A trip to Metaline

To paraphrase Daniel Johnston, have you been to Metaline?  If you had visited that mining camp on the BC border in Washington’s first year of statehood, you might have found Chinook Jargon useful.

DCF 1.0

The now-defunct Spokane Falls Review‘s issue of Sunday, November 17, 1889, on page 8, columns 1-3, narrates an eventful October 

Trip to Metaline

A Party from Spokane Falls Lost in a Wild, Mountainous Country.

Subsisting for Days upon Bacon Straight, and Tramping in the Rain.

Amusing Incidents Connected with a Journey Full of Hardship and Danger.

Actually the tone of R.H. Kemp’s article belies these dramatic teasers.  It’s clear that the trip was a lark in a post-frontier landscape.  Photos were taken by A.M. Mason “of real estate, mining and insurance fame”, which would be interesting to locate; Eastern Washington Historical Society, maybe?

At a lone house by the confluence of the Pend d’Oreille and Columbia. the group lodged with a Chinese placer miner named Hang who had been there since 1861 operating a ferry as well.  This man mistakenly put salt instead of sugar into his coffee, eliciting a frustrated mixture of Chinese, Chinook Jargon and English.  On ferrying the group the next morning, he pronounced in Chinese Pidgin English,

“By G-d! You no find Metaline.  No, by G-d! You come back.”

Arriving at Colville, the group acquainted itself with the packer and guide Indian John, “a full-blooded Siwash that could could speak the Chinook language fluently.”  Among the speech quoted of him is this, with a pidgin-English style “me”:

Boston man hy-as hy-iu muck-a-muck moosum, me klat-a-wa is-kim chuck.”  (“We would camp there for the night, eat and sleep, and he would go to a spring and get water.”)

And, with both  period-typical typos and a typically Indian use of zero preposition (instead of “kopa“) that I’ll mark with a [0],

O-e-hut [0] Calispel hy-im stick, Calespel si-ah, wake muck-a-muck Ku-i-tan, Yah-kwa kloshe hy-iu muck-a-muck Kuitan.  To-mah-la tenas sun ko [0] Calispel, ko [0] Boston man’s house pe mar-kook-house Jones hy-iu chuck.”  (“[T]he trail from that point to Calispel was full of fallen timber; …Calispel was some distance away, and at the place where we were was good feed for the horses; …early the next day we would reach a white man’s house and store (Mr. [Herbert] Jones) on the river.”

And taking leave of the visitors after reaching Jones’s:

O-coke sun me ko-pet si-wash house, to-mah-la ten-as sun, klat-a-wa Che-wa-lah, ten-as-po-lak-ly me peel ku-i-tan ko ni-ka house.  Kla-how-ya Boston man.”  [On being paid $10.50:] “Hy-as kloshe.”  (My translation, since one’s not given in the article: “Today I’ll have just an Indian house [tent?], tomorrow morning [I’ll] go to Chewelah, in the evening I and the horse will reach my house.  Goodbye, white man…Very good.”

Having reached Metaline, the group visited a Kalispel Indian village, where a middle-aged Native woman talked with them in “Chinook“, telling them the attractive girls they asked about were daughters of the chief Massola [Masselow].

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