From Copenhagen to Okanogan, part 1

Part 1 of a multi-part blog post…

“From Copenhagen to Okanogan” by U[lrich] E[nglehardt] Fries, 2nd printing published 1951 by Caxton Printers of Caldwell, Idaho.

It’s one of my favorite books for quotations of actual Chinook Jargon in use.  Almost all of this is from Moses-Columbia Salish people.

Fries was a Danish immigrant, born in 1866 in ‘Horne parsonage in the northern part of Jutland, close to the Atlantic coast.’  He came to the USA in the spring of 1884, landing at New York City.  From there he took a train to Elwood, Illinois, working on a farm near there till about Christmas of 1885.  Fries then went briefly to Chicago, where he decided to try the Pacific coast, but a ticket agent advised him to try Walla Walla, Washington.  From there he worked generally northward, winding up as a prosperous homesteading rancher near Brewster, WA.

Page 14:  ‘Kopa Nica Klosh Tillicum, Ahn-kuttie Tillicum‘ [To My Good Friend, Old Friend] is the title of a dedicatory poem by F.J. Clifford, 1945

Page 69:  near Pasco, WA in June 1886 an Indian asks Fries for ‘much-much‘.  ‘He then put his thumb and forefinger together and struck them on the palm of the other hand…I thought at once that he wanted matches.  At that time we were using China matches, which came in a small square block…I broke off a few and handed them to him.’

Page 75 (chapter 5):  the now-disappeared Tunnel City, WA, site of the railway’s Cascade Tunnel dig.

Page 77: ‘Money was not counted as it is now.  In those early days one counted–one bit, two bits, four bits, six bits, and one dollar.  [This pattern is reflected in Chinook Jargon and in regional Native languages, many of which have for example a specific word for “75 cents”.]  As a bit was twelve and a half cents, a ten-cent piece was called a short bit, and fifteen cents, a long bit.  Thus the beer had cost me two bits and a long bit [40 cents].  Copper money absolutely did not circulate, and five-cent pieces were curiosities.  Old-timers have told me there was a time when a twenty-five cent piece was the smallest money in circulation.’

same page: antique slang — ‘A week or so after cashing my time check [saved-up wages] I happened to walk past the saloon, which was a small, ramshackle building, and the saloonkeeper yelled at me through the crowd from where he stood behind the bar.  But I passed the open door, and he came running out with a shout. “Say, young fellow, don’t you think it is damned near time you blew yourself? [spent your entire paycheck on a binge]” he demanded.’  [Compare page 421, ‘…one payday Pat said he was going to quit…He had fifty-two dollars, which was his financial goal…He left for Ellensburg to “blow himself.” ‘]

page 88, March of 1887: ‘The first thing I did in Ellensburg was to sign papers applying for American citizenship.  Then I bought a saddle horse from Lee Fulton, whom I again met in the Methow Valley when he moved there with his family.  I also bought a saddle, bridle, cooking utensils, a shotgun, and a dictionary of the Chinook jargon, which I immediately began to study.’

page 90: ‘We crossed the Columbia and were in the Colville Indian Reservation.  There we rode fifteen miles until we came to Lumsden’s trading post on the Okanogan River.  No one was there but an Indian who told us that Lumsden had gone to Spokane after “hiyu muck-a-muck” or groceries, and that he would return soon.  I had been studying my little Chinook book and I was the only one of the five of us who could talk with the Indian.”

page 93: Building cabins on new homesteads…’Everything was progressing smoothly and we were only eight logs short of the required number by ten o’clock.  All of a sudden an Indian shouted furiously: “Mika hiyu kultus Boston!  (You mean white men.)  “Kopit mamook, nika wawa, mika capswalla stick kopa Siwash illahee!”  (Stop work, I say, you’re stealing logs on Indian land!)  He shouted furiously, threatening dire punishment…’

page 94: continued: ‘…now I was, naturally, spokesman for my group…[trying to bluff the Indian:] “What is it you are telling us?  That we are thieves?  We are not thieves.  All this land belongs to the white man.)  He listened patiently and then started shaking his head.  “Oh, halo, halo!”  With his right hand he pointed to the ground.  “Okoke Siwash illahee, innity kopa chuck, Boston illahee.”  (Oh, no, no.  This land is Indian land.  On the other side of the river it belongs to the white man.)’

page 95: continued…’Later, I met Ed Hodges of Malott, who told me that the Indian had related the story about our cutting logs on the reservation.  He said that the Indian had told him that we were good white men, but, he added, “Pe hias kloshe Boston, pe halo kumtux.”  (We were all right but not very bright, or a little dumb.)’

page 100:  ‘So we turned homeward and spent that night with “Tenas” George [Runnels?].  This squaw man was small of stature, which accounted for his name Tenas, meaning little.’

page 115: ‘We had no more trouble until we came to Kokshut Mountain, Kokshut being the Indian [Chinook Jargon] name for “broken.”  It is now called Ribbon Rock.  The Indians tell how, “pe hiyu ahnkutty” (great many years ago), there was a terrific earthquake that shook the whole face of the mountain into the Columbia and dammed it completely.  They claim, “Pe sitkum sun halo chuck klatawa.”  (The river was stopped for half a day.)  Now it can be seen how the river was forced to cut a new channel around the rockslide.’

page 115-116:  Before we reached the talus we passed an Indian camp.  Two friendly Indians stepped up to warn us that some of our cattle might “memaloose” (die) by falling down among the sharp boulders if we took them across the dangerous trail.  But, they said, if we would pay them some “chickamin” (money), they would help us so that we wouldn’t lose any “moos-moos” (cows).’

page 128:  ‘The [Indian] agent asked [“Indian”] Dan where and how he wanted to take the land, speaking Dan’s language [Moses-Columbia Salish?] perfectly.  Dan took the agent a short distance to the east, with the whole [surveying] company following.  Then he stopped and pointed to the ground saying, in his own language, that he wanted his land to start there.’

page 137, May 1888:  ‘One morning I had just gone to get the team, and Anton was busy washing the dishes and putting the camp in order, when two young Indians walked onto the premises.  They demanded:  “Pee konamox tikeh muck-a-muck”  (We both want something to eat).  When Anton refused to cook their breakfast, they got saucy.  As I neared the camp, I could hear them swearing and cursing in good English.  They told us to get off their grounds, and for a little while, things looked threatening.’

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