Circa 1894: Polk County vs. Billy Warren of Grand Ronde
[Edited to add an excerpt from the 1971 article.]
A reprinted 1971 newspaper article, by Alta Savage Cerny of Dallas, Oregon, in a local paper, recalls a Grand Ronde Indian prisoner and the white folks who joshed around with him in Chinuk Wawa.
Billy Warren was a trusty, and a great favorite with the townspeople, so the sheriff let him out in the morning and he roamed around town till supper time.
Among his best friends were my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Savage, Mr. and Mrs. David Cosper (Martha), and Mr. and Mrs. Hardy Holman (Aunt Ellen). There must have been many others and all of them spoke fluent Chinook Jargon. It was fun to listen to them — the Indians were all great “jokesters.”
I wont’ reprint an entire recent article, so here’s your link to go read the whole thing!
It’s worth your time to get a sense of how well early post-frontier folks understood each other via the Jargon. Essentially all the names named are familiar to us as speakers of this language.