šɛ nuxʷɛɬ hɛga Mɛnaθey
(Sliammon Translation)

Written by Veselin Jungic & Mark MacLean 
Illustrated by Simon Roy 
Sliammon Translation by Mabel Harry, Karen Galligos, and Oshelle from the Sliammon Nation

Small Number and the Old Canoe – Sliammon

In Small Number and the Old Canoe, mathematics is present throughout the story with the hope that this experience will make at least some members of our young audience, with the moderator’s help, recognize more mathematics around them in their everyday lives. Using terms like smooth, shape, oval, and surface, and mathematical phraseology like It must be at least a hundred years old, the artist skillfully presents reflection (symmetry) of trees in water, and so on. The idea behind this approach is to give the moderator a few openings to introduce or emphasize various mathematical objects, concepts and terminology. The short film is a little math suspense story and our question is related only to one part of it. The aim of the question is to lead to an introduction at an intuitive level of the concept of a function and the essence of the principle of inclusion-exclusion as a counting technique. The authors would also like to give their audience an opportunity to appreciate that in order to understand a math question, one often needs to read (or in this case, watch) a problem more than once.

Story Transcript: English and Sliammon

small number and the old canoe

šɛ nuxʷɛɬ hɛga Mɛnaθey
The canoe and Menathey

This is not a traditional Sliammon story but one that could be told in any First Nations communty. The story appealed to us because of it descriptive language and presented a challenge to translate. The story also has a math focus and we hope to encourage teachers to use it.

