Ugh! You’re invited to the Redmen dance!

get on your war paint

Add this to your collection of jovial Chinuk Wawa party invitations, sub-file Redmen.

This fraternal organization (social club) sure was a big deal among Settlers after the frontier era.

And Walla Walla was one of the first big important towns in Washington, so this event likely attracted a healthy-sized crowd.

Have a read, and see what you make of the Redmen’s interesting Chinook Jargon and the newspaper’s (unusually) supplied English translation of it.

I’ll chime in, as usual, afterwards.

get on your war paint 02

get on your war paint 03

GET ON YOUR WAR PAINT.

Noble Redmen of the Forest Ready for Trouble.

From the present outlook there will be a genuine Indian outbreak in Walla Walla Wednesday evening. Today there was sent through the mail to a large number of people in Walla Walla the folowing [sic] notice:

“Walla Walla Tribe No. 23, Imp[roved]. O[rder of]. R[ed]. M[en]. wa-wa mika pe kloochmen chaco to-to te-ah wit. Kopa Odd Fellows’ Temple, Wednesday, ten-as po-lak-lie, quinnim sun. Tso-lo moon (Wednesday evening October 5) G. S. D. tah-tle-lum ta-ka mo-nuk kwaist icta ko-mo-nuk pe lock-it. Icta mika potlatch: Bos-ton-man sit-cum tol-la; cloochman, mox bit.”

As there were but few people [who] could understand just what the notice was supposed to convey, the Statesman Indian editor has translated it in English, which is as follows:

Walla Walla Tribe No. 23. Imp. O. R. M. invites yourself and ladies to attend a dance at Odd Fellows’ temple, Wednesday evening, October 5. 1904. Admission, gentlemen 50c; ladies 25c.

— from the Walla Walla (WA) Evening Statesman of October 4, 1904, page 5, column 2

Taking a closer look (spoiler alert — this is unexpectedly full of interesting points) :

Walla Walla Tribe No. 23, Imp[roved]. O[rder of]. R[ed]. M[en]. wa-wa mika pe
……………………………………………………………………………………….. 
wáwa máyka pi
……………………………………………………………………………………………………….
say you and
‘Walla Walla Tribe No. 23, Improved Order of Red Men, tells you and’

kloochmen chaco to-to te-ah wit. Kopa Odd Fellows’ Temple, Wednesday,
łúchmən [1] [Ø] [2] cháku tʰútʰu* [3] tʰiyáʔwit [4] kʰupa …………………………………………….
woman come shake leg at ………………………………………………………………………………….
‘the wife, come shake a leg at the Odd Fellows’ Temple, Wednesday’

ten-as po-lak-lie, quinnim sun. Tso-lo moon (Wednesday evening October 5) G. S. D.
tənəs-púlakʰli, qwínəm-sán [5], t’súlu-mún [6] …………………………………………………………………
little- night, five-day, lost-moon ……………………………………………………………………………………..
‘evening, the fifth day of Lost Moon (Wednesday evening, October 5), Great Sun of Discovery[7]

tah-tle-lum ta-ka mo-nuk kwaist icta ko-mo-nuk pe lock-it. Icta mika potlatch:
táłlam-ták’umunaq k’wayst*-íxt-ták’umunaq [8] pi lákit. íkta máyka pátlach [9]:
ten-hundred nine-one-hundred and four. what you give:
‘one thousand nine hundred and four. What you’ll give:’

Bos-ton-man sit-cum tol-la; cloochman, mox bit.
bástən-mán sítkum-tála; łúchmən, mákws(t) bít [10].
American-man half-dollar; woman, two bit.
‘White men, a half dollar; women, two bits.’

And notes on things I’ve highlighted in the invitation:

  • łúchmən [1] ‘the wife’ sure sounds like the writer was thinking in informal English. I’d really have expected mayka łúchmən ‘your wife’.

  • [Ø] [1] Taking the wording literally, I’d have to interpret this stretch as ‘…tells you and the wife, “come…” ‘ That’s grammatical, and it’s not unelievable, especially if the “Red Man” writer was “playing Indian” and purposely speaking in a very terse, basic style. But, since this invitation can be assumed to be modeled on English-language customs, I think the writer meant ‘…invites you and the wife to come…’ In that case, what’s notable is the absence of a word like spose / pus as a subordinating conjunction (‘to come’). The fact that it’s left out may actually be a clue that the writer had a Chinook Jargon dictionary in hand, where he was reading and thinking that the following verb chaco means ‘to come’. In other words, he would’ve been thinking in English, translating more or less word-by-word from it, so he’d think that the intended “to” was taken care of with the infinitive-marker “to” that he was reading under the dictionary entry for chaco.

