Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Umiak, Kayak, Mukluk, Tupik

One of my all-time favorite songs from grade school was the Umiak Kayak song, which taught us a few "Eskimo words." Since I have not found what I believe to be the correct version of this song anywhere on the entire WWW, I provide it here as a public service.

Umiak, kayak, mukluk, tupik,
Umiak, kayak, mukluk, tupik,
Umiak, kayak, Eskimo words,
Learn them if you can.

Umiak, a boat for many men,
Kayak, a boat for one man,
Umiak, kayak, Eskimo words,
Learn them if you can.

Mukluk, an Eskimo boot,
Tupik, an Eskimo tent.
If you heard an Eskimo say these words,
You'd know exactly what he meant.

Umiak, kayak, mukluk, tupik,
Umiak, kayak, mukluk, tupik,
Umiak, kayak,
Eskimo words,
Learn them if you can.

The beauty of this song is in the dramatic dynamics of the ending. I'll be providing the musical notation for the simple but compelling melody shortly. According to Wikipedia, the umiak is a women's boat, and the kayak a men's boat. But the umiak is indeed considerably larger than the kayak, so the song seems roughly accurate, if improperly gendered.

Singing together was a wonderful part of the early grades.

36 comments:

  1. I've been singing that song for the past two weeks and my daughter thought it was something I made up.

    ReplyDelete
  2. thanks for posting the "eskimo words" song. last night i was feeling sick (fever, chills, etc.) and some of the words to the song were running through my head. i guess i was doing a kind of life review and recollecting the fun i had singing that song as a child.

    ReplyDelete
  3. God. I thought I dreamt this song as a child or something. Been searching for it everywhere.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Bill, I'm very inerested in the writen music of this song. I can't find the melody on the internet. Can you help me?
    Gilles Michels

    ReplyDelete
  5. yes yes, yes. That Umiak, Kayak, Mukluk, ????? (forgotten by me) part has gone through my head off and on over the years, and now even moreso since I've taken up ocean kayaking. Dang it anyhow, but glad I am not alone in the dated memories. And thanks for putting it web-findable.

    ReplyDelete
  6. My best friend and I discovered in college that we had both learned this song in grade school and neither of us has met anyone else that remembers it. I am so happy that you all do!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow! What a blast from the past. This goes back to some of my earliest memories. Back to around 1960. A distinct memory from my earliest school days. I think I may have retained at least part of the melody as well. If anyone knows a site where me might listen to the song, please post it. Thanks for posting the lyrics, Bill.

    ReplyDelete
  8. OMG! I remember singing this song in elementary school! However, I don't remember there being so many lyrics to it; I guess I must have shortened it considerably over the years!

    ReplyDelete
  9. My dad has been singing this song for YEARS! He said it is a song he learned in grade school. We tried searching for the lyrics over a year ago (before this post) and couldn't find them. He called me and told me about this blog and I had to comment! Thank you for this!

    ReplyDelete
  10. For some strange reason I have been singing this song for the last couple days. I learned it in grade school in the mid 60's.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This is awesome to have found all the words again. I'm 49 and I remember learning this in elementary school. Ever-so-often, I'd sing it. My kids thought I was crazy singing crazy words. This proves I'm not crazy. Thanks for the memory!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I am 50 and this was a song my best friend and neighbor used to sing all the time playing together. One of our favorite for sure. I found your blog a while back doing a search and was trying to find a school songbook with the song in it. Good memories!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I can't believe I found this on the Internet. I'm so happy.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I sang this when I was in grade school also (1968). For some reason, I was singing it on the way to work this morning. When I arrived, I immediately did a search on it. Lo and behold, here I am. I love it!

    ReplyDelete
  15. You made my day!!! Do you or anyone commenting know the song that is about Cousin Helen Brown and yams that will be killed due to a creeping weed, "Bahama Grass"? Great grade school song... I am 49 if this helps with giving you the right era. Thanks-Tammy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Uh! Uh! Oh! Cousin Helen Brown, sit right down, fore we go downtown, Let me tell you what I have found Bahama Grass go Killa mi yam...

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    4. Uh! Uh! Oh! Cousin Helen Brown
      Sit a while 'fore you go downtown.
      Let me tell you Cousin what I have found Bahama grass go Kill'a me yams

      Plenty room is what my yams need
      Yams won't grow with the creeping weed
      I have many children that I must feed
      Bahama grass go kill'a me yams!

      (Our music teacher explained to us that i"creeping weed" was a code for marijuana. It was @ 1963, I was in the fifth grade and had no clue what that meant.)

      Delete
  16. You made my day!!! Do you or anyone commenting know the song that is about Cousin Helen Brown and yams that will be killed due to a creeping weed, "Bahama Grass"? Great grade school song... I am 49 if this helps with giving you the right era. Thanks-Tammy

    ReplyDelete
  17. Terrific ! I remember the song from grade school too...back around '68. Thanks for sharing and bringing me back!

    Best,

    John

    ReplyDelete
  18. Cool. Apparently I forgot the second half of each verse, but knew there was something about speaking the language. I don't remember the melody for the words I don't remember, but do for the first halves:
    a c e e d c a c a
    a c e e d c a c a
    a c e - d c a c b a
    a e - d c a c a
    In my school the ending was different:
    Umiak, kayak
    Mukluk, tupik

    ReplyDelete
  19. Arg this page's JavaScript keeps cutting me off before I finish. Here I try again.

    ReplyDelete
  20. In my school the ending was different:
    Umiak, kayak
    Mukluk tupik, Eskimo.....
    a c e - -
    a e - -
    c a c a g g a - - -

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thank you sooooo much for posting those lyrics. I remember the chorus of the song after.., Lord I don't know how many years, but that song still comes to mind every so often.

    I've been intending to search it on the net, but never could remember it till today.

    One of the few fond grade school memories I have.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I must also add, the ending was the same as the previous Anonymous comment, except I don't remember the "ace ae cacagga" part. From my memory, which at 52 isn't the greatest, the song ended at "Eskimo".

    ReplyDelete
  23. My favorite classroom song in the third grade - 1964 - Texas . Forever in my memory.

    ReplyDelete
  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Learned this song in grade school early 70's in Ohio....

    ReplyDelete
  26. Yup - remember this from grade school: Cincinnati suburbs, ca. 1966.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I recall learning this song in about 4th grade 1964 in West Hartford, CT. I had forgotten the part after the "kayak" line other than I thought there was a phrase that said "if you learn these Eskimo words" but now I can see how your phrase "If you heard an Eskimo say these words" must be what I recall. This is great!! Thanks for sharing this, as I have thought of it for many years trying to explain it to my husband, who is 1/4 Inuit and never heard the song.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I am turning 60 this year and learned this song in elementary school in San Antonio, either Agnes Cotton or Woodrow Wilson. My brain was not fooling me.
    Shannon Funkhouser

    ReplyDelete
  29. I am turning 60 this year and learned this song in elementary school in San Antonio, either Agnes Cotton or Woodrow Wilson. My brain was not fooling me.
    Shannon Funkhouser

    ReplyDelete
  30. I too know this song. Learned it in a school in Virginia.

    ReplyDelete
  31. 1969 in Brooklyn NY...first grade...thank you so much for the lyrics. This is the best!

    ReplyDelete
  32. I'm laying in bed recovering from surgery and I was singing this song in my head. The ending I remember is...
    Umiak, hmmmm, kayak, hmmmm,
    Mukluk, tupic, eskimoooo.

    I learned this song in grade school, mid 1960's, in St. Louis, MO. So happy to find this post!

    ReplyDelete