θiyɛčɩs qomɩys Menaθɛy. payɛʔot ɬaxɬaxtən. hɛɬ ša kʷʋkʷpas hɛga ša čɩčyɛs ƛoƛoɬot. payɛʔot ʔikʷ kʷaʔənəns ninijɛ kʷ yɛyɛθotss Menaθɛy.
Menathey is 5 years old. He is very mischievious. He lives with his grandfather and grandmother. They are very patient with his antics
"t̓ˢapawč,xaƛ kʷatˢ hojuxʷ tɛʔɛ kʷaɬt, natəm ša kʷʋkʷpas. hɛwhew ʔajumiš mot ša kʷaɬt, nas kʷ nonohom. ƛɩšƛɩštas šɛ ʔɛmaθs hɛga qəmqəms ga hahas qaqsɛm ʔasqič.
"I am busy, I want to finish this feast dish", said grandpa. A beautiful feast dish. He tells his grandson and friends to go and play outside.
hɛhew ʔit ʔi:mot t̓okʷ. hojɛyʔɩƛ̓ qʷɛt. ʔukʷtəm kʷʋnɛtas ʔɛʔajuxʷas qaqsɛms. ƛɛƛxʷatawnatəm Kespaul ga gatasəm kʷɛʔɛt nijɛ kʷa t̓aθəmays.
It is a very beautiful day. They ran down to the beach. Everything they saw sparked a new game. Kespaul spoke, "Lets see who can throw a stone the furthest in the water."
heyɛʔot toxʷoxʷəs nəms kʷ ʔi: xajays - tətlɛčeyin, θačays,ʔi θič̓. tawtawusaman ta kʷɛt Menaθɛy kʷ ʔi: xagis.
The boys quickly learn that a good stone that will travel far must - oval, smooth and flat. Menathey walked far along the beach looking for good rocks.
θoga kʷumšɩn ta ƛɛʔɛgən. k̓ɛlɛtšɩn kʷ ƛəqƛak̓t ƛaqəm. ɬaxʷiš ʔi θo hɛgayin. tˢaqɛqʷan kʷ tamas. jaqa kʷa nɛ ša nuxʷɛɬ. xoxmotoɬč nɛʔas, panosʔot ʔata ƛaqəm. kʷɛʔeš Mɛnaθey. jik̓ʷtas ʔičsans. papkʷɛtas ta nuxʷɛɬ. ʔaʔot kʷ moʔos̓ ʔi: qajɛʔot qʷašqʷiš ninijɛ kʷ θiyɩčs. qeyɛtas kʷ qəmqəms. qʷol jɛƛʔaw.
He went towards the bushy area. He tripped in the long grass. He fell over headfirst. Menathey hit his head on something. All of a sudden he saw the canoe. It must have been there a long time, covered over in grass. Menathey stood up. Rubbing his forehead. He stood looking at the canoe. Even though his head hurt he was very excited about his discovery. He yelled for his friends. They came running.
nɛ kʷ kʷakʷɛšit ta tutəmtamiš, qapqaptas ta nuxʷɛɬ. hɛhew xoʔoɬomiš. hɛhew ti:mot. "kʷɛnayɛčɛ qayɛmɩxʷ tət ʔowoɬɛtoɬ?"natəm Menaθɛy. "čɩmčɛ θuxʷɛns xoʔoɬos ta hititoɬ?" natəm Kɛspaul.
The boys stand around the canoe. Rubbing their hands over the top of the canoe. It looks very old. It is very big. "I wonder how many people it would have held" said Menathey. "i wonder how old it is" said Kespaul.
niʔyɛxʷɛgas kʷ qaqsɛmos. nɛ kʷ ga taqəm kʷənas gət yiqašoɬ ta nuxʷɛɬ. qajɛʔot taqəm ʔi: ƛaʔayin čɛčuqomayčəm Kespal. "hɛhewč qaqəm. qʷaga hošt ʔɛɬtan," hot Kɛspaul. ʔukʷ ʔot kʷal qaqəm. jɛʔɛyƛ θo ju.
The boys forgot about their game. They spent a long time talking about who might have used the old canoe. As they were talking, Kespaul's stomach started to growl. "I am hungry. Let's go eat." he said to his friends. Everyone started to realize that they were also hungry. They ran home.
jɩƛ ju Mɛnaθɛy kʷ nes kʷʋkʷpa ʔɛʔɛxɛtas ša ti kʷaɬt. hotot qayɛhəm hanəm qʷašqʷiš Mɛnaθɛy. šoʔosəm kʷʋkʷpas. papkʷatas ta q̓ax ʔičsɛns Mɛnaθɛy. "čɛmoɬčxʷ?" natəm kʷʋkʷpa. niyɛxʷəm Mɛnaθɛy ša ʔičsɛns. ƛaʔayin tawtas šɛ kʷʋkʷpas ninijɛ kʷ θiyɛyčs ša nuxʷɛɬ. qʷayin tasɛčoɬ kʷ qʷomis.
Menathey ran home where grandpa was carving a huge feast dish. Menathey is shouting excitedly. Grandpa looks up. He saw the bruise on Menathey's forehead. "What happened", asked grandfather. Menathey had forgotten that he had bruised his forehead. He began to tell his grandpa about the canoe they found. "it must be at least a hundred years old" said Menathey.
qasqasem kʷʋkʷpə. "toxnɛxʷčšɩn nuxʷɛɬ. θoxʷɛns kʷa ƛɛƛɛʔos. hɛɬ šatˢ manoɬ hɛga ša ʔayɛštanos ʔa hitoɬ." hɛhew ti qasems ša kʷukʷpas ninijɛ kʷ qʷaqʷθəms. "hɛhew kʷa čɛčigat mot ʔakʷ hayhi ʔikʷ θaθčɛʔəm. ʔukʷtəm hayhitaygasoɬ. kʷanɛtačxʷ ša čɛlas xatɛkʷ asqičs ša ƛaqt ʔayɛ? hayɛwoɬ ʔasnə p̓ap̓ɛmoɬ."
Grandfather had a big smile talking about his story. "They were the best builders and carvers. They were able to do anything. You know those three totem poles in front of the longhouse? It was each of their work."
nonpeganəm Mɛnaθey hɛhew kʷ ƛačts,"namθam kʷatˢ ƛoƛsəm, ʔukʷsam tam hayhitən, nam kʷatˢ hɛhew." gayɩtˢəm ʔatˢ kʷʋkʷpa kʷisəm kʷʋnas kʷɛnayɛ ʔayɛštanos ʔatˢ čɛčmɛqʷ? saʔa, čɛlas,mos,θiyɛčɩs,kʷanas kʷɛʔɛt?
Menathey was thinking just as he was about to fall asleep, "when i grow up i will also be a builder and carver. Just like them." I will ask grandpa tomorrow how many brothers hs father had. Two, three four, five or more..."
gayɛɬtanč: čɛmasčɛ nonpeganəms Mɛnaθey kʷʋnas kʷɛnayɛ ʔayɛštans ša čɛčmeqʷs - saʔa, ,čɛləs, mos, θiyɛčɩs,kʷanas kʷɛʔɛt?
Question: Why did Menathey that that his great grandpa might have two, three, four, five or more brothers?

Credits and Acknowledgements
 

  • Written by: Veselin Jungic, SFU and Mark MacLean, UBC
  • Illustrator: Simon Roy, Victoria, B.C.
  • Director: Andy Gavel, Simon Fraser University

Special thanks to:

  • Tom Archibald, Simon Fraser University
  • Peter Jacobs, Squamish Nation
  • Ozren Jungic, University of Oxford
  • Kwosel, Seabird Island First Nation
  • Kwelaxtelot, Seabird Island First Nation
  • Susan Russell, Simon Fraser University
  • Erin Tait, Nisga'a Nation
  • Department of Mathematics, Simon Fraser University
  • Faculty of Science, Simon Fraser University
  • The IRMACS Centre, Simon Fraser University
  • Office for Aboriginal Peoples, Simon Fraser University
  • Pacific Institute For Mathematical Sciences

This story is part of the NSERC PromoScience project "Math Catcher: Mathematics Through Aboriginal Storytelling"

Financial support provided by NSERC, PIMS, UBC, the IRMACS Centre, and SFU