̱ʼéináx̱ ḵwá,
In Tlingit language though,
Kawda.áat yéi duwasáakw.
she is called Kawda.áat.
Ḵa Keinasxíx áwé {tuwáa d}
And Keinasxíx
tsú yéi duwasáakw.
she is also called.
Áwé ax̱ tuwáa sigóo áwé Keinasxíx.
So I like the name Keinasxíx.
Du yátxʼi
Her children
dleit ḵáa x̱ʼéináx̱
in English
Frank Price Jr. yéi duwasáakw.
Frank Price, Jr. heʼs called.
And {J- James} James Price dleit ḵáa x̱'éináx̱.
And James Price, in English.
Sha.áat yéi duwasáakw Sha.áat.
Sha.áat he is called, Sha.áat.
Du dlaakʼ ḵwá ah, tléixʼ áwé tléixʼaa woonaa.
His sister though, uh, the first one, the first one died.
Lydia I think was her name. Georgette was her neighbor, sheʼs still around. But, and then, my other
Kathy Ann, Kathy Ann
tsú yéi duwasáakw.
she was also called.
Yáaxʼ yéi s wootee.
They lived here.
{hél x̱wa} Hél x̱wasakú wáa sá s woonei.
I donʼt know what happened to them.
Yá Ḵéix̱ʼ ḵux̱wasteeyí,
When I was born in Kake,
haa ḵusteeyí g̱óot áwé kei x̱at uwawát.
I grew up without our way of life (culture).
Hél haa ée wdultóow
They didnʼt teach us
haa yoo x̱ʼatángi
our language,
ḵa kadachʼáakʼw ḵa,
and carving, and
potlaches, ḵu.éexʼ
ḵa hél alʼeix̱ haa ée wdultóow. [His pronunciation is «wdultéew»]
and dancing, they didnʼt teach us.
A kaadé áwé
That is why
hél tlax̱ ḵúnáx̱ x̱wasakú {haa} haa ḵusteeyí daat.
I donʼt know too much about our way of life.
Dei yáa ax̱ shaaní tóoxʼ áwé yaa nx̱asakwéin ax̱ {ax̱ ax̱ ax̱ aa}
In my old age finally, Iʼm beginning to learn my
yá haa ḵusteeyí.
our way of life (culture).
Dei áwé. [Recording break]
Thatʼs enough.
But he never told me that, what made them different? Thereʼs the most powerful ones that could do big magic and change weather. Some knew medicines but he never really fully explained, I donʼt know. You could answer in Tlingít.
Itʼs hard to, itʼs hard to, Itʼs hard to explain things in Tlingit you know, especially if youʼre not real fluent in Tlingit. But my grandfather Gambier Bay Jim was a medicine man. A spiritual, a healer they, they called him. See they uh, uh, they called uh,
those are witchcrafts. They spoiled the name for the uh,
Spiritual healer.
We didnʼt have shamans. Thatʼs a, thatʼs a white manʼs word, shaman. Our, our name for our medicine men was
Spiritual healer.
And uh, it depends on how many spirits they have. I think seven spirits was the maximum you can have. And they did it by doing certain things like cutting the tongues of certain animals. It was very, very sacred. And, uh, I remember going to Gambier Bay with my, my dad. My, my grandfatherʼs cabin was still standing, about the size of this room. And he said, "We canʼt go in there." He said, "He can go in there but we canʼt go in because weʼre the opposite clan." You know, and then but, but he talked to him. He talked to his dad and brought us in. And when he brought us in he told him in Tlingit that, "I brought my," my, my, no, "I brought your grandchildren here to see you." They said you can talk to them, the spirit. Theyʼre spirits. They said they can still hear you.
There was one in Hoonah, right between Hoonah and Icy Strait. And when they were building that road my fatherʼs side of the family, he was a foreman, and some were taking pictures of that shaman, when he tried to develop it, it was blank. Thatʼs how powerful those things are. In Tlingit they always say
Means taboo.
«Lig̱aasi át áwé.
“Thatʼs a forbidden thing.
Yan latsʼén!»
Leave it alone!”
Thatʼs what my grandmother would say
«Yan latsʼén!»
