Okanagan Grouse Woman: Upper Nicola Narratives

Okanagan Grouse Woman: Upper Nicola Narratives

Okanagan Grouse Woman: Upper Nicola Narratives

Okanagan Grouse Woman: Upper Nicola Narratives


In this book of Native American language research and oral traditions, linguist John Lyon collects Salish stories as told by culture-bearer Lottie Lindley, one of the last Okanagan elders whose formative years of language learning were unbroken by the colonizing influence of English. Speaking in the Upper Nicola dialect of Okanagan, a Southern Interior Salish language, Lindley tells the stories that recount and reflect Salish culture, history, and historical consciousness (including names of locales won in battle with other interior peoples), coming-of-age rituals and marriage rites, and tales that attest the self-understanding of the Salish people within their own history.

For each Okanagan Salish story, Lindley and Lyon offer an uninterrupted transcription followed by a collaborative English translation of the story and an interlinear rendition with morphological analysis. The presentation allows students of the dialect, linguists, and those interested in Pacific Northwest and Interior Plateau indigenous oral traditions unencumbered access to the culture, history, and language of the Salish peoples.

With few native speakers left in the community, Okanagan Grouse Woman contributes to the preservation, presentation, and--with hope--maintenance and cultivation of a vital indigenous language and the cultural traditions of the interior Salish peoples.


Hello, and good day. My name is Allan Thomas Lindley. Lottie Lindley is my grandmother. I am her grandson. I am honored to share about her and this collection of stories and history as told by her.

A story is like a seed. a seed contains the genetic makeup of identity and being; of creation; biology; continuity; what a thing was, is, came to be, and what it will be, and where it dictates how we grow and learn; what parts we carry and pass on to survive and thrive; the lessons of generations which have come before; what has passed; what makes us who we are. It preserves the story which allows us to bud, bloom, blossom, and be. If seeds are not released, nothing can grow. When that story is shared, the seed is germinated. Thus, we continue …

This is what my grandmother Lottie once passed on to me.

Prominent in the countless stories and wisdom my stəmtímaʔ (grandmother) shares with me is how she signs off on the story. She says, “And now you know it, it’s yours. When I’m gone, you will know this, and you can pass it along.”

The receiving and sharing of stories has been an integral part of my grandmother’s life. Her stories are her history. My history. the history of the Syilx people of the Upper Nicola. Her life is reflected and measured in the stories she was gifted from elders. the meaning she gives to them. How they have forged her identity as a Syilx woman.

My name is Allan Thomas Lindley: Allan, after her ninth child who passed away from pneumonia at eight months old; and Thomas, after her father Thomas O’Rourke.

Growing up as an only child on a track of land somewhat removed from other families in Quilchena, my grandmother often recalls her early life as being lonely. There were not many opportunities for interactions with other children. Occasionally cousins would come, but on the whole it was my grandmother, her tum̓ (mother) . . .

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