Canoe words

Since the ‘canoe family’ has been busy lately – and I hope I can join the fun this summer when I am in Oregon – I thought I should put up the lists of words in Hanis, Milluk & Siuslaw/Umpqua for different canoe types, paddles and poles. (Remember, for pronunciation guide see ‘About’ tab).

First, there is one canoe word that is shared in all 3 of these languages – as well as the same or similar word in Tillamook, Cowlits, Upper Chehalis and Quileute.  It is aluudaq (ah – LOO – dock), or aluutaq.  It refers specifically to the northern style large canoe with a high prow.  Anthropologist William Seaburg thinks the word likely originated with the Quileute people, since in that language the -tq suffix means canoe.  We got a lot of our aluudaq type canoes from buying them from the Alsea and Chinook.  Some of these canoes were quite fancy – Lottie Evanoff recalls a story where here paternal grandfather had gone to mahluush (Columbia River) and bought one of these canoes that had agates inlaid in the gunwale.

There are synonyms for this canoe type.  Another word for them in Hanis and Milluk is swahahl.  However, this word seems to have been rarely used – I’ve found it used only once, whereas aluudaq was used often.  In Siuslaw/Lower Umpqua it was called tsiixai.  

Jim Buchanan said there was once a canoe with a high prow that was shaped like an eagle.  He called this in Hanis a weneqe.  He said “the canoe was cut out in the shape of an eagle in the bows.  Jim never saw this canoe but heard about it.  They trolled, 2 or 3, in it, in the ocean.  It was a pretty good sized canoe.” (Jacobs notebook 93:19).

The other canoe type does not have a high brow; the bow and stern are the same height and similar shape.  This was the type usually made from the Siuslaw river southward and was often known as a ‘Rogue River canoe’, as it was the type used on the Rogue.  It is also a similar shape to the traditional Yurok canoes, only without the interesting interior carvings of heart, lung and kidneys.  In Hanis and Milluk this canoe type is called maxmax, and in Siuslaw/Lower Umqpua as hlqwá’a or hlqwa.  

The generic word for canoe – covers any type of canoe – is ix in Hanis (pronounced just like the German word ich).  In Milluk it is tlguus or tlkuus or tlgwols (this last word might be specifically from the Lower Coquille dialect but that’s not certain).

There was also a small canoe that could hold at most two people, similar in shape to a Rogue River canoe but with a pointy rather than rounded bottom, was called k’u’wuts in Hanis and Milluk.  Toy canoes for children were called by the same name.

In Hanis, words for different parts of the canoe are qaitla for the bow and t’chais for the stern.

Now for things associated with canoes.

Tule mats were used in any canoe type for comfort.  Tule mats are chi’shil in the two Coos languages and pilk in Siuslaw/Lower Umpqua.

Paddles are chomma in Hanis and Milluk, tlxwiitii in Siuslaw/Umpqua.

Poles, for poling canoes in shallower water, are hiiq’ai in the Siuslaw dialect, yuuq’wii in Lower Umpqua, hautl’hau in Hanis.

OK, that is a lot of vocabulary for one day.  Have fun learning and using these words while out on the water!

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About shichils

Just sharing some fun on language
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2 Responses to Canoe words

  1. Aha, ‘alutq for the big canoes…that’s in Lower Chehalis also. And I have a paper coming out where I argue that three additional roots in Tsamosan Salish are mutations of that Quileute loan. Interesting!

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