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Tsimshian Texts by Franz Boas, 1902
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Tsimshian Texts
Nass River Dialect

Recorded & Translated by
by Franz Boas


The following texts were collected in Kinkolith, at the mouth of the Nass river, during the months of November and December, 1894, while I was engaged in researches under the auspices of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. The principal object of these investigations was a study of the Athapascan tribe of Portland canal, and the following texts were collected incidentally only. The ethnologic results of these investigations were published in the reports of the Committee on the Northwestern Tribes of Canada of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. 1

The texts are in the Nass River dialect of the Tsimshian language. The dialect is called by the natives Nîsqa'E. The texts were obtained from four individuals— Philip, Moses, Chief Mountain, and Moody. By far the greater number of them are myths of the tribe. Judging from similar myths which I collected in previous years among the Tsimshian proper, 2 they are only moderately well told. [Refer to discussion of current debate on Boas].

Possibly the method of transcribing sounds is not quite satisfactory. I have not been able to determine definitely if there are one or two palatized l's. I consider it probable that there may be two; but in the present texts all the palatized l's are rendered by one character. There is also a certain inconsistency in my perception of the surds and sonants, the fortis, or the surd followed by a hiatus, very often sounding similar to the sonant. I have not endeavored to make the spelling throughout consistent, but have rather followed the transcription which seemed to me most appropriate at the time when I wrote the texts down.

Franz Boas
New York, June, 1899.

1 Report of the 65th meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Ipswich, 1895, pp. 569-586.
2 Franz Boas, Indianische Sagen von der nord-pacifischen Küste Amerikas, Berlin, 1895, pp. 272-305.