1911: Cultus Chikamen doggerel
A short post-frontier poem called “Cultus Chikamen” [‘Worthless Money’] by W.R. Gordon expresses an old-timer’s nostalgia for seemingly more prosperous days.
A bit (if you will) of a true history lesson about how only gold used to be accepted as money in the Pacific Northwest, it uses some Chinook Jargon, from the title down to the final line.
I can’t responsibly reprint this verse in 2019 without a forewarning that some of its language is less than savory by our general standards.
No nickels then, no dimes or ten
Cent pieces floated round.
The grocer man sold boots and ham
Or blankets by the pound.
You got your mail, but not by rail;
It came in on the stage.
You lived and worked, or maybe shirked
For decent white man wage.
But worst of all, the bloody gall
“Cheechakos” could “perdooce” [‘newcomers; greenhorns’]
Was how they tried to bring a tide
Of copper cents in use.
No wonder Japs and Dago chaps
And Chinks began to throng
To this here land from every hand
When “chikamen” went wrong. [‘money; metal’]
So what’s the use. It’s just vamoose;
There ain’t no chance to kick. [‘complain’]
It’s us for good back to the wood,
Just “Coolee copa stick.” [‘run off to the woods’]
I’m not sure if the author is the W.R. Gordon (1869-1917) who’s buried in Polson, Montana.