Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Koyomk`awi Noto Sewi Ma`a, Perparing for the Breath of Life In Washington D.C.

"Language Is Culture, Without One The Other Is Lost, Culture Is Language's Voice" By Matthew S. Williford Gramps (Pano)
As the time draws near for the Koyomk`awi Noto Sewi Ma`a Language Team to depart for Washington D.C. and the Breath of Life Conference, I feel a sense of urgency. Not a negative sense but a knowledgeable one. Recently, I have become aware of Coyotes hanging around the Maiduan Languages. These Coyotes, like to confuse language and its purpose for our cultures. Just as the Maidu Nation has many cultures, some alike, some completely different. We have different Languages and forms of speaking these languages, aka dialects.
In order for Ja akum Ni to stay true to our dreams, ancestors, and the next Koyomk`awi Noto Sewi speakers, we must stay true to our beliefs and ideas of how we would have spoken our language in our areas, and of the Northern Fork. This is what I call traditional, the knowledge of speaking the dialect your ancestors spoke, the first language. I feel the need to search deep in these up coming archives, because when I sleep I keep seeing these dialects or words, and their are many other majdy around me, speaking of these words as dead or lost. Many scholars say 3-5 dialects of the Koyomk`awi Language are lost or dead, I feel as though their just hidden. Hidden just as like a Majdy dancer hides from himself.
I ask Coyote, "Koyomk`awi womi wewe, hesi mi hyc`ik? Wewe mi k'ah, ni uton heno? I ask him if he has hidden these words, did you forget where, I will seek for the, Coyote. With our language our culture begins to show its face, as well as our society's will begin to come out of hiding from those you said it was evil, and or labeled "Devil Worshipping". Welcome back, It has been to long. Take your time we will be waiting for you and so will our children! O


Friday, April 26, 2013


  In my last trial of life, I have came to see the strength not only in ones self, but also in a humans spirituality. A human can not do this on their own, a human must remember his/her ancestors and connection to our mother, Earth. A statement I had heard once now shines bright in my soul," For some singing is praying". Many people say my native language Koyomk`awi (Northern Fork of the Feather River Dialect) is dying, but for me and many of my majdum, we say our language is growing. For every time one of us speaks in our language it's as if a wildfire has been lit, and has spread through out the forest.We as well as our language are alive and kicking. With the remembrances of our true language our spirit has caught fire, as well as our culture. Bowey, is one word for praying in our language and Kodoyampe is our Creator. We do not talk as we pray, we sing. As many Native people our cultures and languages have been around for 1000's of years, and as I see it both will be around for a 1000 more.

In writing is, I ask all Native people to speak at least 10 words a day from your language. It just doesn't show we may stand on broken legs, and keep walking. It shows our souls and spirits can and will never be broken! And for the non believers and stereotypical skins, They tried to take our language and she is scared from her battle, but she won the U.S. World War 2!!!!!! O

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Koyomk`awi Culture


                    KOYOMK`AWI RESEARCH 2012

 “He-lin-mai-deh (Big Man or God) created the water and the misty air. He was with Turtle as his only companion. As he and Turtle floated in their boat on this vast sea of water, He became lonely so He brought into being Ko-do-yam-pe (World Maker) to keep him company. After days of drifting, he told Ko-do-yam-pe there should be earth and people in this sea and charged Ko-do-yam-pe with this task. Ko-do-yam-pe told Turtle to dive into the water and explore the sea. Turtle made many dives into the deep water but never found anything. One day he made his usual dive and was gone for three days. On this third day Turtle came up out of the void of the deep water more dead than alive. In his nails of his feet were small bits of earth. This Kodoyampe gathered, rolled into a mass and laid it on the water. It grew to be the World with all the rivers, lakes, mountains, and such but there were no people. He-lin-mai-dum said there should be people. He had already created the animals, fish, birds, and trees. He told Kodoyampe to cut two straight willow sticks, strip them of bark, and lay one under each arm when he went to sleep. If anything unusual happened, he was to act as thought nothing at all was happening and under no circumstance was he to move. In the early morning he felt movement and fingers tickling him all over his body. Looking up he saw a man and woman. He rose from his bed and sent them to bathe and come and eat. These were the first people. In those days the people ate only roots, clovers, and earth worms. Kodoyampe also changed the air so that there was frost, fog, rain, snow, wind, heat, and pleasant days. He gave them fire to warm themselves. He made seasons:
Kum=min=ni (the rain season) Yo-min-ni (leaf season) I-lak-nom (dry season) and Mat-min-ni (falling leaf season). He instituted the Kumi (dance house) and gave the Konkau songs to sing to his honor during the time of these Seasons, but to do no dances. There was no illness or death at this time.
    Of old the Maidu abode tranquility in the Sacramento Valley, and were happy. All of a sudden there was a mighty and swift rushing of water, which no being could measure. The Maidu fled for their lives, but a great many where overtaken by the water and they slept beneath the waves. Also, the frogs and salmon pursued swiftly after them and they ate many Maidu. Thus all the Maidu drowned but two who escaped into the foothills. But the Great Man gave these two fertility and blessed them, so that the world was re-peopled. From these two there sprung many tribes even a mighty nation and one man was noponi over this entire nation. This noponi became greatly known in the world. Then he went out to a knoll overlooking the wide water and he knew that they covered fertile plains that where once inhabited by ancestors. Nine sleeps he lay without food, for he lived on his thoughts alone and his mind was always thinking of this only:
“How did this deep water cover the face of the world?” And at the end of nine sleeps he was changed. He was no more like himself before, for now no arrow could wound him, though a thousand Indians should shoot at him, not one flint point arrow would break his skin. He was like the Great Man; no man could slay him forever. Then he spoke to the Great Man, he commanded him to let the water flow off the plains which his ancestors had inhabited. Great Man heard and he ripped open the side of the mountains and the water flowed away into the Big Water.
   Once, many many years ago, there lived a black eagle on a knoll in the hills between Chico and Oroville. Now the black eagle had a son who was always flying off and one day he came to the knoll where the son of the Creator lived. The son of the Creator sought to kill the black eagle, but all he did was crease the top of the young black eagles head, removing a patch of feathers. As the black eagle grew and aged his head remained bare of any feathers. As the Indian story goes, this is the beginning of the bald eagle. This is why today there are black and bald eagles.
   The souls of the dead were believed to go to Estobisim-yamani (in-the-center-of-the-mountain),that is, Marysville Buttes, whence two roads led, one westward to the place where Sumuini-wewe (nose talk), the evil one of the two creators; the other eastward to the home of the good creator, Nem- yepani (big chief), or Yahasin-yeponi (in the sky chief). The body of this Sky Chief was like gold; in fact, the old people used to say he was the moon, and his sister the sun. The souls of the peaceful took the eastward road, and those who had killed and fought the westward. The soul was called either breath or heart.

