Indian vs. Chinaman

kearney logic

Damn you, Denis Kearney! (image source: Wikipedia)

The “[Denis] Kearney logic” that the writer accuses today’s Indigenous speaker of is a late-1800’s “build the wall” paranoia about China…expressed in Chinook Jargon!indian vs chinaman title

From a newspaper article about the Yakama reservation, a fine exhibit of the coexistence of Chinuk Wawa + hops + Chinese Pidgin English.

Said to be an observed conversation, this exchange rings utterly true because Native people and Chinese immigrants are documented as being in protracted competition for hop-picking jobs in the post-frontier Pacific Northwest.

Notice how the Indigenous man seems to make a point of speaking (the West Coast variety of) Chinese Pidgin English as much as possible, to get his disapproval across:

indian vs chinaman


As amusing a discussion as I’ve ever heard occurred on the passenger train one day on the reservation. A big Indian with trailing blanket strode through the car till he reached a Chinese contractor returning to Portland. There he stopped, looked at the Chinaman, and grunted: “You no good.” “You no likee me ?” the Celestial asked, good naturedly; “Why?” “Wika [i.e. nika] tumtum [‘I think’], you mammook [‘work’] heap cheap. You mamook eighty cent one day. Injun git dollar six bit [6 bits = ’75 cents’] or halo mamook [‘no work’].” The Chinaman had nothing to answer, and the Indian showed that he had mastered the Kearney logic by saying, “You send money heap far — eat pig, eat cat, eat rat, wear klootchman [‘women’s’] clo’ [clothes],” pointing contemptuously at the Chinaman’s cloak. “No good!” and he danced around so threateningly that the conductor had to interfere. The Indians are very hostile to the Chinese, because the latter replaced them to some extent in the hop fields this fall.

— from the Deer Lodge (Montana Territory) New North-West of April 16, 1886, page 3, column 6

What do you think?