Hyiu Siwash kopa Chahko Mika

Chahko Mika Celebration

Description: Entrance of Chahko Mika midway grounds at the end of Vernon Street || Date of Creation: [July 1914] || Location: Nelson, BC || Creator: || Part of Collection: Notre Dame University Collection || Negative Number: || Physical Description: 1 Photograph: Acetate negative, Copy, 9.3×12.2cm

This Chinook Jargon letter from Greenwood, BC, is not only a neat new example of the post-frontier, English-language-influenced, genre of writing in the language–

–it also gets us closer to the origins of the later place name “Chahko Mika Mall” in Nelson, BC.  The source is a yearly local celebration named Chahko Mika (literally, “come on, you”) that’s mentioned here.  The earliest mentions of it that I’ve found in books are from the same year as this article, and the earliest newspaper mention is from March of that year explaining “the nature of the Chahko Mika carnival“, which all imply that the following letter expresses community members’ excitement about a new source of fun.

Hyiu Siwash
     Kopa Chahko Mika
Greenwood old-timers and chee-
chakos are planning to come to
Nelson in large numbers during
Chahko Mika week next July. In
the following letter in the Chinook
language W. C. Wilson, an old-
timer in the west, tells about the
proposed excursion,
     “Hyiu siwash kopa Greenwood
kumtuks siwash kopa Nelson pot-
latch hyiu chickamin kopa Chahko
Mika kopa mamook-poh kalakula
pee mamook-poh calipeen. Spose
siwash kopa Nelson delate wau
wau kopa hyiu heehee kopa Chahko
Mika hyiu siwash pee hyiu klootch-
man klatawa kopa C.P.R. chick-
chick inati Colnmbia chuck kopa
Nelson iskum hyiu heehee. Kel-
apie kopa Greenwood pee wauwau
siwash kopa Nelson hyius kookum [SIC]
tillikum.
     Siah Tillikum.
Literally interpreted the letter
reads:

“Many men in Greenwood
understand men in Nelson will
give much money at Chahko Mika
for shooting birds and shooting
rifle. If men in Nelson true talk
about big fun at Chahko Mika
many men and many women will
go by C.P.E. wagon across Colum-
bia water to Nelson to get big fun.
Then return to Greenwood and say
men in Nelson very big friends.
(Signed) Faraway Friend.”—Nelson News.

— The Nelson (BC) Ledge, March 26, 1914, page 4, column 2

This text is a further testament that many English-speaking white people considered siwash (literally “Indigenous person”) to be a word for “man”, and used it jocularly if insensitively.

The above letter is certainly white-to-white communication, a badge of old-timer identity as we’ve often seen from the later- and post-frontier times.  One of Chinook Jargon’s important uses: the secret language of an old boys’ club…

Quite the document.

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