Susie wa wa klosh copa nika

susie wa wa klosh copa nika

I keep thinking I’ve already written about this Yakima celebrity, and it’s high time that I did.

Susie, a.k.a. Cecelia, a.k.a. Schwee-tat-ka (I’d guess that’s a Salish name from her paternal Wenatchee side), lived through the pioneer era of central Washington state.

She was an early convert to Catholicism, quite possibly under the guidance of important Chinook Jargon historical figures such as Fathers Pandosy, St. Onge, etc.

She had a lot of contact with Settlers, too.

So naturally, she was a fluent Chinuk Wawa speaker.

The headline above is a play on the classic CW exclamation kʰə́ltəs kʰapa náyka (literally ‘worthless to me’), i.e. ‘I don’t care’.

< Susie wa wa klosh kopa nika > then (literally ‘Susie says [“]good to me[“]’), as old-timers would recognize, are words put into Susie’s mouth by a clever headline writer to echo the article’s idea that she’s quite good-natured.

But for some of her own CW, here are two excerpts from a longer article that I recommend you go read in full. (It’s linked below.)

First this, showing overtly that she was a Jargon speaker:

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Her memory is remarkably clear in regard to the early days of the Catholic churches or missions throughout the valley, for she is a convert to the Catholic religion, a fact of which she is very proud. It means everything and all to her, and the meanest thing that Susie can say to the little ruffians of the rising generation who sometimes tease her is: “You are no Catholic; I know you; mika halo Catholic.

Through the kindness of George Cary, who speaks the Chinook jargon fluently, and who acted as interpreter, a Herald reporter held a conversation with Susie a few days ago, and learned something of her history — there are parts that she will not give, but then what woman is there who cares to lay before the whole world all the pages of her life’s book? — that will prove of more or less interest to the people of the valley who knew her twenty, thirty, perhaps forty, years ago.

Secondly this, implying that Susie spoke Jargon with everyone she met in town:

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As she sits in the sunny doorways along the street she is frequently thrown a coin by a passer by, some times a visitor or a tourist, an some times by those who know her well, and delight in hearing the funny Siwash speeches of thanks she makes, for Susie is grateful for every small favor.

— from the Yakima (WA) Herald of February 22, 1905, page 8, columns 2-3

In the early post-frontier period, this elder and her Chinuk Wawa were a fond reminder of a time very near and dear to the Settler heart…whatever her own experiences were.

What do you think?

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