   This story begins with the creation of land by Sky Chief (Yáhâsin-yĕpâni) and Turtle. After
Creating the world, Sky Chief “…made the rule that when any food was gathered, the first
Should not be eaten”. Nose Talker (Sumuini-wewe) was in constant
Disagreement with Sky Chief and disagreed with this rule. He went against it and ate
Some of the first salmon. As a result, the river began to dry up and Sky Chief was unable
to catch fish the next night. The story proceeds with Nose Talker constantly disobeying
the instructions of the Sky Chief in regard to the quantity of food he should hunt or
gather. One day the two disagree whether people should die. Sky Chief argues they
should live forever, while Nose Talker proclaims they should die because “…they will
have a burning of property. People will come from near and far to burn and gamble and
feast and have a good time”. There is then a race between the young men which includes Nose Talker’s son. His son dies from a rattlesnake bite from a snake.
Sky Chief threw in the path. The story then continues:
One of the racers said, “That rattlesnake bit him, and he is dead.”
Then Nose Talker wept and wailed. He carried his son down to the lake that
Sky Chief had made, and put the body in the water. But the moment Sky Chief had
consented to have death, that water, which had always been constantly whirling
about, became quite. After a time Nose Talker carried the body back and laid it on
the ground.
Sky Chief asked: “Why do you not bury him? You said you wanted to have a
good time.” He began to wail, and threw dust on his head. He got a basket and a
digging-stick, and dug a hole. Nose Talker was wailing loudly. When the hole was
finished, Sky Chief brought out all the dance costumes he possessed. He wrapped the
corpse in a bear-skin, after hanging beads and feathers on it, and tied it with
rope. Then he dropped the body into the hole.That night Sky Chief went down into the ground at the foot of the central post of the house and came at the lake. He went away southward. Nobody saw him go.With his feet he made various mountains and hills, as he stepped. He made
Marysville Buttes, and there he waited for the son of Nose Talker. The next day he
made pehépi [a clown-like person…]. He told the clown to remain there and watch,
while he himself sat inside the mountain. Soon Nose Talker’s son was seen
approaching. He was carrying all the things that Sky Chief had buried with him. He
was crying. He came to the door of the mountain, and Sky Chief said to the clown,
“Tell him to throw everything down outside.”
   Now all the time Nose Talker had been looking for Sky Chief. “I do know
where my chum has gone,” he kept saying to himself. He had a string of beads about his neck and his hair was burned off short. Others too looked for Sky Chief. Kàlkâlim-wĕnumam-yĕpâni [“clam-shell-beads vomit chief”] went northward in his search, and remained at Mount Shasta. Yàlul-pĕm-yĕpâni, or Kàsipim-pehepi, went westward. Kúksum-yĕpâni [“far south chief”] went southward. Kolelnom-yĕpâni [“Subterranean chief”], or Sâmmon-káno [“fire old-man”], went beneath the ground.
At the lake Nose Talker saw the footprints of Sky Chief. They were filled with
water. He followed them. The next day Sky Chief said to his watchman: “I think Nose Talker is coming. I think he is running.” Soon Nose Talker came to the door of the mountain. He
stopped and peered through the doorway. Sky Chief said: “Well, here are you son.
Come in. Do not be ashamed.” Nose Talker started to enter, but Sky Chief said: “Sit
down there at the door. Well, here are you boy. Now are you satisfied?” The room
was full of acorn mush and bread and dry salmon Nose Talker said: “I’m hungry. I would like to eat.” “Well, you are not dead. You cannot eat here. Go home. The next day Sky Chief said to
his watchman: “I think Nose Talker is coming. I think he is running.” Soon Nose Talker came to the door of the mountain. He stopped and peered through the doorway. Sky Chief said: “Well, here you are son. Come in. Do not be ashamed.” Nose Talker started to enter, but Sky Chief said “Sit down there at the door. Well, here is you boy. Now are you satisfied?” The room
was full of acorn mush and bread and dry salmon Nose Talker said: “I’m hungry. I would like to eat.” “Well, you are not dead. You cannot eat here. Go home. Tell the people that
you have seen you boy here, and he is alive. And you will have your burning, your
good time. When anyone dies, he will come to this place.” So Nose Talker went
back home and held the first burning ceremony.
This story, “The Sweathouse Set-in-the-Center,” this story describes the Sutter Buttes (or “The Sweathouse Set-in-the-Center”) as a sweathouse used by the creator. The Creator went back to his house and went into a deep sleep. After a while he told his family that he was going away, but that he would come back in a few days.
When it grew dark he left his home, taking with him the Coyote’s son’s body. The
next morning the Coyote went into the sweathouse to visit the Creator. Not seeing
him he asked the Creator’s family, “Where is my cousin?” The family told him that
they didn’t know, but that the Creator would be back in a few days. The Coyote
then began to think something bad of the Creator. He spent the rest of that day
smelling around. Also the second day. The third day the Creator sent a scent back,
that the Coyote might find him. The Coyote tracked him in a mountain named Setinthe-
Center [the Sutter Buttes], where a sweathouse was built, the door of which
was left half open. It was evening when the Coyote reached the mountain
sweathouse. The sweathouse was inside. He saw his son and the Creator sitting on
the ground by the center post of the sweathouse eating their supper. He wanted to
go inside, but the keeper of the door told him he could not let him in. The Coyote
told him he was very hungry. Still the keeper would not let him in, but said he would
give him something to eat. He gave him food, and then as it was getting darker and
The tale continues into the story, “The White Feather Road.”
While the Coyote slept the Creator made a rope of white feathers reaching from the
top of the mountain up to the sky. This was a road, and it was called the road of the
dead. After finishing the road the Creator prepared the Coyote’s son to travel the
road. The Creator then took the spirit out of the Coyote’s son, leaving his body, and
sent the spirit on the road to the sky, or heaven. The Creator woke the Coyote and
told him that he could not come into the house unless he dies. “And now you go
back to your house and tell all that you have seen. And that none of your people can ever
come into this sweathouse until they die.” So the Coyote started for home. When within sight of his home he began shouting, “I have seen the Creator and I have seen my son and they are in a good place with plenty to eat.”
The next portion of the tale is told as “The Rockman to Guide Creator’s
Children Home,” and tells of a character which calls for the dead to come to the Buttes.
After all this the Creator thought it best that he should have someone to guard the
mountain sweathouse. So Rockman, also known as an Indian clown, was placed on
the very top of the sweathouse, so the dead may be guided by the voice of this
Indian clown. The Creator gave the clown power so as to know when there was
anyone dead, and even to know their names. In calling them he could say, “Come
this way?” “Don’t get lost!” “Don’t go that way!” “Be careful how you step.” The
Creator also left a man at the door of the mountain so that when the dead came he
was to undress them of the clothing that they were buried in, and prepare them for
the feather road that only the dead may travel.
According to the Indian legend, the Sutter Buttes were called the “spirit dance
house” or kahkini kumme. Kahkinni means spirit. The Indian version is when you
die, your body is dead, but your spirit still remains in the area for a while. It goes to
this place that we call kahkinni kumme and that is the last dance house where all the
spirits of the dead meet before they go into the beyond where they came from. So,
the idea is that when you die, the spirit goes to this sweat house. After 4 days the
spirit performs a dance and then goes to the beyond. That’s why a spirit dinner is
given at the time of death. To placate the spirits at the end of 4 days you give a
dinner. An invitation is given describing the man and his spirit that is dead. The
public address, is as though you are talking to the person. For instance, if the one
that died is a daughter you would say “I am giving this dinner for you so that your
spirit will rest. You will be all set and you won’t have to starve. Here is the salmon,
here is the deer, here is the acorn soup and the acorn bread for you spirit to partake
of  before you go.” At the time you say this, you put offerings of these foods on the
fire and then you wail in memory of the person. Then everyone sits down and they fire
and then you wail in memory of the person. Then everyone sits down and they
eat this food. That is the dinner given for the spirit at the sweat house before it goes
beyond. What we call the soul, the Maidu call heart…The northern [Maidu]
valley people say that a dead person’s heart lingers near the body for several days. It then
journeys to every spot which the living person had visited, retracting each of his
steps and reenacting every deed performed in life. This accomplished, the spirit
seeks a mysterious cavern in the Marysville Buttes, the great spirit mountain of the
Maidu, where for the first time it eats spirit food and is washed. It experiences here
are a repetition of those of the first man of mythology. From the Marysville Buttes
the spirit ascends to the sky land, flower land, or spirit land, as it is variously called.
The hill residents tell of the same journey traveled by their dead. But they
reach the abounding sky land- “valley above” is an equivalent rendering- by going
east along the path of the sun, instead of to the Marysville Buttes. The Milky Way
is also pointed out as the road of the spirits. Earth-Initiate and Coyote
were at Marysville Buttes. Earth-Initiate said, “I am going
to make people.” He took dark red earth, mixed it with water, and made two
figures, - one a man, and one a woman. He laid the man on his right side, and the
woman on his left, inside his house. Then he lay himself down, flat on his back,
with his arms stretched out. He lay thus and sweated all the afternoon and night.
Early in the morning the woman began to tickle him in the side. He kept very still,
and did not laugh. By and by he got up, thrust a piece of pitch-wood into the
ground, and fire burst out. The two people were very white. No one to-day is as
white as they were. There eyes were pink, their hair was black, their teeth shone
brightly, and they were very handsome. It is said that Earth-Initiate did not finish
the hands of the people, as he did not know how it would be best to do it. Coyote
saw the people, and suggested that they ought to have hands like his. Earth Initiate
said, “No, their hands shall be like mine.” Then he finished them. When Coyote
asked why their hands were to be like that, Earth-Initiate answered, “So that, if they
are chased by bears, they can climb trees.” This first man was called Kuksu and the
woman, Morning-Star Woman (La’idamlulum ku’le).
Meteor’s (satoia) are thought to be women from the star’s, or sometimes an evil omen. If one or more are seen in close succession, this is a sign that the people are on the move for war. If they were seen to hit the earth, the place of landing would be off limits for around a year, that would include no hunting or gathering in these areas. The tail of a meteor is seen as a women of the stars from a time before, continuing to wander the universe.
  During my research, plus talking with tribal elders, the area of Dogwood was noted or talked about frequently. The Koyomk`awi band of Maidu from these area was called the Nemsewi ma`a. This having the meaning of big river, there was also an area named Temsewi. As invaders moved into the area, it was hard for them to speak many Maidu words so the shortened them or pronounced them the way they heard them. So Nemsewi was changed to Nimshu or Kimshu. Located in the now Paradise area or the “Ridge” area, this band of Maidu was from the Northern Fork of the Feather River just as the band a crossed the Ridge in the areas of Pulga, Konkau Valley, and Yankee Hill. I have found that the Maidu of Pulga had a very close relationship with the Nimshu band. Saying this, it would also be my opinion that the band in the Konkau Valley would have a close relationship with the Nimshu as well do to the closeness of the Pulga and Konkau Valley Maidu. The Gramps men of Pulga where noted of saying that their last Yeponi or Headman came from the Nimshu band, “William “Buckshot” Johnson. Also, in my noting of a Burning Ceremony in Dogwood, I noted that three Gramps men are persons of ceremony as stated in a book called,” Indians of Paradise”. All though, I feel as if I might have found some words of a forgotten dialect in my research of the Nimshu, I feel that it is just a form of Koyomk`awi as all others. The Nimshu were close relatives of the Konkau Valley and Pulga Maidu, they also had the same dances with slightly different words. Here are some; pokalman bunnom bundaudi, willeeyo o won welle e ya a, this verse is repeated. This is a one man dance for the “charge up” for the food. They also used a clapper similar to the Konkau Valley Maidu, but which they called a pa`paka. The word for one is wukte, and a question like “What is the matter?” is recored as being “Ho`matinani”, in their kumi, they also used a foot drum they called kilem`mi. My conclusion is simple, the Nimshu are a band of the Northern Fork, and are Koyomk`awi. Plus, the Dogwood area I feel is a very spiritual area, and needs to be researched more today, by way of fieldwork and maybe even a trip to the old Kumi area. In the field of linguistics, I have found a few words that are said to be from the Nimshu band or the Dogwood area, the words are as follows: Tektek (a cemetery), c`ul ko (another place), wapum yami (???), and hu-huk-pah (???). Also, an explanation to the place name Nimshu that is still used today. Nemsewi (Big River) was a place or band name used by Koyomk`awi Maidu, along with this Temsewi (Little River) which was translated by the invaders as Kimshu, was also either a place name or band name.
In the area below Yankee Hill to the Southwest direction and to the South of the Nimshu is the area witch the invaders named Cherokee do to the fact that during the California Gold Rush a large group of Cherokee Indians came out to this place to homestead and mine the yellow rock. Long before these alien Native called this area home, bands of the Koyomk`awi Maidu lived on these hills and on the top of a flat topped mountain called Table Mountain. It is recored in the archeology record that a major village site was in this area before the invaders and long before the mighty Feather River was dammed to make Lake Oroville. The village site was named Weluda. Also, a man in which our language programs  has gained much information from elder Roy Scott, use to live with many other Maidu in a village called Kupno, where at one time a kumi was located, and in which the scholar Mr. Riddell uses in his mapping of Koyomk`awi village sites. Mr. Scott stated that the settlers named the area Wilson’s Ranch. There is also many spiritually places in this area, as noted by Brian Beavers. Included in one of Mr. Scott’s interviews he also noted that on the Fred Morgan Ranch three miles south of Oregen Gulch, there was another village site. A few names he threw out are Antonne Rue and Belle Rau, who lived in the area in 1935. When I was researching at the Chico State Library’s “Special Collections” I encountered a few words that are said to be from this area. These words are as followed: Enmeto ( beautiful spot ), Wyami (??? ), Campodi (a village site ), Yamau-nem (???), itu (pains), oam-pu (milkweed), lu-no (snakeroot) , c`a-pum (woodworm), ustu (burning), pa`paka (clapper stick) I had also encountered this word for clapper stick in the Nimshu research, having the same meaning, also, the meaning for “oma” or “omo” referring to the “people of “.As of today my research continues in this area of people, culture, and language.

