I preached the first sermon at White Salmon…in English anyway
“Early Days at White Salmon and the Dalles”,
by Camilla Thomson Donnell.
Washington Historical Quarterly IV(1) [January 1913],
Rev. Mr. Tenney gave me this incident. He said: “I preached the first sermon at White Salmon in English, but Jason Lee preceded me in a sermon to the Indians. Old Panna-kanick related to me the story of his conversion, resulting from the preaching of Jason Lee. Panna-kanick was a reasonable man, a Christian in spirit and in practice, but he labored under obstacles. Panna-kanick said:
‘Jason Lee, close Boston man, choca nika illahee, heap wawa, wawa Jesus Chlist. Nika hiu cly; hiu chuck nika eyes. Nika tumtum hiu sick. Mesache tumtum seven days. Mr. Lee come again to nika illahee.Wawa much more Jesus Chlist, nika tumtum got well. I have been happy ever since.’
Long ago the old Indian went to meet the Joslyns, of whom he was always fond.”
Notes: the English words ‘heap’, ‘eyes’, ‘seven’, ‘days’, ‘much’, ‘more’ are likely to have been part of local Chinook Jargon. These are attested to in other accounts of CJ of interior regions of Washington and BC.
Reverend William A. Tenny (wife Abby). Erastus and Mary Joslyn of Massachusetts, among the earliest settlers (1853) in “North Oregon”, i.e. the northern side of the Columbia River.
I am indebted to Mrs. E. L. Smith of Hood River for this story: Sapot-wil, the Indian who warned the settlers of White Salmon of the intended assault, and so saved the lives of the Joslyns, lost his standing among his own people, and was so ashamed of the Indians that he changed his name to Johnson, and made his home on the Hood River side. Mrs. Smith says: “He often visited us and was given a seat at the table, with the family, to show the esteem he had won by his heroic action. He was welcomed by the children, for he brought such beautiful bows and arrows, a string of trout or a haunch of venison. Johnson was possessed of a fund of knowledge that made him an ideal guide in the mountains. As an instance of his good theological principles, he was asked, ‘Where do you think you will go when you die?’ Johnson instantly replied: ‘Chee memaloose, Chee cumtux,’ meaning: So soon as I die so soon I will know.”