The Siwash Had His Views


Again with the late-frontier era tilt towards English in people’s Chinook Jargon. This time we’re taken to far northwestern British Columbia’s Taku River district.

I’ll add clarifications and translations in brackets:

The Siwash Had His Views.

     When ex-Governor Hon. T. R. Mc-
lnnes paid bis visit to Atlin in the days
of his tenancy of government house, as
all visitors to Atlin do, he fell in with a
well built and extremely useful Indian
who at that time enjoyed a monopoly of
tho baggage handling for transient
visitors to the camp. Since his retire-
ment from the gubernatorial chair, Hon.
Mr. Mclnnes has again visited Atlin -—
and naturally he saw Big Tom [Bear Lake Tom?] again.
     "I guess you don't remember me,"
said the doctor in a patronizing tone -—
     "I was through here a year or two
     The Siwash [Indian] surveyed the portly form,
taking it in slowly from toe to hat.
Then he leisurely expectorated a large
quad of chewing tobacco.
     "Nawitka [true]," he observed. ["]Mika [I (sic)]
kumtuk mika [know you].   Mika illehie Victoria [your home is Victoria]."
     "Mox winters gone [two years ago]," and he waved
an arm majestically -— "mox winters [two years]
gone, mika hyas tyee G-o-v-e-r-n-o-r [ago, you were the great GOVERNOR]
Mclnnes. Now," and there was su-
preme indifference, verging toward con-
tempt, in the tone —- "Now mika just [Now you're just]

The Lillooet (BC) Prospector (Friday, October 26, 1900) page 2, column 2

The confusion of mika “you (singular)” for an expected *nika “I” is typical of English-language sources at the time.  It probably has as much to do with the issue of reading handwritten original “copy” as with typesetting errors or anglophone ignorance of Chinook Jargon.

A side note — the expression, a “quad” of tobacco, is new to me.  Not a common one; Google leads me to think it’s more British than North American.