Native Sons and Daughters

marion square.jpg

Look, ma, no log cabin! Marion Square today (image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

A social organization of Oregon-born kids of the pioneers — what better place to go looking for good (creole?) speakers of Chinuk Wawa!

I’ve had frustratingly small results so far in searching out more information on this fascinating “Sons and Daughters” outfit. But we can trace genealogies and biographical info for many of the folks named below; I’ve put in clickable links.

Read, and after the article, see my views on the Chinook Jargon that appears here…

native sons and daughters 01


Entertain Their Friends and Listen to Speeches in the Chinook Jargon. 

The first entertainment given this season by the Native Sons and Daughters was held Monday evening in the Woodmen’s hall. It proved to be a very enjoyable event and was well attended.

Hon J. D. Lee was master of ceremonies, and after the rendering of some choice music by Evans’ orchestra, he introduced Mrs. Olive S. England, who gave the address of welcome in “our native tongue,” the Chinook Jargon. She spoke the Jargon quite easily and with good expression, Sho regretted the absence of the “hi-you ti-eesGov. Geer and Judge Bean, who had “klatawaed si-ah you ah.” She was glad to see “conaway close tillicum,” and hoped they would all have a “hi-as close time. She spoke encouragingly of the “potlatch of hias close muck-a-muck,” which was to follow the program. There was to be “close coffee, hi-as close pie and hi-you goodies, wake fire-water, but hi-you chuck” (No whiskey but plenty of water.)

The response was made by Hon. J. D. Lee and was also in Jargon, which he spoke fluently. He said the Native Sons and Daughters were all good and none bad and were working for everything that is good and nothing that is bad. “Nesika mamook conaway close, wake masatchee.” He also hoped that at the next meeting of the cabin the attendance would be greater.

A piano solo, “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” was well rendered by Mr. Rail.

Master Earl Sharp pleased the audience with a very pretty violin solo.

All regretted the absence of several who should have made “hi-you wa-wa,” so Mr. Lee called upon a number of those present for speeches suggestive of how to make the Cabins [local chapters of the organization] more useful, instructive and interesting.

Miss Cosper spoke briefly and suggested the study of the history of Oregon and also the building of a log cabin in Marion Square as a monument to the local organization.

native sons and daughters 02

Capt. Hunt, Wm. Westacott and others were called upon and seconded Miss Cosper’s plan.

Miss Margu[e]rite Alderson sang the “Christmas Rose” very sweetly and responded to a well deserved encore with “By Your Side Love.”

The orchestra rendered the closing number and all were invited to another room where refreshments were served. During legislature the Cabins propose to give another entertainment when there will be present a number of prominent members from Cabins in all parts of the State.

There are about 2000 members in the state at present although the organization is a new one, and entirely a social one, there being no “benefit” [such as life insurance] connected with it.

— from the Salem (OR) Daily Journal of December 11, 1900, page 2, column 2

A closer look at the Jargon seen above, which carries the marks of both fluent Oregon Chinuk Wawa and the typical blending into Settlers’ English usage:

  • hi-you ti-ees” … “klatawaed si-ah you ah” = háyú táyí-s … łátwa … sayá yawá (many leaders … gone far there)

    • Here, < hi-you > appears instead of the expected hayash ‘big; great’, in a blending that’s frequent among Settlers.
    • < ti-ees > carries the English-language noun plural suffix -s, a frequent Settler usage on a few nouns including tilixam-s ‘friends; people’ and təmtəm-s ‘hearts; thoughts’.
    • The English past-tense ending on < klatawa > is so often found in local Settlers’ English that it’s not a big surprise to find it creeping in when they spoke Jargon!
    • While I don’t have other examples easily at hand to demonstrate with, sayá yawá for ‘far away’ sounds really familiar to me; I think it was a conventional phrase in good Chinuk Wawa, as it might well be since we have ample testimony that the word sayá ‘far’ was conventionally accompanied by a hand gesture toward the distance. 
  • conaway close tillicum” = kánawi łúsh tílixam (all good people) 
    • Here, < conaway > is used as a way to pluralize a noun — interestingly, a noun ‘people’ that’s already semantically plural in Jargon! Anyway this is a typical usage among English-speaking Settlers in Oregon.
  • hi-as close” time = hayas-łúsh tʰáym (very-good time)
    • Here we see the first of several instances of the very old, early-creolized, Oregon grammatical structure where hayas(h) ‘big’ became an Intensifier prefix.
    • Note that < time >, even though treated as English above, is a totally legit Chinook Jargon word; we know it from many places and, well, times. It’s in the 2012 Grand Ronde Tribes dictionary, for instance. 
  • “potlatch of hias close muck-a-muck” = pátlach … hayas-łúsh mə́kʰmək (giveaway of very good food)  
    • Typical of Settlers who spoke English is this use of < potlatch > as a noun.
  • close coffee, hi-as close pie and hi-you goodies, wake fire-water, but hi-you chuck” = łúsh káfi, hayas-łúsh pʰáy … háyú … wík páya-wáta, bət háyú chə́qw (good coffee, excellent pie and many goodies, not alcohol, but lots of water) 
    • I’m confident we can also call < pie > a Chinuk Wawa word, as we’ve seen it before in Jargon speech.
    • Notice the two different roots (words) for ‘water’ — < water > and < chuck > — and how they’re used differently.
  • Nesika mamook conaway close, wake masatchee” = nsáyka mámuk kánawi łúsh, wík masáchi (we do everything good, not evil) … This is nice and clear.
  • hi-you wa-wa” = háyú wáwa (lots of talking) 
    • Here it’s again very possible that there’s been a blending of hayu ‘much’ with hayas(h) ‘big’. The intended notion may well have been ‘big (important) speeches’, rather than ‘lots of talking’!

I’d summarize today’s sample of Chinook Jargon as being genuinely fluent as well as thoroughly marked by these early Oregon frontier babies’ lifelong bilingualism with English.

I think the blending of English grammar into the quoted Jargon is a bit of evidence that the two languages felt more or less equally like mother tongues to this crowd.

Notice that even as far into the post-frontier era as 1900, much of the Jargon is left untranslated by the newspaper editor. It would’ve amounted to an insult to the intelligence of folks around Salem, in the Jargon homeland and heartland, to enunciate what every word meant.

Consider this, too, in parting: what you’ve read today is an illustration of how Settlers spoke with Indigenous people like those at nearby Grand Ronde and Siletz, and were influenced in turn by the still-creole speech of the latter.

What do you think? qʰáta máyka tə́mtəm?