“Skinny”, “Boston dance”, and Rev. “Chatten” again

Depot Charlie

Siletz leader Depoe or Depot Charlie or Charley (image credit: City of Depoe Bay)

“From Siletz and Yaquina” is the header on a mid-to-late frontier-era letter to the editor telling of a pleasure trip to the Oregon coast.

Parts of it tell us interesting views of Chinuk Wawa as used at the Siletz Indian Reservation.

One section conveys impressions of W.C. Chattin’s Chinuk Wawa church service:


…Next day was Sunday, and having never been where the noble red man lived before, we went to the church to see how far along in the cunning arts of civilization they were. After all the whites and Indians had gathered in the services began. The sermon was delivered by Rev. Mr. Chatten [sic], first in English, then in Jargon, all of which we did not understand, but the Indians did, so it was all right. Several of the Indians have joined the church and are trying to be good tilicums [people]— but it would make you laugh to hear them sing their Jargon songs, or hear their primitive ideas of christianity, etc., but, the feeble effors of this pen cannot do the subject justice so we leave it, hoping in another century the noble red man may have all the privileges we enjoy, to perfection.

— from the Salem (OR) Willamette Farmer of August 14, 1874, page 5, column 1

The writer seems to have a good eye for detail, mentioning several names of known historical figures; the list includes one person with a Chinuk Wawa name:

chatten 02

In the evening we went to see their boston [American/White] dance, which was quite as interesting. Depot Charley, Halo Glese [No Fat = Skinny, a.k.a. Thin Man], Capt. Alder, Sixe’s [sic] Mac, and several others were among the many who trip[p]ed the “light fantastic.”

—  column 2

What are your thoughts?