S-ko:mag Mashath 2023 - I:mik

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Huhugam Hertiage Center


The name for this month translates to the ‘grey month’ and refers to the weather elements we encounter on rainy and foggy days.  This month we all look forward to “Jios Alithag Ma:sik Thash” (The Birth of God’s Son), which translates further to Christmas Day. This is a time of the year when families get together to celebrate the season of giving. Learning the relationships we have to one another is very important in keeping our Himthag intact. 


This article will focus on I:mik (kinship) and the terms associated with each family member.  As we all know, every family has a pecking order from oldest to youngest. During our formative years our parents and grandparents guided us in our upbringing.


Starting with father, his children call him “Eñ o:g!” (My father!).  To make it more personal, some children call their father “Eñ o:gach!”  (My father!) The suffix “ach” makes it more of a close relationship. In turn, father calls his children “Eñ alithag!” (my child, singular), or “Eñ a’alithag!” (My children, plural).  When he introduced his children to others, father often said. “Itham ‘o ḍ eñ a’alithag.” (These are my children.) He would then give our names from oldest to youngest.


For mother, each of her children call her “Eñ je’e!” (My mother!). Respectively, she calls her children “Eñ maḍ!” (My child, singular), or “Eñ mamaḍ!” (My children, plural). Mother often introduced her children as a group, to others and often stated, “Itham ‘o ḍ eñ mamaḍ.”  (These are my children.)  She too, introduced us from oldest to youngest. 


Older brothers and sisters are called “Sikul” (older sibling). As an example, Victoria would say “Eñ sikul Jennifer!” (My older sister Jennifer!).  Younger brothers and sisters are called “Si:s” (younger sibling). In turn, Jennifer would say “Eñ si:s Victoria!” (My younger sister Victoria!) Likewise, each sibling refers to the other as venak (sibling, singular), or vepnak (siblings, plural).  For example, Victoria would say to her friends “Itham ‘o ḍ eñ vepnak!” (These are my brothers and sister!) and introduce them from oldest to youngest.  First cousins are always treated as brothers and sisters because of the closeness of the bloodlines. Cousins are referred to as “Venak or Vepnak” For example, Victoria would say “Itha ‘o ḍ eñ venak Klishtina!”  (This is my first cousin Christina!).  


We encourage you to speak O’otham kinship terms in your everyday lives. Speak with an Elder or Speaker, as some terms maybe slightly different between villages.  This month’s word match will test your knowledge of items associated with Klishmas Haichu. From all of us here at your Huhugam Heritage Center, we wish Everyone “S-he:kig Jiosh Alithag Ma:sig Thash ch heg Vechij Aithag!”


A special Thank You for the Community Elders for sharing their knowledge of O’otham I:mik and Klishmas Haichu, which made this article possible.