Thank you—homage to hummingbird

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Gray Sutherland, poet and translator, worked with Quamichan Elder Sti’tum’at (Ruby Peter) to translate into Hulquminum a poem from his book The Elders’ Tales (2014, Gray Ink Ephemera). The poem has been translated into Hulquminum and then back into English.

In this case, the translation follows the spirit of the original poem, but it does not mirror it very closely.

Thanks to Thomas Jones for sound recording and editing, and Donna Gerdts for transcription and help with English translation.

hay ch q’a’—sts’istuhw tthu sxwut’ts’uli

Thank you—homage to hummingbird

hay ch q’a’, tun’a tumuhw, tthu ni’ sht’es kwus qw’uyulush tthu sp’eq’um.
Thank you, this earth, at how the flowers dance.

sht’es kwus hay ’ul’ ’uy’uy’mut kwus ’i ’u tun’a tumuhw
How beautiful they are on this earth

kws ni’s huli.
being alive.

hay ch q’a’ tthu hay ’ul’ si’em’ q’ullhanumutsun
Thank you, most respected orca

kwus ni’ ’u tthu kw’atl’kwa kwus st’ee kw’ hiiw’a’lum’.
for being in the ocean always playing.

ni’ st’ee ’u tthu smunmunut kwus hun’qum’ ni’ ’u tthu kw’atl’kwa
They look like mountains when they are diving in the ocean

’i’ m’i p’up’ukw, sht’es kwus ’uy’uy’mut kwus hun’qum’.
and surfacing, how beautiful they are when they are diving.

st’ee ’u tthu st’ilum tthu ni’ sht’es tthu ’es-hw kwus ni’ ’u tthu qa’, kw’atl’kwa.
The seal is like a song when they are going in and out of the water.

hay ch q’a’u tthu hay ’ul’ ’uy’ thuthiqut.
Thank you to all the beautiful trees.

nilh ni’ st’e ’ukw’ kwekwul’sh tthu ’uy’uy’mut ni’ ts’its’usum’.
They are the ones that are sheltering the beautiful growth.

ni’ st’e ’ukw’ yath ’uw’ hwthu’itus kwsus xi’xlhem’ ’u tun’a tumuhw,
And they always take watching the earth seriously,

’i’ nilh ni’ st’eekw’ ’uw’ yu hw’iiw’tssun’uq ’u tthuw’ mukw’ stem ni’ ’i’mushst-hwut ’i ’u tun’a.
teaching everything that we walk with on this earth.

hay ch q’a’ tthu shhw’ethutun ’i ’u tun’a,
Thanks to the clouds for being there,

nilh ni’ st’eekw’ huy’qwoon’ tst s ’i ’u tun’a
and it’s like our lamps are there

kws m’is tth’ekw’ul’ ’u tthuw’ mukw’ skweyul,
when the daylight comes,

’i’ nilh ni’ ’uy’.
and it will be good.

ni’ ch st’e ’ukw’ yu kwun’et tthu slhumuhw kwun’s m’i ’e’hwustuhw ’utl’ lhnimulh.
It’s like you hold the rain and you bring it to us.

hay ch q’a’, spaal’. hay ch q’a’, sxwut’ts’uli,
Thank you, raven. Thank you, hummingbird,

’i’ tthuw’ mukw’ ni’ ’un’ st’ilumulup kwun’s m’i ’i’mushstuhw ’i ’u tun’a hwthuthiqut.
and all the songs that you bring along when you come to this forest.

