Lo in the calaboose; thanks a lot, Deputy Marshall Ass

deputy marshal oregon

(Image credit: Worthpoint)

Frontier-era Eastern Oregon?

Words from a Western Oregon Indian?

Incidentally, from reading my website, you’ve learned by now that “Lo” was a stereotypical name for Indians in the 1800s.

But did you realize that “the disgusted Indian” was a big ol’ trope too?

Great stuff here:

Lo in the calaboose.jpg

A DEPUTY Marshall in a town east of the Mountains without sufficient reason arrested and put in the calaboose an Indian and here is what Lo thought about it:

Tenas tyee tickee capsawala nika skookum-house, yaka wake cum tux nika, siwash wake cum tux, pesioux wake cum tux, Boston man wake cum tux, nika tum-tum yaka tenas tyee hias pilton man. 

All that this disgusted Indian means to say in the above paragraph is that the Deputy Marshall was an ass.

— from the Hillsboro (OR) Washington Independent of January 15, 1875, page 2, column 2

Well, that’s one way to paraphrase it.

As usual, I’ll take a closer look at that very fluent & accurately quoted Chinuk Wawa, which was left un-translated because there were tons of readers fluent in Jargon in the 1875 Portland area:

Tenas tyee tickee capsawala nika [Ø] skookum-house, yaka wake cum tux nika,
tənəs-táyí [1] tíki kapshwála náyka Ø [2] skúkum-háws, yáka wík kə́mtəks náyka,
little-chief want steal me to strong-building, he not know me,
‘The little chief wants to kidnap me to jail, he doesn’t know me,’

siwash wake cum tux, pesioux wake cum tux,
sáwásh wík kə́mtəks, pasáyuks wík kə́mtəks,
Indian not know, French.person not know,
‘the [local] Indians don’t know [me], the French-Canadians don’t know [me], the’

Boston man wake cum tux, nika tum-tum yaka tenas tyee hias pilton man.
bástən-mán wík kə́mtəks, náyka tə́mtəm yaka [3] tənəs-táyí hayas-píltən mán.
American-man not know, I think he little-chief very-crazy man.
‘Americans don’t know [me], I think this little chief is a lunatic.’

Notes:

[1] tənəs-táyí can be taken as a pun. This expression is long-established Chinook Jargon for what US treaty negotiators often called a “sub-chief”, a minor leader of an Indigenous tribe. Here it’s an insult to a self-important petty official. 

[2] Ø is the lack of a word when a preposition is intended; it’s another hallmark of fluent Indigenous Chinuk Wawa.

[3] yaka ‘he’ in yaka tənəs-táyí is the one strange detail here. Here it seems to be used like a demonstrative, ‘this’ or ‘that’, but that’s an infrequent usage that we normally see just from a few semi-fluent Settler speakers. An alternative way of understanding this sequence is that the speaker made a “comma” pause that’s not indicated in print: náyka tə́mtəm yaka[,] tənəs-táyí[,] hayas-píltən mán — thus, ‘I think he, the little chief, is a lunatic’. 

What do you think?

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