“Leave it alone!”
Leave it alone.
Chʼáakw áwé chʼa ldakát at dulg̱aasín.
Long ago everything was regulated by cultural restrictions.
Yeedát ḵwá déi ldakát át hél wáa sá utí.
But nowadays anything goes.
Fish, you want to talk about fishing?
Atoosgeiwú áwé,
When we were fishing,
Icy Straits yóo duwasáakw, Sʼíxʼ Tlein.
Icy Straits is what they call it, Big Dish.
Icy Straits is called Sʼíxʼ Tlein by our people, Big Dish.
Haa atx̱aayí,
Our food,
áwé ách áwé yéi duwasáakw Sʼíxʼ Tlein.
thatʼs why they call it Sʼíxʼ Tlein. [Food was abundant.]
Our food.
Eey X̱ʼé atoosg̱eiwú
When we were fishing (at) North Inian Pass, [Eey X̱ʼé is documented as the place name for North Inian Pass (Thorton 2012:43, #164)]
Inian Islands yóo duwasáakw.
itʼs called Inian Islands.
Á áwé atoosg̱eiwú.
Thatʼs where we were fishing.
Wé haat litseen áxʼ.
The current is strong there.
{ax̱} Ax̱ éesh hás ax̱ léelkʼu hás áwé awsikóo
My fatherʼs people, my grandfatherʼs people knew
chʼa aadéi yiḵoox̱ú wa.é,
if you went there,
ḵut kéi kg̱eeg̱éexʼ {wé} wé g̱eiwú.
youʼre going to lose the net.
Yéi yatee.
Thatʼs the way it is.
Inian Islands yóo duwasáagu át.
The place called Inian Islands.
1962. Thatʼs, thatʼs uh, from that village I was fishing when I almost got killed, and quit. I figured the old man, he was telling me, go back to my trade. So thatʼs ʼ62. I had over 30,000 fish. I quit. Thatʼs the last time I went fishing there.
Ḵúnáx̱ {Eey X̱ʼ-} ách áwé yéi duwasáakw Eey X̱ʼé.
Really, thatʼs why itʼs called “Mouth of Tidal Rapids”. [North Inian Pass]
Eey X̱ʼé yéi duwasáakw.
Itʼs called Really, thatʼs why itʼs called “Mouth of Tidal Rapids”.
Wé haat litseen,
The current is strong
ách áwé yéi duwasáakw.
thatʼs why itʼs called that.
«Haat» itʼs uh, the tide.
"Laundry" yéi áxʼ {yá áxʼ}
[This place is referred to as “the laundry” because of the severe tidal action.]
X̱áat áwé wutuwasháat.
We caught fish.
Thirty thousand, over thirty thousand fish one day.
Ách áwé haa dujikʼáan.
Thatʼs why they donʼt like us.
Yá gillnetters yéi duwasáakw.
Gillnetters, thatʼs what theyʼre called.
I know how we think politics. But fishing today is politics. The others today donʼt like us. Everything comes down to politics thatʼs why,
ḵutx̱ shoowaxeex.
Itʼs all gone.
All gone.
Ax̱ éesh hás,
My fatherʼs people,
William Johnson.
One Jump Johnson yéi duwasáakw.
One Jump Johnson heʼs called.
"Mary Joann", "Gypsy Queen".
[Boat names]
Áwé {wé wé} over 30,000 fish {yéi} yéi wtuwasháat.
So over 30,000 fish is what we caught.
Góok, wa.é.
You go ahead.
[Recording break] ??? du yaakwxʼú
??? his boats.
Chʼu ayáx̱ áyá asg̱eiwú.
This is the way they seine.
Chʼa tlákw ḵutaan
Every summer
asg̱eiwú natooḵúx̱jin.
we went seining.
Hél áwé has du ée wdultéew asg̱eiwú.
They werenʼt taught about seining.
Haat kát
The tide is what
áwé has woodéinin
they keep an eye on,
ḵa aadé yaa nahín yé áwé x̱áat.
and how the fish are traveling.
Is it okay to talk, explain some things?