Dogwood Burning October 1893
First little fires were built up around, then flags or feathers where tied to poles and set up around a big fire. Wailing and crying opened up by old women and old bucks at 8:30 am, in the huddle all cried. A half circle is formed by the big fire, 12 criers in all. First burned are salmon heads, 3 in all, back to back. 2nd, bread is thrown in three times, 3rd dried apples 3 at a time, 4th whole salmon two at a time three times, 5th two linen coats are thrown in to the big fire, 6th salmon and apples together are thrown in two at a time, 7th just salmon heads are placed on the small burning piles, 8th salmon and apples once again are burned three at a time, 9th salmon heads alone are thrown in two at a time, this mixture of salmon and apples continues  7 times through, next fish (not salmon) is burned 15 times, again apples 2 at a time, then fish, apples and now hazel nuts are placed on the smaller pits, fried  nuts are then placed on the big fire with clover, after the ritual of repeating symbols to burn a single Burch  flower is placed on each fire.
The time now being 1:15pm, the belongings of the deceased are ritually placed on certain fires. Then without notice at 3:10, the wailing stops, there is a 25 minute pause period, then in a form of a circle counter clockwise the criers begin to wail again. At 4pm, the final object is placed on the big fire; a bear hide is slowly placed on the large fire by a yomi. From here we follow Martin, Henery and David Gramps as they lead what could be called a parade back over into the Pulga and Konkau Valley area. One of our leaders explains that the Konkau  maidum believe that the soul comes out of the mouth after death.
The Yeponi of Nimshu village was a native known as “Caption”. His daughter C`amputi (Shampooty) was popular among the local pioneers as she was both beautiful and able to converse in fluent English. In 1859, C`amputi contracted tuberculosis. A local yomi was unable to fix her illness so a higher more powerful yomi was employed, but to no avail. As the family watched her waste away they prospered for her departure to the spirit world. As a custom to the Nimshu Maidu, when a Indian was near death the head of the person was cradled in the lap of the favorite family member, while the rest of the family stood by, chanting softly. As with the Konkau as soon as the heart of the person stops beating the whole village begin to wail and cry. Runners where sent out across the Maidu Nation, bearing the sad news and an invitation to the funeral ceremony. The invitation was a knotted cord of milkweed which would be presented at the arrival of the burial. The family held a cord, which also had knots, and when the guess arrived a knott would be cut off. Many settlers were scared by the loudness of the wail which came from the very large group of Maidu.
C`amputi’s parents would have been noticed to to the shorting of their hair and the pine pitch mixed with charcoal which they had smeared on their faces. Although cremation was a main way of burial, C`amputi was buried. First, in view of those assembled the deceased was laid on a blanket with her arms crossed on her chest. The body was then placed on its side, next a rope was place around the corpse, which was tightly bound with knees drawn up to the chin. The body was then wrapped into a skin, Bear being preferred, but deerskins could have also been used, all to show respect.
A grave was dug, five feet in depth. Into the hole the body was place, making sure that it was facing west. Pine bark was placed on the body to help ease the pressure of the dirt. This rite, as told by the Maidu, extended ritual practices that started in mythological times. The Konkau placed the deceased’s belonging into the grave. Some items where purposely broken then placed in the grave. To help supply those in the afterlife, the Konkau periodically burned baskets, beads, and other items in the autumn, or at a “Burning”. This was the largest recorded gathering of the Konkau Maidu in history.
Billy Day (Heka) Kusulay’s son also lived at Alimyuda
Capt. Billy Lived at Sito
Capt. Billy Forman Headsmen after fathers Charley at Tiewia on Foreman Creek lived also Toitomi Pakani
Capt. Jim, killed by Ned 1870
Charley Foreman at Toitompakani later was headman at Tiemia (before 1900)
Fry Creek Jack at Moncakoyo
Kusulay at Alimyuda 1850
Sinam, a shaman Challenge Area (possible Nisenan)
Solpay aka Pompey shaman and singer died 1840
Tataupi Powerful Shaman Rackerby area
Wilepa 7 sons and grizzly hunter
Yemluno Bald Rock Jim, shaman lived Benkuakum died 1922
Pumyua Wilega’s son
Tachulan Wilega’s son
Tuksuli Wilega’s son
Wumka Dick Harry
Taheily Henery Flynn
Heka Kusulay’s son, Yeponi Benkumkum 1890-1900
Muska Yeponi
Tahoily Yeponi
Bill Foreman refused Yeponi spot
Heka Yeponi Piubey/Tsotainpakami
Kali Konkau Warrior aka ‘one man army’
Pula killed at Yowitoma
William ‘Buckshot’ Johnson Yeponi Dogwood at chul ko (another place)
Rock Creek Jim Tektek
Chatoo ~ Kanaka Peak Burning Ground
Sito ~ Burning Ground and village
Ta`a ~ Burning Ground and village at Oregen Creek
Unihuyama ~ Burning Ground, Cemetery, village at Rackeby
Toto ~ Cemetery on the South Side of Berry Creek, Bloomer Hill
Kimsewi ~ Dogwood Burning Ground
Tektek ~ Cemetery Nemsewi

