Siwash pilgrims

Mighty patronizing, but I think revenge gets had, and there’s some good data here.

A Portland reporter approaches a Native couple visiting from coastal British Columbia, probably Stó:lõ Salish country on the lower Frasier.

Talking Chinuk Wawa with them, he (it’s a near certainty this was a male, in 1896) treats the two as if they were fools.

I’m pretty sure these two elders have some fun with him as payback — making this an addition to our trove of humor in the Jargon.

There’s also a neat recurring structure in the BC Chinook of this pair, expressing that you visit someone pe [‘and’] their location. I’ll be looking for corroboration of this possible BC dialect expression as I continue my research…

Siwash pilgrims


A venerable Siwash and his Klutchman Visit the Big “Tumwater.”

Nika ticka nanitch nika tillacum pe Olegon City. Ankuti yaka cbocko copa nika illahee pe Flazier riber,” [náyka tíki nánich nayka tílixam pi Oregon City. ánqati yáka cháku kʰapa nayka ílihi pi Flazier riber, ‘I intend to visit my friend at Oregon City. Some time ago he came to my place on the Fraser River’] answered an old siwash [sáwásh ‘Indian’], sitting on the Morrison Street bridge, yesterday, in response to an inquiry as to whither he was bound. The Indian was accompanied by his aged squaw, who delivered herself of an exuberant giggle at the old man’s speech, probably at the idea of being able to say she had journeyed clear from the Fraaer river, in British Columbia, to repay a visit made undoubtedly 10 years ago.

They were both typical representatives of the tribes inhabiting the British Columbia count, and stretcblng north into the islands of the Alexander Archipelago. The old man wore the cotton shirt, overalls and moccasins of the coast Indian, around his shoulders being thrown the invariable red blanket. The woman was attired in a highly figured calico gown, her head being covered with a red bandana handkerchief. Instead of moccasins her feet were incased in the copper-riveted shoes so dear to the heart of a klutchman [ɬúchmən ‘(Indian) woman’]. Between the two rested a red, flower-painted brass nail-studded box, hardly to he named a trunk, which likely contained their entire worldly possessions, barring the canoe and cabin they had left on the shore of the turbid Frasier.

“How long have you been in getting here?” was asked.

Mox tatlum sun [mákwst-táɬlam sán ‘two-ten day’],” responded the siwash, his wrinkled face expanding into a smile, as though a 20-day trip through an entirely strange country was but one of other pleasant experiences in his life,

“And are you certain of finding your friend in Oregon City?” queried the reporter, the conversation being held in the Chinook jargon.

“I don’t know,” replied the Indian. “He and his squaw stopped with us some ten years ago and they asked us to come and see them on the river by the big ‘Tumwater [təmwáta ‘waterfall, rapids].’ “

“But the ‘tumwater‘ is in the Columbia river, near The Dalles.”

“Yes, but that is not the ‘falling tumwater;'” and his squaw spoke of “the big city below on the river.”

Nawitka [‘indeed’],” broke in the withered old klutchman, as though proud of being able to add to the information, “yaka wawa nika kawkwa [yáka wáwa náyka kákwa ‘she told me so’],” and she giggled again at the thought of the description given her by the Oregon City of the Willamette klutcbman passed through her mind.

“Suppose, however, your friend had moved to some other country at some time during all these years?”

“Oh, well, I suppose we’ll go home again. We’re waiting for the steamboat to come in now and —.”

At that moment a little girl dropped a bag of peaches from the window of a swiftly moving electric car, passing on the bridge, and the conversation was ended, both squaw and buck making a dive into the middle of the bridge to recover the bruised and dusty fruit rolling about. — Portland Telegram.

Oregon City Enterprise of August 7, 1896, page 7, column 3