baxoje, the ioway nation, resources on the ioway or iowa indian tribe

Ioway Cultural Institute : The Ioway Virtual Library

Sacred Bundles of the Ioway Indians,
By Lance Michael Foster
( 1994-2001, All Rights Reserved)

Orthography (how sounds are represented by letters; the spelling system)

The Ioway language has been studied by various scholars, including William Hamilton and Samuel Irvin (n.d., ca. 1840-1860), James Owen Dorsey (1894), William Whitman (1947), Lila Wistrand-Robinson (1978), Jimm Good Tracks (1992), and others. No standard orthography (how language sounds are written) has been agreed upon, and the Ioway communities have often found the various proposed orthographies (including linguistic notation) to be confusing and not very useful. Historical changes and speaker's idiosyncrasies complicate the issue further. I cannot pretend to resolve this issue in this paper. For simplicity's sake, the Ioway terms given in this paper should be considered to have approximately the following sounds.

a as in father

b as in beach

ch as in church

d as in different

e as in obey (when in an unaccented syllable it sounds more like e in bet)

There is no f sound in Ioway.

g as in goat

h as in hit

i as the double ee in sweet

j as in jay

k as in kill

l (also sometimes written with an r) sounds to English speakers as similar to the Spanish "r", as in "pero"-- ask a Spanish speaker to help you learn to make this sound [Currently (2001) there is a preference for the use of r]

m as in mother

n as in nut

ng as in sing or wrong

ny sounds similar to Spanish "maana" or English nyah-nyah (what you say when sticking out your tongue at someone)

o as in boat

p as in stop

s or sh as in sugar; Ioway tends to use the sh rather than the s

t as in top

u as the double oo in boot

There is no v sound in Ioway.

w as in woman

x is similar to "ch" sound in German "achtung" (much like "kh", or clearing your throat before spitting)

Note on "x" vs "kh": Ioways in Oklahoma often prefer to use the spelling "kh" instead of "x" as in Bakhoje rather than Baxoje, because most English speakers, when they see the letter "x" tend to automatically pronounce it like the "x" in box. So many if they see it spelled Baxoje often mispronounce it "BOX-oh-jay" rather than the proper pronunciation of "BAH-kho-jay" (which is how many Oklahoma Ioway spell it). We will stick with x instead of kh as we wish to remain consistent with the growing acceptance of x=kh by contemporary Ioways in both Oklahoma and Kansas-Nebraska, as well as linguists.

y as in yellow

' represents a "glottal stop", as when an English speaker says "uh ' oh" or "a ' apple"

There are other sounds in the Ioway language which do not have good English equivalents. Whenever a glottal stop (') follows a consonant rather than a vowel, it sounds more like an extra puff of air (plosion). Every word ends in a vowel sound. Whenever an "n" is seen written following a word or vowel, it means the vowel just before it is nasalized, but the "n" is silent. This is important, as it can actually change the meaning of the word. For example, hi means "tooth", but hin means "hair". To a non-native speaker they may sound very similar.

The various Ioway words used in this study can be found collated and standardized at the end of the study in the appendix, "Glossary of Ioway terms."


One thing struck me as I was rereading my thesis. The Ioway medical system was not a static system. They were interested in trying new things, such as new drugs, as the drug labels used as wrappers in the bundles evidenced. The spectacles in the tattooing bundle certainly aided an aging individual see better for work. Besides this material evidence reminded me of something I had read in Catlin's work. The Ioways who went to Europe were intrerested in adapting some of the techniques they saw there, such as the use of the sauna, new roots, and even phrenology.




Table of Contents
1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 : 8 : 9
Sacred Bundles home

Return to the Ioway Virtual Library