Quinault Language: Death of Oliver Mason; end of a resource.

T.Matthew Ciolek tmciolek at coombs.anu.edu.au
Thu May 9 00:49:17 UTC 1996

--------------------- forwarded message --------------------
Date: Wed, 8 May 1996 23:14:23 +1000
Subject: BOUNCE endangered-languages-l: Non-member submission from [Karl Teeter <kvt at husc.HARVARD.EDU>]

Dear Dave Wells:  Let me extend my condolences, having been in your 
position in 1962 when Della Prince, born March 13, 1877 and the last speaker of 
Wiyot, died. Everything you say is true, and all we can do is 
keep at it -- I am still listening to Della's tapes and entering what she 
says into a lexical database.  Up with the living! Yours, kvt (=Karl V. Teeter, 
Professor of Linguistics, Emeritus, Harvard Univ )

On Wed, 8 May 1996, T.Matthew Ciolek wrote:

> --------------------- forwarded message --------------------
> Date: Tue, 07 May 1996 20:36:14 -0700
> From: Dave Wells <bootbnd at olywa.net>
> Organization: Wells & Co
> To: endangered-languages-l at coombs.anu.edu.au
> Subject: Quinault Language:  Death of Oliver Mason; end of a resource.
> 7 May 1996
> Olympia, Washington, USA
> Esteemed Colleagues:
> Often the discussion on this list has been over the necessity of preserving and encouraging 
> endangered languages and, hence, the cultures that are so dependent on them.  The loss of 
> intellectual and collected wisdom often hangs on a fragile bodies of the few.  These losses say 
> much about the intrusion of dominant cultures and outside influences.  
> On Saturday, 27 April 1996, Oliver Mason, A'aliis (king/hereditary leader) of the Quinault died. 
> His death occurred in the morning shortly after rising and greeting his wife.  Oliver Mason was 
> the grandson of Taholah who signed the treaty preserving much of the Quinault lands.  As a 
> leader, he was charged with understanding the duties and work of everyone, the lineages, 
> traditional fishing sites, stories and songs; and ultimately both the Quinault language and 
> culture.  
> As the last speaker with an extensive knowledge of the language and culture, Oliver Mason's 
> death is much greater than just a personal loss, loss to family and friends, but also the loss 
> forever of much knowledge.  While there are several elders who know pieces of the language and 
> culture, Oliver Mason's death greatly eroded the possibility of moving the language forward, and 
> of encouraging some parts of culture, but fortunately the remaining elders have even greater 
> responsibility and need to record what parts they hold.  It is important not to lose everything; 
> something is much better than nothing.
> While many of the names of people who are reading here (and their work in similar recording, and 
> cultural preservation/encouragement projects), may not end up on rosters of heroes, you are 
> nonetheless heroic in your vision and determination.  Do not let an opportunity become a lost 
> opportunity.
> Dave Wells
> Cultural Envoy to the A'aliis of the Quinault
> --------------------- forwarded message --------------------

--------------------- forwarded message ----------------------

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