Address to Pioneers Delivered in Chinook

address to pioneers

Here’s a nice longish text from a someone who lived through Washington State’s pioneer times, to his peers. Including a joke. 

The unique spellings, if they’re his and not a reporter’s, suggest a genuine firsthand knowledge of Chinuk Wawa drawn from this man’s mind, as opposed to something cobbled together with the help of a book. This is typical of early settler speakers.

Likewise, if the English translation was provided by the speaker, which I suspect is the case, it’s mighty revealing of how White settlers thought about the way the Jargon works.

In case you don’t figure out who “Charley Loss” was, that would be an “Indian” — specifically a Chinook Jargon — pronunciation of the speaker’s name. There’s a nugget of Jargon humor here based on that. (“Lost” was indeed a word of the Jargon, I have repeatedly found. And giving birth is “tlap tenas”, literally ‘finding’ or ‘catching a child’.)

A complete analysis of this text will wait until I receive funding to put out my book of “Collected Chinuk Wawa Texts”.


Translation of the Indian Jargon into En­
glish by Chas. H. Ross, the Pioneer
Orator at the Annual Reunion.

At the recent annual reunion of the Washington Pioneer Asso­ciation, near Tacoma, Charles H. Ross of Puyallup made the fol­lowing address of welcome in Chinook, to which Allen Weir, secretary of the Thurston Coun­ty Pioneers’ association, replied in the same language:

Kla-How-Yah, Kla-How-Yah Tilacum Kla-How-Yah, ankuty tilacum, Nika tum-tum chocohias skookum spos nika nanitch mesika klosh anuty tilacum choco yawa okuk sun, Delat klosh mila choco kokwa onaway kah okuk sun. Mika choco mika tika mamok klosh tum tum pe hi yu hehe pe iskum hi yu muka muck, hi yu salman, hi yu kula kuly, hiyu ollale pe, pe sugar, pe coffee, pe konoway klosh iktas.

Klosh mika choco konaway warm. Ok-ok sun nika tum tum kela pie kopa ankuty sun. Nika nanitch konaway ita haloamay alta. Ankuty sun tilacum kon­away choco kopa yakwa ilahe konamox chic-chic pe moosemoose konamox kuitan. Ankuty tilacum klatawa copa chuck conamox kanim. Alta nasika klatawah kopa cars, copa steamboat, pe yaka klatawah sahaley Kowka kulykuly.

Yaka tilacum wa wa Charley Loss lost, wake delate wawa, Charley Loss mama clap yaka kopa Blue Mountains wake siah Walla Walla, Pos yaka chechaco kopa okkok ilahee 1851. Yaka mama mitlite pe yaka wawa de­late pus mika tike.

Okuk ilahee ankity yaka Siwash name Sheballop alta yaka name Tacoma.

Ankuty 1865 nika tenas man, nika momik conamox John Meeker pe Ezra Meeker pe momok sem Tacoma ilahee.

Pe hiyu stick, hiyu mowitch, hiyu itch foot, halo klosh ilahee; kopet ick tenas skookum house copa Tacoma Job Car mamook yawka, nesika mitlite copa okuk house, nika mosum kequila kopa konoway ikta, klosh nika kapet, hi yu tilacums wa wa kimpta nika. Ik tilacum yaka nam Allan Weir wa wa kimpta nika okuk sun. Ankuty nika kletawah school conamox yaka delate skookum lapush pe yaka lawyer, pe wawkya sem paper ankuty yaka tolo nika kopa konaway ickta che yaka wa wa, klosh mi­ka potlatch lema pe ma klosh wa wa pe mama klosh tum tum.

Nika kopet.


The address follows in English: 

Howdy! How are you, friends — how are you, pioneer friends? My heart swells within me as I look upon you who have met here today. You have come to renew your friendships, have lots of fun, get plenty to eat; plenty of fish, chicken, fruit, sugar and coffee, and other good things. It is good to meet like this every year. 

Today my mind goes back to early days. I note the changes that have taken place. The early settlers came here with ox and horse teams; they traveled over the waters in canoes, while today we ride in cars, on steamboats and fly in the air like birds. 

They say that Charley Ross is lost, which is not true; his mother found him in a wagon in the Blue Mountains, when she first came to this country in 1851. She is here and she can speak the truth for herself. 

This place, where we are now, was called Sheballop by the Indians; now it is called  Tacoma. A long time ago, in 1865, when a boy, I helped John Meeker and Ezra Meeker survey Tacoma. It was then covered with timber; no cleared land could be found. Here, bear and deer roamed at ill. Only one small log house, built by Job Carr. Here we lived. I slept on the floor with only one blanket under me. I would like to speak to you about many things, but it is time for me to quit, as there are many others to follow. An old friend, Allen Weir, will follow me. I used to go to school with him. He was gifted in speech, a good writer and a splendid fellow. Shake hands, extend greetings, renew friendships. Come back next summer. I close.


“The reason why so many of the early pioneers took that long journey, fraught with so many dangers, in the early days was to avoid the treacherous climate of Illinois and Indiana, which in those days were veritable hotbeds of ague and fever,” said George H. Himes, secretary of the Oregon Historical Association. “Of course, the offer of the land donations was an in­ducement to many, but I am of the opinion that the greatest force that drew people to the Pacific Coast in the early days was the desire to escape from the fever-ridden swamps of the Middle West and to escape the unhealthful climate of the Middle West and to enjoy the balmy breezes of the Pacific.”

Owing to the rain, the pioneers after dinner went to the pavil­ion, where addresses were given by the leading pioneers and the guests of the visiting associa­tions.

Informal speeches were made by John W. Baker of Oregon, President Schaser of the Thurs­ton County Pioneer’s association, President Carkeek of the Washington State Pioneers’ association and Mrs. Agnes Woolery Laman. Mrs. W. F. Corwin of Puyallup and P. C. Hubbell of Tacoma sang solos, while the whole party joined in the sing­ing of a chorus in Chinook and in “ Auld Lang Syne. ”

Mrs. Addie Barlow was chair­man of the program committee and had charge of the arrange­ments.

— Cottage Grove (OR) Leader of July 29, 1913, page 2, columns 2 and 3