More of Fred Mock’s mock Jargon

Yesterday I wrote a little about Fred G. Mock and his fictional Chinuk Wawa, which is about all the documentation of the language that you’ll find for Idaho south of the border-straddling Kootenai Indian territory.

Here’s more about that.

From Annie Laurie Bird’s article “The Origin of the Name Nampa” (Idaho State Historical Society Reference Series):

In his “A Romance of the Sawtooth,” published in 1917, Mock had made extensive use of the Chinook jargon, even translating, by use of a Chinook dictionary, the Lord’s Prayer. He again turned to that dictionary and messages in Chinook, with translations “for the palefaces,” began to appear in a local paper. The great War Chief [Nampa/Big Foot] would attend the Harvest Festival…

Such a fanciful tale caught the imagination of most people who believed from then until the present time that the town had been named actually after an Indian chieftain, War Chief Big Foot Nampa, not from a Shoshoni word meaning “footprints.” Yet Mr. Mock was historian enough to preserve…Mr. [Fred W.] Wilson’s [1919] letter and his correspondence in English and Chinook concerning it…This material is now a part of my file on “Nampa.”

I have this to add as comment:

“A Romance of the Sawtooth” does not make very extensive use of Chinuk Wawa that I notice. The language makes rather token appearances on about a half-dozen pages.

Mock didn’t use JK Gill’s dictionary to translate the Lord’s Prayer into Jargon; as he admits in his comments to the novel, he copied that prayer from Gill.

It would be interesting to get hold of Mock’s/Mr. Wilson’s correspondence in Chinook Jargon to fill out our files on fictional Chinook. An inquiry to the Idaho State Historical Society about the Annie Laurie Bird Papers is in order.

And I’ve not yet succeeded in using the Library of Congress website to track down the “local paper” that’s said to have run Chinuk Wawa messages from the make-believe Chief Nampa. (That character’s real namesake had died circa 1868.) Another desideratum. Want to try it yourself? I did find this ad, in the Caldwell (ID) Tribune of September 12, 1919, page 11:

chief nampah

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