Muck-a-muck potlatch menu


The big cheese himself (image credit: Wikipedia)

Subtext: the governor of post-frontier Washington State may have stood out for not not knowing Chinuk Wawa very well.

Sometimes when you go back in time & find some Chinook Jargon, it pushes you to go further back in time to find more Chinook Jargon.

Such is the case with a new article that I found, containing this information:

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The feature of the session was the “Muck-a-Muck Potlatch,” or banquet given to 300 citizens and school children last evening in Maple hall. The large room was artistically decorated for the occasion and at one long table sat the speakers of the convention and guests. Governor M[arion].E. Hay was the guest of honor and occupied a place at the long table. From the main board side tables were placed and at these the citizens sat. The bill of fare was in “Chinook” jargon and considerable merriment was when Governor Hay attempted to translate it.

— from the Aberdeen (WA) Herald of December 7, 1911, page 1, column 3

Hay was a latecomer to Washington, having arrived at the end of the frontier era, in 1888. Besides, when he came here from Wisconsin, he settled in the area of Davenport and Wilbur, way out in eastern WA; those Settler farm towns were never hotbeds of Jargon. Afterwards he moved to Spokane, itself no longer a Chinook stronghold by that time. So it’s clear that folks were laughing at Hay, more than with him, as he tried to make heads or tails of the menu.

But here’s the real interest of the news story — Another menu in Chinuk Wawa!? Like the awesome Mose Freeland one, known to us in multiple versions?!

That one came from the same region (Hoquiam-Aberdeen, WA), just 3 years previous, so it may have inspired the dairymen of the theoretically more important town of Montesano, seat of government of the soon-to-vanish Chehalis County.

Well, I went looking for other news of the “Muck-a-muck Potlatch”, and although I didn’t find any Jargon, I pretty much found the menu. So we could reconstruct what the dairy dudes’ fresh sheet showed, from the following:

muckamuck potlatch menu

Muck-a-Muck Potlatch

to be given at Montesano, Dec. 6, in honor of visiting delegates and dairymen of the State convention, will be provided by the residents and clubs of the county and will in a measure be a harvest feast representing all sections of Chehalis county.

Oakville ………. Ripe fruit
Porter ………. Pumpkin pies
Elma ……….  Butter and celery
McCleary ……….  Honey
Satsop ………. Cream
Montesano ………. Ice cream, cottage cheese, big spuds and Chase & Sanborn’s coffee and napkins
South Montesano ……….  Cabbage
Wynooche Valley ……….  Chickens
Aberdeen ………. Clams and cured meats
Hoquiam ……….  Grays Harbor Oysters and Cigars ……….
Moclips ……….  Cranberries
Westport ……….  Crabs
Quiniault [sic] Lake ……….  Quiniault Salmon

— from the Aberdeen (WA) Herald of December 4, 1911, page 1, column 1

I’m pretty curious how ‘celery’, ‘cottage cheese’, and ‘cured meats’ were expressed in Chinuk Wawa on the menu. Your ideas?

An incidental comment: ‘Quinault’ used to normally be spelled ‘Quiniault’, which was a pretty decent reflection of the Indigenous pronunciation of the name, kʷínaył. The pronunciation of the word shifted in local English from the original /ay/ diphthong to the modern plain /a/ sound, in line with a minor trend of Settler speech. We’ve seen other reflections of that trend in White pronunciations of some Jargon words, like /máka/ for /máyka/ ‘you’.

What do you think?