January 17th, 2024. Snass Session.  Harry Joseph 1894 letter from Sts’ailes in Stó:lō country1January 17th, 2024. Snass Session.

 Snass Sessions 01.11.2023: Harry Joseph 1894 letter from Sts’ailes in Stó:lō country1

David Douglas Robertson, PhD

Consulting linguist, Spokane, WA, USA 


Visit Juli Baumler’s webpage of “Chinuk Pipa” (BC alphabet) resources.

Background information on this writer:

We don’t know a lot about Harry Joseph by name – but he seems to show up a number of times in the news from “Tselez” (St’ailes) in the Kamloops Wawa newspaper:

Sts’ailes (“Chehalis on Settler maps) is the native Salish name of a Stó:lō Nation community on the lower Fraser River. 

There’s usually little or no punctuation in the Indigenous-written letters, so what you see here is pretty much my additions of commas, periods, and so on. 

If you see [SIC] in square brackets it shows possible mistakes in the writing; other material [in square brackets] is inferred and added by me. 

*Asterisked* material shows an uncertain reading of the Chinuk Pipa writing. 

Underlined material is in other languages than Chinook Jargon. 

Anything < in angled brackets > is non-Chinuk Pipa, i.e. written as standard English in the original document. 

The notation (Ø) shows that you can understand a clause to contain either “silent IT”or a “silent preposition”. 

I have put line breaks between every clause-containing sentence, and added punctuation, to help the reader. (But I’ve preserved each writer’s own idiosyncratic punctuation marks.) I’m sometimes experimenting with extra indentation to show the existence of subordinate clauses. (And to reflect the flow of the speaker’s thoughts.) 

Many thanks to all of you who participated in this Snass Session! 


<Tselez.>Tzilis tilikom 

mash kansih pipa kopa Kamlups: klaska 

skul kopa Tzilis, pi Alik Tzilis 

iaka sik-tomtom sahali tilikom 

ilo aiak kilapai pipa kopa iaka.

KW #115 (April 1894), page 63

<Tselez.> Nsaika tlap kansih 

pipa kopa Tzilis; Alik, pi 

Ilisabit, pi Ogyust, Hiri* Shosip[,]*

Filiks, Fraswa, mash pipa kopa 

Kamlups, pi alta nsaika mitlait 

klaska nim kopa Kamlups Wawa tilikom 

pi klaska kwanisim tlap Kamlups Wawa.

KW #116 (15 April 1894), page 82

The Letter

Tzilis < 7 > Chehalis 7

‘Chehalis, the 7th’ 

< OCTOBER 1894 > 

‘of October 1894.’ 

Pir Lshyun 

Père Le Jeune

‘Père Le Jeune,’ 

Naika tlap maika pipa pus maika tiki aiak 

I receive your letter supposedly you want quickly

‘I received your letter implying you want to soon’ 

tlap talaPi ilo naika pipa-chikminKakwa 

receive moneybut none my paper-moneyso

‘get some money.But I have no paper money.So’ 

naika ilo mash chikmin kopa maikaPi 

I not send money to youbut

‘I haven’t sent any money to you.But’ 

lilks*2 taim* naika mash pipa kopa maika 

next* time* I send letter to you

‘next* time I send a letter to you,’ 

pi naika patlach maika [Ø]Pi ankati naika 

and I give you (it)and previously I

‘then I’ll give it to you.And I already’ 

mash < 25 > sintz kopa maika pi ilo maika 

send 25 cent-s to you and not you 

‘send 25 cents to you but you didn’t’ 

kilapai pipaPus maika tlap [Ø] tlus maika 

return letterif you receive (it) good you

‘answer the letter. If you received it, please’ 


Lilks*: this hard-to-read word appears, at least from the context, to be a Stó:lō Salish-accented pronunciation of the well-known Northern Dialect word nekst, ‘next’. In that language, spoken in Chehalis, Cheam, etc., previous Salish n sounds have all historically turned into l. What do you think?

mamuk-komtaks naika pus maika tlap [Ø]Pi 

make-know me when you receive (it)and

‘let me know when you receive it.And’ 

Ogyust Shosip iaka drit sikIlo 

August Joseph he real sicknot

‘August Joseph is real sick.He’s not’ 

iaka kuliIaka klahawiam iakaPi 

he move.aroundhe pitiful heand

‘getting around.He’s pitiful, he is.And’ 

naika tanas-sik.

I little-sick

‘I’m a bit sick.’ 

Pi iht man iaka mimlus kopa 

and one man he die at 

‘And one particular fella died in’ 

chokPlis-man iaka pi klaksta*-man iaka 

waterpolice-man he and who-man they

‘the river.He was a policeman, and who know who it was that’ 

mamuk-mimlusO iaka drit klahawiamPi mokst 

make-deadoh he real pitifuland two

‘did the killing.Oh, he was just pitiful.And two’ 

man iaka tlap-skukum-haws pi tlun kluchmin pi iht 

man they wind.up-strong-house and 3 women and one 

‘guys got jailed (for it), and 3 women and an’ 

ol-man pi iht tanas-man iaka klatwa [Ø]

old-man and one young-man they go (to)

‘elder and one young fella went to’ 

Page 2

Translation etc., page 2: 

kort-haws kopa Nyu Wisminstir 

court-house at New Westminster

‘the courthouse at New Westminster.’ 

Ukuk man iaka mimlus iaka ilihi 

this man he die his place 

‘This fella who died, his home place’ 

Tziiam*Ukuk kanawi 

Cheamthese all

‘was Cheam.All of these (folks),’ 

iaka ilihi Tziiam* 

their place Cheam

‘their home place is Cheam.’ 

Klahawiam maika 

goodbye you

‘Goodbye to you.’ 

Naika Hiri Shosip 

I Harry Joseph

‘I’m Harry Joseph.’