Indian game of sing-gamble

Today’s article: a snapshot of Chinook Jargon as used in the life of post-frontier “Shokomish” (Skokomish) Indians. 

With this bonus feature:

I’d never consciously noticed slahál / bone game / stick game being called “sing-gamble” before. This uncommon, Puget Sound-associated name — which is potentially Chinuk Wawa — led me to the earlier source of this article, Joseph Costello’s book “The Siwash: Their Lives, Legends and Tales“.

In turn, Costello may have gotten the phrase from a Chinookless 1894 article “The Sing Gamble of 1895” in the The Oregon Naturalist (pages 78-79 of volume 2, number 6, June 1895; attributed to the San Francisco Examiner), which looks at different tribes of the same region.

Independent confirmation of “sing gamble”: I also found another, briefer, Oregon news article from 1894

This Washington state article from 1894 explicitly says the “sing gamble” goes back several years in the Puyallup Valley —

An 1895 occurrence

And in 1899 a “singing gambling game” —

So we’re looking at a previously unrecognized Pacific Northwest English dialect word, and possibly a previously unknown Chinuk Wawa term.

Now let’s get to the article I wanted to show you today, at least to the paragraph that overtly plaes Chinook Jargon on the scene at the event it describes:

indian game of sing gamble 01


Played by Shokomish Tribe, Which Dwells in Vicinity of Puget Sound.


Savages Even Risk Their Wives to WIn and Often Play All Night.

indian game of sing gamble 02

…At a game which I witnessed, thirty points constituted the game, but the limit often runs as high as sixty. As a preliminary, the bets were arranged between the players. Two canoes, a silver watch, two ponies, a dollar and a half in silver, a coat, a shirt, and some other articles were wagered. This consumed a great deal of time and much talking in Chinook and real Siawash “wawa,” but was finally settled satisfactorily. Then the game began…

— from the Los Angeles (CA) Herald of August 15, 1897, page 17, columns 4-5

What do you think?