Your Chinook Wawa Word of the Day: Stick


[stik] —  noun, adjective

Meaning: Tree, stick, pole, rod, log, wood, wooden.

Origin: English stick

The "Quinault Lake Redcedar" was the largest western red cedar in the world.The "Quinault Lake Redcedar" was the largest western red cedar in the world.

The “Quinault Lake Redcedar” was the largest western red cedar in the world.

In a “stick illahee” (forest) one could easily find both “mitwhit stick” (a standing tree) and “whim stick” (a fallen tree), as well as the occasional “koko stick” (wood-pecker).

The word also lent its name to the title of several types of trees; “eena stick” (beaver wood) was the name for the willow, while “kull stick” (hard wood) was given to the oak, though on the Columbia River it was referred to as “kahnaway stick” (acorn tree).

Occasionally one could tell of a tree’s primary use by the name given it; “Lagome stick” (pitch-wood) was the name given the pitch-pine (Pinus rigida), “isick stick” (paddle-wood) was the name given the ash tree. The red cedar (Thuja plicata) seemed to have two names; “canim stick” (canoe tree) indicated its value in making quality canoes, and “kalakwahtie stick” (skirt tree) due to the fact that women of the First Nations often wore a skirt made from strands of the inner bark once it has been pounded soft and pliable. Even the colorfully named  “chittam stick” (shit tree) was insightful, for it was given to the cascara (Rhamnus purshiana), who’s “stick skin” (bark) was a potent laxative.

Many of these trees would be processed at a “stick moola” (saw-mill), where some of the wood might end up as “kullagh stick” (fence rails).

The word had other meanings as well; an “ikt stick” (a yard measure) and “stick shoes” (boots) were important to surveyors. One should remember that a “stick ship” (sailing ship) should not be confused with a “ship stick” (a mast), though sometimes “mitwhit stick”  was used for this sort of structure.

Some have suggested the North American phrase “out in the sticks” may have originated in Chinook Jargon usages, adopted by Klondike-era travelers and transmitted to other parts of the continent.

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