Olive Quigley interview

Olive Quigley

Olive Taylor Quigley (image credit: Snoqualmie Valley Record)

I’m always happy to learn more about female speakers of Chinook Jargon, as they’ve been underrepresented in the fur-trade-centric historical record.

A fine example is Olive (Taylor) Quigley.

Born in 1876, she was interviewed in 1972 about her long life in the Snoqualmie Valley of Washington State.

This interview with the first Settler girl born in the valley, mostly transcribed into text, is at the Issaquah History Museums.

From the start, the interviewer expresses the hope, “I want you to talk some Indian”, which turns out to mean Chinuk Wawa.

Mrs. Quigley makes a seeming distinction that an “old Indian doctor” would “jabber something in real Indian”, implying that she wouldn’t understand it.

She soon makes clear her thinking on this subject:

Olive Quigley 01

At this point Mrs. Quigley digresses to another subject of interest, Indian styles of singing at social events.

Have you ever interviewed someone? They don’t always take up a topic the way you want them to. The interviewer tries to steer the conversation back to Chinook Jargon with the common word for ‘Indian’:

Olive Quigley 02

An interlude that’s mysterious in the transcription (I’ll very much want to hear the audio!) comes a bit afterwards:

Olive Quigley 03

Is that Lushootseed Salish, or Chinuk Wawa? The transcriber didn’t understand it, at any rate.

A Chinuk Wawa personal name of note, < Cultus > (‘No-good’) Johnny, makes an appearance:

Olive Quigley 04

Before winding things up, the interviewer momentarily gets Mrs. Quigley onto the subject of the Jargon:

Olive Quigley 05

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I’d like to throw in a thought that it’s paradoxically lucky the transcriber didn’t seem to know Chinook Jargon. They spelled it as they heard it, without reverting to the standardized and not always phonetically useful spellings found in the old published dictionaries.

What do you think of Mrs. Quigley’s recollections from the 1880s onward?