Sentenced in Jargon. Grand Ronde Jargon?
The latest installment in our ongoing coverage of Chinuk Wawa in the justice systems of the Pacific Northwest…
The reporting here makes it sound kind of like this late-frontier Eastern Oregon judge chose to address the defendants in Jargon as much “for show” as to accommodate their communicative needs:
Sentenced in Jargon.
The four Indians convicted of manslaughter in the U. S. circuit court for the killing of Mulherrin in Umatilla county, were brought into that court yesterday morning to receive sentence. The court in passing sentence recounted the circumstances of the killing, as adduced by the evidence, by which it was shown that the victim had been the aggressor; but, inasmuch as the killing was unusually atrocious and brutal, the judge felt called upon to impose a sentence of proportional severity. Each of the dusky savages were sentenced to serve a term of ten years in the State penitentiary. Judge [Matthew] Deady [1824-1893], who, it seems, like many other old Oregonians, is thoroughly familiar with the Chinook jargon, communicated his sentence to the brutal savages in a language they could thoroughly comprehend, but they took it all with that sullen silence peculiar to savage barbarians such as they. — Standard.
— from the Eugene (OR) Eugene City Guard of June 2, 1883, page 1, column 5
Deady, who had also been president of the committee drafting Oregon’s territorial constitution, is said to have become “proficient” in Chinuk Wawa by waiting on Willamette Valley Indian customers at a store in Yamhill County in 1850.
So, despite any reportorial slant, I infer that here was a speaker of decent early- or pre- Grand Ronde Jargon (likely comparable with what Louis LaBonté Jr. spoke), putting that knowledge to good use, knowing that this was a highly effective language for communicating with Oregon Native people.