Kai Chuk’lik Mashath – O’otham Haichu Ñeo’ok

Huhugam Heritage Center


As our Community returns to a certain degree of normalcy, we will once again speak O’otham haichu ñeo’ok not spoken during the stay-at-home order.  As service centers and businesses begin to open up, one phrase we will no longer hear is “Hath ku:ch eñ thashgach!” (We’re closed today!).  Eventually, things will return to pre-pandemic conditions, as our Community members adapted to the challenges brought upon us by the emergency.   


As we anticipate our Tribal assistance payments and income tax refunds, a few phrases we will hear spoken are, “Tho hi:m ko bei eñ cha:gi!” (I’m going to pick up my check!).  Some O’otham have home mail delivery, while others have to visit the post office. 


Another exciting phrase is, “Tho bango wi: ko pa:tsh eñ cha:gi!”  (I’m going to the bank to cash my check!). Most O’otham prefer cold, hard cash in their wallets.  Some modern O’otham have direct deposit, or per capita debit card and rarely visit the bank in person anymore.


One thing is for certain, we will take our vehicles to get checked and serviced. We will hear O’otham proclaim aloud, “Ñt ‘o ’i beich hejel memaltham k ga hu ‘o vua tho ‘o kekch.” (I’ll take my car there and leave it to be fixed.)  This completed, in preparation of our daily commute back to work, as we close our home offices. One phrase that is always exciting to hear is, “Nolavth vechich hejel memaltham!” (I’m buying a new car!)  Some O’otham will finally get to drive across the Rez and visit their hahajuñ (relatives).  


In time, O’otham will once again return to the malls and retail outlets in large numbers. A few useful phrases are, “Sha’i je’keli:th!” (Move aside!), said when your kids or, others get in the way.  The other is, “Bo sha a’apa!” (I’m going to try this on!), said when trying on apparel or footware. 


Of course, we have been away from the retail outlets for a long time now, one phrase we will often speak is “Nap tha ma: chu:?” (Did you find it?).  One final phrase that never gets old is, “Tho vo:p thoth gegos!” (Let’s go eat!), said when going out to our favorite restaurants. 


We encourage you to practice saying these haichu ñeo’ok and speak O’otham in your everyday lives.  Speak with an Elder or Speaker and learn how to say the phrases.  Some phrases may be slightly different between the villages. 


The word match will test your knowledge of O’otham haichu ñeo’ok. 

A special Thank You to Vah-ki ch Onk Akimel Kekel for sharing their knowledge of O’otham Haichu Ñeo’ok, which made this article possible.