“He yearns”

And you think people are mean to presidents nowadays…!

File these clippings in the same folder with all the other links between frontier luminaries such as General/President U.S. Grant and Chinuk Wawa.

Some of those wax sentimental about the many leading figures of the recent Civil War who had previously served on the Pacific Coast.

But brace yourself for some vitriol from these Oregon rebel-lovers.

This paper gleefully perpetuates not only the rumors of Grant as a hopeless alcoholic, but also takes every other opportunity it can think of to drag his character in the Oregon mud. Even the nickname “U-lie” gives the sense of a smear — “you lie”.

They paint him as a race mixer to be looked down on for supposedly consorting with stinky Native people (“sweet-smelling” here was a conventional bit of racialized sarcasm in that era), and indulging in those people’s most alien foods (crickets and camas).

They conscript some rather meagre Chinuk Wawa in the cause, knowing that Grant would understand it if he read this column.

As far as it goes, I thank ’em for that! The way this newspaper uses the phrase Hiyu muck-a-muck ‘plenty of food’ as a mockingly enthusiastic interjection looks like valuable evidence that Chinook Jargon is indeed a source of the slangy English “high mucky-muck”. And hyas klose ‘very good’ is a conventionalized expression loaned into regional English; even those who didn’t speak Jargon knew it. 

For good measure, these folks also casually use the urban legend I recently pointed out, of Native people having a penchant for eating vermin off of other folks.

he yearns

HE YEARNS. — The Unionist says that Gen. Grant’s “heart still yearns to return to the scenes and associations which he had so much enjoyed” while on the Pacific Coast. No oubt the General would like to get away off here just to take one more good, old-fashioned “Square drunk” among his early associates and dearest companions — siwashes and squaws — without being watched by his keepers and kept in “stocks” by the straight [sic]-jacket whited-sepulchres of his party. How sweet to once more wander through the verdant valleys and along the margin of the beautiful Willamette or stately Columbia, leaning in love and confidence upon the arm of his beauteous and sweet-scented forest maiden, eating his cricket pie and chawin’ his camas root. (Hiyu muck-a-muck!) Wouldn’t he think it was hyas klose to again revel in the sunshine of her sweet smile, while she “went for” the vermin in his head and the whisky in his jug? Keep yearning, General; yearn yet a little while longer — but a few months — and you will be kicked aside by those who will no longer have use for you, and then your longings may be satisfied; then you can fly to your first love who is still pensively waiting and hoping for your coming — live in her smiles, and completely saturate yourself with whisky. Come on, U-lie:

And cheer up, dusky maiden,
     “Dive” for another flea;
Your Ulie will soon be home again —
     His heart is yearning for thee.

— from the Albany (OR) State Rights Democrat of June 27, 1868, page 2, column 4

More US Grant bashing, trading in the same stock phrases but with less doggerel, came soon afterward:

he yearns 2

Mrs. Gen. Grant, in consequence of U.S’s. reticence, has a glorious chance at home to talk. — S.F. Chronicle.

Which Mrs. Gen. Grant? The one on the reservation at Grande Ronde, or the one at Siletz Agency, or the one at Vancouver? We understand that they think he is “cultus Boston man,” [‘a worthless American/white man’] since he has got to be “hyas tyee[‘great chief; president’] and neglects to send them any more camas root, cricket pie, or other “muckamuck.”

— from the same paper, September 12, 1868, page 2, column 1

Has American journalism advanced since 1868?  (I wish we still saw Chinuk Wawa in the newspaper…)

What do you think?

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