Hotseta (Oscar Dennis) Crow Clan
Instructor/Web-designer/Program designer/Linguistic Researcher
My name is ‘Hotseta’ (Hotseta) and my English name is ‘Oscar James Dennis’. I am of Tałtan Dene ancestry (Tałtan sa'e Dene des-kl'īt) and was born and raised on the Tałtan Territory. I am of the Raven Clan (Tseskiye es-dah-tsehi) and the Tahlo-k'ōt'īne tribe (Tahlo-k'ōt'īne ja sini). Etheny is my mother's great grandmother (Etheny, edla me-tsū chō ja 'at'ē).
My motivation for learning the language was simple, but very political - I made an oath to myself that I will not leave this planet speaking the foreign colonial language of my oppressor! Now when I speak with my father and mother in my native tongue I do not forget that this is who I am - I am Tałtan!
Although I learned the Tałtan ẕāke (Language) as a second language after reaching adulthood, I consider myself lucky to have been exposed to the language on a daily basis as a child.
Currently, I reside in the Tałtan community of Iskut, British Columbia (Łuwechōn nasde). I was awarded a MAsters Degree in First Nations Studies in which I did my thesis on the Pedigogical Structure of the Tahltan Language. I hold two Bacherlor Degree’s in the Social Sciences: Anthropology and First Nations Studies; my Anthro studies are 'cultural linguistics' and my FN studies is 'Governmental'. You can read my thesis at: https://unbc.arcabc.ca/islandora/object/unbc%3A16922?solr_nav%5Bid%5D=687b2aa96f31a0c24460&solr_nav%5Bpage%5D=0&solr_nav%5Boffset%5D=0
Hōk'ābinas (James Dennis) Wolf Clan
My name is Hō-k'ābi-nas (Hō-k'ābi-nas ushye) and my English name is James William Dennis. I am of Tałtan-Gitxsan ancestory (Tałtan/Gitxsan sa'e Dene deskl'īt) and was born and raised on the Tałtan Territory. I am of the Wolf Clan (Ch'iyone es-dah-tsehi) and the Tl'abanōt'īn sub-tribe (Tl'abanōt'īne ja sini). My mother's great grandmother is Sin-k'el-t'ede and her grandfather is Ole K'wak (Quock). Estsiye K'ala'a enēsglīn! (I reborn my grandfather Bearlake Billy!)
I was raised specifically in the Tl'abane, Spātsidzi and Łuwe Chōn highlands of our territory following the migratory patterns of the animals that we depended upon for sustenance.
Although, I learned the Łuwe Chōn (Iskut) dialect of the Tałtan dah-ẕāke (language) and English simultaneously as a child, back then we naturally spoke our language unless we encountered someone who didn't speak our native tongue.
Currently I reside in the Tałtan community of Iskut, British Columbia. My dream is to be able to speak with a small child, fluently, in my language before I leave this planet.
Hōk'abinas is the reincarnate of his grandfather K'ala'a and the older folks know this and they address him in that manner.
To'adāł (Loveman Nole) Crow Clan
Master Speaker (Deceased)
My name is To'ahdāł (To'adāł ushye.) My white-man name is Loveman Nole. I'm crow clan (ts'esk'iye es-dā·ts̱ehi.) I was born in Telegraph Creek B.C. (Tlego’īn husłīn) and was raised in Tałtān territory all my life. I come from Tlabānot'īn sub-tribe. My mother (edlā) is Esther Nole, her mother, my grandmother (es-tsū) is Edith Quock and her mother, my great-grandmother, is Dekhamā (Lucy Quock) who married Old K'wāk. I have two other names, one from my grandpa John Quock who gave me his name Ishtāskwe (frog got good back) and the other, because I reborn Billy Dennis' son, is Iskwēlē.