’i’ tthuw’ mukw’ ni’ st’ee kw’un’ sul’uthut, kwun’s tthu nuwu qeqyux,
and all the things that you do, even you, mink.

lumstal’hw ’u kwthu shni’s kwthu tl’ul’im’ kwthu thu’it.
Show us all the proper and right things.

hay ch q’a’ tthu lhwulup nu syuw’en’.
Thank you to all my ancestors.

hay ch q’a’ tthu hay ’ul’ nu stl’i’ nu syuw’en’.
I thank you all my beloved ancestors.

hay ch q’a’ tthuw’ mukw’ ni’ ’un’ shhw’uw’tsustal’hw.
Thank you for all the things you have taught us.

we’ kwun’s ni’ qul’qul’uthun’ ’i’ ni’ ch ’uw’ st’e kw’uw’ yu ’aam’ustal’hw ’u kwthu syuw’en’ tst.
Even when you dream, you give us something that comes from our ancestors.

’i’ ni’ st’e ’ukw’ tun’ni’ ’u kwthey’.
And it is usually from that.

’i’ ha’ tst ni’ hwuy ’i’ nilh ’uy’ shqwaluwun tst.
And when we wake up, we are always happy about things.

hay tseep q’a’, stl’ul’iqulh.
Thank you, children.

nuwu tse’ ni’ shtun’ni’s kwthu hay ’ul’ ’uy’ ’i’ ni’ tse’ st’eekw’ yu ts’uts’uhw kwthu syuw’a’numa’.
It will be you will carry forward all the heritage learned from the ancestors.

’i’ hay ch q’a’.
Thank you.

ni’ tse’ xt’e ’u tthu ni’ sht’es tthu stseelhtun, kwus st’e kw’uw’ hwu’a’lum’ ’i’ m’i tl’e’ qul’et wil’ ni’ ’u tthu ni’ shtusth kws yaths ’uw’ yu wi’wul’.
It will be like the way the salmon is, the way it returns, arriving here again, always showing up.

hay tseep q’a’ tthuw’ mukw’, tthu smunmunut, tthu tumuhw, ’i’ tthuw’ mukw’.
Thank you for everything, the mountains, the land, and everything.

ni’ ch st’e ’ukw’ ’amustal’hw ’u tthu ni’ hwu lelum’ tst ’i ’u tun’a s’uthnuts.
It’s like you have given us something for our homes here at the bay.

’i’ yath tst tse’ nuw’ hwu’i kws yath tst ’uw’ sthuthi’.
And we will always stay here and we will be okay.

hay ch q’a’ tthu syuw’en’ tst kwun’s ’i m’i st’ee kw’uw’ ’a’hwustal’hw ’u tthuw’ mukw’ ni’ hwu kwun’etut.
Thank you my ancestors, it’s like you have given us everything that we hold.

’i ch m’i ’ahwustal’hw ’u tun’a ’i’ st’ee ’ukw’ sq’uq’ip ’i’ nilh tse’ ha’kwushuhw t’ilumstuhw hwu’i’ustuhw.
You have given us this as we are gathered and it you will use it song of joy.

’i’ ni’ tse’ hwuni’ ’u tthu q’uwut kwus st’ee ’u kw’uw’ wil’ tthu hay ’ul’ ’uy’ slhexun’ ni’ hwukwun’etut ’u tun’a kweyul.
And it will be in all the drums that the beautiful medicine that we hold today.

hay ch q’a’.
Thank you.

Original English Version

Thank you—homage to hummingbird

Thank you fair world where flowers dance
showing us how beautiful and yet how brief
each moment is of this our life

thank you swift ocean where orcas play
at rippling like mountains slow and graceful
as the song of the strong silent seals

thank you bright forest for hiding among
your healing plants our solemn bears
who teach respect for every step we take

thank you slow skies whence light and warmth
descend to make our lives delight and rain
is carried in your eagle wings so all can grow

thank you raven, thank you hummingbird
for your songs wise as tree-lined rivers
your trickery in which all truth resides
thank you beloved ancestors for all
the words you speak to us while dreaming
so when we waken goodness laughs in us

thank you our children in whom we know
the ancient ways will breathe and breed
like salmon returning to the source of life

thank you all living things forest sea mountain
for giving us a home in this gentle bay
where we may live always in harmony

and thank you spirit for bringing us nine
to this sacred circle so we may sing
together for you to drum’s pure heartbeat