“Buckskin Cookery” & cambium

Buckskin Cookery.jpg

(Image credit: me)

I recently picked up a trove of books related to BC’s Cariboo region, including one with a recipe that I think tells us something about Chinook Jargon.

“Buckskin Cookery” (subtitled: Volume I: The Pioneer Section” is a “souvenir cookbook of pioneer recipes donated by old timers and natives of B.C.” It was first published in 1957 by Gwen Lewis of Williams Lake, BC.

Various recipes give nods to the Chinuk Wawa-rich heritage of that section of the province.

  • There’s “Siwash rhubarb” on page 22…
  • …and “Siwash pudding” on page 13.
  • Various uses of soapalallie [sic] are given, e.g. on pages 30 and 47.
  • A recipe for “kinnikinick tobacco” appears on page 23.

Bést of all, perhaps, is page 47’s spring tonic from a Nazko Dakelh (Carrier Dene) person:

Spring tonic.jpg

(Image credit: me)

The captivating detail here is that Lee Lavoie talks about jackpine cambium as “the tree…all his fat”. This style of English matches the countless sources I’ve read that quote Indigenous people of the Cariboo well into the twentieth century, typically a blend of pidgin-sounding English with Chinuk Wawa words.

It also suggests a possible Chinook Jargon expression. We’ve previously seen, from the neighbouring Tsilhqotiin (Chilcotin Dene) people, a Jargon expression stík mə́kʰmək (‘tree food’) for ‘cambium’. I’m wondering if Lee Lavoie’s expression implies a similar Jargon phrase *stík (yaka) klís (‘tree(‘s) fat’)?

With my limited knowledge of Dene languages’ workings, the reference materials I’ve found so far for Dakelh and closely related languages leave me still wondering whether they express ‘cambium’ in that way.

An interesting question from an interesting cookbook!

What do you think?

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