Edwin Eells speech to fellow pioneers

edwin eells 2

Edwin Eells (image credit: WashingtonHistory.org)

On his election to the Vice-Presidency of the Washington Pioneers Association in 1905, oldtimer and former Indian agent Edwin Eells, who was introduced as about to speak in “both his native tongues — English and Chinook” (page 52), declared himself so moved that he had to put his nostalgic feelings into Chinook Jargon.

I’ll reproduce this interesting reading passage here.

The one feature that makes me scratch my head in puzzlement is the recurring confusion between mesika ‘you folks, your’ and nesika ‘us, we, our’. I suppose this is due to the published version having been copied from a handwritten one, an issue that we confront all the time in working with old Chinuk Wawa documents. I’ve silently corrected a number of these seeming slips.

On occasions of this kind, when my feelings press upon me to say so much, I find it difficult to say all I wish to when compelled to use the King’s English. Having been for thirty years intimately associated with the Indians, and constantly accustomed to use their language, it is a relief to me to use the lingo that is to me so familiar. If you will bear with me, I will use a little of it in closing.

[DDR note — the English translation in quotation marks here is taken from a footnote to Eells’s speech:]

Nika Tillikums: Nika delate closh tumtum nika nanitch mesika okoke sun.
náyka tílixam-s: náyka dlét łúsh-tə́mtəm náyka nánich msáyka úkuk sán.
my friend-s: I really good-heart I see you.folks this day. 
‘My Friends: I am very happy to see you here today.’

Nika delate closh tumtum nika mitlite copa mesika. Mesika lolo nika copa
náyka dlét łúsh-tə́mtəm náyka míłayt kʰapa msáyka. msáyka lúlu náyka kʰapa
I really good-heart I be.located at you.folks. you.folks bring me to
‘I am glad to be with you. You took me’

saghlie kah mesika potlatch delate closh muckamuck, hiu muckamuck. Mesika
sáx̣ali qʰá msáyka pátlach dlét łúsh mə́kʰmək, háyú mə́kʰmək. msáyka
above where you.folks give really good food, much food. you.folks  
upstairs where there was plenty of very good food — a great deal of it. You’

mamook nika delate pahtl copa hiu closh muckamuck. Nika mahsie mesika
mámuk náyka pʰáł kʰapa háyú łúsh mə́kʰmək. náyka mási msáyka
make me full with much good food. I thank you.folks
filled me full of the good food. Thank you’

copa okoke. Pe alki nesika conoway chaco yahkwa. Nesika conoway wawa
kʰapa úkuk. pi áłqi nsáyka kʰánawi cháku yakwá. nsáyka kʰánawi wáwa
for that. and later we all come here. we all talk
for that. Then we all came down here. We have all had a good talk’

conamox, closh wawa, pe mesika mamook skookum tumtum copa closh.
kʰanumákwst, łúsh wáwa, pi nsáyka mamuk-skúkum tə́mtəm kʰapa łúsh.
together, good talk, and we make strong heart for good.
‘together and feel very good.

Nesika cumtux conoway icta mesika mamook ankuttie. Okoke lala mesika
nsáyka kə́mtəks kánawi-íkta nsáyka mámuk ánqati. úkuk líli nsáyka
we remember all-thing we do previously. that long.time we
‘We all remember the old times we had together. We were then’

conoway klahowyum, wake hiu chickamin, wake hiu ictas. Okoke lala nesika
kánawi łax̣áwyam, wík háyú chíkʰəmin, wík háyú íkta-s. úkuk líli nsáyka
all poor, not much money, not much thing-s. that long.time we
‘all poor, with very little money and not many things. We’

conoway mamook pe potlatch conamox. Spose mesika mamook house, klawata
kánawi mámuk pi pátlach kʰanumákwst. spus msáyka mámuk háws, łátwa
all work and give together. if you.folks build house, go
‘all helped each other then. If any one wanted to build a house or go anywhere’

copa canim, copa conaway icta mamook, mesika help tillikum. Cultus spose
kápa kəním, kʰapa kánawi-íkta mámuk, msáyka hélp tílixam. kʰə́ltəs spus
by canoe, for all-kind work, you.folks help people. no.matter if
‘in a canoe, or do anything else, you always helped those who needed it. If’

kopet clams pe wapatoes nesika muckamuck nesika mamook sitkum [Ø] copa
kəpit klám-s pi wáptu-s nsáyka mə́kʰmək[,] nsáyka mamuk-sítkum [Ø] kʰapa
only clam-s and potato-es we eat, we make-half them with
‘we had only clams and potatoes to eat we divided with’

klayhowyum tillikums. Hias closh lala ahnkuttie. Mesika chaco old alta.
łax̣áwyam tílixam-s. hayas-łúsh líli ánqati. nsáyka chaku-úl álta.
poor person-s. very-good long.time previously. we become-old now.
‘the poor ones. We were all kind to each other in those long ago times. We are all older now.’

Conoway icta wake kahkwa ahnkuttie. Conoway icta delate huloima. Wake lala
kánawi-íkta wík kákwa ánqati. kánawi-íkta dlét x̣lúyma. wík-líli
all-thing not as previously. all-thing really different. not-long.time
‘Things are not as they used to be. Everything is very different. It will not be very long when’

mesika chaco halo, kahkwa nika delate closh tumtum nika nanitch mesika
nsáyka chaku-hílu, kákwa náyka dlét łúsh-tə́mtəm náyka nánich msáyka
we become-nothing, so I really good-heart I see you.folks
‘we shall all pass away, so I am very glad to see you’

okoke sun, copa okoke nesika closh house. Mr. [John J.] McGilvra delate closh
úkuk sán, kʰapa úkuk nsáyka łúsh háws. Mr. McGilvra dlét łúsh
this day, in this our good house. Mr. McGilvra really good
‘here today in our own home. Mr. McGilvra [a benefactor of the Society] was a good’

man. Miss [Sarah Loretta] Denny delate closh clootchman. Klaska mamook
mán. Miss Denny dlét łúsh łúchmən. łáska mámuk
man. Miss Denny really good woman. They make
‘man. Miss Denny [whose bequest had just brought $20,000 to the Pioneer Society] was a good woman. They have made’

closh conoway nesika tumtum okoke sun. Nesika mahsie klaska. Spose wake
łúsh kánawi nsáyka tə́mtəm úkuk sán. nsáyka mási łáska. spus wík
good all our heart this day. we thank them. if not
‘us all happy today. We thank them. If before’

hias lala nesika memaloos closh nesika conoway klatawa copa saghlie kah
hayas-líli nsáyka mímlus łúsh nsáyka kánawi łátwa kʰapa sáx̣ali qʰá
very-long.time we die good we all go to above where
‘very long we shall die it will be very good if we all go to the land where’

conoway closh tillikum mitlite alta. Closh kahkwa.
kánawi łúsh tílixam míłayt álta. łúsh kákwa.
all good people be.located now. good so. 
so many of our friends have gone. Goodbye.’

— pages 53-54 of Transactions of the Washington Pioneer Association for the years 1905 to 1910 : with sketch of the organization in 1883, reorganization in 1895, and bylaws now in force (Thomas W. Prosch, compiler; published by Lowman & Hanford [Seattle, WA], no date).

By the way, earlier in this book (page 21) is an anecdote of Mrs. McGilvra giving some local Native people a piece of her mind in Chinook, resulting in their later telling her husband that she must be “hyas potlum (very drunk)”!