Your Chinook Wawa Word of the Day: Tupso


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

Meaning: Grass; greenery; leaf; fringe; feathers; fur. In some cases, hair; beard.

Origin: 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 later of which makes good grazing for horses, though one could also use “dly tupso” (hay) if need be.

The word for grass or blade of grass even lends itself to “mamook tupsin” (to sew, to mend, to patch), and was sometimes used, perhaps incorrectly, in the expression “tupso kopa latet” (grass on the head) to mean “yakso” (hair).

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.

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