Your Chinook Wawa Word of the Day: Tillikum


[TIL’-i-kum] or [TIL’-LI-kum] —  noun.

Meaning: Person; people; relative; relation; kin; friend; ally; associate; folk; tribe; nation; population;  

Origin: Chinook  tilikhum  people

Commonly spelt “tillicum”, and sometimes pluralized in the english style as ‘tillikums”, the word means means “person” or “people,” and often has the connotation of a friend or relative, but has also come to signify a friend or ally. It usually means those who are not a “tyee” (chief), but rather common people, and can refer to any people, and can be used to signify one’s social group, band, tribe, or even nation.

It can be used to describe one’s “ahnkuttie tillikums” (ancestors), “cultus tilikum” (ordinary people; insignificant people; nobodies), or just “konaway tillikum” (everyone, everybody), be it “nesika tillikums” (our people) or “yaka tillikum” (their people).

“Klahowya tillikum” (Hello, people; greetings, my friends/family) is a standard greeting in Chinook Wawa, and serves as a good way to address “huloima tillikum” (strangers, different people from our people) which one might encounter in a large “hiyu tillikum” (a crowd; a gathering). And of course celebrating a “ahnkuttie tillikum yiem wawa” (tradition) with friends and family also makes for a good time.

Spelled either as tillicum or tillikum, it is a common place name in Cascadia; Tillicum Centre is a shopping mall along Tillicum Road in Victoria, BC, and a Tillicum Street in both Seattle and Vancouver.  Tilikum Crossing is a bridge in Portland, Oregon, while Tillicum station is a planned commuter rail station in Lakewood, WA. Tillicum Village on Blake Island, accessible from Seattle by ferry, offers a Cascadian First Nation’s equivalent of a luau, complete with a stage show, for the hungry tourist. Blake Island is believed to be the birthplace of Chief Si’ahl.


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