    In this paper I will distinguish the differences between the most researched and archived dialects in the Koyomk`awi language area, best known by the name “Konkau” Maidu language area. I will break down each dialect into four groups, each following the branches of the Feather River in Northern California. These branches are the North Fork, Middle Fork, South Branch and
finally the Plains or Valley area of Butte Creek. I have recently, in the last two years, been introduced to my Native American language Koyomk`awi; (Konkau). Also, I and my uncle, Wallace Clark has enrolled in the A.I.C.L.S., program to help relearn or as we say remember our language. As to date, there are only two fluent speaks of our dialect, which differs from all other Koyomk`awi dialects.
    Many times, in my casual conversations about the Maidu people of Northern California, I’m asked “well don’t all Maidu’s speak Maidu?” While trying to explain the Maidu people and the culture and languages of my people, I often think in my head “well do all English speakers speak English”? Of course to the general population the answer would be yes, but to those of us in the study of languages and those of us trying to relearn or just remember a language in which, at one point, in this country’s history, had been outlawed, we say no. English speakers in the South speak English but with their own dialect. When I say dialect I mean, for example, down south
most people use “Ya’ll” instead of “all of you” this is a southern United States English dialect used in the southern part of the United States. This also applies to my original language of Koyomk`awi northern Fork dialect. But in some cases there are words that are the same which have different meanings traced from ridge to ridge, canyon to canyon, and river fork to river fork.  While reseachering at a language program called “Breath of Life” I noticed a dialect difference not just with Mountain Maidu, Southern Maidu and Konkau Maidu but also within each language area. The dialect areas of the Koyomk`awi language are as follows: Northern Fork of the Feather River (Belton, Pulga, Konkau Valley, Yankee Hill, Cherokee, Dogwood or Nimshu), the Middle Fork (Bald Rock, Mooretown, Feather Falls, Enterprise, Berry Creek, Forbstown), South Branch (Challenge, Woodleaf, Strawberry Valley, Portola) and finally the Valley (Chico Mechoopda, Durham, Butte College area, Richvile, Gridley, Honcut ~Houncut~).The latter being in a border area with the Southern stock of the Maidu Nation the Nisenan.(Williford,Matthew,2012, The Maidu, One Nation, Many Dialects)
  Now that you, the reader, have a small view of the dialect areas, I will now start with examples. My first examples will start with numbers. I will list these numbers in category’s, Northern, Middle, Southern and Valley. The first being the Northern Fork, most of the recording of this dialect was done by Dr. Ultan from the University of California at Berkley. The speaker who worked with Dr. Ultan was Leland Scott of the Cherokee area. His Mother was from the Konkau Valley Band and his father was from Cherokee and the Weuluda Band. Just for the record my family is from the Pulga and Konkau Valley bands (Gramps & Clark). A few popular names in California history are from these areas, Yohema, my four time Great Grand Mother and Tome-Yah –Ni, Fish Dam Maker, (Capt. Burshard) the last Noponi (Top Knot {chief}) of the Konkau
Valley Band my five time Grand Father, and finally Buckshot Williams the last Yeponi of the Pulga Band of Maidu.
I will start off by showing the difference in numbers by dialect.
1 Wek`-tem /  penem`bo 7 1 Wek`-tem/tak-puim 7
2 penem /   s`ayic`ko 8 2 Penem/pen-c`u-yim 8
3 Sa-pum /    c`e-ni-c`oko 9 3 Sa-pum/pe`-ni-om 9
4 c `uyem /    ma c`oko 10 4 c`u-yim/ma`-so-kom 10
5 Mauwika/  wek`emnoko 11 5 mawi-kum / 5 & 6= {NO ONE WORD} 11
6 Sasoko /  we`tem noko 12 6 Sai-sa-kom/6 & 6={NO ONE WORD} 12

