1917, Ashland: Hias Chuck & Hiyu He He
The future’s in mineral water, my friend — just look at those “Skookum Limechen Chuck” folks over by Spokane!
Today’s post-frontier civic booster motto is a doozy of clunkiness.
It makes a good deal of sense, though.
It’s in jargon, and Ashland is in southwestern Oregon’s Rogue River valley, long a land of Chinuk Wawa.
And the big local resource was seen as mineral water — see the image at the top of this article. (This was obviously before the Ashland Shakespeare Festival took over.)
The Jargon phrases featured today are heavily English-speaker-style, with its confusion between háyásh ‘big’ & háyú ‘much’:
- In the article, the word < hyas > is explained as not just ‘big’ but also ‘very good’.
- And the word < hiyu > is paraphrased as both ‘lots of’ and ‘great big’.
That vagueness is characteristic of Settler society — but only, I think, after the frontier era during which so many Settlers spoke Jargon well. It was perpetuated in other Northwest locales with an expression that also became the name of some civic celebrations, “(having a) < hi-yu >“.
A really nifty detail that we glean from today’s article is that Mr. Loosley, a child of early pioneers in the Salem area, could speak Jargon before he could talk English! As small and scattered as the first settlements were, many early-day White kids had that linguistic experience. So, lots of them spoke pretty great Chinook.
(But unlike the Fort Vancouver and Grand Ronde communities, it never became a community-wide main language — a creole — among these kids. Not even for George Walling Loosley (1856-1945), though he was born at Champoeg and grew up near Grand Ronde in the reservation era. While creolized Jargon had a long reach through the social networks of the day, the dominance of English was just never seriously in question among White Settlers.)
Mrs. Loosely was more of a latecomer to the area, but she arrived in the company of her brother-in-law Oliver Cromwell Applegate (1845-1938), born in Yamhill District which is also near Grand Ronde — so she could have learned very good Jargon from him. Plus, husband and wife must’ve spoken it quite a bit in their work on the Klamath Indian Reservation.
One last, and really minor, thought. You’ll see the name Lithia used here. That word has a dictionary definition as a white alkaline solid, that is, a naturally occurring mineral associated with the Ashland area’s hot springs. Many of you Northwesterners have seen car license-plate frames from a company called “Lithia“…which started its existence in Ashland.
“Hias Chuck” and “Hiyu He He” [*]
“Hias Chuck” and “Hiyu He He” has been selected by the general celebration committee as the official permanent name for the Ashland celebration. It Is hoped to make the Hias Chuck as distinctive as is the New Orleans Mardi Gras, so that whenever anyone hears Hias Chuck they will think of Ashland. “Hias Chuck” is from the Chinook Jargon of the Indians and means very good waters or big waters. “Hiyu He He,” which is more likely to become the “yell” of the roundup and celebration, means “great big good time” or “lots of fun.” In advertising the two expressions will be used and together make a rythmical slogan which rolls of[f] the tongue like water bubbling out of the lithia spring.
The name was submitted by Mrs. G[eorge]. W. Loosley, who wins the prize offered by the celebration committee. The Loosleys are southern Oregon pioneers and have spent most of their lives near the Indians. “In fact,” Mrs. Loosley says, “Mr. Loosley could talk Chinook before he could talk English.” Mr. Loosley was employed as police and Mrs. Loosley taught on the Klamath Indian reservation for six years.
Chinook Jargon is the universal language of the Indian tribes and is understood by all Indians of no matter what tribe. The words are very flexible and inclusive in meanlng and “Hias Chuck Hiyu He He” is broad ‘enough to cover the great big good time which awaits every visitor to Ashland on July 3, 4 and 5. The words are pronounced phonetically just as you read them and the Indians give them a rolling cadence which is bound to be imitated.
Remember after this to call the Ashland celebration the Hias Chuck and Hiyu He He.
— from the Ashland (OR) Tidings of March 26, 1917, page 1, column 2
*PS: the name of the festival quickly came to be spelled < Hyiu Hehe > locally!
What do you think? Kahta mika tumtum?
I majored in linguistics in college and found your site very interesting. Thanks for linking to my Loosley articles.
That explains the name of the Gig Harbor, WA restaurant Hy Iu Hee Hee, which always mystified me until now. Thanks!