Nika illahee, nika illahee!


Here’s an Oregon Country frontier-fiction piece from post-frontier Seattle, a time and place that allowed an author to use extensive Chinook Jargon.

I like that.

I also like how the character Muriel at one point exclaims “Good land!” like my grandma who was born about the same time in the Northwest.

Most of the Jargon is translated into English by the author.  Some is augmented with pidgin English, as we so often find in both fact and fancy.

The opening words — Nika illahee, nika illahee!  Cultus iskum! — mean “My land, my land!  Took (it) for no reason!”

Hyas skookum klootchman means “A perfectly fine woman”.

Potlatch? is “Giving (it)?”

Klatawah is “go”.

As for the rest, you’ll get it.  Enjoy.

— Kelsay, Laurel.  In Oregon.  The Coast: Wilhelm’s Magazine, volume XII number 5 (November 1906), pages 218-222.

(Wilhelm is Honor L. Wilhelm.  The Coast was an ambitious Seattle monthly magazine.  Laurel Kelsay, maybe one of the Spray/Service Creek (Oregon) Kelsays, was a somewhat prolific regional writer.)