VALLEY DIALECT                          SOUTH FORK DIALECT
   (CHICO)                                                  (SWEDES FLATS)                                                           
1 Wuk`teh  /Pen~nem`bo 7 1 Wikte/5 & 2 is 7
2 Pe`nim /su`~y`soko 8 2 Pen/4 & 4 is 8
3 Sh`apwi/ Ch~ni~mach`oko  9 3 Sapui/5 & 4 is 9
4 Chu`yeh/Ma-ch`o-ko 10 4 Saye/5 & 5 is 10
5 Ma~cha`neh/ Wuh-kem-noko 11 5 Sa-ni/6 & 5 is 11
6 Sai-so-ko/ Wu`kemnoko 12 6 So-ko/6 & 6 is 12
To truly understand the way the dialects pronounce the sounds of the words, one must remember that at one time in the long ago past all these dialects where one. Through language movement from ridge to ridge to valley to valley the words for these numbers either became shorter, longer, or even some words just forgotten and never used. Not only are the dialects different, but also shown is the different cultural traits each branch took on. Some cultural areas emphasize men’s societies such as “ Kuksu”. Others shined off the social path, but became the best in cultural material makers, such as baskets, in all of Northern California.
This final look into the dialects of the Koyomk`awi (Konkau) language, will involve subjecting Kinship names to comparisons. Do to the fact, that many of the Koyomk`awi dialects where not recorded by scholars or settlers, we have forever lost specific aspects of these dialects. So, I’m inclined to only compare three Branches of the dialects here. I have chosen Konkau Valley from the Fork, Mooretown from the Middle Fork and Mechoopda from the Valley. The format for this comparison is made up of letters to represent the kinship relationship; for example D for Dad, M for Mom, MC for Male child or a FC for Female child, etc. I will also place a key to guide the letter format.