[Recording break] Dleit ḵáa x̱ʼéináx̱ Albert Mills yéi duwasáakw,
In English heʼs called Albert Mills,
kéi ax̱ wusiwát.
he (his uncle) raised me.
Yá tsʼootaat
In the morning
"breakfast" yóo duwasáagu át,
what they call ʼbreakfastʼ,
atx̱ʼéeshi áwé.
itʼs smoked dryfish.
Héen ḵwá awdinaa.
He drank water though.
Tóox̱, yéi duwasáakw, all over that dryfish,
(He would) spit, thatʼs what itsʼs called, all over that dryfish,
atx̱ʼéeshi, atx̱ʼéeshi.
dryfish, dryfish.
He roasted the dryfish.
He put that in the oven. Awliwás.
He roasted the dryfish.
Yan wuneiyí áyá,
When it was done,
sʼíxʼ, sʼíxʼ aawatée.
dish, he put it on a dish.
Ḵus.áatʼi áwé,
When itʼs cold,
he tore it apart. Atkátsʼkʼu yéig̱aa.
Really small pieces.
Tsaa eex̱í een áwé x̱ax̱á.
I eat it with seal oil.
I eat with seal oil.
Yaneisʼí tsú yóo duwasáagu át.
Tallow itʼs also called.
"Tallow "{or} yéi duwasáakw.
ʼTallowʼ itʼs called.
Yaneisʼí een áwé x̱waax̱áa
I ate it with tallow,
wé atx̱ʼéeshi.
that dryfish.
Ax̱ shawuheegí áwé tsá,
When I got full,
I left.
Yéi áwé {ax̱ kei wu yéi x̱wdzi} kéi ax̱ wdudziwát
Thatʼs the way I was raised
yá atkʼátskʼux̱ ax̱ wusteeyí.
when I was a little boy.
Téey, téey tsú,
Half-dry fish, half-dry fish too,
tsʼootaat atx̱aayíx̱ satéeyin
it used to be breakfast food
kʼúntsʼ een.
with potatoes.
They would boil it.
Hél bacon and eggs káaxʼ áwé kei haa wuwáat.
We didnʼt grow up on bacon and eggs.
Tléiḵw áwé dei dux̱áayin.
They used to eat berries.
{yéi awli} salt
salt fish? Wáa sá duwasáakw salt fish?
How is it called, ʼsalt fishʼ?
I donʼt know.
{yá} Yá salt fish
That ʼsalt fishʼ,
Iʼll explain that in English. I grew up in Excursion Inlet.
Ḵuyeiḵʼ yéi duwasáakw.
Ḵuyeiḵʼ itʼs called. [Ḵuyeiḵʼ in Thornton (2012, p.42, #115) “peaceful”]
Ax̱ éesh,
My father
heʼd get that salt fish and he would take it to the river. Heʼd put that in a gunny sack and heʼd put a rock on it. Next morning he went after it, got the fish. My mother would cut it up, the salt fish, and boil it with that, with that red potatoes. And thatʼs how we ate that salt fish and that was delicious. But as we got modern, you put, uh, let the water run on it. Turn on the faucet, later on. And thatʼs how we ate, salt, our salt salmon. We smoked about over five hundred, five, six hundred fish, and today the state requires, requires us to have fifteen fish. I think theyʼre crazy. The five hundred salmon that we smoke we donate about half of it. We save , save that for potlaches.
Ḵu.éexʼ, like ḵu.éexʼ, theyʼre talking about.
Potlatches, like potlatches, theyʼre talking about.
We donate to the forty-day party and ḵu.éexʼ also.
We donate to the forty-day party and potlatches also.
And thatʼs how we uh, thatʼs our culture.
Haa ḵusteeyí áyá yéi yatee.
Our way of life is that way.
Thatʼs how we uh, I grew up.
(In) Excursion Inlet.
Excursion Inlet.
Haa ḵusteeyí áwé,
Our way of life,
United States government, state government,
ḵut kéi yaa haa nasx̱útʼ.
theyʼre taking us nowhere. [leading us astray]
The state is taking us to nowhere. But today they require us to take 50 fish. We canʼt survive on it for our potlaches. But I know more politics than what I know about all this stuff, you know that where I grew up so, like the Administrative Acts.