Southwest Oregon names & Chinuk Wawa, 1826-1856


(Image credit: ORWW)

Chinuk Wawa and people’s names…

The Oregon Websites & Watersheds Project Inc. has tabulated known named Native American residents of southwest Oregon in the early frontier era.

Chinook Jargon makes quite a mark in the data set.

In a direct way, it’s seen in the names that include Tyee ‘chief’, Cultus ‘no-good’, Couchon ‘pig’, Salt Chuck ‘sea(coast)’etc.

Indirectly, Jargon is implied by the many French names that are present if you can spot them in the quasi-phonetic spellings — names such as Sansossee ‘Sans Souci’ (‘carefree’), Lapan ‘Lapin’ (‘rabbit’), Lapasant (?), Louis, Mauple (?), Machan ‘Marchand’ (‘merchant’), Quenel, Siblian ‘Cyprian’ (I’m guessing; that was a frequent given name in the Kamloops Chinuk Wawa world), plus French & French Prairie. This set of names indicates a significant Canadian-Native Métis presence in SW Oregon early in the contact period, overtly connected with the French Prairie settler population that became an important part of the Grand Ronde reservation community.

Many of the Native tribes of Southwest Oregon also wound up relocated to the Grand Ronde reservation. So here we have a tidy demonstration that one reason Chinuk Wawa became such an important community language at GR was that so many people had exposure to it well beforehand.

You may find other relevant names when you look at the list. Let me know!