Indian murderer’s trial at Whatcom, 1892

whatcom map

(Image source: WWU)

Does this tell us something about people’s perceptions of the Jargon as sometimes slippery?

We know that in the Bellingham area so early in the post-frontier era, Chinuk Wawa was widely used.

But it was no one’s main language up there, and from the looks of the following, in a situation with a lot at stake such as a court trial, nobody wanted to rely on it.

(For more on this murder case, see another contemporary news article.)

Indian murderers trial at Whatcom

Many of the witnesses could not speak English, and the Chinook jargon was unsatisfactory to either party, hence an Indian interpreter was secured.

— from the Seattle (WA) Post-Intelligencer of March 10, 1892, page 1, column 7

What do you think?