“Types of Dances at Yachats” & Trying to Puzzle Out More New Words

So here is a text from the “missing” Jacobs notebook 103 pages, it was also printed in “Coos Narrative and Ethnologic Texts”. It is about Annie’s recollection of her first dance, when she was about 12, at Yachats. Cyrus Tichenor (Rogue/Chetco) and Isaac Martin (Ntise’ich village in Empire) came to sing and brought with them southern Oregon dances. She mentions this dance was before the Dream Dance (Ghost Dance) was brought to the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw people (you can read more about that in Coquelle Thompson’s biography “Coquelle Thompson, Athabaskan Witness” by William Seaburg & Lionel Youst).

Annie briefly mentions other dances – the round dance, simet, and anshini. The simet was also referred to as a winter dance. It was a Coos dance where 2 lines of dancers faced each other, sexes alternated. A man with a drum stood at the end of one line and drummed (in earlier times he may have tapped house rafters with a stick) and all dancers sang. The Anshini was described as a Rogue river dance; some said they lined up all around the house, others said it was facing lines like the simet, but with Athabaskan style songs.

Anyway here is Annie’s text – I have put it in our orthography but kept the stress marks and hyphens to keep a sense of her speaking style. I’ll discuss vocabulary after the story.  A quick bit for grammatical shorthand; ART=article (a, the), DEM=demonstrative pronoun (that one, this one, sometimes stands in for he/she/it), TR=transitive, though in Coos this is often a general verbal too, POSS=possessive (like English ‘s).  OK on with the story:


(1) la’áiwa yáxachómen léu-leu xgúugwis léu-uxw-heleq ló-uxw-Cyrus Tichenor tá leu lo-Isaac Martin.

ART-still Yachats-POSS-people DEM-DEM from-south DEM they2-arrive ART they2 Cyrus Tichenor & DEM ART-Isaac Martin

The people were still at Yachats and they came from the south, Cyrus Tichenor and Isaac Martin


(2) uxw-méqent i-chíi leu haláqa xgúugwis.

They2 dance-TR when-there DEM arrive-? From-south

They danced (that) when they arrived there from the south.


(3) Léu meqéntime

DEM dance-TR-?

They put on a dance.


(4) Láu-gwsí-má’yox meqé’enu hó-meqé’en

DEM-south-people-ADJ dance-POSS ART-dance/song

The southerly people’s song (and dance) was their song (and dance)


(5) léu-k’wlííwat léx-Tichenor.

DEM-sing-ITER ART-ERG-Tichenor

Tichenor sang those.


(6) Léu-meqé’en i-meqent.

DEM-dance/song when dance-TR

That was his song when he danced.


(7) Áiwa-ín’wit gwa’át’ise-meqé’en

Yes, still-NEG-someone dream-POSS-dance/song

Still then nobody knew about the dream songs.


(8) Hi’ní-yi’láhajim le-Cyrus tsix yáxach-yuxwúme.

There-? ART-Cyrus here Yachats-travel

It was before that time that Cyrus traveled to Yachats.


(9) Nálau-ín chíi’tl’e’et le gwa’át’is-meqe’énéch

because-DEM-NEG there to.go-CAUS/PASS ART dream-dance-LOC

Because the Dream Dance hadn’t gone there.


(10) Hí’níi yaqanchim le-Thompson-léu-meqé’en heleq lé-meqé’en

There after ART-Thompson DEM song/dance arrive-POSS-dance/song

Later Thompson came with his Dream Dance.


(11) Léu-t’óma xiwunt’ -meqé’eniich ne’éikexem.

DEM-then/at.same.time MOD-first dance/song-PART I-to.be.among-PROG

At the same time it was the first time I was among them dancing.


(12) Léu-léu-we lox-tlálau’e tl’iiwate-meqé’en

DEM-DEM-at.that.time ART-ERG “Fat”?-face good? Dance

Then “Fat Face” (Minnie Jackson) was a good dancer.


(13) Léu-leu’we yúuduwáya n´néu mánat’ asdléch tá’lats

DEM-DEM-at.that.time very-want-TR I company.crowd.assembly middle-LOC dance-TR

At that time she wanted me to dance in the middle of the crowd.


