English translation: Always speak to your children in your language.
Part of speech: verb phrase
This week’s WOTW segment features an important and fitting phrase from the Denek’éh/Kaska language. According to UBC,
“Kaska is a Northern Dene (Athabaskan) language, closely related to neighboring Dene languages such as Talhtan, Sekani, Beaver, Slavey, Southern Tutchone and Northern Tutchone. Most Kaska people live in the communities of Ross River and Watson Lake in southeastern Yukon and in Lower Post, and Good Hope Lake in northern British Columbia. The dialects of Kaska spoken in different regions differ somewhat in the pronunciation of words and in the terms that are used for certain expressions.”
The Kaska Nation is made up of the Kaska Dena Council, Liard First Nation and Ross River Dena Council. The Kaska Dena Council represents three BC-based bands: Fort Ware, Dease Lake and Lower Post. Liard First Nation and Ross River Dena Council are based in the Yukon. There are about 3,000 aboriginal people that are represented by Kaska First Nation. The community of Watson Lake is located in the Southeastern Yukon Territory, and the Liard Kaska First Nation is part of that community and is made up of approximately 1,059 band members. (First Voices, 2018).
Here is an excerpt from Kaska First Nation that expands on this week’s phrase:
Message to Our Children
Gūchōʼ kḗgedīʼ, sekʼādé gūkʼéh gū́sʼānī lā. Nahtsʼédānéʼ gutie gukʼéh kegiyehdį̄ wḗdé gūchōʼ gekʼéh gūʼą̄ī degā. Dūłą̄́ gukēyeh ā́ndzedeʼą̄́. Nahdegā lā sugudzeneʼīnī. Gutīe nahhwanī kʼī gūzā́gī, gūkēyeh gukʼéh gū́sʼānī dega gūtīe sunehʼīn. Dene tsʼį̄́ gūdehdéh déʼ, “Nahtsʼédānéʼ tsʼį̄́ Dene kʼéh gūdehdéh,” gedīʼ tsʼédāne dḗngētsedle déʼ, gūtie denezāgī kūgūhdį́ sį̄́ ekūdeh. Wḗdé Nahtsʼédānéʼ tsʼį̄́ʼ gūdehdéh. Tsʼédāne neyehī dūłą̄́ guzāg-I kʼéh denekʼéh gūsʼāni meyḗgūdī sį̄́. Eghąh edegedezets.
Estsų̄ Tilly gutsʼį̄́ʼ gūdedéh, ʼNahtsʼédānéʼ guzāgī kegīyehdį̄ Medégudihtʼē dādąh néhzedi déʼ yē zāgi nahyéneʼānī kʼéh nahtsʼį̄́ gūdēdḗsį̄́. Dūłą̄́ nahzāgī kʼéh gūdehdḗ déʼ Medégudihtʼē dédīʼa dūłą̄́ meyêhdī́ sį̄́.
Message to Our Children
Our elders say, “We still keep our ways. Teach your children well in our ways so our elders’ ways will carry on. Don’t give away our land. It is for you that we are keeping it. You all also keep our language, our land and our ways. Tell our people to teach their children to speak our language. It is better to teach your children while they are small. Speak to your children all the time in Kaska. We are worried that the children are going to grow up without knowing their language and without knowing their ways.”
Grandma Tilly told us, “You have to teach the children to speak our language, because when you stand in front of God, he will speak to each person in the language he gave us. If they don’t know their language they will not understand him”.
Listen to the full message here:
Did you know?
UBC has lessons available to those interested in learning the Kaska language.
Click here to find out more!
We acknowledge that the land on which we work is the unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.