The Konkau Valley Band had many taboos, and it show’s in the fact there are no words for female in-laws. A man was not allowed to speak to a mother in law or sister in law, for the possibility of a sexual relation, but male and female cousins could speak to one another.
D = k`uli       M = ne’        D = ye’pi (man)   M = ku’le (woman)
GF = bassa    GM = de’
OS = tutu    YS = tuni   OD =kula   YD = kula tem   GC = pej
OB = k`e    YB = tuni   YSS = ka   OSS = k`eti
BABY = c`ilak
B=kole     G=kule
DD = ka’m     DM = sa’k`a     MD =pa    MM = to’
H= yepi    W= ko’no
DB =ja’    DS=ka’ti     MB = ka     MS=de’
Both male and female are called kami for nephew or niece
OC = posi       YC = kesi
Relative = hoo-nani
As shown, the Konkau Valley Band had place for gender. Not recorded here as with most of the Bands and Dialects, are younger females who were taken as wives’ or a second wife. In my research, there was no recorded information stating that this took place within the Band of Konkau.
D=kuli       M=ne    C=kole
DD= aam    DM= sakam    MD= pa   MM=to
DGD=ganam      MGD=guse
OB=e   YB=tuni    YS=gam    OS= etim
DB=yam     DS=katim   MB=ka     MS=de
OC=posim     YC=kesim
W=kono    H=yepi    CW=guse     CH=ganam   2nd W ect.=puli
Now here in the Middle Fork dialect there are words for extra spouse, also words for youth or gender of the husband or wife. Also, words for Grandparents in where the latter band had no words for Grandparents in there dialect.
MS=mu de   MB=tajti   DS=mu kati    DB=kumi
MD=mu pa   MM=mu kesi    DM=mu saka   DD=mu ka’
At this point I’ve just began to research the Mechoopda and Valley Koyomk`awi dialects. But just with the little I have you can see a little of the N. Fork dialect, but also maybe some Patwin influence? The Patwin Wintu where right acrossed the Sacramento River in Chico and had a very close relationship with the Valley Maidu in Chico. So, I feel I have made a strong point to show that the Koyomk`awi is not just one dialect, and therefore these Bands who try and learn a Koyomk`awi dialect need to do research and find the right one. Each cultural area of the Konkow Maidum, have differnet dialects. Stating this it is my opinion that those Band who have started a language program in which the Konkau Valley dialect is their main focus, need to be awhere that each dialect has its own dialect or dialects, therefore, by using the Konkau Valley dialect is not only false represtation of tribal identity, but also robbing their young generation of the full knowledge of self awareness of their true ancesteral heratagie.
VOWEL           ENGLISH                     SPAINISH                          KOYOMK`AWI
{I} =  EE             BEE                                         MI (YOU)
{U} =  OO        FOOD                           UNO                           U~TI (ACORN)
{A} =’A            AUTO                                                                         A~KUM (AND)
{O} = O            NO                                                                            NOTO (NORTH)
{E} = A          ATE                                                                         K`EKE (EDGE) VOWEL           ENGLISH                     SPAINISH                          KOYOMK`AWI
{I} =  EE             BEE                                         MI (YOU)
{U} =  OO        FOOD                           UNO                           U~TI (ACORN)
{A} =’A            AUTO                                                                         A~KUM (AND)
{O} = O            NO                                                                            NOTO (NORTH)
{E} = A          ATE                                                                         K`EKE (EDGE)
{Y}= U        PLACES (A GUT ‘U’ SOUND)                             KY~LE (WOMAN)
In some way’s the Y takes the place of the U, also in other scholars research the Y takes the I place. It is most likely who’s ever work you study is the way you would choose replacement letters. (Williford, 2012, Dialects of the Maidu Nation)
{O} = O            NO                                                                            NOTO (NORTH)
{E} = A          ATE                                                                         K`EKE (EDGE)
{Y}= U        PLACES (A GUT ‘U’ SOUND)                             KY~LE (WOMAN)
In some way’s the Y takes the place of the U, also in other scholars research the Y takes the I place. It is most likely who’s ever work you study is the way you would choose replacement letters. (Williford, 2012, Dialects of the Maidu Nation)

