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Devil's Club
No, not a place where off-duty satanists hang out. Devil's club is a member of the ginseng family and as such is said to have curative powers for several afflictions. Commonly associated with the word "ouch!" this thorny understory shrub can otherwise be identified by large limp, maple-shaped leaves and a cluster of red berries. In coastal British Columbia devil's club was traditionally used to provide relief from arthritis and rheumatism. As a wilderness food source, young stems of the devil's club can be cooked as greens while the roots can be peeled, rinsed and chewed raw. Devil's club bark was once mixed with various kinds of berries and boiled to make purplish dye for native basketry.
Illustration by Manami Kimura
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Tongue Twisters
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Written by Brian Grover   
Monday, 19 February 2007 11:45
Tongue Twisters
Place names of First Nations extraction are common enough hereabouts that localities like Tsawwassen, Nanaimo, Sechelt and Squamish immediately leap to mind. The skunk, raccoon and moose all owe their handles to the original inhabitants of eastern North America.

On the west coast of British Columbia sockeye and chinook, delicious smoked, baked or broiled, swam into the lexicon from Chinook Jargon. Sockeye or suka meant literally: the fish of fishes. Chum salmon -- originally pronounced tzum samum -- came from the Sne Nay Muxw language. Salal also arrived via the lingua franca called Chinook Jargon. Bushwacker's bane might have been a more appropriate name. The geoduck, meaning "neck-attached," is not a gooey duck. Gooey yes but the etymology is strictly Chinook Jargon. Neither is that camp robber, the whisky-jack, a souse after a hard day of pilfering peanuts. From the original Cree, wiskatjan got the misappellation through a case of mispronunciation, Whisky John, with the diminutive being misapplied.

Chinook Jargon, incidentally, was a trading language that developed to facilitate communication among the diverse original inhabitants of western Canada and later, those who showed up to barter blankets, bullets and booze. Chinook Jargon was a pidgin comprised mainly of the Chinook language of Oregon, the Nuu-cha-nulth language of Vancouver Island's west coast and French and English. Apart from being a fish name and that of both a language and a pidgin, chinook has the added meaning of a warm winter wind.

 

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