ENRICO, John




Author Tags: Anthropology, Essentials 2010, First Nations, Haida Gwaii, Music

QUICK REFERENCE ENTRY:

The translator seldom gets the glory. Until her death in 2007, the English language translator of Heinrich Böll, Leila Vennewitz, lived quietly and largely unnoticed near Lost Lagoon in Vancouver for more than 50 years. Similarly, prior to Robert Bringhurst’s reworkings of Haida storytellers, as transcribed by anthropologist John Swanton, John Enrico had translated and edited Swanton’s original 1905 transcriptions as Skidegate Haida Myths and Histories (1995) with minimal notice. It has been suggested by Enrico that Bringhurst’s higher-profile revival of the “classic” Haida storytellers in three hardcover editions provides a less than sufficient ackowledgement of Enrico’s spadework.

John Enrico began his studies of Haida music in 1975. Arguably, Enrico has done more than any other scholar to make the Haida language accessible as one of the best documented indigenous languages of North America.

In his two-volume, 1387-page Haida Syntax (2003), Enrico provides a comprehensive description of the syntax of two Haida dialects, partially based on the materials that were collected by Swanton in the early 20th century, enhanced by his 25 years of fieldwork in the Haida community. With ethnomusicologist Wendy Bross Stuart, Enrico also published a 519-page study, Northern Haida Songs (1996), which situates Haida music in the context of the Northwest Coast and presents a collection of 128 songs, fully transcribed and analyzed, representing some 20 types of songs. Enrico’s other published works include The Lexical Phonology of Masset Haida (1991) and a Haida reader for juveniles.

Other authors of First Nations language resources include Wayne Suttles and Jay Powell. Suttles published Musqueam Reference Grammar (2004). In 1968, as a graduate student in anthropology, Powell first visited La Push on the Olympic Peninsula where Fred “Woody” Woodruff, one of the last remaining Quileute speakers, had the patience to teach his language to Powell. Photographer Vicki Jensen joined him there in 1972. Since then Jensen has shot more than 50,000 photographs and Powell has become the most essential linguist on the West Coast. For over 40 years, the couple has helped produce more than 40 language and culture books for the Quileutes, the Kwakwaka’wakw, the Halkomelem, the Eastern and Western Gitksan, the Shuswap and the Nuu-chah-nulth. “A language is like a species of bird,” Powell has said, “that has evolved across thousands of generations. How hard would we work to save such a bird from becoming extinct?”


FULL ENTRY:

Since linguist John Enrico began his studies of Haida music in 1975, he has done more than any other scholar to make the Haida language of the Queen Charlotte Islands accessible as one of the best documented indigenous languages of North America. Before poet Robert Bringhurst published his re-workings of Haida storytellers as transcribed by anthropologist John Swanton, Enrico translated and edited Swanton's original 1905 transcriptions as Skidegate Haida Myths and Histories (1995). It has been suggested that Bringhurst's high-profile revival of the 'classic' Haida storytellers in three hardcovers provides a less than sufficient reference to Enrico's spadework.

As well, in his two-volume, 1387-page Haida Syntax (2003), Enrico provides a comprehensive description of the syntax of two Haida dialects partially based on the materials that were collected by Swanton in the early twentieth century, enhanced by his twenty-five years of fieldwork in the Haida Community.

With ethnomusicologist Wendy Bross Stuart, Enrico also published a 519-page study, Northern Haida Songs (1996), which situates Haida music in the context of the Northwest Coast and presents a collection of 128 songs, fully transcribed and analyzed, representing some 20 types of songs. Enrico has also published The Lexical Phonology of Masset Haida (1991) and a juvenile title The Man Who Became an Eagle, A Queen Charlotte Islands Reader (1984), a Haida legend illustrated by Gitsgah.

John Enrico was born in Seattle on May 17, 1947. More information on his work pertaining to Haida Gwaii is available from the Alaska Native Language Center or the Sealaska Heritage Institute websites.

[Translation of First Nations materials is a growing field, whereas relatively few literary works in other languages are translated for publication in B.C. See abcbookworld entries for Aligizkis, Manolis; Binning, Sadhu; Boyce, Pleuke; Bullock, Michael; Downes, Gwladys; Good, Graham; Hatch, Ronald; McWhirter, George; Rhenisch, Harold; Siegler, Karl.] @2010.


BOOKS:

Enrico, John. The Man Who Became an Eagle, A Queen Charlotte Islands Reader (University of British Columbia, WEDGE, 1984). Illustrations by Gitsgah.

Enrico, John. Raven and the Moon and the Oystercatcher, A Queen Charlotte Islands Reader (University of British Columbia, WEDGE, 1984). Illustrated by Maureen Yeltatzie.

Enrico, John. The Lexical Phonology of Masset Haida (Research Paper No. 8, Alaska Native Language Center, Fairbanks: 1991).

Enrico, John. Skidegate Haida Myths and Histories (Skidegate: Haida Gwaii Museum, 1995).

Enrico, John & Wendy Bross Stuart (editors). Northern Haida Songs (University of Nebraska Press, 1996).

Enrico, John. Haida Syntax - 2 Volumes (University of Nebraska Press, 2003).

Enrico, John. Haida Dictionary: Skidegate, Masset, and Alaskan Dialects (2 vols.) (Alaska Native Language Center and Sealaska Heritage Institute, 2005).

[BCBW 2010] "Indianology"