Auppa I’ivakithak Mashath 2024-I:mik II

Submitted by 

Huhugam Heritage Center


The Akimel O’otham name for this month translates to ‘The budding of the Cottonwood tree Moon’ otherwise known as January by western society.  O’otham ñeo’ok has its own set of terms and expressions called “I:mik” that tells how our immediate family is related to us. In our last article we related about the terms for our immediate household. In this article, we will relate to family on our father’s and mother’s sides of the family.


When an Otham speaker hears someone say out loud “Eñ ba:ba’a!” or “Eñ lu:lu’u!” they automatically know that the person is talking to their grandparents on their mother’s side of the family. In turn, ba:ba’a calls his grandchildren “ba’amaḍ” and lu:lu’u calls her grandchildren “mo:ms.” These terms are very specific in how we are related to both sides of our grandparents, as well as our aunts and uncles.


On father’s side, the term for grandfather is “vo:sk” and for grandmother the term is “ka:k or ga:ga’a.”  Likewise, vo:sk calls his grandchildren “vopsmaḍ” and ka:k calls her grandchildren “ka’akmaḍ.”  There are also terms for our aunts and uncles on both sides.  Aunts older than mother are called “tha:ḍ ‘o:ks” and aunts younger than mother are called “jisk.”  Uncles older than mother are called “je’es” and uncles younger than mother are called “thathal.”


On father’s side, the aunt and uncle terms are different.  Aunts older than father are called “‘o:k ‘o:ks” and aunts younger than father are called “vo:vaith.”  Uncles older than father are called “‘o:k keli” and uncles younger than father are called “ha:kith.”  Knowing our relationship to one another and using the appropriate kinship term is very important as a sign of respect. Using the possessor “eñ” (my), makes it more personal, as in “Eñ jisk Victoria!” (My auntie Victoria!). 


Altogether, our immediate relatives are called “eñ hahajuñ” (my relations).  As our families live together, we should reflect on how the language we use influences the way we think and act towards one another. Speak with an Elder or Speaker on how to say and address “I:mik.” Terms may be slightly different between the villages. This month’s crossword puzzle will test your knowledge of “I:mik” on our parent’s side of the family.


A special Thank You to Community Elders for sharing their knowledge of O’otham I:mik which made this article possible.