My Kwakwaka’wakw guide “Butt”
I’m filing this under “fictional Chinuk Wawa”: the Jargon as used in annoying and phony ways.
Or are we supposed to believe someone’s guide was named “Ass”?
Some years later, while my crew of Kwakiutls were paddling me along the outer beaches of Vancouver Island, O’Poots, my personal guide, sprang up in the long war canoe, crying, “Hy’as Pus-pus” (panther, in the Chinook jargon, a mixture of French, Spanish, Russian, English and Coast Indian tongues.) Off bounded a long, lithe, yellow beast, and the crew ran the canoe ashore…
— Forest and Outdoors, 1933, page 297
It’s easy to spot where this writer got his Jargon words. Frederick J. Long’s 1909 dictionary has
oʹ-poots “tail of animal; the posterior” and
hyʹas pusʹ-pus “panther”.
You see? Same spellings, same definitions.
I have known Native folks from the adjacent region region of Vancouver Island and the mainland who, as kids, had been given nicknames by elders involving (among other elements) their language’s suffix for “butt”. But I have a hard time believing a grown Kwakwaka‘wakw man would let everyone, incluing a White client, call him “Butt”.
What do you think?