Pigeon Indian, or, how to talk to the Chinese

From an 1887 article titled “Siwash potlatches”, a novel theory of why Chinese immigrants speak Chinook Jargon:

Pigeon Indian Chinese

It was while I was in Ta-
coma, by the way, that a very gifted
and observant little lady of New Eng-
land descent, who has had much to do
with the Chinese, has house servants
and peddlers, told me that the lan-
guage in which the best conversational
progress can be made with a Chinaman
is the “Chinook,” or pigeon Indian,
with which the traders talk to the In-
dians. They understand the Indian
words far better than the English ones.
To say the least, these are very queer
coincidences. Here we find that the
Indians nearest to China look like
Chinese, use the same boats the
Chinese use, and talk a language which
the Chinaman faintly understands.

(The Ohio Democrat (Logan, Ohio), December 31, 1887.)

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