Keel-A-Pie, the Chinuk Wawa operetta (third page)

port townsend theatre

(Image credit: Quimper Village)

As we “keel-a-pie” (return) to the story: in today’s installment, we learn more of the scene-setting details…

…and we realize that this operetta is looking like a crazy pop-culture burlesque of Native life!

On the one hand, that’s disrespectful, and on the other, it’s oddly harmonious with Chinook Jargon’s proletarian nature. Hmm.

I’m now trying to shake off some mental associations with late-1990’s TV show “South Park”.

On we go.

(back to first page)

(back to second page)

[…] strands of shells, hopping, gliding, whirling and flapping their wings in graceful movements. 

When the sitters are tired of the dance, more pounding on the sounding board stops it.

Next Moses sings a love song — 

I love a pretty girl, a sweet little darling; 
Every tooth is a pearl; she sings like a starling. 
In all the road land no other is so fair, 
Squeezing her soft hand thrills me and she don’t care. 
She is mine by right; all rivals I defy, 
For her I would fight, and for her I would die. 

Her face is pink and her eyes are lue, 
La la lally, loo-ly loo. 
Her hair is glossy and bright, 
Shining in golden sun-light; 
Her kisses are delicious as honey due.
La la lally loo-ly lou. 
She is a precious jewel, and she’s for me, 
La la lally, loo-ly lee.

Enter Mihmy, wearing a short yellow skirt, bead dress of colored feathers and moccasins, with no stockings. Dances an enchanting fairy dance, while the five conspirators are spying upon her. 

(End of the first scene).


Interior of a wigwam. Mihmy seated and busy making bead embroidery. 

Enter Lem-e-eye (Speaking to Mihmy in a rasping voice): “Look here, child, you better look out: one of those impudent fellows will be trying to squeeze your soft hand.”

Mihmy (Answering with animation): “He did squeeze my hand, and I didn’t care.”

Lem-e-eye: “No more of that. It is time for you to know that you are orphan, and you are to have a husband. He will be the one who will give the most in presents to your relatives: it won’t be Moses, he has no property.

Mihmy, (sobbing): “I love Moses.”

Lem-e-eye: “Bally ba hash! Tell that to your husband, and he will eat the love nonsense out of you.” (Exit Lem-e-eye.

Mihmy’s lamentation — 

I am an orphan without friends. 
The sweetness of love that for joy God sends 
Turns to bitterness and deep sorrow. 
I am a slave to be sold, perhaps tomorrow. 
To be beaten and scoffed 
For the squeezing of my hand that is soft. 
I love Moses, he would gladly cheer me. 
Cruel mother to bear me, 
And leave me […] 

My parting comment today, since there’s no Chinook Jargon to comment on in this page:

I suppose author Hanford’s setting of this operetta in Klallam country — despite his use of Seattle-area Lushootseed language in it — has everything to do with its being staged in the former place.

Port Townsend had a nice theatre, and you go where you’re able to perform!