Many scholars have made claims to having the knowledge of the Konkau people’s boundaries between the rest of the Maidu Nation and other Native tribes bordering the Nation. I have researched through many of this claim, and I have asked questions of tribal elders, to my conclusion the true borderlands of the Konkau will never truly be known. So I have used all this info, plus info from my close family members and came up with this basic area mapping:
Rock Creek West, North at Chico, up Northward between Deer and Big Chico Creek’s, to Humboldt Peak. Where today Tehama, Butte, And Plumas County’s now meet.
Chico, South to Middle Mountain, passing between Butte Creek and the Sacramento River.
Koyomk`awi boundaries with the Mountain and Southern Maidu was not so important as with the Wintu, Yana, ect., the other people of the Nation where considered cousins or relatives of the Koyomk`awi people. The Koyomk`awi people along the Honcut Creek, between the Yuba and Feather Rivers had a mixture of dialects, most scholar’s state the mixture was between Nisenan and Valley Koyomk`awi (Southern Branch of Feather River). The border, started in the South, from the Feather River up to Honcut Creek to the Northern Fork of the Honcut Creek, up to Lake Wyandotte, sharply east to the Northern Yuba River, Northeast up to Slate Creek to Pilot Peak. As on the West the Sacramento River made a natural border up until the Southern points of Mt.Lassen, East to Pilot Peak. Although, it has been recorded that in the area of Beldon along the Northern Fork of the Feather River, a mixture of Mountain and Hill Koyomk`awi (Northern Fork of Feather River) has been recorded. Also, in the area of Sweades Flat and Loma Rica a so-called no man’s land has been recorded between the Southern and Koyomk`awi Maidu peoples.
  The Koyomk`awi had names for their relatives in the Mountains and in the Southern lands. In the North, the Mountain Maidu or Noto~Koyo Maidum ma`a; in the South, the Hill Nisenan or Tanku Maidum ma`a, plus the Valley Nisenan or Tukuma Maidum ma`a, as with the Northern enemys of the Koyomk`awi, the Yana or Noto Su ma`a (Northern Dog tribe).
   Many of the Koyomk`awi ceremony’s and rites, were focused around the Kuksu Societies of the men. In the whole Maidu Nation only the Southern and Koyomk`awi people participated in this form of religious performances. The Mountain Maidu, in which scholars have not recorded any Kuksu involment, did however perform Bear ceremony’s and also a coming of age ceremony, which was recorded, but was not as liberate as the Koyomk`awi or Southern Maidu’s.
  In the Koyomk`awi, there seemed to be two different forms of a Coming of Age ceremony for females. One takes place in the Valley and the other in the Foothills. In my research I have two different recorded Coming of Age ceremonies, one in Chico and one in the area of the Middle Fork. I will describe both here:
When a girl got to be eleven years old, or she has signs of her first menses, she tells her mother and in turn her mother notifies the rest of the family. That night these family members gather at the home of the girl. The fire of the home is covered with ashes; each member there beat two rocks together in time with a song which is sung. The song which is called “ the grass hopper song”, if a singer miss a word or sings out of tune he or she is asked to leave quickly. She could no longer eat meat or any greasy things. She could eat pinole, acorn bread, mushrooms, clover, and different vegetables that they cooked between hot rocks, all she wanted. She was taught to make baskets and to pound a little acorn pinole and to go out and gather seed and clover and mushrooms, to dig roots, and carry wood and water, to look after the house and to be working all the time.
  At her first menstruation the people took her out (all women) and a lot of them gathered around and sang and danced over her. They called that ayupuh~kato. Her condition or the period was called yupuh. The women only danced about an hour and then gave her a drink of water. She danced too, in the midst of them. They formed a ring around her, and she was alone in the center. Two of the women in the ring where the singers. After the dance was over the girl was given some water to drink and her face was washed, but she could not feed herself or touch herself. Before the dance she was not allowed to drink even if she sat four days, nor could she have food. She went with her mother and sisters wherever they went, and worked all day but she was not permitted to get wet. She was carried across streams. When the dance was over her food consisted of acorn, pinole and clover, if it was to be had, or else mushrooms. The women danced every night all night for a month and also sang. No men took part in the dance except on the last day. The girl was not placed in a hole heated with hot rocks. But the second morning of her illness if it was in the fall or happened to be rainy weather, a large rock was heated and then covered with dry grass and she sat on that and warm water was poured on her and she was bathed from her head to her hips, and from feet to her hips. The steam from the hot rock went all through her. They believed that all the weather would keep good winter and not freeze. Bathing the girl this way from her extremities towards her stomach would keep her flesh solid and from up to old age, plus keep her free from wrinkles. For one month they fed her by herself. She stayed in the house with the rest of the family, but in a corner by herself. She could talk and laugh but she must not be noisy and she could not look at any men.
Her face was painted in tiny dots with man root berry, soi. Each day it was renewed after being washed off. Two women attended to painting her face and to washing it, her sister and mother or, lacking these other female relatives would take these places. The final song sung in the ceremony is called “Elaki ya`mandi lai`dam yowowau`no” which means “Manzanita hill-on the dawn shows first”. This whole ceremony is called “ donkato or yo`pokato”. As the young female goes though the ceremony she is considered in a state of nothing, not alive or not dead, so she is referred to as do ’mi.
Finally, at the end of the month, the family held a Big Time, for her (a cleaning time). Then she could wash, go among the people, and talk with anybody. But she still went with her mother to work and to learn how to harvest. The family and friends all helped provide the feast that was given for her at the end of the month. They sent out invitations a week in advance, by means of poni or knotted string. The father and brothers of the girl and the Nem Yeponi (Big Headman) did this. Six knots would be tied in the string. The day of the feast, they issued the food and everything. The women danced to themselves on one side and the men off to themselves would have a grass game going on. If the girl wanted, she might dance in the center of the group of women dancers, if she has been taught to dance. The women danced in a ring and wore grass skirts and each carried a grass skirt in a roll held at either end in the hands, horizontally, in front of them, with arms down by sides. All day they dance and then the girl would bath and be clean. She would then eat, but not meat. She must as well use a scratching stick to itch herself and also use her own cup and blanket. This whole ceremony was labeled tsieisu. At the second menses, a similar feast would take place. But by the third time it was considered that she was now able to take care of herself and no special attention was needed. After she is married, during each months menses she will have to go into her own hut called a “do`mim uyi”.
At adolescents, a close friendship between childhood friends would become almost as a sister ship relationship, as is noted to be a regular acutance in the Hill Koyomk`awi people. This being relevant to the puberty rites. The older girl served as the attendant for the younger who is experiencing her first menses. The older of the two gives strict rules as to no meat or fish only acorns, seeds, and roots. Which where feed to the girl by the mother? Five vertical lines, parallel and alternating from red to black strips are painted on each cheek. Each mark being removed each night. But if her menses continues after the five days, one mark is left until her bleeding completely stops. When the last is gone the girl is now a women and ready for marriage.
To begin the rite, both girls are walked thru the community, as they approach a circle of pine needles wormwood branches are throw on the two and their heads are covered with skins. They are placed in the center of the circle, and the needles are set on fire and the girls are told to remove the skins and run out of the circle and stop a short ways away. They then return back to the circle which is now made up of women. Singing and dancing takes place as the girls are washed. After, all women return to the girl’s home and at night singing and dancing starts back up and last till morning for five days. Older women would sing and dance in a ceremony called wu`lu. The women would chat and sing that the girl has eternal youth, because old women are known to be eaten by crows, so the song they sing can be translated into:
“put the girls on a bridge so the crows cannot get to them”.
The Headman of the girl’s village then holds a Big Time which is that of the same as the Valley Maidum. But in this area only one Big Time is held, for after this gathering the girl is a women and as each mark is removed by her father or uncle, she will be ready to marry.
As of today, niki Ja akum Ni, have been again to the Chico State library in our search for tradition song, language, and our Konkow Valley Band family archives. There are still large archives out at different places acrossed the United States of higher education, state and federal facility’s, museums, and even acrossed the ocean in Europe. My feeling about the work that has been done and the awakening of the need for knowledge among our band is we are take bites out of a large bowl of acorn soup. We are not take big bites, but the bites in which have been and will be taken are moving us forward and we are no longer sitting idle. My research on the Cherokee and Dogwood areas are long from over. My personal project is to one day having dug so deep that I can provide a mapping of not only nine but add two more dialects into our language archives. These dialects being the Pulga and Nimshu or maybe the Cherokee areas as well. Also I have been working on story’s I have found told by Roy Scott, such as Mountain Lion Man and more like that. I and I believe others would also like to see archeology digs in the areas around Konkow Lake, Pulga, and other local site that propane to our Band. I do see a need for more deeper and maybe even a trip or two take to certain area’s in this report, such as Dogwood and the Kupno Village site spoken about by Mr. Scott. Just to look around and get a feel for our areas, including letting our ancestors know we are looking back at them with this borrowed time they have gave us. I feel also that ceremony which many say are gone forever needs to start to be practiced again; I have a young daughter who I would volunteer to have a coming of age ceremony when the time comes. If the government feels as that we don’t have any cultural ties, well lets show them we do. As many of us know, we have for the first time started up dance groups for our band. If everything goes ahead as planned, it will be the first time that the Gramps, Clark, and other families of our band have danced in over one hundred years! Our ancestors use to dance to feel good, but not only that; it was also a form of prayer for us. Many say these types of ceremony’s or gatherings of people are gone forever and the old ways are a thing of the past, and they may be right, unless we, ourselves, the Koyomk`awi ma`a, the Konkow Valley Band, take these things given to us by the Creator, and reawaken them. We must not relearn them but simply allow ourselves to remember them! I also feel that awareness of tribal dialects through out the Konkow cultural areas needs to be astablished. This way, false tribal repertation will not be such a concern though out each cultural areas language programs or the B.I .A’s rules of tribal affiliation rules.

