Smoke signals. (Grand Ronde, Or.) 19??-current, June 15, 2011, Page 7, Image 7

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    Smoke Signals 7
JUNE 15, 2011
Reibach writes Grand Ronde modern-day Tribal 'anthem'
Tribal member gifts song for
whatever uses it deems fit
By Dean Rhodes
Smoke Signals editor
The genesis of "We Are Grand
Ronde" dates back to the mid-1990s
when Tribal member Jan Michael
Reibach had just moved to Grand
Ronde Bunnsville, to be exact
was living in poverty with only a
guitar to his name and started work
ing at Spirit Mountain Casino.
"Back then, we did not have
much, but we were rich in family
and culture because of our Tribe,"
Reibach posted recently on the
Tribe's Facebook page. This song
is inspired from moving to the Res
ervation after suffering from two
strokes. Since that time I have been
blessed as a national recording art
ist with the resources to record and
give this song to my Tribe."
Now well-known professionally in
the Native American music world
as Jan Michael Looking Wolf and
a recipient of many major Native
American Music Awards, Reibach
resurrected "We Are Grand Ronde"
and recorded it in a McMinnville
studio with his usual producer
Keith Sommers.
Tribal members Kenny Lewis and
Marcella Norwest Selwyn also ap-
; 4
Jan Michael Reibach
pear on the
on guitar
and vocals,
paid for
which he
prefers to
keep confi
dential, and
says that "nothing is owed or asked
Reibach gifted the song to the
Grand Ronde Tribal Council on
May 25, giving a letter to Tribal
Attorney Rob Greene that transfers
and relinquishes 100 percent own
ership of the song to the Tribe.
"After traveling the nation as a
performer and my music reaching
foreign country radio charts, I real
ize more than ever that it is such
an honor to be a member of this
Tribe," Reibach said in his letter.
"You all serve as my inspiration for
the music and the lifeway."
"It's truly a blessing," said Tribal
Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy.
"The talent that you have and that
you choose to contribute to your
people. You can feel the love that
you have for all. I want to say thank
"We Are Grand Ronde"
Many years, through It all, our We are Grand Ronde
people have survived Wey, hey, we
By their courage, honor and are Grand Ronde
faith, our Tribes are still alive
From children to Elders,
1856, Table Rock, they together hand In hand
endured a Trail of Tears Like an eagle, we'll
The blessings of that sacred spread our wings
walk will go on for years And soar across the sky
Here we are, standing strong,
for future generations All you people
All with one heart, one spirit Of the Cedar and Mother Earth
and one drum All you people
Of the valleys, rivers
All you people and mountains,
Of the Cedar and Mother Earth
All you people We are Grand Ronde
Of the valleys, rivers Wey, hey, we are Grand Ronde
and mountains, We are Grand Ronde
Kennedy said the Tribe will use
it in many different ways, such as
at gatherings, etc.
Tribal Council member Wink So
derberg said that the song "was so
good" that he was going to save it
for 40 years to play at his funeral.
The song can be heard and down
loaded for free at www.lookingwolf.
Reibach's presentation also can
be watched on the Tribal Web site
by clicking on the May 25 Tribal
Council meeting video starting at
about the three-minute mark.
"In continuation of support for
our Tribe and wishing us all 'One
Heart,' " Reibach said in concluding
his letter. D
Zeimfc ffDirstt camine tto (Girairodl Romidle ddtd 11 97
DICTIONARY continued
from front page
Oregon Ph.D. awarded in 1984.
Zenk's thesis documented the
Chinuk Wawa language thanks
to his contact with the five Hud
son sisters Gertrude Mercier,
Velma Mercier, Martha Mercier,
Eula Petite and Ila Dowd as well
as other Tribal Elders including
Clara Riggs, Wilson Bobb, Esther
LaBonte, John Petite, Ethel Petite
Logan, Nick Leno and Elmer Tom,
all fluent in Chinuk Wawa.
Former Cultural Education Co
ordinator Tony Johnson (Chinook)
initially brought Zenk in as a lin
guistic consultant. "Part of my job
description," he said, "was to de
velop the dictionary. He has been
working on it for the department
since 1998."
Zenk first came to Grand Ronde
in 1978. "I was looking for a photo of
(former Tribal Elder John B.) 'Mose'
Hudson for an article," he said.