(14) Léu-n chíltsaxam

DEM-I to.be.ashamed/bashful-REFL

I was shy/bashful


(15) a’yú-we tl’án néhe’wex lau-ntúuyat’

surely-at.that.time to.go “made me”? DEM-I-to.fall-TR

Then she made me go out [simet dance] then I fell down.


(16) ní•-mits’síiya lo-meqé’en

I.not-know/learn-TR ART-dance/song

I didn’t know how to dance.


(17) Náim-níi’milech meqent

because-I..not-time to.dance-TR

Because I’d never danced.


(18) Hinii-yaqanchim guus-díihl-meqé’en no’mits’ons

there-after all-thing dance/song I-know/learn-INCH

Then after that I became knowledgeable of all dances.


(19) Níi-asuu-chíltsaxam


I was no longer ashamed.


(20) X-wénch nex-yuwunt’-meqé’en

MOD-thus I-at.first-dance

That’s how it was [when] I danced for the first time.


(21) Hi’ní-yaqánchim mai-diihl-meqé’en yeqé-leu hi’íi-ntá’lats

there-after no.matter-thing-dance/song nevertheless-DEM there-I-dance-TR

There after no matter the dance nevertheless there I danced.


(22) Mánti-wench-hehl meqé’en lex-shyóchich meqé’en.

Already-thus-that.one dance/sing art-MOD-round dance

They were already doing that dance, the round dance.


(23) Mánch tsi-ihl míts’síiya la-ahanchi’hya méu-meqé’en.

Already simply-they-know/learn-TR ART-far-ADJ person-POSS-dance/song

Already they’d learned the far away people’s dance.


(24) Ihlímxni leu-wench he-ihl lách’iiya yúwe-ihl-shoghíichi’ya hlimxníihe húmék’e

they-mix.up-DISTR DEM-thus ART-they to.call.by.name-TR whenever-they -go.around.circle-INCH-ART-women

They mixed [the sexes] they called it when they go around the circle they mixed women


(25) yúwe x-wench-ihl-méqent lex-shyóchich-meqé’en.

Whenever MOD-thus-they-dance/sing-TR ART-MOD-round-dance/song

whenever they danced the round dance.


Léu-ihl-símeté’ni lau húmék’e hochi-éyége léu-wench hé-ihl-lách’íiya sdlíyek yúwe wench hlímxni

DEM-they-simet-DISTR DEM women ART-there DEM thus HAB-they-to.call.by.name ?mixed.between? Whenever thus mix-TR

Their simet the women were mixed in between and so they called it mixed-alternately-in-between when they were mixed that way.


(26) Léu-le-sdliyek lau-yuwuts’-yuxwe’e tl’án, leu-his-yuxwee’e changha tl’antla láu-wench hé-lech’iim chjíiyáwa

DEM-ART-?mixed.between? DEM-maybe-2 to.go.to.center DEM-also-2-young.men to.go.to.center+RED DEM thus HAB-to.call.by.name-NONREF SUBJ dip.netting.dance

Then the mixed-in-between ones maybe 2 went to the center, 2 young men went to the center then they called it dip-netting-dance.


(27) X-wench léhl-símét meqé’en

MOD-thus their-simet dance/song

That’s the way their simet (Stand up) dance


(28) léu-his-léhl-anshini meqé’en

DEM-also-their-anshini dance/song

And the Anshini was the [same sort of] dance


(29) his-léu-wench-ihl-tá’lts, lé-leu-meqe’en

also-DEM-thus-they-dance-TR, ART-DEM-dance/song

They’d also dance that, that dance.

So there are 3 general verbs in Hanis (and Milluk) for singing and dancing (plus a few very specialized verbs about specific doctor dances so we won’t get into those today). In Hanis the verb meqen- means to-sing-and-dance (nominal form meqe’en is a dance-and-song). Given that many dances involved the participants both singing and dancing at the same time, it makes sense there would be a verb for that. Milluk seems to have the same verb root, maqan-. Then tal- in both languages means just “to dance”. This word appears just a couple of times here. Only once does Annie use k’wlii– which mean ‘to sing’ only. Its Milluk equivalent appears to be hat’-.


