Your Chinook Wawa Word of the Day: Tupso


[TUP’-so] or occasionally [TIP’-so]— noun.

Meaning: Grass, greenery; leaf, leaves, meadow, moss, fringe. In some cases, hair; beard.

Origin: From a Chinookan noun tepshu ‘grass’ (plural noun), Clackamas idípsu ‘weeds, grass’, Chinook, tepso, “a leaf”

Throughout Cascadia, one can find “tupso illahee” (pasture; prairie) both large and small, filled with a number of “kloshe tupso” (flowers) and “tsee tupso” (sweet grass), the latter of which makes good grazing for horses, though one could also use “dly tupso” (hay) if need be. Of course many of these thignsmight also be found growing near someone’s “kloshe tupso illahee” (lawn).

The word for grass or blade of grass lends itself to several other types plant-related words, such as “cultus tupso” (weed), “salt chuck tupso” (sea weed), “piah tupso” (mustard), “la-metsin tupso” (a herb), and the variant “yotlkut tupso” (vine). It even lends itself to “mamook tupsin” (to sew, to mend, to patch), and was sometimes used in the expression “tupso kopa latet” (grass on the head) to mean “yakso” (hair), though it also appears in several hair-related words, such as “tupso bloom” (hair brush), “eena tupso” ([beaver] fur), “kuitan tupso” (horsehair), “sheep yaka tupso lemooto yakso” as well as other animal byproducts, such as “kalakala tupso” (feather; bird down) and “kalakala yaka tupso” (quill).

Certain tribes, notably the St’at’imc people of the Seton Lake First Nation, were renowned for their craft at making watertight woven-coil baskets of certain grasses and rushes. Among some bands, especially those of the lower Columbia, women made many mats of rushes and grass, which were brought out when “company” came and spread for guests to sit or sleep upon. In rainy weather, both sexes wore hats or caps woven of grass and fine root-threads.

Post a comment