From Copenhagen to Okanogan, part 2

{Have you subscribed to get notified of my blog posts via email?}

See my first post about this book for bibliographic info.  

In this installment, notice the vivid descriptions of sign language used along with Chinook Jargon.  This matches claims you’ll sometimes find in the literature on this language, which are backed up by at least one interview I’ve done in the Okanagan country.–Dave

Page 138-139: ‘While Anton’s breakfast was in preparation, an Indian who lived in a log cabin about half a mile up the river walked into camp…We found that his name was Peters…To our surprise he understood Anton and me as we talked about our lack of a hammer.  He told us that he had one in his cabin that we could use if we would “potlatch chickamin” (pay money).  When I asked him how much he wanted if we used it just once, he asked “Pee sitkum dollah hyas kloshe?” (half a dollar all right?).  [Bargaining ensues.]…I decided to run a bluff.  I walked down to the river.  The beach was covered with rocks of different shapes and sizes.  I said to Anton [who knew no Chinook, see below]:  “Pee nika takee okoke stone pe nika mamook saw.”  (I will take this stone and fix the saw.)  Up until that time the Indian evidently thought he had us over a barrel.  As soon as he saw we meant business he called out: “Pee hyas kloshe spose mika potlatch tahtlum chickamin” (It will be all right if you pay ten cents), and he showed us his ten fingers.’

Page 140: ‘It was not long before the Indians began to gather around and ask questions.  I had to do all the talking, for Anton had no knowledge of Chinook.  One day an Indian came and wanted us to get him three bottles of whiskey in exchange for his pony.  I told him we had no whiskey and could get none.  He disputed me by saying in Chinook: “Yes, you tell steamboat man to bring whiskey.  You pay him.  You get my horse.”…A number of Indians offered us from a dollar and a half to two dollars for a bottle of whiskey, and one young fellow even offered to trade a really good winter overcoat.  I told him that, when winter came and he did not have the coat, he would “chahco hiyu sollex kopa nika pee mika hiyu cole” (get very angry with me if you get very cold).  His reply was, “Halo, pee nika chahco hiyu cole pe hyas kloshe” (No, if I should get very cold it will be all right).”‘

Page 141: ‘About the fourth day of our stay, an elderly Indian rode up on a good horse with a fine saddle…He gave his name as Antoine and said that he lived about seven miles from us on what is now known as Antoine Creek, about halfway between Pateros and Chelan…He wanted to sell us milk, butter, and eggs, and have his women wash our clothes.  We at once accepted the offer of eggs at his price of twenty-five cents.  Here he held up his hands, spread his fingers apart, and then shut his hands.  Then he put up two fingers, closed them and said, “pe kaquaw,” meaning a dozen.  We doubted that the milk and butter would be wholesome and clean but he assured us that there would be no “illahee” (dirt) in either…All the time we were talking Antoine used the words “shirts and socks” instead of Indian words.  Where the white people had or wore articles of clothing that the Indians did not have, the Indians had to use our words to designate them.’

Page 141-142: ‘Indians often met difficulties in making purchases because of their limited vocabulary.  Once a squaw went into a store at Brewster and wanted “ikt stick calico” (one yard calico).  The clerk got his yard stick, measured the cloth, cut it, wrapped it, and laid it on the counter, saying, “One short bit,” which was ten cents.  She laid a dollar on the counter, and the clerk gave her ninety cents in change which she at once tied into a cloth.  Naturally I thought that was all the calico she wanted.  But she kept right on asking for “ikt stick calico” until the clerk had measured and wrapped up ten yards of cloth and she had paid for each “stick” and wrapped up the change each time.’

Page 142:  ‘When Saturday came Antoine was there with the goods, but told us that he was “hiyu sick tumtum” (very sorry) that he had contracted to sell us milk.  As he pointed to his elbow he wailed, “Nika chahco hiyu sick kopa yahkwa” (I get awful sore here)….We gave Antoine the syrup can, which he could tie on his saddle.  He beamed and said that now he could “takee hyas klatawa” (ride in a hurry).  So we were all pleased.’

Page 143-144 — awakened in the middle of the night by noises of approaching people: ‘We recognized the inquisitive Humpy, accompanied by a much larger man…As they came into sight I yelled in an angry voice, “Kopet chahco nika wawa.” (Quit coming, I say).  “What are you doing around here this late?”  Humpy answered, “We are looking for a squaw.”  “You can see that there is no squaw here,” I told him.  “If you or any other Siwash comes around again at night I will not talk, but I will shoot.  Hurry up and get away from here.’

Page 144-145:  ‘We owed [Antoine] a dollar and forty cents.  So I told him that I didn’t have enough money to pay him in full…”Ah haw, pe hyas kloshe” (It will be all right).  I paid him the dollar and a quarter.  He understood that we owed him “ikt bit pe sitkum.”  When he said “pe sitkum” he crossed his two index fingers to designate the half bit or five cents.’