Elders such as Lawrence Nicodemus and Lavinia "Vinnie" Felsman have for over the last 60-70 years championed the importance of their language. Both have been instrumental in teaching the language and writing language texts, and both continue to be active in the Language Center today. With only a handful of fluent speakers, the revitalization of the language among the Schitsu'umsh
is an essential component of instilling a sense of cultural identity and pride in one's heritage, and in reclaiming tribal sovereignty.
|Lawrence Nicodemus, October 2002 |
|| Elders talk about the importance of the language, during a Language Center meeting. From left to right: Irene Lowley, Felix Aripa, Vinnie Felsman, Lawrence Nicodemus, Kim Matheson, and Raymond Brinkman (off camera). |
Part 1 (interviewed by Kim Matheson and Raymond Brinkman; video taped by John Hartman; edited by Rodney Frey, November 2002)
Through the Language Center, instruction in the Snchitsu'umshtsn (Coeur d'Alene Language) is offered. The only requirement for participation in the program is a desire to learn the language. Instruction is available on an individual, self-study basis, as well as on a more formal basis through North Idaho College.
Elders Lovinia "Bins" Alexander, Felix Aripa, Lavinia "Vinnie" Felsman, Marie "Irene" Lowley, and Lawrence Nicodemus are consultants to the language program. They assist in implementing conventional use of Snchitsu'umshtsn into lesson plans. Raymond Brinkman is the Director, while Kim Matheson serves as the Language Projects Coordinator.
|Kim Matheson, November 2002 |
An example of the pronunciation by Lawrence and Kim of the words,
Sq'wt'u - Cataldo - and limlemtsh - thank you - click to hear - Lawrence: Sq'wt'u, and now Kim: Sq'wt'u; and Lawrence: limlemtsh and now Kim: limlemtsh.
|| The elders continuing talking about the importance of the language. By gathering together at the Language Center and sharing, "words and stories come back." The elders also consider some of the challenges in maintianing the language, including peer pressure they faced in school and the "harsh" sounds of the language itself. |
Snchitsu'umshtsn is an Interior Salish language. Other peoples throughout the Plateau region who are a part of the Salishan language family include the Colville, Flathead (Bitterroot Salish), Kalispel, Okanagon, Pend Oreille, Sanpoil, Spokane, and Wenatchee. The Nez Perce to the south speak a Sahaptin language, while the Kootenai to the north speak a language unique to the area.
click to hear
pronounced by Kim Matheson
Some common Snchitsu'umshtsn sentences
- a - like Spanish a
- b - like English b
- ch - like English ch
- d - like English d
- e - like vowel in bat
- gw - like English gw
- h - like English h
- i - like vowel in feet
- null - like first e in serve; not written; schwa
- j - like English j
- khw - like English wh, with a hissing
- kw - like English kw
- l - like English l
l - like t and l pronounced together or - - shl
- m - like English m
- n - like English n
- o - like English o
- p - like English p
- q - like English ch in lock; lower than k; back|
- qh - a gutteral uvular sound, a bit like a snore
- qhw - same as above, with a rounding
- qw - like English qu
- r - like English r
- s - like English s
- sh - like English sh
- t - like English t
- ts - like English ts in lets, but tighter
- u - like English oo in boot
- w - like English w
- y - like English y
- ( - a growling sound, like r made in throat
- ) - a softer form of ( occurring at word end
- ' - a stop, like constriction before a in "and"
apostrophes following stop consonants or preceding sounded consonants signify glottalization, as in stop consonants 'l, 'm, 'n, 'r, 'w, 'y, and '(
click to hearpronounced by Lawrence Nicodemus in 1975, from his book and audio cassette kit, "Snchitsu'umshtsn - the Coeur d'Alene Language: A Modern Course." (literal followed by free translation)
aa! a(w ha'
ldarench l lut he'ytsgwichstmn - "hello, many months it is not have seen you I" - Hello, I haven't seen you in months.
kuuqhest hischitsts khwe ehntsetkhw - "you are good my guest you who are at my home" - You are a welcome guest in my home.
limlemtsh, qha'yqhi't chnlimt - "cause for rejoicing over and over it is, greatly I rejoice" - Thank you. I am much obliged.
hui, ne'chni'p'i llishus, ne'ch'mi'ymi'yshite'wes - "come on, we will near sit the fireplace, we will tell past stories back and forth" - Come, let us sit by the fireplace and speak of old times.
hey, k'wne' chnlimt - "all right, will I rejoice" - Yes, that will make me happy.
le e hntsetkhw, kuchnek'we'et - "while at my home, you are one person our" - When you are at my home, you are one of us.
etsmeysn, tsut lut ch'ul nuk'w ltsetkhw, pintch chsentse'i'wes - "I know it, even though not we belong-to one household, still we are brothers to each other" - I know. Even though we are not of the same family, still we are brothers.
© Coeur d'Alene Tribe 2002
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