  • tʰútʰu* [2] This is a fairly obscure Jargon word, which, however, goes way back, being found in Father Lionnet’s 1853 vocabulary. My sense is that when you used it by itself, it was actually an intransitive verb ‘to shake’, in other words referring to ‘trembling’ without anything or anyone physically pushing you. You had to put mamuk- before it to make a transitive verb ‘to shake something’. (That grammatical point is a clarification of what you find in the Grand Ronde Tribes 2012 dictionary.) So its use here with an object (‘to shake a leg’) is odd and English-influenced.

  • tʰútʰu* tʰiyáʔwit [3]shows further English influence, because this is obviously a “calque” on the mid-19th century American slang term ‘shake a leg‘ meaning ‘dance’.

  • qwínəm-sán [4] is mighty ambiguous. Here it’s clearly not ‘Friday’, since ‘Wednesday’ is mentioned. So the reader then has to shift to the less common usage ‘fifth day’, and infer that it’s the fifth day of…the month…and look at the next footnote for a doozy of a month name!

  • t’súlu-mún [5] ‘Lost Moon’ for ‘October’: revealing Indigenous influence, Chinuk Wawa doesn’t really have standardized month names, so those vary from locale to locale. In Kamloops they said Oktobir. What we have right here is the Redmen’s own quirky system of dates, where for example January was supposed to be called ‘Cold Moon’. But — the Walla Walla Redmen screwed up, because October’s supposed to be ‘Traveling Moon‘, and here they’re calling it ‘Lost Moon’. Ugh! Now read the next footnote…

  • Great Sun of Discovery[6], likewise, was the Redmen’s year-date system. It was supposed to start from Christopher Columbus’s “discovery” of the Americas in 1492 AD (GSD 1), so 1904 AD ought to be GSD 413. The Walla Walla fellas must have mislaid their “Official History of the Improved Order of Red Men” book, so they not only made up a month name, but they also went with the more recognizable year name used by non-Redmen.

  • táłlam-ták’umunaq k’wayst*-íxt-ták’umunaq [7] carefully contrasts two old Chinook Jargon dictionary phrases, literally ‘ten-hundred’ meaning ‘1,000’, versus the literal ‘one-hundred’ for ‘100’. The problem with that is that, like many Settler readers of those dictionaries, the scribe misinterprets the latter expression as the counting unit ‘hundred’, rather than its actual use as the precise quantity ‘a/one hundred’! Nowhere in spontaneous CJ usage (nor in English!) have I ever come across anyone saying things like ‘nine-one-hundred’ to mean ‘900’. More proof here, then, that the writer had a dictionary in one hand, a pen in the other, and got mixed up between the two. Matters would’ve been less confusing for a Kamloops-area writer, because up there, Chinuk Wawa speakers just said tawsan for ‘1,000’.

  • íkta máyka pátlach [8]: this, from the context, clearly means ‘what/how much you’ll be paying’. The phrase íkta máyka pátlach is a stock expression in the old Chinook Jargon dictionaries, to be found in those wonderful example dialogues that were sometimes included. I’m speaking up to point out that those dialogues usually are themed on an Indigenous person and a Settler negotiating the terms of labor-for-hire, so íkta máyka pátlach = ‘what do you offer me for working?’ In today’s party invitation, this expression sounds a little jarring in comparison with the situationally more generic Jargon verb pʰéy ‘to pay’.

  • mákws(t) bít [9] reflects informal American English ‘two bits’ for ‘a quarter’, ’25 cents’. Written in old dictionaries as mox bit, it’s straightforward Chinuk Wawa. I just wanted to point out that there is more than one variation on this phrase. In the 2012 Grand Ronde Tribes dictionary you’ll find the more common version tʰúbits, taken straight from spoken English; that was widespread in the Northwest and is known at least as far back as Lee & Frost’s 1844 book about lower Columbia River experiences.  

A brief summary of these points — today we see a sample of literary, not terribly fluent Chinook Jargon, verging into the fictional.

It’s also a fine example of how pioneers and their immediate descendants proudly used the Jargon with each other as a sort of secret in-group language. In the post-frontier era, that meant that English quickly started to dominate how people spoke and wrote Jargon to each other, since there was no longer much compulsion to heed the norms of this language as it was used with speakers of the vastly different Indigenous languages.

What have you learned?
Ikta mika chako kumtux?

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