The doggerel hits the fan! “Klose Nesika Illahee”

The doggerel hits the fan! Mysteries are sprayed liberally!

From a one-page remembrance of an indigenous Warm Springs leader, “Stock Whitley” by Carson C. Masiker in Oregon Native Son and Historical Magazine, Vol. II no. 3-9 (Jan.-Feb. 1901), page 407.

(This is the same publication that ran a column titled “Nesika Wa-wa” (“We Talk”, or more likely knowing how a lot of whites used the Jargon, “Our Chat”.)

A Chinuk Wawa poem, whose title, “Klose Nesika Illahee”, coincides with the motto of the magazine it appears in, as you can see above.

Because HTML is wonderful, it’s hard to reproduce the indentations and column breaks of the above text, but here it is written out for the search engines & with a rough translation by me in italics:


Klose nesika illahee mitlite copa Onwawie,     
The good country of ours is on Onwawie [Deschutes/Miller’s Island],

Konaway nika tillacum mitlite yawa o’coke
All my people were there that


Lalie nika nanich siwash hyack clatawa
For a long time [before,] I could see the Indians rushing

copa Kolwash,
from [old man] Kolwash, 

Mitlite tumwater skookum chuck, iskum
[who] was [at] the waterfall rapids, getting

Sammon Copa Chuck,
salmon from the water,

Wawa Snake chaco memaloose konaway
to say the Snake [Indians] were coming to kill every-

tollicum nika house.
one [in] my house.

Hyack mamook teouit copa siwash Oahut,
Hurry, run along the Indian trail, 

Skookum wawa klatwa [] man hyas til nika
Shouted the man going along. My 

     cuitan. –
    horse was worn out. 

Nika clootchman hyas klose, wake tika
My wife was beautiful, [and] didn’t want 

     Snake Copa nika house,
    Snakes in my house, 

Hyas quass nika tenas-man, Spose halo
My children were alarmed to not 

mitlite cuitan.
have a horse.

Nika cumtux ole Stock Whitley, siwash tyee
I knew old Stock Whitley, the Indian chief 

Chityke city,
[of] Warm Springs village,

Hi-you polally iskum ancutty Nathan Olney
Nathan Olney had gotten a lot of powder long before

la Dalles City.
[at] La Dalles City.

Siwash tyee Way-sike-nee-kum skookum
The [John Day/Rock Creek] Indian chief Way-sike-nee-kum was 

tumtum mitlite chikem
proud, [and] had metal [lead?],

Klonas kleminiwhit ocoke man, klonas cul-
Maybe he was liar, that man, maybe a 

tus wawa kankan.
blustering kankan.

Nika snowhoose wake nanich Snake, klonas
My snowhoose didn’t see the Snakes, maybe 

memoloose, klonas wake;
they were dead, maybe not; 

Paulina sullux mamook poo Memaloose
[Snake Chief] Paulina [paláyna], hostile, shot [and] killed 

Whitley, Watson, too.
Whitley, Watson too, 

Hi-you soldier Oahut hyack mamook teouit,
Many soldiers [on] the trail quickly ran, 

Hi-you soldier mamook poo hi-you pil pil
Many soldiers shot, lots of blood

     Chaco too,
    came too, 

Oleaman nika o’coke sun halo masasce sul-
I [who] am an old man today, no dangerous an- 

lux gun,
gry guns, 

Lalie mitlite Onwawie, klose nesika illahee.
long lived [at] Onwawie, good land of ours. 

Now, this verse is of — pardon me — the usual quality for the genre. (There was a genre of Chinook poesy, among sentimental pioneer families.)
But remarkably for Jargon poetry, this one rhymes. To achieve that unusual effect in a language whose small vocabulary makes it hard, the author had to enlist a number of names and unusual words.
So we have some puzzles here:
  • Is chikem supposed to be chikemin ‘metal’?
  • What is kankan? Compare perhaps Ichishkíin/Yakama Sahaptin kánkan ‘grey squirrel’.
  • What is snowhoose? 
  • Are both of these words from a local language but integrated into local Jargon?
  • Did people use the English word too in Jargon in the 1860s, or 1900s?
  • Is the frequent non-use of prepositions a stylistic/metrical choice, or is it meant to reflect the relatively high employment of this known strategy in the environment portrayed in the poem?
Your thoughts?