There are a couple of Hanis words in this story that are new to me and I am having a bit of a struggle to figure out their meaning. One is Minnie Jackson’s (elder sister of Lottie Evanoff) nickname which Annie glossed as “Fat Face”, tlálau’e. The ‘e part means face – but tlalau does not appear in the dictionary at all. Mitsis which means both fat and wise is the usual word for fat. However there are the words tl’ax for flat and tla’was for pancakes so I wonder if tlalau maybe means more like ‘flat’ rather than ‘fat’. It could also possilby mean ’round’ but there are permutations of the verb shyoch– to be in circle, to surround usually used for that meaning.

Right after the nickname ‘Fat Face’ in line 12 is the phrase tl’iiwate-meqé’en which Jacobs and Annie glossed as ‘good dancer’ (or more accurately perhaps, ‘good singer-and-dancer’). And guess what – no word resembling tl’iiwate in my dictionary. And there are two other widely used words that can mean good – luuwii or luughii which means ‘good’ and nu’we which means ‘good, right, correct, all right’. I wonder if tl’iiwate means something more like ‘excellent’ or ‘skillful, skilled’ or the like. Sadly without that word appearing in more and other contexts it is hard to say. But I think using the word in the sense of ‘good, skillful’ is pretty on the mark.

Now a mystery word that appears twice – stliyek/sdliyek, which Jacobs noted it is the same word in Milluk – the problem is the gloss is unclear to me. Grammatically it is treated as a noun, though it may well have also been a verb (a lot of roots in Hanis and Milluk pull double duty like that, depending on what kind of affixes are attached to the word). It appears in lines 25 and 26, where he kind of scrawled “mixed alternately in between”, describing how for the dance the lines were lined up with the sexes alternating. So it is a noun with a VERY long definition in English.

It is amazing how many new words and phrases one can find in one little text of less than 30 lines! Makes me wish Jacobs had worked a little longer with Annie to get some more texts and narratives. Alas we are about 80 years too late.

Still, I guess this does give yet another word or two to squeeze into the Hanis dictionary.



About shichils

Just sharing some fun on language
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to “Types of Dances at Yachats” & Trying to Puzzle Out More New Words

  1. sofia cis says:

    Patty-I have no idea how you do it. I read your literal translations and can’t figure out what’s Annie saying then you translate and I get it. I am so proud of your great big linguistic brain. thanks God.

  2. sofia cis says:

    How many of the Cooses that went up to Yachats came back down and are in our census rolls? i’m getting the feeling from word of mouth and your journal pages from what’s-his-face that almost all of our ancestors that I know of were the ones which married with the swedes and the Finns to stay in CB—Annie came back, but where are her descendants?

  3. shichils says:

    1) Jacobs’ notations help with the translations, and helps make some of the sentences clearer in meaning. 2) How many came back from Yachats – Frank Drew did; but his one descendant that made it to adulthood (Marge Drew Severy) didn’t have kids. Buchanan has no descendants. Annie’s descendants – the ones I know of – enrolled at Siletz. I don’t know of any offhand enrolled in our tribe (I mean there might be, I am jut not acquainted with him/her if such is the case). Beyond that it seems to be mostly people descended form those that hid out in CB and married whites, like my grt grt grandmom. The white guy she married is a bit of a mystery to me (2nd white guy, I don’t know much about her other white hubby, Ingersoll) – Talbot was from the south; VA or GA I forget which he had a parent from each state. BUT he left the south before the Civil War. A lot of whites came out to OR after the Civil War that is why I think they were oh so fond of sundown laws and the KKK in the 20s. But Talbot got out west before that conflict and did not leave to join in so I really wonder what his story was.
    Some others with Yachats ties wound up at Siletz – Spencer Scott tho’ I don’t know if he had kids, he was married twice at least I think. Jasper Luce was living near Siletz in the 40s (Luce Sr was a n EMpire sawmill owner, one of his sons went on to run the Marshfield sun and the other son was an evil rapist).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s