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 Notes on California Folk-Lore Author(s): S. A. Barrett, Geo. W. Stewart, David J. Woosley , A. L. Kroeber, D. L. Spencer Reviewed work(s):Source: The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 21, No. 81 (Apr. - Sep., 1908), pp. 237-245Published by: American Folklore Society Stable URL:

 A Problem in Kinship Terminology Author(s): E. W. Gifford Reviewed work(s):Source: American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 42, No. 2, Part 1 (Apr. - Jun., 1940), pp.190-194Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of the American Anthropological Association Stable URL:
Yankee Hill Dispatch
Vol. 4 No 1 April 2011 P.O. Box 4031, Yankee Hill, CA  95965

 Traditions of Subversion and the Subversion of Tradition: Cultural Criticism in Maidu Clown Performances Author(s): Robert Brightman Reviewed work(s):Source: American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 101, No. 2 (Jun., 1999), pp. 272-287Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of the American Anthropological Association Stable URL:
Mechoopda Indian Tribe of the Chico Rancheria
Dr. Stephen Dow Beckham
Pamplin Professor of History Lewis & Clark College Portland, Oregon January 2006
The Shirley Letters from California Mines by Louise Amelia Knapp Smith Clappe
The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Shirley Letters from California Mines in 1851-52, by Louise Amelia Knapp Smith Clappe This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost
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CALIFORNIA A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of California State University, Chico
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts in Anthropology by
Melinda Button Fall 2009
Mary R. Haas
Victor Golla; James A. Matisoff
Language, Vol. 73, No. 4. (Dec., 1997), pp. 826-837. Stable URL: Language is currently published by Linguistic Society of America.
Vol. 16, No. 3, pp. 47-118, 1 figure in text and map September 27, 1919

 The Native Languages of California Author(s): Roland B. Dixon and Alfred L. Kroeber Reviewed work(s):Source: American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 5, No. 1 (Jan. - Mar., 1903), pp. 1-26Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of the American Anthropological Association Stable URL: .
Penutian Among the Ruins: A Personal Assessment
Author(s): William Shipley
Proceedings of the Sixth Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics
Society (1980), pp. 437-441

 Relationship of the Indian Languages of California Author(s): R. B. Dixon and A. L. Kroeber Reviewed work(s):Source: American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 14, No. 4 (Oct. - Dec., 1912), pp. 691-692Published by: Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American Anthropological Association Stable URL:
Native American Indian Myths
The Mythology of the Peoples of North America
Compiled and Edited by Earth Bow
Project funding by
Kimberly A. Johnston-Dodds  B.A. University of New Mexico, 1983  M.P.A. Indiana University School of Environmental and Public Affairs, 1999  PROJECT  Submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree of  MASTER OF ARTS  in HISTORY (Public History) at CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, SACRAMENTO FALL 2009

Special Collections• Meriam Library •California State University, Chico
Contact Information  Special Collections  Meriam Library
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Chico, CA 95929-0295
Phone: 530.898.6342
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Atchley, S. 2000. Cultural Resource Study for the Bidwell Sacramento River SP Restoration
Project, Butte County, California. On file, Northern Buttes District Office, Oroville,
The Northern Maidu, Roland Burrage Dixon , Huntington Expedition , American Museum of Natural History; Vol. XVII, Pat III, pp 119 – 346, NY,NY, 1905
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1963, Face and Bady Painting Pracitices Among California Indians
Koyomk`awi: We Live In The Open Country
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