The dictionary includes sections
on the language's local speakers,
the alphabet, a pronunciation
guide and the grammar of Chinuk
Wawa. In addition, following the
words, definitions and etymologies
(origins) of words, the dictionary
includes a picture gallery and
biographical sketches of the Tribe's
fluent Chinuk Wawa speakers,
texts from the Hudson and Wache
no families, from Clara Riggs and a
letter from Esther LaBonte.
Field transcripts are included
from recordings made by Univer
sity of Washington anthropologist
Melville Jacobs of John B. Hudson
and Victoria Howard, both former
Tribal Elders.
Two Catholic missionary texts
also are included since Catholic
priests at Grand Ronde and else
where primarily used Chinuk Wawa
to reach local Indians.
The book is dedicated to former
Tribal Elder Jackie Mercier Whisler,
a Chinuk Wawa teacher at the Tribe
who contributed much to the dic
tionary before her passing in 2007.
There also are examples of lower
Columbia Chinuk Wawa that come
from beyond the Grand Ronde
community included in the book.
Sources for these examples include
Catholic missionaries in the lower
Columbia region, as well as materi
als from the Willapa Bay commu
nity in what is now southwestern
Though the language was originally
used across a wide geographic area,
"This is Chinuk Wawa as our Elders,
meaning Grand Ronde Elders, teach
us to speak it," said Zenk.
The dictionary is now in the fi
nal editing phase. Zenk's copy is
festooned with hundreds of post-it
notes bearing edits for nearly every
page. Completion and publication
are expected in the summer.
While the Tribe is funding the
publication, the department is
simultaneously working with a
university press for distribution
services, Zenk said.
"It is a hybrid language from
different mother tongues," said
Zenk. "It is uncertain how old the
language actually is. There is a
controversy among scholars. Some
say that it arose as a response to the
first foreign traders arriving in the
late 18th century (starting in 1792).
The first traders came by ship to the
mouth of the Columbia River and
traded for Indian furs.
"Other scholars believe that the
Hanry Zenk
hybrid lan
guage is ac
tually older
and was used
among dif
ferent Tribes
earlier in the
or Native,
the origins,
it was already in widespread use
in 1856 following the Trail of Tears
when the Grand Ronde Tribe was
"The most important part of
the vocabulary is from the Native
Chinookan languages of the lower
Columbia River," Zenk said, "and
they are who-knows-how-many-thousands-of-years
"It might be pointed out that
the Chinookan pronunciations
and word forms are faithfully pre
served in Chinuk Wawa as it was
spoken by Native people. White
speakers tended to distort these
original Native pronunciations. In
our language program, we strive
to remain true to original Native
At Grand Ronde, Chinuk Wawa
was rapidly adopted by treaty-signing
Tribes that spoke eight differ
ent Native languages.
"Fur traders, settlers, pioneers
and French Canadian voyageurs
all learned the language quickly,
helping to make it a common lan
guage throughout the Northwest,"
said Tribal member David Lewis,
who is also manager of the Cultural
Resources Department.
Some early Tribal families, like
the Petites, the Norwests, the La
Bontes, the LaChances, the Vivettes
and the Pichettes were descended
from French-speaking voyageurs
(French Canadian and French-Indian
fur company employees) who
married local Indians.
The French Canadian speakers
added their color to the language
that grew with added usage then
and continues to grow today as
more people speak it.
"I think of this as an expression
of the heritage of the Grand Ronde
community," said Zenk.
"It's going to be a great resource
for Tribal members wishing to un
derstand and use the language,"
said Lewis.
About half of the words come from
Chinookan languages spoken along
the lower Columbia River, Zenk said.
Of the other half, some 10 percent
each come from English and French
Canadian speakers, 5 percent are
Nootka words from Vancouver Is
land in British Columbia and 5
percent are Salishan words. Some
words come from still unidentified
languages or language mixes.
Credit goes to Cultural Resources
staffers past and present for con
tributions to the project, and to
Elders who spoke the language
and some who continue to speak
the language. Formatting and
design credits go to Sarah Braun
Hamilton, a linguistics student
at Portland State University, who
got involved with Chinuk Wawa
classes a few years ago.
Thirty to 35 adult learners have at
tended Tribal Chinuk Wawa classes
and attained a "high-intermediate"
skill in the language, said Zenk.
"I'm very grateful to the Tribe for
having supported this," Zenk said.
"I'll sure feel good about this when
it's done." D