Andy Brown sings a Chinook Jargon drinking song

At the Alaska Native Language Center online archives site, you can listen as Andy Brown sings a Chinook Jargon drinking song.”

Alaska Native Language Archive

In the 1975 Ahtna Noun Dictionary by Mildred Buck and James Kari, Andy is described as

“age 78; Udzisyu clan; formerly of Bescene (River Stag) and now residing in Copper Center; a speaker of the Lower dialect.”

(Please do use John Smelcer’s wonderful 2nd edition of the Ahtna Noun Dictionary. As a community insider, he added tons of great new information!)

This recording is from an Ahtna [Athabascan] Workshop recorded in 1974.  Ahtna country is the farthest northwest that I’ve found real evidence for Jargon use.  For example, there are CJ personal names in this region, such as Tenas Charley (see Subarctic, volume 6 of the Handbook of North American Indians from the Smithsonian, pages 647), Tenas Jack (1st ed. of Ahtna Noun Dictionary, page viii), a surname Tenas; likely loans like ‘rice’, ‘shoes’, ‘gold’, ‘stove’ (2nd ed. of noun dictionary, section on loanwords).


The audio takes a while to download, for me at least.

And the sound quality is not high, being dubbed from a worn old cassette.

But I’m listening my way through it trying to find that Chinuk Wawa song. Is it at 08:57 in this file?

There, I hear a song I’m not familiar with, which may contain “chaku”.  I may also be hearing “naaw”, which is a Tlingit pronunciation of Jargon “lam” (alcohol).  I don’t find such a word in the Ahtna Noun Dictionary, but it would make sense for CJ to have come north via Tlingit country.  Many of the lyrics sound Tlingit to me. After the song I hear the singer answer somebody’s question by saying “Tlingit”.

Let me know if you spot it before me!  I’ll have to dig up an audio fixer program.

(There’s also an interesting Christian hymn “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus“in English around minute 20.)