lhwet tse’ xwi’em’? hwi’ ’een’thu tse’. How I learned to perform a Hul’q’umi’num’ story

by Rae Anne Claxton

Stories are integral to Coast Salish culture, past and present. This thesis is about my journey towards Hul’q’umi’num’ fluency, through learning to tell a story with the support of my elders and linguistic training. Hul’q’umi’num’ is a Salish language spoken along the Salish Sea in British Columbia, Canada. I outline the process I took to stand up and tell one long Quw’utsun’ story, centering my work around listening and practicing before finally telling the story. I highlight aspects I paid close attention to and steps I took, doing my best to capture the beauty of Hul’q’umi’num’ oral discourse. With Indigenous worldview encoded in our languages and the longstanding practice of passing knowledge down orally, stories offer a way forward for language reclamation and revitalization that is suitable to Indigenous ways of being, teaching and learning. Through learning to tell Hul’q’umi’num’ stories, we will find our Hul’q’umi’num’ voice.

Keywords: Hul’q’umi’num’; language revitalization; Indigenous storytelling; language acquisition; linguistics