Hanging of the Chilicat Indian for the murder of T.J. Brown

I’m not going to reproduce this entire gruesome article, just the Chinuk Wawa-related sections.

A Lingít (Tlingit) man from southeast Alaska was executed in Oregon as punishment for a conviction of murder.

Everything about that setting implies Chinook Jargon’s presence, and the coup de grace was the active participation of fluent Jargon speaker Rev. William Carson Chattin (1834-1894).

w.c. chattin portrait

(Image credit: “Glimpses in Pioneer Life on Puget Sound“, page 101

Chattin, who had been schoolteacher at Skokomish Indian Reservation on Puget Sound in the mid-1860’s, is of high interest to us Jargon students for his supplying Portland publisher J.K. Gill with large numbers of additional words for Gill’s long-in-print dictionary. Many of those words turn out to be come from Lower Chehalis Salish, the language that I have been documenting in this website as a previously underacknowledged major source of the Jargon.

There’s virtually no overt presence of the Jargon here, other than the word clootchman ‘[Native] woman’ in the sub-headline.

But it’s made clear that Chattin and Kat-koo-at were communicating well in Chinuk Wawa. This helps us establish that Chattin, about whom we know relatively little, was indeed the respected Jargon expert he has been claimed to be.

hanging of the chilicat HEADLINE

HANGING OF THE CHILICAT INDIAN FOR THE MURDER OF T.J. BROWN.

SAYS THAT THE CLOOTCHMAN ANNA AND OKH-KHO-NOT ARE EQUALLY GUILTY — BODY DELIVERED TO THE MEDICAL COLLEGE FOR DISSECTION.

hanging of the chilicat excerpt 1

…In company with the officers, Rev. Mr. Chattin entered the cell of the doomed Indian at 12:45 and said (speaking the Chinook tongue), “Kat-koo-at, you are near your death.” He answered, “Yes.” Mr. Chattin continued, “You know it is a bad thing to die. Now tell me, were Annie and Och-kho-not equally guilty?” To which he responded “yes.” The question was asked Kat-koo-at whether his people would be angry with the whites for his execution, and whether they would take revenge for it. Kat-koo-at answered “no.”

hanging of the chilicat excerpt 2

…At 12:58, after the noose had been adjusted, Mr. Chattin advanced, and offered the following prayer in the Chinook tongue:

“Oh, God! Thou art the Father of us all. Look in pity on this poor Indian, who is about to die. Although he had been a wicked man, he has renounced his sins and prays forgiveness.”

The “Amen,” the click of the trigger, and a thud were then heard almost simultaneously.

— from the Corvallis (OR) Gazette, May 09, 1879, Page 2, columns 6 and 7

That’s a prayer we haven’t previously found among the many known in Chinuk Wawa.

What do you think? Can you imagine how these things were worded in Jargon?

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