A point made by the “untutored savage”

long bridge olympia

Long Bridge, Olympia, WA (image credit: Olympia History)

A double slur.

Triple, really.

Here’s yet another Pacific Northwest newspaper after the Civil War insulting both President Ulysses Simpson Grant and the Native people he was often accused of being too nice to — and dragging our beautiful Chinuk Wawa through the mud to do it! (Link to other examples.)

Need I point out, the “Savage” speaker is perhaps fictitious. “Long Bridge” is not; that’s the old common name for the Fourth Ave. Bridge in Olympia. “Inspector Kemball” may be Postal Inspector George Kimball.

untutored savage

A POINT MADE BY THE “UNTUTORED SAVAGE.” —We are informed that a few days ago Inspector Kemball made a speech to a squad of Indians at the end of Long bridge, in which he took occasion to eulogize President Grant as a man of Christian virtue and benevolence. At the close, one of the Indians arose and said: “Yes; me know Gen’l Glant; ankoti mitlight okoke illihe. Hyas close tumtum copa conaway Siwash; hyu yaka muckmuck lum, hyu gamble. Close Gen’l Glant.” It is said that the interpetation of the speech elicited no reply from the zealous Inspector.

— from the Olympia (WA) Washington Standard of November 15, 1873, page 2, column 1

I assume my readers understand the pidgin-English preamble, which I don’t deny is realistic for the time. Here’s the Jargon:

…ankoti mitlight okoke illihe. Hyas close tumtum copa conaway Siwash; hyu
…ánqati míłayt ∅  úkuk ílihi. hayas-łúsh-tə́mtəm kʰapa kánawi sáwásh; háyú
…formerly be.located in this land. INTENSIFIER-good-heart to all Indians; much
‘…he used to live in this country. (He) was mighty nice to all the Indians;’ 

yaka muckmuck lum, hyu gamble. Close Gen’l Glant.
yáka mə́kʰmək lám, háyú (gamble). łúsh (General Grant).
he drink alcohol, much gamble. good General Grant.
‘he drank a lot and gambled a lot. General Grant is good.’

That’s pretty fluent Chinook Jargon, right down to the “zero preposition” ().

Like a good deal of other CJ from Washington’s corridor of earliest settlement from Cowlitz to Olympia to Fort Steilacoom, it has a lot in common with the lower Columbia River style of Jargon spoken at Fort Vancouver (and thus French Prairie and Grand Ronde); for example, the grammaticalized use of hayas ‘big’ as an Intensifier prefix is something that I’ve pointed out as an early creolized feature down there.

The word “gamble” is perfectly believable as a Jargon word, too, though perhaps first documented here.

So this quotation may be accurate or even exact — I just analyze it as being used for less-than-honorable political purposes.

What do you think? qʰata mayka təmtəm?

Advertisements