When I was a boy everybody spoke Tałtan, from the elders to the children. My dad took us to His trapline during the winter season to prevent us from going to residential school, where I learned how to live traditionally. I speak the Tlabānot'īn dialect of Tałtān language all my life. I live with my wife and we speak Tałtān together to remember it and we teach our grandchildren our traditional ways.
I camped, fished, hunted and trapped all over (Tlabāne) country for my family. All the way from past Coldfish Lake (Hok'atsłuwe Mene) at Tuaton Lake to the Skeena headwaters through Iskut Valley and all way to Telegraph. We travel by dog pack and team on those trails.
We start to speak English when I was a boy. I saw first white-man when I was ten years old hunting beaver with my dad. My wish is for my grand-children to not forget our ways and speak Tałtān fluently before I'm gone.
Tli-Jije (Sarah Nole) Wolf Clan
Master Speaker (Deceased)
My name is Tli-Jije (Tli Jije ushye) and my English name is Sarah Nole. Magdline Jack gave me the name Nuks-gunanit and my third name is Nahkāmā. I was born in Telrgraph (Tlego’īn husłīn) and raised in Tałtān country. Ch’iyōne es-dah·ts̱ehi (I’m wolf clan) from the Tl’abānot’īn sub-tribe of the Tałtān dene (people.) My mother me-zih’ (name) is Ts’imgal-t’ēde, Sophie Dennis (Gitxan,) her name she got from her mother, es-tsu (my grandma) Mary-Magdeline who married Ole Dennis. My dad me-zih’ (name) is Kish-kush, Edwin Pete Tashoots (Tałtān.)
My parents and es-tsiye (my grandpa) Pete Tashoots and es-tsu (my grandma) Suzy taught me Tałtān as a baby and that’s all we spoke and I still speak didene ẕake (Tałtān Language) with my husband, Loveman Nole. When I was a little girl English was spoken very little-bit by our people but not much, only some words by the adults. I was nine years old when I start learning English when my older brothers and sisters start speaking.
Growing up in a nomadic lifestyle, we never camp in only one place. I lived all way from Telegraph Creek to Iskut Valley and traveled around Me’etsendān (Caribou Hide) and Espātsīdzi, (Spatsizi) country with my family growing up.
My mother taught me to work on stretching and tanning hide as well as sewing moccasins, mittens and clothes. I also learned to work on meat from my mother and sister’s. We took care of the family the traditional way. I want to teach my children and grandchildren like how my mother taught me so they can teach theirs like that.
Iskadi (Reginald Dennis) Wolf Clan
Ishkadi ushye, my name is Ishkadi. My child (pet) name is Saditeh (poor thing,) these names were given to me by es-tsu (my grandma) Sarah Nole. The Canadian government recognizes me as Reginald Dennis. Ch’iyōne es-dah·ts̱ehi (I’m wolf clan) from the Tlabānot’īn sub-tribe of the Tałtān Nation. In my Matrilineal background I am fifth generation descendent of Ts’imgalt’ede (Mary-Magdeline Dennis.) I am taught Tałtān ẕake (Tałtān language) by my primary teachers, my grand-parents Loveman and Sarah Nole.
I was raised in the community of Iskut B.C. (Łuwechōn) and still reside there. Growing up on reserve fragments of our language still exist. Learning the language has become my main focus of obtaining a sense of identity. Unfortunately, I’m learning it as a second language. As a child, speaking Tałtān was non-existent with people in my generation as well as the previous generation. I know where I’m from. I know I’m First Nations. I know I’m Dene. I know I’m Tałtān.
Growing up all I have are the stories from my grandparents that connect me to my history. I think that learning our language is important because I think the first way to correct the colonial mentality is through language. On a personal note, I also want to have a conversation in our language with others in a crowd and make the non-Tałtān speaker feel embarrassed for a change.
My research has brought me to the conclusion that we are in a cultural crisis as Indigenous people in North America. That being said, as long as we have our elders and fluent speakers I know we have a chance at becoming a vibrant language just like when my grandparents were children. The Tałtān language is something we can call our own.